Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee Update

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2007 Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee updates

Update: April 10, 2008 3:30 p.m.

Updates are listed in reverse order with the most recent at the top.

Wind energy transmission stakeholders heard

The Committee on Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications held an informational hearing on transmission issues, Wed., Apr. 9. The panel, chaired by Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), heard where various stakeholders are in the process of meeting wind power mandates for the state.

Clair Moeller of the Midwest Independent Transmission System (MISO) outlined challenges to determining how much transmission infrastructure is appropriate to meet the wind mandate. Ten times as many projects are trying to connect to the grid as needed to meet the mandate, said Moeller, but on average about 60 percent of requests drop out throughout the process for various reasons. Federal regulations have slowed down the MISO queue of projects trying to connect to the grid. However, he said that he didn't see any significant problems in meeting the earlier deadlines of the state's mandate, but things need to happen to meet 2016 deadlines and beyond.

Will Kaul and Laura McCarten of a program to expand energy capacity, CAPX 2020, updated the committee on their plan's progress. McCarten said they were confident that the state can meet the 2010 and 2012 goals, and a blueprint will be presented later in the year addressing later goals. Kaul said a larger regional planning program is necessary to meet 2016 goals.

Theresa Mogensen of Xcel Energy explained the company's initiatives to expand capacity. Mogensen said Xcel has already expanded wind capacity by 600 megawatts, and has 32 projects in the works. Because establishing transmission takes a relatively long time compared to the time it takes to establish wind power, a chicken and egg scenario hinders development when one does not want to develop without the presence of the other. Xcel is also concerned about "corridor fatigue" or putting too much onto existing transmission corridors, said Mogensen.

Ingrid Bjorklund and Dennis Fultz of Outland Renewable Energy, which develops community wind projects, described their proposed private transmission line. Minnesota Independence Line will run from the south of the state to the Twin Cities and be dedicated to renewable energy, said Bjorklund. Fultz said their power would be rejected during productive times due to transmission constraints around Buffalo Ridge, and that's why they want their own line.

Bob Gervais of the Tracy Economic Development Authority said transmission and conduits in general, such as roads, are crucial to small towns that need access to bigger markets.

Douglas Collins of Interstate Transmission Company acknowledged the frustration of other testifiers. Collins said his company is looking at a regional system including surrounding states.

Beth Soholt of Wind on the Wires commented on various studies underway. Soholt said the CAPX developments are positive and the state needs diverse transmission systems. MISO queue reform is a piece of the puzzle, but not a silver bullet, said Soholt.

George Crocker of the North American Water Office said previous testifiers were trying to solve new paradigm problems with old paradigm thinking. Mike Michaud, a consultant for the office, said there is significant undeveloped potential in the current infrastructure. After that, Crocker said lower voltage transmission should happen first, and high voltage development should happen second to meet the more decentralized supply being developed.

Edward Garvey of the Office of Energy Security said transmission is the Achilles heel of energy policy, and needs to be upgraded for reliability, economic dispatch, and environmental reasons. The state needs to plan now for the next phase of transmission lines, including anticipating regulatory issues.

PUC commissioners recommended for confirmation

The Committee on Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications approved confirmation of Public Utilities Commissioners David Boyd, Phyllis Reha and J. Dennis O'Brien, Tues., Apr. 8. The committee, chaired by Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), then heard a report on carbon sequestration and a report on public building energy savings.

Reha said she has focused her time in the commission on energy efficiency and renewable energy. Boyd said his scientific background and administrative skills are a good fit for the commission. He said he has focused on the technological aspects of the commission. O'Brien, a private practice lawyer with experience in government, school finance, and labor relations, has been on the commission since February.

The panel and commissioners discussed the effect of open meeting laws on the PUC's process, and how commissioners may contribute their own expertise to the Legislature.

Senators then heard a preliminary report on carbon sequestration by both terrestrial mechanisms and deep geological sequestration. The studies were directed by the Legislature last year and coordinated with the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Geological Survey. Mark Lindquist of the Department of Natural Resources, Cheryl Miller, Minnesota Terrestrial Carbon Sequestration Initiative, and Tony Runkel and Dale Setterholm of the Minnesota Geological Survey presented the report.

Terrestrial sequestration refers to the absorption of carbon dioxide by plants and conversion of that carbon into plant matter. Terrestrial sequestration can provide modest contributions to the state's greenhouse gas reduction goals, in addition to improving water and soil quality, according to the study. The report recommends protecting peat lands and forests to prevent additional emissions of carbon dioxide, promote land use and land cover changes with high sequestration rates, and invest in monitoring and demonstration programs.

Deep geologic sequestration is injecting carbon dioxide into underground sandstone, shale, or clay geologic features with impermeable caps. The mid-continent rift system running through the southeast of the state is the only geologic structure with these characteristics, according to the study. According to Runkel, the mid-continent rift system is poorly suited compared to other sites in the world due to its complexity and low permeability.

Nicky Giancola of the Department of Administration and Steve Kelley, Dane McFarlane, and Alexandra Mallett of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs presented a report on energy savings in state buildings. The report determines barriers to energy savings and offers proposals to improve data collection and increase energy savings such as data standardization efforts, required training, better metering systems, and further funding. The report also proposes long term policies including incentives, flexibility, and institutionalization of the policies and measures.

Renewable energy bills heard

Members of the Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee held their final hearing to process bills, Tues., Mar. 18. The panel, chaired by Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), considered three bills relating to renewable energy.

S.F. 3758, carried by Sen. John Doll (DFL-Burnsville), makes a number of changes to help reconcile Minnesota's renewable energy standard with federal law and updates provisions. Doll also authored a bill, S.F. 3698, permitting utilities to include solar energy projects in their conservation plan programs. The bill also directs the Office of Energy Security to convene a stakeholder group to develop criteria and characteristics for a Minnesota-based solar rating and certification laboratory. Both bills were forwarded to the full Senate.

S.F. 3528, sponsored by Sen. Sandy Rummel (DFL-White Bear Lake), requires that by the end of 2012 at least 0.0125 percent of the electricity required to be produced from renewable sources be generated by solar energy. The bill also provides that at least 60 percent of the requirement be distributed solar generation located at customers' sites. "This is like planting a small seed for the future," Rummel said. She noted that wind generation used to be very expensive, but is now competitive in the market. If we begin to invest in solar now, we will be a leader by 2025 when it is needed to supplement our production, she said. Minnesota has three great natural energy resources, biomass, wind and solar, Rummel said, but we have only developed the first two. We have more solar generation potential than Miami and Houston, she said.

There is so much interest in this around the state, said Sen. Ellen Anderson (DFL-St. Paul), but not many ways for people interested in solar to get into the market. This is a small, targeted effort that should not create a burden on our utilities, she said. I would hate to see us focus on just one technology or limit how utilities can meet the renewable standard, said Sen. Amy Koch (R-Buffalo). Even though the bill is small and targeted, it opens the door to many more proposals restricting utilities seeking to meet the standard, she said. If we do not act now, we will have nothing promoting solar here and we will lose, to other states, the jobs we know are coming in the solar industry, Rummel said.

A motion to advance the bill failed, 7-7.

Broadband inventory approved

The Committee on Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications, chaired by Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), approved four bills and laid over a solar energy mandate for further consideration, Thurs., Mar. 13.

The chair presented three bills. S.F. 3520 repeals a wind easement sunset provision passed last year. The language needs to be reconsidered by stakeholders with more input from real estate professionals in addition to environment and energy representatives, said Prettner Solon.

The committee approved an amendment repealing a request for information from Manitoba Hydro-Electric Board on the economic and environmental impact of the plant. A representative of the Cree first nation said the statute makes no acknowledgment of context affecting their communities, and is a poor example of good neighbor behavior. Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls.) said the language was a respectful request, and provides transparency on a source of energy for the state. The bill was recommended to pass and re-referred to the floor.

Prettner Solon's second bill, S.F. 3605, modifies the duties of a Legislative Electric Energy Task Force established in 2006 to make legislative recommendations. The task force's name is changed to the Legislative Energy Commission. The commission is directed to study and recommend legislation relating to renewable energy, transmission, alternative fuels, renewable energy sources and economic development. The bill was recommended to pass and re-referred to the State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee.

S.F. 2866, the chair's third bill, establishes a broadband inventory project, and directs the Dept. of Commerce to produce a statewide inventory of existing broadband service and availability. The bill was approved and re-referred to the Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Sandy Rummel (DFL-White Bear Lake) explained two bills for the committee. S.F. 2996 allows wastewater byproducts such as sludge and algae grown in wastewater to be considered biomass in regard to renewable energy sources. The bill does not include incineration of sludge as a biofuel. The University of Minnesota is interested in research turning algae into biofuel, said Rummel; however, the way bio-energy is currently defined, the project does not qualify for certain grants. Rummel said a more standard definition of biomass should be crafted over the interim. The bill was recommended to pass and re-referred to State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee.

The second bill, S.F. 3528, requires .0125 percent of renewable electricity created by utilities in 2012 to be generated by solar photovoltaic energy. Sixty percent of that fraction must be produced by the consumer on-site, such as a home or small business, under the bill. Rummel said Minnesota missed the boat in production of wind turbines for wind generation, and the bill would create an market for solar industry to develop in Minnesota as an up-and-coming technology.

The Dept. of Commerce supports development of solar energy, but does not support a carve-out for technology that is expensive and not yet cost-effective, said Mike Bull, assistant commissioner of renewable energy and advanced technologies.

Loren Laugtug of Otter Tail Power Company said his company is concerned that there are no economic criteria for participation in the bill.

The committee laid the bill over for further work.

Energy bills gain

The Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee met Tues., Mar. 11, to consider several bills relating to coordinating energy policy and environmental policy.

Sen. Ellen Anderson (DFL-St. Paul) carried two bills. S.F. 3539 provides direction to conform the state's economic development policies with the state's environmental policy. The bill specifies that projects that advance or promote a green economy be added to the list of redevelopment projects the commissioner of employment and economic development must prioritize when determining which projects receive grants. Anderson said the bill also requires the commissioner and the Jobs Skills Partnership Board to promote job training that complements green economy business development. The measure was approved and re-referred to the Committee on Finance. S.F. 3540 creates a Green Economy Transformation Task Force to analyze and plan for an economy that advances the environmental and energy policies of the state. The bill was approved and re-referred to the State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee.

S.F. 3160, carried by Sen. Gary Kubly (DFL-Granite Falls), authorizes local units of government to engage in energy-related activities, including ownership of renewable energy projects. The measure also provides for the issuance of bonds to pay for construction of a renewable energy project and authorizes an ad valorem tax to pay the cost of energy purchased or acquiring interest in the projects. The measure was approved and advanced to the State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee.

Sen. Michael Jungbauer (R-East Bethel) sponsored two bills. S.F. 3341 provides for a voluntary inventory of business energy use. Jungbauer said the bill requires municipalities to develop an inventory form for businesses to voluntarily list their energy use. Jungbauer said municipalities would make the inventory available to the public by electronic or other means. He said the inventory would allow consumers to make informed decisions about supporting business that are reducing their carbon footprints. The bill was approved and re-referred to the Business, Industry and Jobs Committee. S.F. 3546 provides a property tax exemption for personal property at an electric generation facility. The measure was approved and re-referred to the Committee on Taxes.

S.F. 2657, authored by Sen. Dan Skogen (DFL-Hewitt), provides a tax credit for small wind power generator installations. The bill was also approved and re-referred to the Taxes Committee. Sen. Jim Carlson (DFL-Eagan) authored a bill, S.F. 1948, memorializing the governor to take action to prepare a plan of response and preparation to meet the challenges of peak oil. Carlson said the resolution is aimed at focusing attention on the fact that world oil production is nearing its point of maximum production and will enter a prolonged period of irreversible decline. The measure was approved and advanced to the Rules and Administration Committee.

Energy conservation bills considered

The Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee, chaired by Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), heard four bills related to energy conservation and one bill related to utility shut-offs, Thurs., Mar. 06.

S.F. 2775, sponsored by Sen. Leo Foley (DFL-Coon Rapids), requires notification of a customer's gas or electric utility shut-off to the corresponding water utility. The bill would prevent frozen pipes and damage in homes that may be abandoned or in foreclosure, said Robert Schreier, director of community development for Brooklyn Park. The bill was approved and re-referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) proposed a bill, S.F. 2949, providing for the issuance and appropriation of bond proceeds for a local renewable energy initiative and micro energy loan program. Mike Bull, assistant commissioner of renewable energy and advanced technology, said the bill works well with the direction of the Next Generation Energy Board. The bill was approved and re-referred to the Finance Committee.

S.F. 3311, also sponsored by Rosen, clarifies the terms of a propane prepurchase program, specifying that up to $4 million of a year's federal low income home energy assistance appropriation may be held over for use in the next year to prepurchase propane. In addition, funds held over may also be used for other authorized low-income home energy assistance purposes. The bill was approved and sent to the Senate floor.

S.F. 3089, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield), reinstates a program including qualifying strategic tree planting as conservation improvement expenditures. Paul Morlock of Law's Nursery in Hastings called it a common sense, low tech proposal because of the energy benefits of planting trees, describing it as an investment that appreciates over time. A representative of the Dept. of Commerce said that since the program was scrapped, the criteria have changed to emphasize energy savings, not just cost effectiveness, and the program would be welcome. The bill was approved and sent to the Senate floor.

S.F. 3093, sponsored by Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls.) extends the terms of guaranteed energy savings contracts to 20 years and reduces the payments slightly. A representative of the Minneapolis Housing Authority said the bill would help save an additional $10 million in costs for housing that shelters many low income and elderly residents. The bill was approved and re-referred to the Committee on State and Local Government Operations and Oversight

Cap and trade system amended

The Committee on Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications inspected two bills addressing greenhouse gas emissions, Tues. Mar. 4.

S.F. 3337, sponsored by Committee Chair Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), creates a process for the state to develop policies for implementation of Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group recommendations and the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007.

The bill outlines six principles for policy, including emphasis on conservation and efficiency, public education and government leading by example. In addition, the bill requires an annual report to the Legislature and to the public on the reductions, including a plan for attaining the reductions.

Brad Lehto of the AFL-CIO said AFL-CIO leadership has adopted even stronger standards in anticipation of state action and supports the approach being taken.

The bill was approved and sent to the floor.

S.F. 2818, sponsored by Sen. Ellen Anderson (DFL-St. Paul), establishes legislative interest in a potential cap and trade system. Anderson outlined proposed amendments drafted in response to the last hearing of the Green Solutions Act, offering guidelines for what a cap and trade system in Minnesota could look like. Anderson's amendments were adopted.

Addressing a major friction point of the bill's first committee review, the new language suggests auctioning of emission permits to the extent economically feasible, and would direct any revenue from auctions to benefit consumers, public good, and to help high-energy-consuming industries reduce their costs.

Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont) argued that the bill still assumes that auctions will be included, and any references to auctioning should be removed.

However, the appropriate parallel is to public ownership of airwaves, said Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls.), and no one should use a public resource for free-or profit from its use-without paying back to benefit the public.

New language also directs the system to apply to as many industries as economically feasible, rather than specifying a list of industries that will be included. Anderson also deleted a legislative findings article, unnecessary definitions, establishment of a climate trust fund and language that she said was too rigid in directing the governor and implementation. The scope of studies being commissioned is also greatly expanded under the amended bill.

The bill is a reflection of the Legislature's intent, and is a way for the Legislature to participate in the Midwest Greenhouse Gas Accord being negotiated by regional governors, said Anderson. Language proposes a team of six Legislators to be observers of the regional negotiations, in addition to a legislative report on negotiations to be provided by the Office of Energy Security. In addition, any system must be okayed by the Legislature before becoming law.

The bill was approved and re-referred to the State Government Operations and Oversight Committee.

Broadband bills gain

Much of the Thurs., Feb. 28, meeting of the Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee was devoted to discussion of bills relating to broadband Internet access and telecommunication regulation.

Committee Chair Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth) authored a bill, S.F. 1918, creating the Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force. Prettner said the bill is designed to bring Minnesota into the 21st century by requiring task force to make recommendations regarding the creation of a state ultra high-speed broadband goal and a plan to implement that goal. "Access to high speed Internet is important to education, business and the overall economy," she said. In addition, access to high speed Internet could also benefit the environment by allowing more people to telecommute, Prettner Solon said.

Todd Hauschildt, Minnesota High Tech Association, said the United States and Minnesota are falling behind in broadband Internet access and speed. He said broadband is crucial for economic development. He compared access to broadband Internet to the coming of railroads to small towns in the 19th Century in providing opportunities for economic development. Leadership breeds innovation and more applications will evolve, Hauschildt said. He said there is tremendous support from the business community in a broadband Internet policy.

Shirley Walz, Thomson West, spoke in support of the bill and outlined the actions other states are taking to develop broadband. She described an all Internet home with a two-way, gigabit capable Internet connection to provide DVD-quality videoconferencing, and other technology.

Mayor George Tourville, Inver Grove Heights, also spoke in support of the bill. He said users of all kinds are recognizing the need for higher Internet speeds if we are to remain competitive with other cities, states and countries. Tourville said, "We are falling behind and we need to develop broadband improvements."

Ed Garvey, Dept. of Commerce, said aggressive development of Internet speed and accessibility are important for the state. He said the department is available to provide technical and administrative support.

Sen. Dan Sparks (DFL-Austin) offered an amendment adding a labor representative from the communications industry to the task force. The amendment was adopted. Members also adopted an amendment specifying that one member represent Greater Minnesota counties, one member represent Greater Minnesota cities, one member represent Metropolitan counties and one member represent Metropolitan cities.

The bill was approved and advanced to the State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee.

Prettner Solon also sponsored a bill requiring the commissioner of commerce to contract for a statewide inventory and mapping of existing broadband service. The measure also provides for an appropriation. The bill spells out what must be included and specifies the data classification of the information. The measure was laid over for further work.

S.F. 2262, authored by Sparks, repeals a number of obsolete rules relating to telecommunications. The measure was approved and recommended for placement on the Consent Calendar. S.F. 2939, carried by Sen. John Doll (DFL-Burnsville), modifies provisions relating to alternative telecommunications regulation plans. The bill was approved and advanced to the Senate floor.

Renewable energy bills heard

Most of the Tues., Feb. 26, meeting of the Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications was devoted to discussion of bills relating to renewable energy, energy improvement and the development of building energy performance standards.

Sen. Gary Kubly (DFL-Granite Falls) sponsored two measures. S.F. 1698 provides for grants to schools and public buildings installing heating units that use biomass fuels. Kubly acknowledged that, with a $500,000 appropriation, it is unlikely the bill will gain final passage this year. However, he said the ideas in the bill deserved hearing. Bob Ryan, Sunrise Agra Fuels, described a new technology for using biomass fuels. The bill was laid over to allow time for clarifying amendments to be drafted. S.F. 2749 creates a wind energy conversion system aggregation program. Kubly said the purpose of the program is to create a clearinghouse to coordinate and arrange umbrella sales arrangements in order to place large orders for wind energy conversion systems. Members adopted an amendment providing for an appropriation for the purposes in the bill. The bill was approved and advanced to the Finance Committee.

Committee Chair Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth) authored a bill, S.F. 2706, providing for the development and application of building energy usage performance standards. Prettner Solon said the concept of the bill has wide support from architects, the Center for Sustainable Building Research and a variety of other groups. She said the bill accepts the challenge of a national sustainable building 2030 program. Under the program, Prettner Solon said, new buildings would have energy-efficiency standards that would result in a 50 percent increase in energy-efficiency and a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions from fossil-fuel energy. She said the bill will encourage design innovation and cost effectiveness. The bill is mandatory only for state buildings and voluntary for private sector buildings, Prettner Solon said.

A number of architects and energy advocates spoke in support of the measure. The bill was approved and re-referred to the State and Local Government Operations and Oversight Committee.

S.F. 3096, authored by Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls.), creates a program for government energy conservation investments. He said the bill is designed to allow local units of government to embark on energy improvement projects. The bill was approved and advanced to the Finance Committee.

Sen. John Doll (DFL-Burnsville) sponsored a bill, S.F. 3081, making adjustments to provisions relating to cold weather rule past due payment agreements. The bill was approved and sent to the Senate floor.

Wireless phone consumer protection bill heard

A bill, S.F. 833, providing wireless phone consumer protections was the focus of the Tues., Feb. 19, meeting of the Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee. Sen. Mary Olson (DFL-Bemidji), chief author, said the measure provides common sense consumer protections. "We owe a debt of gratitude to the wireless telephone industry because the products and services they offer have been of great benefit to society," Olson said. She said the bill is not designed to be onerous on the industry, but to put in place consumer protections in areas that have engendered numerous consumer complaints.

Olson said the bill requires a wireless carrier to provide a consumer with a copy of the contract, provide a coverage map to the consumer at the time of sale, make price and fee disclosures at the time of sale and clearly disclose at the time of sale whether a price is guaranteed for the term of the contract and any early termination fees. The bill also regulates a wireless carrier's inclusion on a customer's bill charges for goods or services provided by a third-party. Olson said the measure also requires the carrier to inform a customer, if the customer accepts or requests a service or promotion or changes in the customer's wireless plan, that the acceptance or request will result in the extension of the minimum contract term or create a new contract with a minimum term.

Members adopted an amendment stating that a wireless provider may not by contract prohibit complaints to state or federal agencies or recourse to the courts. Olson said the amendment puts in place a procedure for disputes.

Karen Olson, deputy attorney general, said that wireless telephone services are the number one source of consumer complaints and that most of the complaints arise from the length of the contracts. Karen Olson said the bill is tailored to provide protection to consumers without conflicting with federal law. Members also heard testimony from consumers outlining problems with wireless carriers.

Former Attorney General Skip Humphrey, representing AARP, also spoke in support of the measure. He said the legislation is a good first step in an effort to help consumers deal with the problems arising from the lack of clear disclosures in wireless contacts.

Wauneta Browne, AT&T, spoke in opposition to the bill. She said the bill would cause added expense to the wireless phone companies and that many of the provisions would prove onerous. Browne said the bill also will result in unintended consequences. She said that the bill as written would present difficulties in the sale of prepaid phones because the terms of service for the prepaid phones serve as contracts and all of the disclosure requirements would apply. Advances in technology could also be hampered by the bill, Browne said.

The bill was approved and re-referred to the Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee.

The first portion of the hearing was devoted to a discussion of a background of wireless regulation in Minnesota and an overview of federal law. Members also heard an informational overview from Mike McDermott, Verizon Wireless, on the history and development of the wireless telephone industry.

Climate change action plan discussed

A required report proposing what Minnesota can do to meet greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals established last year was the focus of the Thurs., Feb. 14, meeting of the Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee. The panel, chaired by Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon (DFL-Duluth), heard from Edward Garvey, director of the Office of Energy Security, and several members of an advisory group assisting in the preparation of the action plan.

Garvey said the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007 set a goal of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2015, to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, and to 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. The action plan is meant to guide the state toward meeting the goals in thoughtful, deliberative and incremental ways that are specific for Minnesota and compatible with regional, national and global actions, he said. The action plan includes several dozen items grouped thematically. For example, under the residential, commercial and industrial implementation category, the plan calls for encouraging all new buildings to use ever-increasing cost-effective efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies, and for supporting appliance standards that provide for the disclosure of energy usage and efficiency information. Garvey said next steps will involve enhancing forestry management, expanding the use of biofuels and improving waste management; the three activities were ranked as having the three highest potential greenhouse gas reduction impacts. The full plan is available online at

Several members of the advisory group also addressed the committee. Bill Grant of the Izaak Walton League said the action plan varies significantly from the advisory group's report. He said the plan treats as goals many items the group labeled as requirements, waters down other policies and omits some recommendations. The group recommended a wide range of policies for near-immediate implementation, Grant said, but the plan selects only a few items for immediate action. The scope of the climate change problem requires transformative change at all levels of government and industry, he said. The action plan does not put the state on the trajectory needed to accomplish transformative change or to meet the emission reduction goals, Grant said. The advisory group proposed a complete package of reduction measures, said Barbara Freese of the Union of Concerned Scientists. She said the advisory group's recommendations very closely match the emissions targets with very little wiggle room. Because the action plan does not include all of the measures, she said, the action plan fails to meet the emissions targets. Barb Thoman, Transit for Livable Communities, said the excluded or watered-down items mean the transportation elements of the action plan only achieve about half the transportation-related emission reductions proposed by the advisory group. The first draft of the advisory group's report is online at