In 2007, Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) was established, creating goals for all utilities – including electric cooperatives – to reduce their annual electricity sales by 1.5% and to spend at least 1.5% of revenues to achieve this goal. Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative is proud that we’ve consistently met or exceeded these goals.
When CIP started, select energy efficient purchases were incentivized including Energy Star® rated appliances and LED lighting. Some of these items were just making their entry into the marketplace, and it was a win-win to encourage co-op member-owners to use these new products. Thanks in part to CIP, we’ve reached a point of saturation with many of the energy efficiency incentives introduced more than a decade ago and the electric power industry is the only segment of the economy that has exceeded its carbon reduction goals.
While CIP has been beneficial, it has become outdated, lacks an emphasis on innovation and doesn’t support many advancements that have positive environmental impacts. To modernize the program, Minnesota’s electric cooperatives, along with other industry partners, drafted the Energy Conservation and Optimization (ECO) Act. This bill emphasizes total energy efficiency across many sectors – energy, transportation, agriculture and others – to encourage diverse improvements. Under the ECO Act, the goal to reduce electricity use by 1.5% annually will remain intact. However, a portion of this may be achieved with efficient electrification programs such as incentivizing EVs. The 1.5% spending requirement would be eliminated unless the reduction in electricity use is not met.
Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative supports this bill because we believe it provides more long-term, sustainable benefits for our members. The benefits include:
- Allowing Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative more flexibility to meet our annual energy savings goals by enabling us to count EV incentives, electric storage water heaters and air source heat pumps toward part of the goal.
- Helping the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fostering a more resilient grid.
- Encouraging innovation by supporting continuously advancing technologies.
- Reducing consumers’ total energy bills by eliminating the mandated 1.5% spending requirements while providing better tools for reducing carbon.
We encourage our member-owners to join us in advocating for this legislative change by contacting their MN State Officials. Contact info can be found at www.mrea.org/take-action. If you have questions, please contact Jana at MLEC at (218) 927-8246.