Articles filed under Energy Policy from Minnesota
Fed up with federal inaction and convinced of the dangers from global warming, five governors from Western states agreed Monday to work together to reduce greenhouse gases. Their promise to target global warming was the latest of a rush of new ideas shared this week as states push ahead on climate change and clean or alternative energy.
Once the pats on the back subsided Thursday, the people involved in crafting a law pushing Minnesota to the nation’s renewable-energy forefront took stock of the task ahead. By the time today’s newborns reach adulthood, utilities must generate a quarter of the state’s electricity from sources like the wind, sun, running water and burned manure. Only about 5 percent of Minnesota’s present power would meet the standard. If the entire burden fell to wind, for instance, it would mean 3,000 additional turbines jutting out of the Minnesota prairie.
Community-based energy development projects are expected to add an additional 880 megawatts of wind power capacity in Minnesota during 2008, according to a recent study. Minnesota has the fourth-largest installed wind power generation capacity in the United States, but it was the first to pass C-BED legislation in 2005. The text of the law established a framework for qualifying owners, namely residents or companies comprised of residents, to develop wind generation projects and negotiate Power Purchase Agreements with all Minnesota electric utilities. The law also set a price for electricity that is based on the net present value of energy over a 20-year PPA. Proponents say NPV pricing stabilizes the cost more so than a production incentive.
Utilities would turn increasingly to wind, water and other renewable-energy sources for their electricity under a pace-setting bill that cleared the Minnesota House tonight. After almost three hours of debate, the House voted 123-10 to join the Senate in requiring utilities to meet ambitious new requirements. The bill now goes to Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who is expected to sign it. Earlier this month, the Senate voted 63-3 to adopt it. “It will be the strongest, most aggressive renewable-energy standard in the country,'’ said Rep. Aaron Peterson, DFL-Appleton, the bill’s chief sponsor.
The Minnesota state Senate passed a new renewable energy standard Friday under which the utilities would be required to generate 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. Initially, consumers may pay a slightly increased rate for their power, but the bill includes measures to protect consumers if costs get too high, The Fergus Falls Daily reported. In the long run, Sen. Dan Skogen believes the hike will power research into affordable alternatives. “Utility rates will pick up because the cost of renewables is more expensive right now, so energy bills will go up,” he said. “But maybe that will be an incentive to do further research on renewables to improve the costs.” This legislation has been in the pipeline for a while and since before that Minnesota Power was already requiring a minimum percentage of renewable generation, said representative for Minnesota Power at the 2007 Wind Power Finance and Investment Summit in San Diego. Minnesota has historically been a major player in wind; it has one of the top five capacity potentials in the United States along the same lines of Texas and Washington. The first phase of Fenton, a major wind farm near Pipestone, was recently completed and the second phase is now under way and is expected to be operational by 2008.
Minnesota’s plan to pump more hydrogen, solar and wind electricity through its powerlines got overwhelming backing from the state Senate, where advocates touted it as the most aggressive renewable energy standard in the country. Most utilities would have to generate a quarter of their power from renewable sources by 2025. The state’s largest electricity provider — Xcel Energy Inc. — would be under orders to draw 30 percent from those sources by 2020.
Utility companies would be required to get at least 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025, under a bill approved unanimously by a Minnesota Senate committee on Thursday. Renewable sources include windmills, solar power, plant materials and hydroelectric power. Xcel Energy, the state’s largest utility, would be required to hit an even higher standard of 30 percent by 2020. Sen. Ellen Anderson, DFL-St. Paul, the chief author of the bill, said she was amazed that every member of the energy and utilities committee supported the bill, which now goes to the full Senate for a vote.
ST. PAUL - Democratic leaders on Tuesday renewed their push for legislation to increase the use of renewable energy in Minnesota, saying they will be able to find common ground with a plan set forth by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The Democrats' proposal would require utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity with renewable sources, such as wind or biomass, by 2020.
Minnesota would get a $7 billion economic development boost and surge toward energy independence if it adopted a requirement that 25 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2020, DFL legislators and wind industry promoters said Tuesday at a State Capitol news conference. DFLers have introduced similar legislation over the past six years, but newfound support for the concept from Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty — plus November elections that installed big DFL majorities in the Legislature — greatly enhance its chance of becoming law. “The stars are aligned and the bill’s going to pass this year,” said Senate sponsor Ellen Anderson, DFL-St. Paul.
Minnesota is barren of fossil fuels, with no crude oil, natural gas or coal reserves. Yet its renewable energy potential is gigantic, if so far mostly unused, awaiting the right conditions for that power to be tapped. In 2007, that moment has finally arrived. A potent mixture of economic opportunity, environmental alarm, national security anxiety and political realignment is making this the year Minnesota breaks from its fossil-fuel past and moves toward a future of homegrown energy produced from the wind, from its farms, its forests and prairies. In his inaugural address Tuesday, Gov. Tim Pawlenty embraced the vision so passionately that he made amends to ‘visionaries in the conservation and environmental movement,’ who two decades ago were urging Minnesota to adopt a greener energy future, but were laughed at by state leaders.
A new report, prepared at the behest of the Legislature, argues that if lawmakers focus on policies to extend transmission lines, they could boost the state’s share of electricity generated by wind turbines to 25 percent. That would be about an eightfold increase from today. The Midwest Wind Integration Study, released Wednesday, said the cost of integrating wind power into existing utility systems would be less than half a cent for each kilowatt hour produced. But that doesn’t mean wind-power projects will be cheap. The study doesn’t estimate the cost of building new transmission lines to reach wind turbines scattered across the state and the region. “Knowing we can’t just plunk all this energy on the system right now,” the goal of the study was to say what’s possible after millions of dollars of investment, said Mark Ahlstrom, chief executive of WindLogics, a St. Paul consulting firm that worked on the report. “It’s possible — not today, but in coming years– if we’re interested in doing this.”
Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants Minnesotans to draw a quarter of their power from renewable sources by 2025, and he suggested the state punish utilities that fall short. Pawlenty sketched out his energy goal Tuesday in a speech to an agriculture and energy summit and delved into more detail later at a legislative session preview forum organized by The Associated Press. “We intend for it to have teeth in the form of financial penalties,” Pawlenty said. Without getting specific, he said he wants the fines to be “significant.”
Senators had a landmark vote on renewable energy in the Minnesota Senate on Thursday.
Minnesota, already one of the top producers of wind energy in the nation, is expected to add at least 128.2 megawatts of new wind power in 2006, according to an industry survey.
"To push harder for renewables, we need to have data in order to do it responsibly," said Bull. "In the meantime, while we're doing this, we're focused on wind energy and natural gas costs and pushing utilities beyond where their comfort level is. We'll continue to push for more renewables where we see the benefits to consumers."