ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Governor Tim Walz has signed a clean energy bill that will set Minnesota utilities on a path to go carbon-free by 2040. The bill, which aims to switch Minnesota over to completely green energy in now less than two decades, is being met with criticism from opponents and a threat of a massive lawsuit.
"When I hear people say you're moving too fast, we can't move too fast when it comes to addressing climate change," Walz said. "We can't move quickly enough."
In a packed labor center in St. Paul, the bill to require Minnesota utilities to be carbon-free in 17 years was signed into law. It's notable that it was signed in a labor center because of the promises of building more wind and solar power, more biomass, and other sources of generating electricity needed support from workers, which Walz got.
"We make sure that jobs in clean energy are just as good and just as available to local workers as conventional energy jobs that have supported thousands of Minnesota families for generations who kept the lights on," said Kevin Pranis with Laborers' International Union of North America.
The law sets deadlines for public utilities to be 80% carbon-free by 2030 and 90% by 2035, before the final goal in 2040. It required the support of major producers, such as Xcel Energy, whose president for Minnesota and the Dakotas, Chris Clark, told lawmakers they'll be looking for a lot of help along the way.
"We have a lot to do and very little time to do it, but we're going to get it done. We're going to show the nation we can make this," Clark said. "We can go 80 percent carbon-free on our system by 2030. We'll get to 100 percent by 2040."
However, this new law for Minnesota comes with a likely lawsuit from North Dakota, which exports a significant amount of electricity, claiming it violates interstate commerce laws.
Walz said he's not worried. "So I'm confident this will stand up. It's unfortunate that they've chosen to go this direction," Walz said. "But the fact of the matter is, Minnesota is moving into the future, and they're going to have to come sometime."