In his administration Governor Pawlenty has consistently and repeatedly demonstrated his awareness and commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy. He has set a standard for others in the region to emulate. In response to the 2003 energy bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature, Pawlenty opposed initial efforts to weaken the state's Conservation Improvement Program (CIP), resulting in a bill that reconfigured Xcel's Renewable Development Fund rather than reducing the state's commitment to energy efficiency. Governor Pawlenty also supported an external audit of the state's CIP as a mechanism to reduce regulatory barriers and to strengthen the program through evaluation. After the blackout in August 2003, Governor Pawlenty recognized that a regional energy policy effort must be developed to deal with aging infrastructure and environmental concerns. He began his investigation with an internal review of Minnesota's own energy generation and transmission components and believes that the long-term focus should be on alternatives such as natural gas, cogeneration, biomass, hydrogen fuel cells, solar power, wind power and more effective conservation efforts.