Natural Gas Innovation Act

 

The Natural Gas Innovation Act is Minnesota legislation proposed by CenterPoint Energy in 2020 that would establish a regulatory framework to enable the state’s investor-owned natural gas utilities to provide customers with access to renewable energy resources and innovative technologies — reducing greenhouse gas emissions and advancing the state’s clean energy future. The legislation has bipartisan support.

Specifically, the Natural Gas Innovation Act would allow a natural gas utility to submit an “alternative resource plan” for approval by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

An alternative resource plan could propose the use of renewable energy resources and innovative technologies such as:

  • Renewable natural gas (produces energy from organic materials such as landfill waste, wastewater, agricultural manure, food waste, agricultural or forest waste)
  • Renewable hydrogen gas (produces energy from water through electrolysis with renewable electricity such as solar)
  • Energy efficiency measures (avoids energy consumption in excess of the utility’s existing conservation programs)
  • Innovative technologies (reduces or avoids greenhouse gas emissions using technologies such as carbon capture)

The cost of an alternative resource plan would be limited to no more than five percent of the utility’s annual revenue requirement, as approved by the Public Utilities Commission, and the utility may recover approved, plan-related costs from customers.

The legislation would also direct the Minnesota Department of Commerce to prepare a statewide inventory of Minnesota’s potential renewable natural gas resources.

In addition to assisting Minnesota in meeting its existing renewable energy and greenhouse gas reduction goals, other potential benefits of the Natural Gas Innovation Act include:

  • Diversifying the state’s energy sources
  • Promoting technological innovation
  • Improving waste management
  • Supporting rural economic development