Library filed under Energy Policy from Minnesota
This report evaluates Minnesota’s energy policy and reaches five main findings that buttress one conclusion: Minnesota’s aspirational energy policy is a grand exercise in virtue signaling that does little to reduce either conventional pollution or greenhouse gas emissions.
A new study from the Center of the American Experiment aims to answer this question, taking a close look at how aggressive clean energy policies have cost Minnesotans billions of dollars without delivering on environmental protection goals.
The report written for the Center of the American Experiment concluded that Minnesota has lost is lower-than-average electricity cost, carbon dioxide is not dropping as state policy intended and more than $10 billion has been spent on wind farms that do not save money or reduce pollution.
The appeals panel agreed that practical effect of the state's prohibitions would have prevented out-of-state utilities from adding coal-power capacity to the regional power grid without approval from Minnesota regulators. Minnesota can't do that without approval from Congress.
Four currently proposed wind energy projects, including Paynesville, have been notified their permits could be revoked due to lack of progress. For the first time in years, the PUC has no pending wind projects under consideration. ...The slowdown in wind energy development follows what one industry analyst calls a “wind bubble” generated by federal stimulus funding and the production tax credit.
The Minnesota Legislature is pushing energy policy in two different directions this year. Some legislators are trying to make energy cheaper, while others want to make it cleaner. There's no consensus about what Minnesota's energy problems are, let alone how to solve them.
Minnesota Power, the state’s third-largest power company, is concerned that more than $800 million in wind power investments appear to be credited to North Dakota, where the wind farms were built, rather than to Minnesota, where the power is delivered. “We just don’t like the fact that Minnesota seems to have gotten very little credit
A federal judge ruled Friday that part of a Minnesota law designed to promote the use of renewable energy is unconstitutional because it attempts to control business that takes place outside state borders — and she barred Minnesota officials from enforcing it.
North Dakota officials grudgingly looked the other way as Minnesota regulators continued to approve more of what they viewed as inefficient renewable energy projects. Those projects increased the utility bills of Xcel’s 80,000 customers — from Fargo to Minot — by an estimated $5.7 million a year. The systemwide cost for ratepayers is about $92 million.
Despite spending $15 million seeking state permits since 2008, the 78-megawatt New Era wind project appears to finally be dead. That leaves one looming question: What has been learned or changed by this exhaustive permitting process?
The State of Minnesota is considering a bill that would increase the State's renewable mandate to 40% including a 10% solar carve-out. The bill is in conference but it appears rural legislators in both parties are reluctant to pass it through. Cartoonist Marie McNamara created this political cartoon to emphasize the mentality of lobbyists at the Capitol and the effect of the 40% mandate on Minnesota rate payers and businesses.
Xcel opposes both the solar standard and the increase to 40 percent renewables by 2030, Regional Vice President Laura McCarten said. "We really would be concerned about arbitrarily setting a new higher level without having gone through a more thoughtful assessment of what the implications are." If Xcel relies more on wind energy, it would have to spend more money to make sure everyone gets enough power on windless days.
Minnesota's greenhouse gas emissions fell about 3 percent from 2005 through 2010, but it's uncertain whether that trend will continue. Emissions from electricity production and from transportation -- cars and trucks, primarily -- led the declines. Utility emissions fell 13 percent, and transportation emissions dropped 10 percent.
Xcel won't need more wind energy until 2019 at the earliest, because it has built up a sufficient storehouse of wind energy, Xcel spokeswoman Mary Sandok said. Xcel will revive its idea for a consumer renewable credit with Congress this year when lobbying begins anew on extending the production tax credit beyond 2013.
Officials pushing the bills say that energy prices soar and consumers suffer when utilities are required to allocate a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar. Clean energy groups counter that lowering the bar on state renewable energy policies would stifle new investment and kill jobs.
The Renewable Energy Objectives in Minnesota Statute 216B call for public utilities to get 25 percent of their energy from renewable technology by 2025. Eligible renewable technologies include wind, solar, biomass and hydroelectric. The impact of this impractical legislation can be seen by showing its effect on a utility like Minnesota Power, which serves northeastern Minnesota.
Stenehjem argues that Minnesota's restrictive laws on carbon emissions violate the U.S. Constitution's commerce clause, which bars states from interfering in other states' commerce. Minnesota is free to impose whatever restrictions it wishes on its own power plants but runs afoul of the commerce clause when extending those restrictions on other states, Stenehjem said.
But with no energy policy, the future for wind, solar and other energy technologies depends, to a certain degree, on how well those interests can work the halls of Congress. To date, things aren't going so well in this department.
The CEO of the American Wind Energy Association Denise Bode said Congress failed to mandate renewable energy use. She said as a result, utilities are building more coal fired power plants and buying less electricity from wind producers.
As questions and concerns continue to swirl around three wind energy proposals in Goodhue County, officials at nearly every level of government are struggling with how to proceed in order to meet Minnesota's mandate of reaching 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.