Senate Passes ECO Bill to Give Consumers More Choice and Save More Money On Energy Costs

(St. Paul, MN) On Monday, Senator Jason Rarick’s (R-Pine City) Energy Conservation and Optimization (ECO) bill passed with bipartisan support, 58-9, off the Senate floor. The legislation, S.F. 227, expands Minnesota’s existing Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) to increase consumer choice, save Minnesotans money and energy while supporting local businesses.

“The legislation passed today represents a strong energy compromise that moves our state’s energy priorities in the right direction while expanding consumer choice, lowering energy bills, and reducing our footprint over time,” said Senator Rarick. “Furthermore, it doesn’t pick winners or losers and ensures that our efficiency goals are attainable and that local providers aren’t driven out of the industry.”  

The current Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) is a statewide program that requires all electric and natural gas utilities to provide energy savings opportunities, primarily through financial incentives and rebates, to their customers. Those activities include; efficient lighting and control systems, efficient water heaters, low-flow showerheads, A/C cycling programs, and home energy audits. The CIP incentives and rebates make energy efficiencies more affordable for households and helps them cut their utility bills while also preventing energy waste and lowering harmful gas emissions. 

Research has also shown it is 80% cheaper to save energy than to generate more energy. Since the program began in the 1980s, the CIP program has saved Minnesotans around $6 billion. In fact, all those savings added up are equal to about 14% of Minnesota’s energy generation. In addition, the hiring of contractors to do efficiency-related work has led to about 50,000 jobs and support around 500 electrical contractor businesses statewide.

Lastly, ECO will move Minnesota ahead of the market and prepare utilities for continuing technological advancements as society continues to move towards efficient electric energy systems and away from fossil fuels. The legislation also ensures energy providers will not have to scramble to apply for statutory relief each year as these changes occur.