Published January 13, 2023
January 3rd marked the start of the Minnesota legislative session, and CUB is again working hard to represent consumer interests in energy policy. With the DFL now in control of the House, Senate, and Governor’s Office, we expect policymakers to be busy with climate and energy bills (and much more).
Here are three top energy issues CUB is working on this session.
100% Clean Electricity (HF 7, SF 4): This bill to put the state on a path to a 100% clean electricity mix is a top priority for the House, Senate, and the Governor. CUB supports this effort – a rapid transition to clean electricity is necessary to act on climate change. Importantly, the bill includes protections so that, if meeting the milestones in the bill turns out to be too expensive or would compromise the reliability of the grid, those standards would not be enforced.
Supplemental Energy Assistance: Given unusually high energy prices and the financial pressures many households are feeling because of inflation, energy affordability is a growing concern. CUB is working with low-income advocates – including the Energy CENTS Coalition, the Legal Services Advocacy Project, and MinnCAP – to bring a proposal for the State to use a small portion of its budget surplus to supplement the Energy Assistance program, which provides grants to help families pay for utilities and delivered fuels. Our proposal would also allow the program to stay open year-round, so that grants could be provided in the summer. (Currently, Energy Assistance applications are typically only accepted between October and May.)
Expanding public interest representation at the PUC: Many of the most impactful decisions about energy sources, prices, and planning are made by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The PUC must make decisions based on the record before it in each proceeding – so it is crucial that parties that are reflective of the full public interest can participate. However, participating in PUC proceedings is complicated and resource intensive. That’s why CUB continues to lead an effort to improve the state’s “intervenor compensation” statute, to provide funding to qualifying public-interest organizations and Tribal nations to participate in utility proceedings at the PUC. A similar proposal had broad support last year, and we expect a bill to be introduced soon.
CUB will also be supporting bills to support an expanded Weatherization Assistance Program, provide individual customers with a dispute resolution process at the PUC, and much more. We’ll also be keeping an eye out for proposals that could unfairly favor utility companies or others at the expense of ratepayers.
We’ll provide more updates on this blog as well as CUB’s Twitter and Facebook throughout the legislative session. Stay tuned for more, and feel free to contact me (email@example.com) if you have comments or questions.