By electrifying all its buildings, Minnesota could reap enormous health and climate benefits

Media Contacts
Timothy Schaefer

Minnesota has the ability to make a big cut to damaging fossil fuel use in homes and offices

Environment Minnesota Research and Policy Center

Minneapolis, MN — Minnesota could reduce 5.9 million metric tons of greenhouse gas by electrifying its residential and commercial buildings, according to a new report released today by Environment Minnesota Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group. The study, Electric Buildings: Repowering Homes and Businesses for Our Health and Environment, found that completely repowering Minnesota’s homes and businesses with electricity by 2050 would result in reductions in pipeline gas usage equal to 168.4 billion cubic feet. Going all-electric in our state’s buildings would help cut emissions, improve public health and protect the planet, the report concluded.

The report also outlines how overcoming key barriers standing in the way of widespread building electrification can improve public health and play a key role in fighting climate change. Currently, Minnesota provides very few incentives for electrifying buildings — and simple solutions like the ECO Act face vigorous opposition

“Breaking off our dependence on fossil fuels is going to take a revolution that starts by rewiring our buildings and hooking them up to a clean, green grid” said Tim Schaefer, State Director with Environment Minnesota Research & Policy Center. “The possibilities we see in Minnesota should give us the hope and motivation we need to kickstart the movement towards 100 percent electric buildings. But we certainly have a long way to go.” 

Currently, Minnesota’s energy efficiency incentive programs do little to incentivize electrification – often offering generous incentives to upgrade an inefficient gas heating system to an efficient one, but less incentive to switch to an electric system. Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program(s) doesn’t currently allow utilities to offer incentives to switch from a gas furnace to an electric heat pump. CIP even prevents customers from “fuel switching” if they want rebates from a utility — the ECO Act would change this, but we need much bigger incentives for electrification to make our buildings truly clean and safe.