Transitioning to an All Electric Economy
For more than 25 years, Fresh Energy has worked to shape and drive realistic, visionary energy policies that benefit all. When the organization was founded, one of Fresh Energy’s main mottos was to “use less electricity.” But now, as electricity becomes cleaner and oil and gas become dirtier, Fresh Energy is actually working to power MORE of Minnesota’s economy with electricity -— IF it is generated by renewable sources and replaces more polluting fuels.
Thanks to strong energy policy, Minnesota is getting the carbon pollution out of our electric supply. Sixteen Minnesota coal plants are now closed or slated for retirement in the near term, with only a handful left to go. New renewable electricity is now cheaper than old fossil fuel power plants and we can begin to see the pathway to a power sector without emissions.
But even when we achieve an electric sector that’s emission-free, it won’t be enough to stem the rising tide of climate change. In other sectors of our economy, Minnesota is woefully behind schedule on its goal in state law to cut carbon emissions by at least 30 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050.
Getting the oil and gas out of the rest of our economy is the next big challenge and Fresh Energy is turning its attention to that in a big way. The path to electrifying our economy starts with the low hanging fruit – getting off of fossil fuel and on to clean electricity to power our cars, heat and cool our homes, and create a modern and resilient electric grid.
Electric cars and buses
Cars, buses, and other vehicles now generate more carbon emissions than the electric sector, and tailpipe emissions cause air quality, asthma, and quality of life issues in our urban centers. Electric transportation is more affordable than ever—but we need good policies to spur that transition and power more transportation with wind and solar power.
Super-efficient homes powered by electricity
Room and water heating make up a significant portion of the energy we use. Building new homes that can be heated with small amounts of renewable electricity, and updating homes that are still relying on propane and other high-carbon delivered fuels, could make a big dent in our carbon footprint while giving utilities more flexible load that can be powered by low-cost wind energy.
An electric grid of the future
If we’re going to add more electric vehicles and home heating to our electricity system, we have to make it easier to connect to the grid. That starts with reshaping the way we plan our distribution system and cutting the red tape that can make it burdensome to connect new energy systems.