Who’s the energy efficiency champion?

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Xcel Energy, that’s who.

There’s a bit more to the story.

Yes, Xcel won the prize, “Champion of Energy Efficiency in Industry” from ACEEE.

ACEEE is a private, non-profit dedicated to energy efficiency, and the board of directors is an interesting mix of academic types, industry mavens and environmentalists.

There’s been no prize for Minnesota elected officials, but one might argue they are equally as worthy.

Here’s an interesting timeline of energy efficiency developments in Minnesota over the decades.

Buried in the timeline is a piece of legislation from 2007, the Next Generation Energy Act.

This groundbreaking, unprecedented piece of legislation approved by the state’s elected officials set an agenda for investments in renewable power, increasing energy conservation and decrease Minnesota’s contribution to global warming.

The provisions were much more than window dressing. They aim to reduce the per capita use of fossil fuel as an energy input by 15 percent by the year 2015, through increased reliance on energy efficiency and renewable energy alternatives and a 25 percent of the total energy used in the state be derived from renewable energy resources by the year 2025.

As much as anyone, it is elected officials who set the energy efficiency bar for Xcel and other utilities.

And then let’s doff our hats to the advocates – gadflies, tree-huggers, nags; persistent voices reminding us that individuals can save oodles of energy through perfectly painless everyday decisions, and that government and the private sector can put in place policies that save TeraGigaMega chunks of energy.