Minnesota’s New Green Deal

The current population of the state of Minnesota is estimated to be 5.68 million people. In November 2018, state utilities used coal (44.2%), nuclear power (22.9%), renewable energy (24.0%) and natural gas (8.8%) to generate electricity. Wind energy is the primary source of renewable energy in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s reliance on coal contributes to state’s above average electricity costs. In November 2018, the average cost of electricity in Minnesota was U.S. 12.1 ¢ per kWh, which is the 18th most expensive price in the United States. The average price of electricity in the United States is 12 ¢ per kWh. Concerns over climate change and the ever-increasing cost of coal are prompting state leaders to accelerate the move to renewable energy.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has announced an ambitious plan for the state to get 100% of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050. The governor’s proposal involves partnering with utilities that have set ambitious goals for reducing carbon emissions to zero. Governor Walz explained that his goal is to put Minnesota at the forefront of addressing climate change while ensuring “reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity.”

Unlike the “Green New Deal” proposed by Representative Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Senator Markey (D-NY), Governor Walz’s plan sees nuclear energy as an essential component for the state to achieve zero-carbon emissions. Another difference to the Green New Deal is Governor Walz’s plan includes close collaboration with state utilities. Minnesota’s largest utility, Xcel Energy has recently announced it will be 80% carbon-free by 2035 and 100% by 2050.

Xcel Energy is a utility holding company, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The company provides 3.3 million customers with electricity in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico. Dakota, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico. The company has been integrating wind energy into the company’s power mix for almost two decades.

Minnesota Commerce Commissioner, Steve Kelley said the 100 percent standard “sets the destination, but it does not dictate the specific road map for getting there.” The commissioner said utilities would need to prioritize clean energy over fossil fuels when setting long-range plans for replacing or creating new generating capacity. Commissioner Kelly said the proposal would also set higher energy efficiency goals for utilities but provide them with incentives to develop innovative new programs to help customers switch to cleaner energy.

In my opinion, Minnesota is developing an effective plan to achieve zero-carbon emissions in the foreseeable future. The financial incentive for state utilities will be an incentive for utilities to dramatically reduce carbon emissions sooner, then latter. Governor Walz recognizes the priority should be on reducing carbon emissions and nuclear power produces zero carbon emissions. Unlike the Green New Deal, Governor Walz is putting the priority on reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity. Perhaps the New York Representative and the Massachusetts Senator should visit the great state of Minnesota and talk to Governor Walz.


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