NORTH MANKATO — Sen. Nick Frentz is looking to renew his efforts to raise energy standards next year.
The North Mankato DFLer recently returned from a trip to Germany where he studied the country’s renewable energy industry. Earlier this year, he was the chief DFL sponsor in the Senate of a proposal to more than double renewable energy standards by 2030.
Now, Frentz says he’s looking to start conversations on how the state’s rural areas can benefit from more renewable energy such as wind, water and solar power.
“We spend, I believe, about $18 billion a year as a state importing energy from other places,” Frentz said. “We could use that $18 billion at home.”
Southern Minnesota has benefited from renewable energy efforts in recent years. Most of Minnesota’s wind projects are in the southern part of the state, and Minnesota ranked sixth in the U.S. last year among states producing wind energy, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith led efforts by Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration to push for an increase in how much of Minnesota’s energy is powered through renewable sources. The current standards call for 25 percent of Minnesota’s energy to come from renewable power by the year 2025; the Dayton proposal ups those goals to 37 percent by that same deadline and 50 percent by 2030.
State officials said earlier this year more than 21 percent of Minnesota’s energy comes from renewable sources.
The proposal had bipartisan sponsors — Frentz was joined by Sen. Karin Housley, R-South St. Paul, while Reps. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley, and Joe Schomacker, R-Luverne, carried the bill in the House. Yet the proposal never received a hearing during the 2017 session in large part due to House Republican opposition.
Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, doesn’t think the bill will receive much attention…