Decarbonize: The Clean Energy Podcast

Legislative session debrief with Fresh Energy

May 23, 2023 Season 4 Episode 3
Legislative session debrief with Fresh Energy
Decarbonize: The Clean Energy Podcast
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Decarbonize: The Clean Energy Podcast
Legislative session debrief with Fresh Energy
May 23, 2023 Season 4 Episode 3

Let’s talk about what happened at the Minnesota Legislature! Join Fresh Energy policy experts for a webinar to discuss why this year was the biggest yet for clean energy and climate—and why it means the work is just beginning.

Join Fresh Energy policy experts for a webinar that was recorded on Tuesday, May 23 to learn what some key accomplishments were this session, what they mean for the work ahead, and more.

Webinar guests:

Show Notes Transcript

Let’s talk about what happened at the Minnesota Legislature! Join Fresh Energy policy experts for a webinar to discuss why this year was the biggest yet for clean energy and climate—and why it means the work is just beginning.

Join Fresh Energy policy experts for a webinar that was recorded on Tuesday, May 23 to learn what some key accomplishments were this session, what they mean for the work ahead, and more.

Webinar guests:

Jo Olson: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Decarbonize the Clean Energy podcast from Fresh Energy. Fresh Energy is a Minnesota nonprofit working to speed our state's transition to a clean energy economy. My name is Joe Olsen. I'm the senior director of communications and engagement at Fresh Energy. Today, I'm here with you to share a recording of our recent webinar, unpacking some of Fresh Energy's Favorite things that happened at the Minnesota Legislature this year. I'm joined on the webinar by Justin Fay, Fresh Energy Senior Lead public affairs and Advocacy. Anna Johnson, Senior Manager, State and Local Affairs and Michael Noble. Fresh Energy's outgoing executive director. All right, let's jump into the recording. All right, Welcome, everyone, to today's webinar. My name is Joe Olsen and I'll be leading our little adventure today as we dig in to some of the forward looking investments and sound policy outcomes for clean energy and climate at the Minnesota legislature. My name is Joe Olsen and my pronouns are she her? I'm the senior director of communications and Engagement and Fresh Energy. Thank you so much for being with us today. Like I said before, that chat function I think is on. So go ahead and tell us who you are, where you're joining us from and what your pronouns are. We also will be using the Q&A function of Zoom. So if you have questions for us to get to at the end of the webinar, please use the Q&A instead of the chat. If you put your questions into Q&A, you can like and upvote other people's questions and then those will rise to the top, making it even easier for me to moderate the Q&A portion of today's event. All right. So I know some of you are new to fresh energy, so thank you for being with us.


Jo Olson: [00:01:53] Fresh Energy has been working on clean energy and climate policy issues here in Minnesota and throughout the Midwest for 30 years. We are changing the world through bold policy solutions that move us to a just and carbon free future. And now I want to introduce today's guests and my colleagues. Welcome to Michael Noble. He's the outgoing executive director of Fresh Energy. Justin Fay, senior lead of public Affairs and Advocacy, and Anna Johnson, senior manager, State and Local affairs. Welcome you all. I know you're probably still coming down from session, so I appreciate you taking time so quickly after the end of the session for this debrief webinar. So I know some of you joining us today were at our 100% kind of debrief webinar in February of this year, and little did we know then, I guess we maybe had an inkling, but it turns out with 100%, Minnesota was just getting started. And I feel like since we're on Zoom, folks can't really see my t shirt, but I'm wearing a shirt that says Vibes up, emissions Down. It's the fresh energy staff shirt from last year, and I think it's a very fitting t shirt for what we're going to be talking about today. I'm going to stop sharing my screen and I think we can dive into the questions. So Michael, Justin and Anna did the math and between the three of you, we've got a combined 50 years of work at the Minnesota legislature, and you all have seen more than a few historic climate moments. I'm especially thinking back to 2007. Can you tell us a little bit about how this legislative session specifically stacks up? And Michael, let's start with you and then we'll go to Justin and then we'll go to Anna.


Michael Noble: [00:03:45] Well, it's really a fabulous to be able to review this incredible historic legislative session. And it just seems for 15 years we keep calling 2007 the best legislative session that clean energy and climate and environment ever had. Some old timers might argue that the 1973 session, when we wrote all our original environmental laws, maybe as the is the single most important environmental session in Minnesota history. But oh my gosh, did 2023 blow the doors off of everything that I have experienced? This is a remarkable year with remarkable accomplishments, and they're just way too many accomplishments even to mention today. So let's just stop talking about 2007. Although I did see Representative Kate Knuth, one of the all stars of 2007, pop up on our on our attendance today. And there were many other really fabulous legislative leaders. Representative Hilty, Senator Anderson, Senator Yvonne Prettner Solon, Senator Dibble, Representative Kaylin. Too many to name. 2007 was a great year, but we're just never going to mention it ever again.


Jo Olson: [00:05:09] Justin And do you feel the same way?


Justin Fay: [00:05:12] I may still mention it from time to time. Yeah, I think.


Anna Johnson: [00:05:17] It's an important piece of our history.


Justin Fay: [00:05:20] Good to remember where you came from. Um, I mean, I can't agree more, though, with what Michael just shared this. I mean, we had pretty high expectations coming into this session, and we just completely blew those out of the water. And I just can't say enough about the leaders that we have in the Minnesota legislature and in the Walz administration and then especially in the community of advocates that have been working, in some cases decades to accomplish some of the things that we accomplished this year. And it it all happened so much happened so fast in 2023 that it sort of was like it was almost like like poof. Like what? Like, oh, that happened. Um, well, there is a multi year campaign that just came to an end. There's another one. Um, and you know this. We only have an hour today, so there's no way we can possibly cover everything that happened. So. So just maybe want to make that point at the outset that we're not going to try to, um, we're just going to, I think, talk about a few of the things that we're excited about. We'll hopefully have a little bit of time at the end for questions and we can get into some of the things that you all are excited about. Um, but you know, we, we had a historic opportunity coming into the year as great as what the legislature did is. Um, you know, the federal government and the Biden administration had laid the groundwork and sort of significantly changed, raised the ceiling for what is possible and what we should strive for and also what what we can leverage and sort of multiply with the resources that we deployed at the state level this year. And that that really created a lot of momentum for change this year before the session even started. And I don't think you can really underestimate how impactful that federal leadership has been and continues to be in helping us, helping lay the groundwork for the progress that we've made.


Anna Johnson: [00:07:18] Yeah, it was. It was a really fun session. Um, I'd say that and like kind of a masochistic way because it was extremely busy, but we were busy with just the best kind of policies and support. I just remember a moment, maybe a few weeks into session when I realized I was saving all of our letters that we were submitting to the committees as fresh energy letter of support. And it was just that over and over and over again. Um, so I also want to give a shout out to our staff. We had 14 different staff members contribute oral or written testimony 86 times throughout the session. A lot of that was done at literally the very last minute. Very like time sensitive requests coming through. So, um, a great year and required a lot of work. But I think all of our partners and all of our staff should and, and do feel really good about what was accomplished this year. I also want to shout out the just incredible community of organizations and advocates working on different things this year. It was a very, very collaborative year, um, and not just across the nonprofit space. You know, we worked with utility partners, with labor partners and a wide range of advocates. So yeah, it was, it was a good, busy year. Excited to kind of get into some of the details of what passed.


Jo Olson: [00:08:49] Awesome. So now we're heading into my section of the agenda that I've titled our top faves, which maybe isn't fair because like everything was our favorite, but we'll do our best to like highlight a few of the things. So let's start with what Justin has coined as flagship wins. So Michael, can you give us like a quick recap on 100%? And when I say quick, I do mean it.


Michael Noble: [00:09:13] Sure. Well, I could first say that you can go back into our webinar archives and listen to the fabulous webinar we did the day that it was signed into law. It's, I think, one of our best, and it was very emotional after working on that for the last several years. Very simple policy just says if, Hey pal, if you sell electricity to Minnesota, it's got to have no carbon in it. That's the rules. The rules of the game are no carbon allowed. You got 17 years to figure it out and you got to get 80% of the way there by 2030. So that's a simple law. And we gave the co op utilities a little more time. They have to get to 60% by 2030. That was the last concession that Nic France and Jamie Long made. And one thing I'm really, really proud of is that Nic, France and Jamie Long were such incredibly fabulous partners and they work so closely together. I think they were on the phone every day and no one ever found any daylight between them. They had the exact same position on exact on absolutely every little difficult, tricky, confusing issue. They talk with each other. That's why it became law. By February 5th is the two legislative bodies became a team. Instead of the House competing with the Senate, the House collaborated with the Senate and they got their bill done. And think about I mean, they were wrapping up all the controversial questions by around January 15th, and it was signed into law the first week of February. So it's a dramatic, historic achievement. And Tim Walz deserves enormous credit for having the vision. And I want to shout out to each of our three investor owned utilities by name Minnesota Power, Idaho Power, Xcel Energy and the rural electric co-ops, both their member co-ops and Great River Energy, the generating transmission co-ops. They didn't all actively support the bill, but none of them opposed the bill. So that is a dramatic statement that this isn't a dangerous, expensive, risky blackout bill, which some partisans called it. This is sensible, practical public policy that our utilities are comfortable with.


Jo Olson: [00:11:27] Perfect. Thank you. And now no 100% set the stage for major climate investments to follow, which was highlighted by the creation of the Minnesota State Competitiveness Fund. Justin, will you talk a little bit about that?


Justin Fay: [00:11:40] Sure. Well, I kind of started with the the lead in. You know, over the last couple of years, there's been three very significant pieces of legislation that have passed at the federal level, the bipartisan infrastructure law, the Chips Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. And all of them provide significant resources for what you maybe you could just generally call climate solutions, clean tech, economic development, workforce development, infrastructure buildout in ways that are forward looking and climate climate friendly. But in many cases, particularly for the programs that are funded through the infrastructure law, there are matching requirements. So basically the federal government, if the state puts up 10% or 20%, the federal government will pay the entire balance. And so if you as a state can generate, generate your match, you can leverage an incredible array and quantity of federal dollars and capture those and bring those into into into your state. The Competitiveness Fund is a new program that was proposed by the governor and the Minnesota Department of Commerce to basically create a pool of resources that could be used to leverage federal dollars not just for the state, but for entities within the state that qualify for various programs, be that be they utilities, local governments, cities, counties and other other actors, other public agencies who might qualify.


Justin Fay: [00:13:14] And thanks to that leadership and and that vision and that was actually first proposed a year ago and wasn't passed by the legislature in 2022. But the administration brought it back. They brought it back with some more ambitious dollar numbers behind it. And that that law was actually passed in April and signed into law. So almost a month before the end of the session, $115 million was set aside for the competitiveness Fund. And then it got even better as 2023 had a way of of doing this year. And an additional $75 million was passed as part of the omnibus jobs and Labor bill in the last week of session. So that brought the session total up to $190 million. Now we're probably going to want to do more over the life, certainly over the life of the of these federal programs. But that's a really, really good, ambitious starting number that's going to position Minnesota to be really competitive for this whole suite of federal programs that are available and really, really make a big difference in terms of our state being able to comply with the 100% law and some of the other ambitious new targets that we've set for ourselves.


Jo Olson: [00:14:32] Perfect. So it's a really big deal that will have significant impacts on our state for a long time to come. So in addition to this historic funding for climate, there were many more highlights for climate and energy as well. So let's start with one that we talked about a lot last year, the electric panel upgrade grants. So Anna, can you run with this one?


Anna Johnson: [00:14:55] Yeah, I'd love to. So when you are electrifying your home, you're adding an air source, heat pump, air source, water heater, induction stove, maybe an electric vehicle. You are adding a lot of electric load to your home that might have been built 150 years ago, 100 years ago, before electrification really took off at this level. So an unexpected expense is sometimes just upgrading your electric panel to add the ability to accommodate all of those new devices that they add. They save emissions, but they add electricity load. So this program establishes a grant for residential properties, and particularly low and middle income households are eligible for up to 100% of upgrade costs, and multifamily buildings are also eligible. So it's an exciting program. There's $6.5 million in it for from the state. And yeah, it was great. We worked with Representative Hollands and Senator Zhang on the bill and our staff members, Eric Fowler and Mario Ojeda, were also our policy leads on that and did a great job explaining all of the technical parts of what goes into an electric panel and why it's important to upgrade it.


Jo Olson: [00:16:17] Which it turns out there's a lot like think they both walked away. Well after a year plus of deep research really with a great respect for the engineers and the trade. So. Okay so Justin, I know you have been working on energy codes both at the Minnesota legislature and beyond for probably longer than you would like to. But obviously codes are a practical and substantive approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the building sector. So tell us a little bit about the accelerated commercial energy codes. Bill. That's a tongue twister.


Justin Fay: [00:16:58] Yeah. Well, the building code and specifically the energy code has been an area of work that fresh energy has had a kind of a specialty focus in for a number of years. And Michael can probably tell me exactly when when we started to do that work. But 1991, 1991 and it's a it's a unique focus area within the NGO community in Minnesota. It's not codes haven't traditionally been a subject area that get a lot of attention from energy and climate advocates, but it is potentially a very powerful and impactful tool. And, you know, does does affect and draw the interest of a lot of different stakeholders. The code is basically a describes what the minimum sort of standards are for every building that you build in the state of Minnesota. And so anybody who has an interest in buildings, which is like basically all people, is a stakeholder when we're talking about talking about building code. So it's very indigent being technically complex, it's very politically complex. And we have done a lot of fresh energy, has done a lot of work over the years through the administrative process, providing public comments and technical analysis on proposed updates to the code. That work has been going on since not apparently since 1991 and will continue into the future.


Justin Fay: [00:18:25] But also it's been a focus of interest at the legislature and with policymakers. And 5 or 6 years ago there was a kind of a new initiative that was really spearheaded initially by a group of cities that were interested in or had adopted climate climate action plans and climate goals and found themselves a little limited by in terms of what they could do within their kind of authority in the building sector. And so started asking questions and looking at different models for how we might approach the code in a different way that would allow cities to move faster or to make sure that their climate goals were were were met. Where we actually landed this year is a new and this this policy, there's been, I think, six different versions of this bill that have been written over each of the last six legislative sessions, but six times the charm, the policy that was passed this year sets a new goal of 80% efficiency. See our energy savings relative to a 2004 baseline by the year 2036. So that's a that's a mouthful. It's like you're like, what? Where do those numbers come from? What that what that basically what that's basically saying is we're going to get about as much as you can, energy savings as you can get through traditional energy efficiency measures.


Justin Fay: [00:19:53] And we're going to do that by the year 2036 for all new commercial buildings. That's actually pretty. That's a pretty robust policy. And we have a lot of work to do in the building sector. We have I forget the exact number. There's a there's a statistic out there. Maybe somebody even in the in the audience knows it, that at a very high percentage of the buildings that are going to exist in the state of Minnesota in the year 2050 when we have to be at zero, emissions have already been built. That's. This policy doesn't affect that. We have a lot of work to do to get our existing building stock to be to be carbon neutral. But. Uh, the first step in the road to that solution is to stop making the problem worse. And we've finally put Minnesota on a trajectory to do exactly that. And it's for all commercial, all new commercial buildings in the state of Minnesota. It's very exciting, very exciting win that we a number of us at Fresh Energy and and elsewhere in the climate community have been working on for a number of years now.


Jo Olson: [00:21:03] Awesome. Thank you. That was quite the building's pep talk. I bet you have a few converts in the audience. Okay, so now I know that Energy is a member of the Frontline Communities Coalition that successfully advanced the Frontline Communities Protection Act. And can you tell us a little bit about that?


Anna Johnson: [00:21:23] Yeah, I'd love to. So kind of pivoting to more industrial buildings. So the way that permitting happens for individual point source facilities is what they're called, is that facility has to meet a certain benchmark and level of pollution. They can't go over a certain emissions level for that one single facility, but it's kind of measured within the bounds of that one single polluting source. So there gets to be an issue if that polluting source is directly next to another one, which is directly next to another one, and they're kind of all concentrated in a particular area, there aren't very good protections for the cumulative impacts of that. Those concentrated buildings or, you know, sources of air or water pollution. So the Frontline Communities Protection Act was being supported by the frontline communities Coalition, which was led by Kopel and the Minnesota Environmental Justice Table. They've been working on it for several years. So there's a new law on the books that protects communities that are overburdened by existing pollution, by saying that, okay, let's not look at, you know, the individual pollution sources, Let's look at the total pollution and how much an additional facility would be adding to that. So that's now going to be required in permitting projects within the seven county metro area. The cities of Rochester and Duluth and tribal nations will also have the opportunity to opt in to that policy. So it's super exciting. It's a it's a nation leading policy. Representative Foley and Senator Bobby Joe Champion were authors on that. And just want to shout out also Roxanne O'Brien, who's been working on the north side on this policy for a long time, too. And Jenny Swartz was our policy lead internally on this. So it's a really big win, really exciting to see, exciting to see it in a really good equity policy.


Jo Olson: [00:23:33] Thank you, Anna. Um, so, Justin, the by clean by fair Minnesota act, I know, was one that you were especially excited about from the very beginning. Can you tell the group what it entails?


Justin Fay: [00:23:49] Sure. Well, so the bike lane is modeled off of a policy that was first adopted in a state on the West Coast that I'm not going to I'm not going to name specifically that. What it basically what it basically is, is it's a procurement policy. It says when we procure the state procures raw, raw materials and it names certain sectors specifically or certain products specifically like like structural steel, for example, that is going to do so based on an emissions profile analysis. So instead of just buy the cheapest thing on the market, we're actually going to look at like what the carbon intensity of the product is and how it's being sourced. And that does a couple of different things. One, it means that when we do, especially large public, you know, large public works projects, you know, big capital projects, we can do those in a way that hopefully has less emissions impact. But also when you do that, one of the major drivers of emissions from some of these products is the transportation costs. And so, in effect, what you're when you start looking more seriously or considering more seriously the emissions impact, that's a kind of a thumb on the scale for local sourcing of these raw materials. And that in addition to having climate benefits, also has local economic development and job creation benefits, which is which is a win win. And one of the features of that policy and I have to give just an enormous amount of credit to our friends at the Bluegreen Alliance for leading on this. They were instrumental in this policy being adopted in in that state that shall not be named. A number of years ago and have been advancing similar policies around the country. And we're very, very excited to see Minnesota join the party.


Jo Olson: [00:25:51] Thanks, Michael. It looked like you wanted you were thinking about chiming in on this one.


Michael Noble: [00:25:55] Well, I'm just I'm really delighted to see Justin highlight this again of dozens of wonderful things that happened. This was one where the labor movement in Minnesota and the environmental movement in Minnesota put their shoulders together, you know, and not to call out a historic partisan figure, but Paul Wellstone was the one who originally had the vision of blue and green together. Why be divided over the issues that separate us? Let's find the issues that unite us. This is the politics of of making a difference. And, uh, Blue Green Alliance has been just a fabulous partner to fresh energy for all these many years. And to see their work become law is something I'm very, very, very proud to see.


Justin Fay: [00:26:42] Really is, I think, one of the. Maybe underappreciated stories of the session was just as we go through this list, every single one of these policies that we've talked about so far was a collaboration between environmental and climate groups and our friends and labor. And, you know, I think it speaks to the results speak for themselves when we find ways to work together and build these strategic partnerships and look for common interests, we can get we can get an awful lot done.


Jo Olson: [00:27:13] Yeah, absolutely. Thank you. Well, another hot topic in Minnesota is fertilizer, because nitrogen fertilizer production is enormously carbon intensive and it's produced primarily using fossil gas. Justin, can you talk a little bit about Fresh Energy's green fertilizer work at the Capitol this year? And I think, Michael, you'll you'll probably want to be chiming in here, too.


Justin Fay: [00:27:41] Well, Michael's even more much more of an expert than I am. But, you know, this this is really an emerging area of interest for fresh energy. We actually just launched a new program within the past year focusing on decarbonization and the industrial and agriculture sectors headed by Craig McDonnell, formerly assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. And so this is one of a number of different emerging strategies, strategies that we see having a lot of potential to drive down emissions and, you know, spur investment and economic development in especially in rural communities. Fertilizer is a really interesting kind of focus area. Conventional fertilizer production. Well, a lot of it is sourced globally. It's not even produced in the United States. And most of the fertilizer production that does happen here in the US is largely taking place kind of in the Gulf Coast region. And it's very petroleum heavy industry and process. What green fertilizer is, is basically fertilizer that's generated with renewable energy rather than petroleum. And there's some really cutting edge national nation leading research happening at the University of Minnesota. Morris Cougars right here in the good old state of Minnesota, and a gentleman named Michael Reese, who's a nationally recognized thought leader on these subjects that is at the cusp of being able to actually start to deploy some of these new fertilizer production technologies to produce fertilizer with little or no emissions carbon emissions impact. And that's that's a really big deal. The egg sector, agriculture sector is one that we're really in the early stages of wrapping our heads around how to how to actually decarbonize at scale and having emerging technologies like this is an absolute absolutely necessary in order to be able to get where we need to go by mid-century, which is no emissions from these sectors. So it's a it's a really cool opportunity. And like, you know, maybe in addition to doing good things for the planet, we're going to like have a new multi-billion dollar industry headquartered here in the upper Midwest instead of in oil states. It's pretty cool.


Jo Olson: [00:30:10] Yeah, absolutely. And if our listeners are super interested in this part of the conversation, stay tuned. I will be hosting a podcast in the next few weeks with both Craig McDonnell and Mike Reese, so we'll be really digging into that. But Michael, do you have anything you want to add?


Michael Noble: [00:30:29] I just want to just highlight the power of this idea that if we're importing fertilizers is an important part of our economy. And of course, we're fully committed to all our water quality and environmental quality allies who want to use fertilizer sparingly and make sure that it doesn't contaminate our waters. But, you know, everybody every practical person knows we need fertilizer. So let's make fertilizer in rural Minnesota from wind power. Not import fertilizer from the Gulf Coast produced by natural gas and fossil fuels. This is the ultimate green economy sustainability, industrial decarbonisation strategy. And I believe that Fresh Energy is is the leading non-profit in the world on this. And someone proved me wrong that someone's farther ahead than we. But Fresh Energy has a senior level executive from the Walz administration joined our team to lead this effort.


Justin Fay: [00:31:28] And and I should just add what actually got passed at the legislature this year. Forgot to mention that. Is funding for basically enough funding for one pilot scale project. So it's very much like we're in the early stages of this of this effort. But the legislature has stepped up with some resources that will get put to immediate use.


Jo Olson: [00:31:51] Wonderful. Okay, Now, I think we should pivot to transportation. Anna, with transportation emissions now the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the state. Fresh energy advocated for investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and incentives. And there were some other things, too. Anna, can you kick us off maybe by talking about the Metro sales tax?


Anna Johnson: [00:32:16] Yes, I would be delighted to. So the legislature passed a metro sales tax for the seven county metro area. It'll be 0.7 $0.05 on the dollar, and five six of that will be dedicated exclusively to transit. This is a huge win for transit, which just has not been able to get enough funding and was kind of at a moment where it was kind of about to fall off a cliff where we absolutely needed major investment in transit to at least keep it maintain the status quo. But this metro sales tax will be a huge ongoing investment in critical transit funding ongoing. Want to give a huge shout out to move Minnesota and Sierra Club, who did a phenomenal job even in the metro area. Raising revenue and raising taxes. Taxes is a is a difficult vote. And it's it's super exciting to see this across the finish line. And we're going to see and feel the impacts of this very soon. And it's going to feel really good. It's going to we're going to be really proud of our metro area and statewide transportation infrastructure. So it's very exciting to see. There's also a 50 cent delivery fee on certain product. Certain orders that get delivered to your house has to be starts at $100 or more and doesn't apply to like clothing and food and things that don't have the sales tax. So that's an additional funding source as well.


Michael Noble: [00:34:00] So I have to chime in here too. Again, I just want to call out our elders. This this has been something we've been seeking for 20 years in the clean energy and climate movement, mentioned the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Jim Erkel And before there was Move Minnesota, there was Transit for Livable Communities, Barb Thoman, Dave Van Hattum and Fresh Energy's own Chantelle Hardy and Ethan Farley. All those people worked for years and years and years to realize this dream and special shout out to State Representative Frank Hornstein, the chair of the Transportation Committee, and State Senator Scott Dibble. Uh, it's just like to the to the clean electricity world. Getting the 100% bill was like the main thing to the transportation world. Getting a metro wide sales tax dedicated to transportation equity and justice and inclusion. You know, people don't have to have cars to get around if they have good transit. There's nothing more equitable, more just more climate friendly than a metro wide sales tax to support public transportation.


Anna Johnson: [00:35:07] Yeah. Thank you, Michael. I also realized I should shout out the 100% campaign, too. And there are several others who worked on it. But after the 100% bill passed, the 100% campaign, did some very quick assessment and pivoting and put their shoulder into the transportation bill. So they did an awesome job advocating as well. So in addition. Oh, Justin, chime in.


Justin Fay: [00:35:34] As long as we're doing shout outs on the once in a generation transit funding victory. Want to also just recognize my good friends at the Sierra Club, Peter Wagenius, Joshua Hudak, Margaret Levin in particular, and Sam Rockwell and his team at Move Minnesota just provided exemplary leadership. And wow, what, what, what an accomplishment.


Anna Johnson: [00:35:57] Absolutely.


Michael Noble: [00:35:59] Really amazing. That's the problem when you start naming people.


Anna Johnson: [00:36:03] Right?


Anna Johnson: [00:36:05] Um, so, yeah. So in addition to historic transit funding, there's also a lot of funding for electric electrification of vehicles in a few different buckets. So there's $13 million invested in the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program, which is federal federal fund program that will establish a fast charging EV network across the state. Um, there's also a an EV bill that has been introduced in the past and, and made it across the finish line this year. It provides EV rebates to for the purchase of new and used electric vehicles. So it's a $2,500 rebate for new EVs and those EVs have to be $55,000 or less. Suggested retail price. Um, and uh, let's see, $600 for the used EV So excellent. And those rebates will be available right at the point of sale. So it'll reduce the purchase price so you don't have to. I always have a hard time with that. You know, fill out a form and drop it in the mail to make sure you get your money back. So there are also dealership grants that were established to make sure dealers are equipped for training. You know, they're trained and understand electric vehicles. They can use the grants also to purchase charging infrastructure on their on their dealership sites. And also, yeah, $13 million in electric school buses, which is one of my favorite things. Everyone loves an electric school bus. Uh, our regular diesel buses are just so gross. And our most vulnerable among us children who have developing hearts and lungs breathing in diesel fumes is just a huge public health issue. So, um, investing in public school buses is a huge win, and I'm really excited to see that roll out. Also want to shout out Mark Anderson and Craig McDonnell on our staff who are leading in the transportation space for us.


Jo Olson: [00:38:17] And transportation was a big one. So any Justin or Michael, any closing closing thoughts on transportation before we move on to solar? All right, we're going to solar. So much. There was so much solar. Justin, I do not I'm not giving you an easy task right now. When I ask you to give us a rundown of all the cool things that happened for solar this year. Good luck.


Justin Fay: [00:38:41] Well, I'll do my best. I'm not possibly going to be able to name it all but one of the coming into the sessions session, one of the subject areas that we knew we were going to want to dig into was something called interconnection. So interconnection is the process by which electricity generating technology like like solar PV connects to the grid and it determines how much new grid infrastructure is required in order to connect a project. It's a very technical process. It can be very time consuming and it has a lot of influence over the speed and pace at which you can actually build out our clean electricity system. This is in recent years become a particular problem on Xcel Energy system. Just the amount of small distribution level solar that's being built or that is proposed to be built has started to kind of in some ways it's become a victim of its own success. It's gumming up the works a little bit. And in many cases you're seeing homeowners and small commercial folks who want to install solar on their building homes or buildings who are either a. Being forced to wait in line for a very, very long period of time or be being assessed very significant charges in order to pay for grid upgrades or C, both A and B, And that that's a that's become a barrier to, you know, especially smaller rooftop projects getting built. And it's not happening everywhere.


Justin Fay: [00:40:19] It's happening kind of specifically on Excel system and kind of only in certain areas. So we we dug in pretty hard on that problem this year. And the final energy kind of budget bill included a little over $10 million to make infrastructure investments in the specific areas of Xcel Energy's grid that are the most the phrase are our staff uses as capacity constrained. So the doesn't solve the entire problem. It's not intended to, but just a little bit of money to jump start some some projects in those areas that are the most affected by this problem. Um, beyond that, there was like a just a significant amount of new resources being put into especially the solar on schools program. That was a solar on Schools is a bipartisan program that passed a couple of years ago and it's been wildly successful around the state. It turns out schools, which tend to be older buildings, tend to have flat roofs and tend to be major sort of centers and hubs of community interest and activity are like the best places to put solar panels. And the demand for this program has dramatically outpaced the resources that have been made available to date. So there's a significant amount of new new money being put into set aside for support, solar on on schools. And for the first time this year, solar on other public buildings. So especially local governments that want to reduce their energy costs by installing building solar on their buildings will have some a new state program to help support them in doing so.


Justin Fay: [00:42:04] Uh, Community Solar is was the subject of some conversation this year. Fresh energy worked really, really hard a decade ago, along with Xcel Energy and the now speaker of the Minnesota House to create the community solar program. It's been wildly successful over its first decade of existence. I believe it is factually correct to say that most of the solar that currently exists in the state of Minnesota is is directly as a result of that program. Um, but moving forward, I think we anticipated this year and then actually did have a fairly robust conversation about, you know what what should the next ten years of that program look like and how do we continue to advance, especially smaller scale solar projects in a way that reduces costs and helps to facilitate longer term kind of holistic planning? And the legislature did pass a fairly significant set of reforms to the program. We continue to have some concerns around the overall cost of community solar on the system and alongside other other renewables and including other other types of solar. But there were some significant changes that were made that we think are for the better and look forward to continuing to work on on the community solar and other solar project build out in the months and years to come.


Michael Noble: [00:43:34] When amplification of that is that a new a new category of distribution level solar, namely ground mounted solar farms that are smaller than, you know, say, 50 or 70 acres that would be competitively procured on a on a market basis by Excel and Minnesota Power and Otter tail power. That was agreed to. And we think these these solar farms, if you will, that are not on the transmission system but on the distribution system are going to be incredibly important as we wait and wait and wait to build the transmission we need for larger solar farms. So we're looking forward to really an explosive new industry of competitively priced, market based. Uh. Community scale solar farms on on Minnesota's distribution system. And we had the support from both the House and the Senate and the governor and all three investor owned utilities to get started in that direction.


Jo Olson: [00:44:40] I said there was a lot about solar. Oh, you have more? Justin Oh.


Justin Fay: [00:44:43] And just to answer one of the questions I saw pop up in the chat, the contiguous county rule will no longer exist beginning in 2024.


Jo Olson: [00:44:53] Oh, I love it. Answering a question already. Uh, folks, please remember to put your questions in the Q and A, I will do my best to look at the chat when we go through the questions at the end. But if they're in the Q&A, I will definitely see them. But in the interest of time, let's keep rolling on. Uh, Anna, a highlight of this year was the Minnesota Climate Innovation Finance Authority, also known as Green Bank. Anna, can you tackle explaining how the Finance authority builds on the great work already being done in the clean energy and conservation space?


Anna Johnson: [00:45:30] Yeah. Thanks, Joe. So the Climate Innovation Finance Authority is an exciting new finance tool that will provide financial and technical assistance that'll make more clean energy projects possible. So some clean energy projects don't necessarily have a huge return on investment or, you know, communities who have historically had less access to capital still have less access to capital. But there's a lot of projects that are worth doing that are just hard to get funded. So this will be a new publicly accountable financing authority. And the huge benefit of this is that it'll help leverage federal dollars. Yeah. To leverage federal dollars. So it'll it'll have a kind of a multiplying factor for the investment that Minnesota is making. So super exciting. There's $20 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act, greenhouse gas reduction fund. So the $45 million investment from the state this year will help Minnesota have access to that level of funding. So super exciting. Representative Greenman and Senator Zhang did a great job leading on this one.


Speaker5: [00:46:46] Thank you.


Michael Noble: [00:46:47] Can I chime in here on the Green Bank? Want to acknowledge a former state representative, Jeremy Callan, who's on the call, has worked on this a long time with a lot of other folks. But one of the key things to know about this this particular. New policy is it creates a new state finance authority. And remember those three words, state finance authority. It is like the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency or the Rural Development Authority or the Saint Paul Port Authority. It's a state entity that has finance capability. And just to give you a little teaser, it was about the middle of the session that the Department of Commerce and the governor's office realized that creating a green bank and a new state finance authority, those three magic words, state finance authority, allows the state of Minnesota to borrow money from the United States Department of Energy through the loan program office. For all the different things we might want to do, whether it's school buses or fast chargers or rooftop solar on, on, on on schools or green fertilizer. The federal Treasury is here to help. If we have a state finance authority with skin in the game.


Jo Olson: [00:48:11] Great skin in the game. Indeed. Okay. So those were just a few. Actually more than a few, but quite a few of the big highlights for fresh energy that we wanted to sit down and unpack for folks today. So if these accomplishments show us anything, it's that the work is truly just beginning. I feel like through the whole conversation we've been talking about like this happened and now it means all these other things can happen. So, Justin, can you talk about how everything we talked about increase the monumental importance of continuing to advocate for and invest in clean energy and climate policies in Minnesota?


Justin Fay: [00:48:51] Well, it's not just advocating for policies, right? We we we passed a lot of good policy this year and we passed a lot of good programs this year. And now now it's really about executing on it. Um, this, you know, there is no guarantee that we're ever, I shouldn't say ever, you know. Breakthrough years like this don't happen every year. That's why they're called breakthrough years. And we have to make sure that this historic opportunity is not squandered. And that means really, really digging in and making sure that all of these new policies and programs are implemented quickly and correctly and in ways that are sustainable and allow and continue to build and position Minnesota to build for even more ambitious and harder conversations that we're going to have in in future years. And so that means, you know, there's going to be a lot of pressure on our state agencies who are now, you know, the legislature did its job and now it's really going to be up to the folks who, you know, at the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, our local governments who have significant role in a number of these initiatives to really step up and make sure that they're they're being thoughtful and careful and implementing all of these programs in ways that are going to be successful, both in terms of outcomes and also in terms of public perception so that we can come back in a year or 2 or 3 and ask for more, because we're not this isn't enough, as great as this year is to to solve the climate crisis, we're not we haven't accomplished net zero economy wide by mid-century yet.


Justin Fay: [00:50:34] Not even close. And so this is the year where we're this is the year that sets up the this isn't the end game. This is like what sets up the end game. And um, you know, that's I think we're starting to think about that a lot at fresh energy in terms of what is that going to mean for our work, which is historically very focused on the legislature and on regulatory decision making. Maybe we need to start spending more time thinking about how do we how do we support local governments, how do we support, how do we leverage our our staff expertise as a, you know, a thought partner and leadership and support for our state agencies that are going to be implementing all of these complex programs. So I know there's a number of folks on from other other nonprofits and from other folks that have skin in the game on many of these efforts. And I just would encourage all of us to think really hard. I mean, let's, you know, take a couple of days here and like recover. And then for those of us who are fortunate enough to be paid to do this work, we really need to now start thinking about how do we how do we win the win and make sure that these are successful programs long term.


Jo Olson: [00:51:51] All right. So before we hop into the and a I do see a lot of questions. I want to I might regret this. We're coming up on time, but I think it's already clear we're going to go a little long. It's good. We're at the end of the day. I want to open things up to the three of you.


Michael Noble: [00:52:05] Going to let me have a word in there before you go. Question and answer.


Jo Olson: [00:52:08] Well, you do get a word. We're going to do closing thoughts and you get the final closing thought.


Michael Noble: [00:52:13] Oh, I thought I was going to do it that right now.


Jo Olson: [00:52:15] Do you want to talk about implementation right now?


Michael Noble: [00:52:17] Well, I just do want to acknowledge that, you know, for 30 years we've been focusing on writing the rules of the game, and now we have all these new rules and the rules are written, and now we have to implement the rules. We have to think about how does you know, what does fresh energy want to be when we grow up? Implementation, implementation, implementation. You know, my one of my heroes in the federal government is Jigar Shah. And he his his slogan is deploy, deploy, deploy, deploy, deploy. We have the solutions that we need. We just have to get steel in the ground. We have to we have to we have to scale these things up. At the speed and scale of the climate crisis. And I think every single not for profit group, every single labour union, every single state agency has to ask not only what new policies do we need, but how do we effectively implement the policies we now have? So, yeah.


Jo Olson: [00:53:10] Hear, hear. Well, I hope you have another closing thought, because you're going to have an opportunity. Okay, good.


Michael Noble: [00:53:16] I do, actually, I do have one more comment. Well, let's.


Jo Olson: [00:53:19] Let's go, Anna and then Justin and then Michael. You can have like, the closing closing thought before the Q&A. Okay. All right, Anna, take it away.


Anna Johnson: [00:53:28] Thanks, Joe. Yeah, I really appreciate this conversation and thanks, everyone, for being here. I think one of the biggest things I learned kind of in a felt like in an instant this year, it really kind of crystallized for me on November, whatever mid November is that and then also kind of continuously crystallized over the course of the session is that all of the work that we've done leading up to this point was absolutely critical. So passing the 100% bill off the floor two times over the last two bienniums, even though we knew that it was not going to get signed into law, that the Senate was very, very unlikely to pass it, that work, that work was not for naught. And in fact, it was totally critical to all of the successes we had today. So I just it was a it was a huge lesson in just like grinding and continuing to grind and continuing to build power and beat the drum, even if it doesn't lead immediately to wins or the outcomes we're hoping for is that it's it you got to be ready for the opportunity when it comes along. And if you haven't done the work and been continuously building power, then you're not going to be ready for it. So it was a big moment and realizing that even the partial wins over the last several years were actually very clear steps along the way that got us to this point.


Jo Olson: [00:55:02] Thank you, Anna.


Justin Fay: [00:55:03] And I really don't have a whole lot to add except to underscore the point Anna just made and maybe add a couple of other shout outs. You know, it really is this year really is testament to the power of playing the long game. And Nick mentioned at the beginning there's folks on the on the I mean in this conversation on the on the panel but also in the audience who were working on some of these initiatives for in some cases decades plural and that most most sessions end with disappointment, not what we're feeling right now. And it's just so absolutely important that we have and continue to have and foster and nurture a community of advocates that is broad and skilled and dedicated to moving all of all of these initiatives forward, even when the political environment is challenging. And if there are I don't know if there are folks on the in the audience who are from the philanthropic community or folks who provide resources to either fresh energy or other organizations. I think this this breakthrough moment is not the result of some, like, influx of resources from 2023. It's the culmination of many, many years of support from a wide array of institutions and individuals. And I don't think you can there's no better example of why sometimes you do need to play the long game and make investments when you don't see the opportunity for immediate term wins, because that's how you get to opportunities like what we had in 2023. We had all of the tools and all of the pieces in place as a as a community and as a state to be able to strike when the opportunity presented itself. And that to me is like, is the big takeaway from this year.


Jo Olson: [00:56:53] Thank you, Justin. Michael, do you have some closing thoughts before we do the Q&A?


Michael Noble: [00:56:59] More a point. A point of personal privilege just might say that tomorrow is actually my last day at Fresh Energy. And if you wrote a script that the governor was going to sign this bill tomorrow morning and that would be my last day on the job. The editor would tell you, that's way too corny and you have to rewrite it before they film it because it's just not believable. Nobody would believe that. But just, you know, five years before I started working at Fresh Energy, I was a volunteer at Fresh Energy, so I've literally been employed here for almost 28 years and five years more. That's a third of a century that I've been involved with this group. And I like to reason. I chose this room to have this. The photograph behind me is the first wind farm in Minnesota put out on the Buffalo Ridge in 1997. And it was a result of advocacy that we started doing in 1990 and a legislative victory we won in 1994. And I always surprise people when I say that when this wind farm was built, there literally were no wind farms in North America except for the wind farms that were built in California in the in the mid 70s that were all obsolete out of date technology. So this is the first modern wind farm between California and Denmark.


Michael Noble: [00:58:15] We basically were copying the Danes, who had a grassroots movement to build wind energy in Denmark and to imagine that, you know, when we were first convening in 1990 and saying, wow, maybe we could get 1000MW of clean energy within a decade. That was our dream from 1990 to 2000. And now we basically have all the electricity is going to be carbon free, and we now have a commitment from our president of the United States that the entire American economy will be carbon free and that we'll get halfway there. Yet this decade. That's the that's the president's commitment on the world stage is that we're going to get halfway there this this decade. And so when when he said we can get halfway to zero this decade, the climate scientists said, wow, that's exactly the right answer. That's exactly precise, correct science. And then all the advocates were like, holy crap, That's that's a lot of stuff we got to get done pretty fast. And I'll just say that I leave this job with absolute contentment and pride and happiness that that I really believe in my heart that we are going to be a zero carbon economy by the middle of the century nationwide. And I believe Minnesota is going to help lead the way. And I believe we're going to get halfway there in the next seven years.


Michael Noble: [00:59:36] We'll be our our economy will have half the carbon that it had in 2005 by 2030 is my prediction. And I just want to tell you that the organization is incredibly capable hands. The board has selected Dr. Brenda Cassellius, who is a remarkable leader of incredible integrity and vision and warmth, who is going to take this organization to the next level. And I have nothing but admiration for her and for our incredible staff, all our allies and partners and organizations and philanthropy friends and individual donors and the many, many, many policy makers and retired and recovering policy makers who might be on this call who made this moment in history possible. This is a dramatic, dramatic turn of events. And Peter Wagenius had a beautiful little tweet the other day where he was testifying in the committee and he said he's never, ever been confident that we could fix our climate until now. And I completely agree with Peter that I am completely confident that we are going to fix this challenge. And rather than go over the waterfall and crash at the bottom, I believe that we'll have a prosperous, equitable, carbon free future that benefits all. So I'm incredibly proud and and happy to have been able to do this job these past 27 years.


Jo Olson: [01:01:04] Thank you, Michael. Wonderful closing thoughts. Um, okay, so we have a little bit of well, we don't have a little bit of time, but if you three are willing to stay on, we can dedicate a little bit of time for some additional Q&A. I do want to share my screen because I have a tiny bit of housekeeping to do because the comms professional in me says I have to tell you about these things. So first I do want to remind everyone that you can support Fresh Energy's work by making a donation today. The staff time and resources that were dedicated to this session would not have been possible without Fresh Energy's donors, large and small. And then next, if you felt inspired by Michael's speech, you should come to our party. We're having a party on June 8th. We're calling 100% fresh, and we will be celebrating all things fresh energy, including Michael and Brenda Cassellius will be there as well. Officially, the executive director of Fresh Energy. There will be a band. There's live music, food, beverages, all of it. So capacity is limited and tickets are, I think, getting a little, little tight. So do reserve your ticket using that URL or that QR code. Oh, and fun fact, this person here, we asked the artist to model him after Michael. I don't know if you can see the person in the E, but that that's all Michael being part of the clean energy revolution. Okay, let's do questions. I've got a couple of pre-submitted questions to go through and I'm going to pull up our Q&A here as well. Um, yeah, let's add how about Lee? Lee says, When will the new rebates in the transportation bill go into effect? Is there an easy and fast answer for this one? Maybe? No.


Justin Fay: [01:03:03] I actually don't know off the top of my head when the effective date of the I assume that's referring to the electric vehicle rebates and I don't know when the effective date is, I'll be honest. Okay. Perhaps somebody in the audience does.


Jo Olson: [01:03:15] So keep an eye on the chat. Uh, all right. What about, uh, let's see.


Anna Johnson: [01:03:24] Just sorry, just to chime in. I think I'd seen another question maybe that someone had asked initially. Um, just another thing related to the EV rebates. So there's currently $15 million in the fund. 5 million is from the general fund, so that's widely available to the state. But 10 million, there's a little over 10 million that's coming from the Renewable development account. So that's specifically for folks in Xcel Energy territory. And right now it's 15 million available until 2027. I have a feeling that it'll dry up before then, but that is currently what's available. And unlike the federal tax credits, there aren't sort of limitations on like where the battery is sourced and if that vehicle is eligible or not. It's just based on the price of the vehicle. And there's some income limits.


Jo Olson: [01:04:18] Perfect. Okay. Thank you. Um, okay. So this question is from Gary. Uh, even with political collaboration, what were the biggest practical challenges in getting this all passed when the legislature had so many big topics to deal with?


Speaker5: [01:04:37] Justin.


Justin Fay: [01:04:38] I'll take a first stab at that. And then I'm curious to hear my colleagues to mean honest, honest to God, just keeping up with it all the mean. The question in some ways answers itself. The the just sheer amount of what the legislature, not just on energy and climate but across the board took on this year, really stretched the legislators and especially the legislative staff to the absolute limit and that that was challenging just in terms of like the mechanics of the session and making sure that, you know, folks were having the opportunity, you know, the experts were having an opportunity to revise Bill language and make sure that the right kind of technical analysis was being done on policies that were being passed. It was a lot. And there's a number of folks who I'm not going to call out by name. They know who they are. Hopefully that I hope are getting a lot of rest this summer because those folks, for those of you that don't maybe spend a lot of time at the legislature, don't work at the legislature in a professional capacity. Um the non especially non all of the staff but especially the nonpartisan staff who work at the legislature and do most of the bill drafting are absolute unsung heroes of within our state government. And those folks had more pressure on them in 2023 than I think they've ever experienced. And so just that sheer. Hi. Hi. You actually just mechanically do the volume of stuff that they did was a major challenge.


Jo Olson: [01:06:21] Amazing accomplishment. Thanks for that.


Anna Johnson: [01:06:24] Question. Thanks, Dad, for that question. I'll also add, you know, the the House and Senate are two different you know, they've got their two different caucuses. They have different cultures. And so they didn't pass identical bills. So there was at the end of the day, there was negotiations that had to happen. And there were some, I think, tricky, difficult moments and some serious compromise that had to happen. The daylight between them was obviously much different than when it was in divided government. But, you know, there were still some some kind of hard choices to make.


Jo Olson: [01:07:01] All right. We had a few pre-submitted questions about heat pumps, and I think Jeff sums it up the best. Jeff asks, How do heat pumps fit in? So that's a pretty broad question, but I know there was some cool heat pump stuff that happened.


Speaker5: [01:07:17] Well.


Michael Noble: [01:07:18] I'll just weighed in and say heat pumps are, of course, magic. I can't explain how they work, but I know that if you put in one unit of electricity, you get 3 or 4 units of heat. If you have a ground source heat pump, you might get 5 or 6 units of heat. That's objectively magic. So we're all going to heat with heat pumps and we're going to heat our hot water with heat pumps because we're going to heat with renewable electricity, not with fossil gas. So if I start a new nonprofit or maybe I'll call it Heat Pump Nation, so everybody's going to have heat pumps and the legislature incentivized heat pumps and our friends over at the Minnesota Center for Energy and Environment are one of the world's foremost research institutes on heat pumps. And now they're positioning themselves to be one of the world's foremost institution in organizing labor and small business and marketing to get heat pumps everywhere. So heat pumps are cool. Get a heat pump.


Jo Olson: [01:08:23] All right?


Anna Johnson: [01:08:25] Yeah. Awesome. Now you're convinced. And good thing there's $13 million worth of heat pump rebates total in the bill. And in addition, there's a workforce training program because one of the sort of pinch points limiting factors right now is there aren't that many people who know how to install heat pumps and who will kind of try to talk you out of getting a heat pump and will instead try to convince you to get a gas boiler. So that'll be a huge investment that'll help with adoption.


Jo Olson: [01:09:00] All right. Well, I know that firsthand. Well, I guess since we're talking about heat pumps, I've got a few questions about the IRA. And I know this isn't an IRA webinar, which means the Inflation Reduction Act, which passed last year. So people are asking when will the implementation and rebates within the IRA be available to families? And I did just double check the Commerce website, Minnesota Department of Commerce. And it looks like they're still targeting rollout in December of 2023. It is a good resource. I'm actually going to drop this page in the chat. So if people are interested in access to rebates through the IRA and when those will happen in Minnesota, I would say go to the commerce page and don't get out over your skis quite yet. If you do want a rebate because this is a ten year program and they're building it for the state.


Speaker5: [01:09:53] Can I say something about IRA?


Jo Olson: [01:09:54] Yeah, please.


Speaker5: [01:09:55] Michael, You know.


Michael Noble: [01:09:56] You saw a hundred times that there was like $370 billion for climate solutions in the IRA, but that is objectively not true. That was the Congressional Budget Office that they had to come up with a number guessing how much it would be spent on it. But all these technologies are on sale, 30% off for ten years, and there's no cap on how much the federal treasury will put into these tax credits. So the amount of money that Minnesota can get to decarbonize from the Inflation Reduction Act. The number is specifically unlimited. We have unlimited access to the federal treasury for heat pumps, solar farms, wind farms, electric cars, electric buses, modular nuclear reactors, carbon capture with a gas plant, whatever technology turns your crank. The federal government is providing 30% off for the next ten years, and the amount of money that Minnesota could get is infinite.


Jo Olson: [01:10:57] Well, I think I have a final question for us, because I know we are over time and am I know you guys want to be done with your days, most likely after that very long, very thrilling legislative session. So Hillary has actually, I think, a really fabulous closing question for us. So Hillary asks, how can Minnesota ensure that its transition to clean energy is equitable and inclusive? Thank you all could answer this and you're welcome to. But who would like to start?


Speaker5: [01:11:33] Well, I'm just going to.


Michael Noble: [01:11:34] Start by saying that this is the the central question of our era, that if there's two human problems that are universal, it's the question of climate and the question of racial and economic justice. And we can't decarbonize the world and have our inequality get worse. We have to have we have to decarbonize the world and have our inequality get better. So, you know, fresh energy has three full time people who think about this all day, every day, but they don't just sit over in their department. They think about every aspect of everything we work on and every public position we take. To put it through the lens of is this inclusive? Are the right people at the table? Is this making the inequality problem better or worse? Um. We deeply care about having a clean energy revolution that's strong enough to lift everybody up so nobody gets left behind.


Jo Olson: [01:12:30] Yeah, well put.


Justin Fay: [01:12:32] I would add, too, I think that's well said, Michael. And I would just I would add that. Having equitable outcomes doesn't happen inevitably. It requires an intentional set of decisions when policy is being made in the first place, which means you need people in the room making the policy that understand and will prioritize those things. And we're not all the way there yet. I think we did a better. When I say we, I mean like the state as a whole I think did a better job of that in 2023 than we historically have. But there's a long way to go. Um, and I think including at organizations like Fresh Energy, we have to continue to really lean into our commitments. And in this area, because they're not, there are a lot of institutional and historical barriers to, um, to, to progress. Things are the way they are because of conscious decisions that previous generations have made. And if we want different outcomes, we have to consciously make different decisions.


Michael Noble: [01:13:40] Thank you. So saying that justice is so true.


Jo Olson: [01:13:44] All right. Well, Anna, final you get the final word.


Anna Johnson: [01:13:48] Well said. Yeah, I'll just reference Representative Hollins, the assistant majority leader from Saint Paul in the House, said on her floor speech, you know, climate is important to her, but she said, I don't know if folks know this, but Bipoc communities tend to be very distrustful of the climate movement because they haven't felt like they've been a part of it. So we are we are absolutely tasked with making sure that we are implementing policy that is, you know, the the phrase I have about it in my head all the time is anything about us. Without us is not for us. And so that we're bringing everyone along and we're incorporating voices that historically have not been heard or prioritized. So yeah, I think that's a great question and something that we're always working to answer thoughtfully and trying to learn more all the time.


Michael Noble: [01:14:43] Thank you, Anna.


Jo Olson: [01:14:45] Well, thank you, everyone, for being with us. Justin, Anna Michael, your last webinar as executive director, it must be freeing to know I'm not going to have you on the hook for these, but you're a wonderful guest and I'll miss Miss doing webinars with you in the future. So thanks, everyone. Have a great day. Thank you for tuning in to the audio recording of our webinar. You can stay up to date on Fresh Energy's work at Fresh Energy. Org. Or follow us on social media. You can also make a donation on our website and get your tickets to join us for 100% fresh. The party of the summer on June 8th. Tickets are running out, so if you want to join us, reserve them today and we will see you soon.