Energy Efficiency / Renewables: Greenhouse Gas Regulation

Greenhouse Gas Regulation in Minnesota

Minnesota has been a clear leader among Midwest states in taking steps to reduce the production of greenhouse gases.

Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goals

In 2007 the Minnesota legislature approved the Next Generation Act, which established a state goal of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors producing them so that, compared with 2005 levels, they will be 15% lower by 2015, 30% lower by 2025 and 80% lower by 2050.  Minn. Stat. 216H.02  Subd. 2.

Coal-fired Generation Ban

The next Generation Act also contained an effective ban on the construction of large new coal-fired generating facilities, as well as the importation into the state of power from a large new coal-fired plant, or entering into an agreement to buy power from a large, new coal-fired plant.  Minn. Stat. 216H.03  Subd. 3. The ban on importation of power from a new coal-fired plant located in another state was recently overturned as violative of the Dormant Commerce Clause. State of North Dakota v. HEYDINGER, No. 11-cv-3232 (SRN/SER) (D. Minn. Apr. 18, 2014).  The State of Minnesota has appealed the decision of the Federal District Court.

Renewable Energy Standard

Also in 2007 the Minnesota legislature enacted a Renewable Energy Standard and established a very stringent Conservation mandate for utilities. Minn. Stat. Section 216B.241. These policies have already resulted in a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from Minnesota’s electric utilities, and will provide even further reductions going forward. 


An electric municipal utility is required to achieve annual energy savings equivalent to 1.5 percent of gross annual retail energy sales.  A utility may only take credit for savings from a particular measure in the year in which it is implemented.  Savings over the lifetime of the measure following the year in which it is implemented are not considered.  See Minn. Stat. Section 216B.241.

Sustainable Building 2030

In 2007 the Minnesota legislature established the Sustainable Building 2030 standards, intended to provide cost-effective energy-efficiency performance standards for new and substantially reconstructed commercial, industrial, and institutional buildings that can significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions by lowering energy use in new and substantially reconstructed buildings. Minn. Stat. 216B.241 Subd. 9. The performance standards are to achieve reductions equivalent to 60 percent in 2010; 70 percent in 2015; 80 percent in 2020; and 90 percent in 2025.

Solar Standard and Solar Goal

Minnesota has also established a solar energy standard for investor-owned utilities, and a solar energy goal that, by 2030, ten percent of the retail electric sales in Minnesota be generated by solar energy.


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