Senator Chris Eaton (DFL – Brooklyn Center) and State Representative Will Morgan (DFL – Burnsville) brought their Solar Energy Jobs Act, House File 773 to the state Capitol on February 20. The bill would require Minnesota to generate 10% of its electricity, 5,300 megawatts, from solar power by 2030. Minnesota currently generates only 13 megawatts of solar energy. The bill would create 2,000 new jobs in the first year of the program – and thousands more jobs every year after that according to analysis done through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Jobs and Economic Development Impact modeling software.
Senator Eaton stated, “We have an opportunity to create thousands of good, family-supporting jobs, reduce carbon pollution and make more of our state’s energy right here at home, We can build our solar capacity, bringing jobs and investment throughout the state, and we can start today."
Lynn Hinkle, Director of Policy Development for the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association (MnSEIA) emphasized that “Passing a 10 percent by 2030 standard sends a strong, predictable, and long-term market signal to attract investment in Minnesota’s solar energy industry and accelerate job growth.” Proponents of the bill pointed out that Minnesota currently imports 85% of its energy from outside the state sending some $20 billion out of state every year.
Appearing before the committee, Michael Noble, Executive Director of Fresh Energy, described the ultimate purpose of the Solar Energy Jobs Act as helping Minnesota build an industry for the day when solar energy is “the cheapest form of energy in the world.” Noble said that, according to U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu, solar energy would be cheaper than coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear or any other form of energy within 10 years. He stated that the Department of Energy has a program which aims to lower the cost of solar energy.
The Sierra Club's Northstar Chapter gave kudos to Senator Chris Eaton and Representative Will Morgan for introducing the Solar Energy Jobs Act.