Natural Gas Innovation Act
The Natural Gas Innovation Act is a Minnesota law that passed in June 2021 with bipartisan support. Originally proposed by CenterPoint Energy, this landmark law establishes 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.
Specifically, the Natural Gas Innovation Act allows a natural gas utility to submit an “innovation plan” for approval by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. CenterPoint Energy expects to submit its first innovation plan to the Commission in 2022.
An innovation plan could propose the use of renewable energy resources and innovative technologies such as:
- Renewable natural gas (produces energy from organic materials such as 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 maximum allowable cost will start at 1.75% of the utility's revenue in the state and could increase to 4% by 2033, subject to review and approval by the Public Utilities Commission.
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 job creation and economic development, especially in rural areas