North Star State’s Carbon Neutral Dream Is Becoming A Reality

State Economy

The population of the “North Star State,” Minnesota is approximately 5.79 million people[1]. Minnesota is the 22nd most populated state in the United States.

In 2021, Minnesota’s economy was ranked 17th in the United States in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The state’s economy is dependent on the agriculture, manufacturing, mining, financial, and insurance industries[3].

Environment Policies

In 2007, Minnesota enacted a mandatory Renewable Energy Standard, requiring all investor owned utilities to sell 26.5% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025[4].

In 2019, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz implemented a plan to generate 100% of the state’s electricity from fossil-free sources by 2050.

In June 2022, utilities[5] used renewable energy (30.3 %), coal (29.0 %), nuclear energy (25.6 %), and natural gas (15.2 %) to generate electricity in Minnesota. Wind, solar, and biomass are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Minnesota.

In June 2022, the average cost of residential electricity in Minnesota was 15.00¢ per kWh, compared to the national average of 15.42¢ per kWh.

Recent renewable energy developments in Minnesota include:

  • 460 MW Solar Projects – Minnesota utility, Xcel is continuing work on the Sherco Solar project at a site approximately 50 miles northwest of the state capital, Saint Paul.
  • 300 MW Wind Project – Virginia renewable energy company, Apex Clean Energy is continuing work on the Big Bend Wind project, at a site approximately 110 miles southwest of Saint Paul. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2023.
  • 280 MW Wind Project – Florida utility, NextEra has is continuing work on the Three Waters wind project at a site approximately 150 miles southwest of Saint Paul. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in 2025.
  • 250 MW Wind Project – In January 2021, Nebraska power company, Tenaska commissioned the Nobles 2 wind project at a site approximately 125 miles southwest of Saint Paul.
  • 170 MW Wind Project – NextEra is continuing work on the Dodge County wind project at a site approximately 50 miles south of Saint Paul. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in 2023.
  • 150 MW Wind Project – NextEra is continuing work on the Timberwolf wind project at a site approximately 125 miles southeast of Saint Paul. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in 2024.
  • 109 MW Wind Project – NextEra is continuing work on the Buffalo Ridge wind project at a site approximately 150 miles east of Saint Paul. The project is scheduled to be commissioned in 2023.
  • 60 MW Solar Project – Apex Clean Energy is continuing work on the Red Rock Solar at a site approximately 100 miles southwest of Saint Paul. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2023.
  • 2 MW Solar + 1 MW Energy Storage Project – In November 2021, Connecticut solar company, US Solar commissioned a solar plus energy storage project in the city of Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
  • Biomass Project – In March 2021, Illinois biofuel company, Amp Americas commissioned a biomass project at a site approximately 125 miles northwest of Saint Paul. The project converts dairy cow manure into natural gas.

Conclusion

Minnesota has no coal mines and no coal reserves[6]. The coal that is used to fuel Minnesota’s power plant is imported by rail from Wyoming and Montana.

In 2010, 50.9 % of Minnesota’s electricity was generated from coal-fueled power plants[7]. In June 2022, 29.0% of the state’s electricity was generated from coal. Why the decrease?

  1. Economics The cost to generate power from wind, solar, hydropower, and even natural gas is significantly cheaper than coal. The cost to generate power from coal-fired plants is over twice the cost of wind or solar.
  2. EnvironmentCoal ash, the product of coal burned in a power plant contains arsenic, mercury, and lead; which are toxic. In 2019, coal ash was reported to have contaminated the ground water around 241 coal-fired plants in America[8].
  3. Climate Change Coal generates 40% to 45% more greenhouse gases than natural gas.

Minnesota’s state government has worked closely with utilities to develop a viable plan to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In June 2022, 55.9% of Minnesota’s electricity was generated from zero-carbon power plants (renewable and nuclear energy).

The North Star State’s dream of being carbon neutral is becoming a reality.

 

Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jackkerfoot.com

 

Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy related topics.

 

[1] Minnesota Population 2022, World Population Review

[2] U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Economic Analysis

[3] Biggest Industries in Minnesota  – World Atlas

[4] National Conference of State Legislators – State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, August 13, 2021, 2021

[5] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Minnesota State Profile and Energy Estimates, www.eia.gov

[6] U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2018

[7] U.S. Energy Information Agency, Minnesota Electric Power Consumption Estimates 1960 – 2018

[8] Reuters, “Coal Ash Contaminates Groundwater Near Most U.S. Coal Plants: Study” by Valerie Volcovici, March 3, 2019

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