Energy Foundation made its first grant to Clean Energy Economy Minnesota in 2016.
The clean energy economy is good for Minnesota, providing more than 59,000 jobs across the state in 2018. A growing number of businesses want decision-makers and the public to understand the benefits the clean energy industry provides—and push them to accelerate market growth by supporting smart energy policies.
Their message is being heard—and garnering results—thanks to Clean Energy Economy Minnesota (CEEM), an industry-led nonprofit launched in 2016 when business leaders recognized the need for a strong and unified voice.
“We work across technology sectors, so our membership is diverse, comprising leading companies and businesses that work in energy efficiency, wind and solar power, biomass, and increasingly energy storage and microgrids,” says CEEM Executive Director Gregg Mast. “We want to show where and how clean energy businesses are delivering jobs, investments, and economic growth.”
A cornerstone piece of CEEM’s work is the annual promotion of the Clean Jobs Midwest report, prepared for each state in the region by the Clean Energy Trust and Environmental Entrepreneurs. Mast and his team released the 2018 report for Minnesota alongside Governor Mark Dayton and business leaders, noting that of those 59,000 jobs, 40 percent of them are located in rural areas. And clean energy jobs are growing two times faster than all other sectors of the state’s economy.
“CEEM provides a powerful and much-needed voice for clean energy businesses,” says Ben Granley, president of Werner Electric. “They succinctly make the case that clean energy is a smart choice—for your pocketbook, for your business, and for Minnesota’s economy.”
“A lot of our work focuses on educating policymakers on economic opportunities,” Mast says. “We assist businesses in hosting visits from decision-makers to help them better understand their businesses and the types of jobs they bring to their part of the state.”
For example, State Senator Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth) held an in-district meeting with CEEM member LHB, a local architecture firm that designs sustainable, energy efficient architecture. They talked about the state Conservation Improvement Program, which has helped Minnesota businesses make efficiency upgrades totalling more than $6 billion in savings since 1998. In a subsequent Duluth News Tribune op-ed, he wrote, “I am hopeful that we will move the needle dramatically to lower carbon emissions; increase efficiencies; and create a safer, more-reliable energy system.”
CEEM also highlights leadership on clean energy business issues. In late 2017, the organization named State Senator Jeremy Miller (R-Winona) a Clean Energy Legislative Champion for his commitment to moving Minnesota’s clean energy industry forward. In a statement, Senator Miller said, “I’m thankful for organizations like Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, and the great work they are doing to spread awareness about the contributions that clean energy businesses are making to Minnesota’s economy.”
“If you talk to people in Minnesota, there’s no question that CEEM is a big part of what clean energy jobs are growing in the North Star State,” says Ryan Werder, Energy Foundation’s Program Director, Midwest Campaigns. “CEEM’s success is rooted in its authenticity, businesses speaking up directly for what’s needed to keep Minnesota’s clean energy economy growing. It’s a compelling argument that transcends the political divide.”