By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz Tuesday championed a new bipartisan bill designed to “strengthen Minnesota’s energy conservation programs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create local jobs across the state” with a ceremonial signing.

According to a release from the governor’s office, the Energy Conservation and Optimization Act of 2021 “updates and expands Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program,” which is designed to make the state’s energy use more efficient through incentives provided by utility companies.

Those updates include expanding eligibility for low-income households, mandating efficiency improvements for public schools, increasing conservation goals and more, the governor’s office said.

“The ECO Act will ensure that Minnesota continues to be [a] leader in energy policy,” Walz said in a statement. “This nation-leading energy conservation legislation will help Minnesota families and small businesses save money, create good-paying jobs, and, most importantly, protect Minnesota’s environment for generations to come.”

Sen. Jason Rarick, a Republican representing Pine Lake who authored the bill, said “ECO will help move Minnesota energy priorities in the right direction.”

According to Rarick’s office, the MCIP has saved Minnesotans $6 billion and created 50,000 jobs since it began decades ago.