Rep. Pat Garofalo has introduced his draft Omnibus Energy Bill. Since he is Chair of the House Jobs Creation and Energy Affordability Committee, his bill is the Republican bill.
The Garofalo bill incorporates the energy-related ideas and bills that had been heard in his committee. Rep. Garofalo then found more bad ideas to include. This post would be much too long if it did more than scratch the surface. So it just covers the worst of the worst. Two of the worst of the worst were presented earlier in committee so there are earlier and more detailed posts about them. The earlier posts are noted below.
In summary, Rep. Garofalo’s bill would dismantle most of Minnesota’s efforts to promote renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by repealing the laws that support these efforts. He totally sabotages solar.
In 62 pages he does a lot more, like proposing to make gifts to coal, the Koch brothers, and people wealthy enough to buy electric cars.
Before the worst of the worst, the back story needs to be told. The fight brewing in Minnesota is just one of many happening across the U.S. In an article entitled “Utilities wage campaign against rooftop solar,” The Washington Post reported on the campaign by utitlites and its fossil-fuel supporters to stop residential solar. The Post says that legislation to make net metering illegal or more expensive has been introduced in legislatures in nearly two dozen states. The Los Angeles Times article, “Koch brothers, big utilities attack solar, green energy policies” links the effort against net metering to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch brothers.
The worst of the worst:
One, the bill would repeal the quantitative state goals for reducing green house gas emissions and says the state should reduce green house gas emisssions “in an affordable manner.” Whatever that means.
Two, the bill would allow either the Minnesota House or Senate to veto the plan that is now in the process of being developed by the Dayton administration to significantly reduce carbon emissions in our energy sector by 2020 and 2030. The plan is being developed in response to the EPA’s proposed rule on carbon. Since the bill would allow the House or Senate to veto any other carbon reduction plan that might be developed, the bill is not a negotiating tactic, rather it’s designed for gridlock. (The post, “Coal: the Republican answer to global warming,” has details.)
This new strategy of trying to give the legislative branch veto power over an action taken by the executive branch is a product of ALEC, which gets a lot of its financial support from the fossil fuel industry. (The post, “New Republican Strategy: redesign government for the benefit of polluters”, has details.)
Three, the bill would repeal current law prohibiting (1) importing electricity from new coal fired plants in other states, and (2) long-term agreements to purchase power from sources that would increase statewide carbon dioxide emissions. These prohibitions were part of the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 and were designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Left in the law is a prohibition of construction of new coal-fired plants in Minnesota. The upshot is that electricity from new coal-fired plants would be imported from other states where Minnesota has no control over emissions. (The post, “Vote repeals a critical part of landmark 2007 Next Generation Energy Act”, has details.)
Four, the bill would repeal the energy improvement program that has successfully reduced inefficiencies by electric users. We do not know how much inefficiency is embedded in all of the things we do that require energy. It does seem that our utilities are dependent on a lot of inefficiency for their revenue.
Five, the bill would repeal the moratorium on new nuclear power plant construction.
Six, the last thing to highlight is by no means the least. The bill comes down hard on all things solar. It would allow the solar energy standard to be met “through the use of solar energy or any other more affordable eligible energy technology” which, of course, is intended to gut the solar standard. The bill would also end the solar energy incentive program and change net metering.
The argument used by utilities and its fossil fuel friends against net metering is that it shifts costs to other rate payers. The anti-solar folks brought a witness from Boston to Rep. Garofalo’s committee who made that argument. However, he was very selective in the data he used and excluded the solar benefits of reducing air pollution and greenhouse gasses. Our Pollution Controal Agency estimates that air pollution costs Minnesota $30 billion a year. The “b” is not a typo.