MnCEF’s Testimony in Support of Senator Senjem and Senator Osmek’s Legislation on March 14, 2019

On Thursday, March 14, 2019, the Minnesota Senate Energy Committee Chaired by Senator Dave Osmek heard two bills MnCEF was proud to testify in support of. Both Senator Osmek and Senator Senjem showed great leadership with their proposals in the hearing, and MnCEF looks forward to working with them on this and other legislation in the future.

Below is MnCEF’s testimony on both bills.

On SF 1456, Authored by Senator Senjem, The conservative Clean Energy First bill

MnCEF promotes and educates on opportunities to modernize our Minnesotan energy economy and advance clean energy technology under strong American principals like free and competitive markets, American innovation, national security, and property rights. SF1456 is a good step forward for clean energy adoption in Minnesota under these principles, and MnCEF is happy to say we support the bill. We would like to thank Senator Senjem for his leadership in taking these needed steps and doing so through creative, conservative policy.

Minnesotans have made it clear that they desire more market adoption of clean energy and renewable options in our energy economy. What’s more, advancements in renewable technologies combined with Minnesota’s geography have led to an environment where renewables successfully compete with old forms of energy generation in the marketplace. Wind, solar, and other renewables, combined with our abundant supplies of domestic American natural gas, are often smoking the competition in terms of price. Alongside the other advantages of renewables, this is creating a huge customer demand in the marketplace by customers to purchase renewable energy products. In our current heavily regulated monopoly system, customers don’t have the choice to shop around like they do with other products, so it’s vital that we encourage our utilities to plan for a generation mixture that meets this growing market demand for renewables. Of course, one often proposed option is big mandates. This bill takes a more conservative, market-based approach of expanding our state’s current preference for renewables from the IRP process to a greater number of PUC decisions. In short, this legislation will help guarantee customers of all sizes have access to the products they want to buy. All this is accomplished alongside very reasonable “off-ramps” and price and reliability controls that will keep our economy competitive and speed our adoption of renewables in a responsible way.

The bills provisions to reinforce jobs for Minnesota workers is also a win for Minnesotans. Earlier this week, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy released their Minnesota fact sheet that showed 59,000 Minnesotans are working in energy efficiency and clean energy generation. This industry is already a boon for Minnesota workers, especially in rural communities across greater Minnesota, and is providing a big boost to Minnesota’s farm economy. This bill’s language to Build Minnesota First using Minnesota workers will further expand this economic expansion in greater Minnesota.

Again, thank you to Senator Senjem for introducing this important legislation, we encourage a yes vote, and I will remain available for any questions from the committee.

On SF2342, Chair Osmek’s bill in support of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

Thank you Mr. Chair. My name is Adam Seidel, Executive Director of the Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum. MnCEF promotes and educates on opportunities to modernize our Minnesotan energy economy and advance clean energy technology under conservative principles like market innovation and private enterprise. SF2342 is a good step forward for electric vehicle expansion in Minnesota under these principles, and we encourage support of the bill. We would like to thank Senator Osmek for his interest in leadership in the area of EVs, which are not only an important and rapidly growing technology, but also just plain extremely cool.

Electric vehicles face an important chicken vs the egg problem as they continue to expand. Will the market provide more charging infrastructure once EVs are more popular, or will EVs become even more popular as more convenient charging infrastructure is rolled out. MnCEF believes significant evidence exists that a rollout of charging infrastructure will reduce the largest barrier to EV adoption for many consumers, particularly outside urban centers. Greater Minnesotans deserve to take part in this exciting technology just as much as those in the urban core and this legislation is a good, careful, frugal nudge in the right direction for these needed infrastructure investments.

We’d like to point out the bill’s support for private investments in these technologies. Currently, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s loan and grant program through the Volkswagen settlement money places significant favor on government entities seeking these dollars. MnCEF does not believe that government-centric approach is the best way to get the job done. SF2342 puts private business on good equal footing with government and allows local businesses to compete to make these investments to attract customers. It is significantly more helpful for an EV driver to have charging infrastructure in places they visit every day, at their shopping centers, around town as they run errands, or, by cutting red tape holding back the service station industry, at traditional service stations off interstates and highways where Minnesotans already gather to power their vehicles as they travel across our state. Senator Osmek’s approach will help the private sector make these initial investments in places that make the most sense: where the people and customers are. We believe this will instigate a competition among local Minnesota businesses to attract the EV driving customer to their storefront.

We thank the Chair for his support of this technology and encourage the committee to support the legislation. We look forward to continuing to work with the committee going forward as this proposal continues to move forward. Thank you.

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