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China is Building 34 Times More Coal Than Exists In Minnesota, So Why Are We Raising Our Power Prices?

According to an article in The Financial Times, China is set to add new coal-fired power plants equivalent to the EU’s entire capacity. as the world’s biggest energy consumer ignores global pressure to rein in carbon emissions in its bid to boost a slowing economy.

The article states that China is building 148 gigawatts, or 148,000 megawatts, of coal. For context, Minnesota has 4,309 MW of coal, meaning China will build 34 times more coal-fired power plants in the coming years than currently exist in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. In fact, these coal additions mean will nearly eclipse the entire coal fleet of Europe, which has 149 GW of coal.

Make no mistake, this is a massive amount of coal to build. So much so that it will single-handedly turn what would be the beginning of the decline of coal, into the continued growth of coal,” wrote the times, adding that China was “swamping” global progress on bringing down emissions. Add in the 987 GW of coal already in operation in China, and Minnesota’s coal capacity accounts for 0.4 percent of the coal that operate in China alone.

 

Closing down our coal plants in Minnesota at a time when China is “swamping” reductions around the world makes no sense. As I’ve written about before, doing so would give China’s iron ore industry a competitive advantage over Minnesota miners and threaten the entire mining industry. It makes zero sense to close down our coal plants, which produce the lowest-cost electricity in the state and replace them with unreliable wind and solar, along with natural gas.

Xcel Energy is already seeking to raise their residential electricity rates by 17.5 percent in the next three years, which will cost the average household nearly $200 more per year.

Amazingly, this cost increase doesn’t include $1 billion that will be spent on wind turbines in the near future. These costs will increase electric rates by much more than the current rate hike.

Although renewable energy advocates decried the Trump Administration pulling out of the Paris Accord, they never mention that China never really committed to anything at all. China’s “commitment” in the Accord was to let their emissions peak “sometime around 2030.” This means the Obama Administration signed on to an agreement that would cause electricity prices in the U.S. to skyrocket while China had to deliver no measurable returns for 15 years to the detriment of American manufacturers and miners.

It is vitally important that we take a stand to make sure our state government in Minnesota does not force us to make the same mistakes. As we concluded in our award-winning study Doubling Down on Failure, Minnesota families and businesses will benefit most from utilizing our existing coal plants until they reach the end of their natural lives, and pursue the lowest cost options for replacing them.

If we are smart and lift our bans on new nuclear power plants and end the madness by allowing large hydro resources to qualify as carbon-free (which is it currently doesn’t), this new, reliable, affordable power can be carbon free.

 

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