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Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the Next Generation Energy Act in 2007, bipartisan legislation designed to spur renewable energy deployment with the goal of decarbonizing the Minnesota economy 80% from 2005 levels by 2050. The Minnesota’s Smarter Grid study modeled electric sector scenarios to determine optimal pathways that significantly decarbonize Minnesota’s economy, in alignment with the Act’s goals. The study was funded by the McKnight Foundation, managed by GridLab, and executed by Vibrant Clean Energy.

Vibrant Clean Energy used its WIS:dom energy model to project a future electric system of the entire Eastern United States grid out to 2050, with a focus on Minnesota. Initial economy-wide modeling suggests that in order to decarbonize 80% of the entire Minnesota economy by 2050, the electricity sector will need to decarbonize at 91% from 2005 levels, as it will be costly and difficult for other sectors to meet their 80% goals alone. The modeling includes significant electrification of heating and transportation, which allows for decarbonizing these sectors of the economy.