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SF1372 Eliminating Size Limits on Hydropower is Smart Policy

Minnesota passed its 25 percent renewable energy mandate in 2007, but did you know this bill specifically prohibited counting electricity from large hydroelectric dams as a way to comply with the standard? As crazy as this sounds, it is true, and it has had serious negative impacts for Minnesota households. Fortunately, SF 1372 would eliminate the size limit on hydropower for satisfying the renewable energy mandate.

This may sound like a small tweak to existing legislation, but this is actually a very big deal. Minnesota currently imports about 7.2 million megawatt hours of electricity from Canada, or about 10 percent of our total energy consumption, and most of this electricity is hydroelectric power. However, none of this renewable energy counts toward Minnesota’s renewable energy mandate.

If Minnesota allowed large hydro imports to satisfy the renewable energy mandate, we would have already met the 25 percent standard for all of Minnesota’s energy consumption. This is important to note because it takes into account the total amount of electricity used in Minnesota, which is noteworthy because our state imports large quantities of electricity from North Dakota and Canada.

If we allowed large hydro to count toward the in-state generation mandate, our state would have registered at 34 percent of electricity generation from renewable sources in 2017. Doing this would save a lot of money because we would have already satisfied Minnesota’s energy mandates and would not need to keep building expensive and unreliable sources of energy like wind and solar.

So if counting large hydro toward the mandate would save Minnesota families and businesses money, why wasn’t this common-sense legislation been passed years ago?

The reason is because some lawmakers want to keep the special carve-out for wind and solar alive and well, which is incredibly unfortunate considering Minnesota’s electricity prices have increase 26 percent more than the national average since 2007, when the renewable energy mandate was signed into law. Price increases are largely due to the fact that Minnesota has spent $15 billion on wind turbines and transmission lines.

SF 1372 is good policy, and hopefully it is passed and signed into law.

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