American Experiment report finds Gov. Walz’s 100% carbon-free electricity plan would cost $313 billion and cause blackouts

Center of the American Experiment has just released a new energy modeling report that determines that the 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040 mandate proposed by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz would cost the state $313.2 billion through 2050 and lead to devastating blackouts.

Governor Walz’s Proposal would commit the state to obtaining 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free energy sources by 2040, but his proposal would not legalize the construction of new nuclear power plants in Minnesota or allow the hydroelectric electricity generated in Canada that Minnesotans already purchase to count as “carbon-free.” As a result, the Walz Proposal is essentially a wind, solar, and battery storage mandate.

We also investigated another scenario, called the Lower Cost Decarbonization (LCD) Scenario, that uses new nuclear power plants, coal plants with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) equipment, battery storage, and Canadian hydro and found that this suite of technologies would reduce emissions for a much lower cost.

Our report, which you can find here, is the most robust modeling on the true cost of attempting to power our state using wind turbines, solar panels, and battery storage technology. Our study finds:

  • Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s proposal for a 100 percent carbon-free electric grid by 2040 will cost Minnesota families and businesses an additional $313.2 billion (in constant 2022 dollars) through 2050, compared to operating the current electric grid.
  • Minnesota electricity customers will see their electricity expenses increase by an average of nearly $3,888 per year, every year, through 2050.
  • According to the economic modeling software IMPLAN, higher electricity expenses under the Walz Proposal would cost Minnesota more than 79,000 jobs and reduce the state’s annual gross domestic product (GDP) by $13.27 billion each year, the equivalent of 3.2 percent of the state’s 2021 GDP.
  • The Walz Proposal would reduce the reliability of the grid by making the state more vulnerable to fluctuations in output from weather-dependent energy sources like wind and solar.
  • Under the Walz Proposal, the electric grid would experience capacity shortfalls, meaning there is not enough electricity on the grid to prevent blackouts in two of the three years studied due to weather-driven fluctuations in electricity generation from wind and solar facilities.
  • Shockingly, Minnesota would experience a devastating 55-hour blackout in late January if wind and solar output is the same as it was in the year 2020, and electricity demand was the same as 2021.
  • This blackout would result in nearly $1.77 billion of lost GDP, and countless billions more in damaged property from furnace failures and frozen pipes, not to mention the human cost of people being dislocated from their homes to keep warm or dying from hypothermia or carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • In contrast, a Lower-Cost Decarbonization (LCD) energy portfolio, focused on providing reliable, affordable electricity while also decarbonizing 98 percent of the electric grid with nuclear energy, coal plants fitted with carbon capture and sequestration equipment, hydroelectric power, and battery storage, would cost $224 billion less than the Walz Proposal.
  • No blackouts would occur in this diverse LCD portfolio in any year studied.
  • According to the economic modeling software IMPLAN, higher electricity expenses would cost Minnesota 22,000 jobs under a LCD Scenario, and reduce the state’s annual GDP by $3.8 billion, approximately one percent of the 2021 total.
  • Minnesotans would benefit most from investing in reliable electricity generation technologies, which provide superior reliability value at a fraction of the cost of the Walz Proposal.
  • Both proposals reduce emissions at a cost that is higher than the Social Cost of Carbon
    estimates created by the Obama administration, meaning the costs of reducing emissions exceed the benefits. It is better to do nothing than implement either of these plans.

We will be elaborating on the major findings of our report in a series of articles on our website. Stay tuned!