American Experiment policy fellow Isaac Orr applies to Energy Transition Advisory Committee

The Energy Transition Advisory Committee is a committee established to develop a statewide energy transition plan and to advise the governor, the commissioner and the legislature on transition issues, established transition programs, economic initiatives and transition policy.

American Experiment policy fellow Isaac Orr has applied for one of the positions on the committee. You can read his cover letter below.

To whom this may concern,

My name is Isaac Orr, and I would like to express my enthusiasm and sincere desire to be appointed to the Energy Transition Advisory Committee because we need to find energy solutions that optimize the quality of life for all Minnesotans as the composition of our electric grid changes in the coming years.

In many ways, our electric grid is at a crossroads. Rolling blackouts have affected California, Texas, and 14 other states in the last six months, underscoring the increasing fragility of our energy supply. Electricity prices are also rising, harming low-income households – like the one I grew up in—and making it harder for Minnesota companies and communities to compete with firms in other states and nations.

The way energy impacts rural areas – often host sites for large power generation – is important to me personally and professionally because I grew up on a small dairy farm in the rural Midwest. Unfortunately, our energy bills consumed a large portion of our household budget and impacted our farming operation. Many of the challenges my family faced for decades are the same challenges people across our state face today. I believe my personal and professional background give me insight into these challenges, particularly as they impact rural areas, as a result of the current energy transition.

Professionally, I have specialized in researching and writing about energy and environmental policy for the last eight years, including extensive research on electricity generation, mining, hydraulic fracturing, and agricultural issues.

While working at the Center of the American Experiment, my colleagues and I have performed extensive modeling on the cost and reliability of different electricity generation technologies in multiple states including Colorado, Michigan, Minnesota, and North Carolina. Our study, Doubling Down on Failure: How a 50 Percent by 2030 Renewable Energy Standard Would Cost Minnesota $80.2 Billion, won the Bob Williams Award for Most Influential Research in 2019.

My time at American Experiment has also been hands on and practical. I’ve had the opportunity to tour Minnesota Power’s Boswell facility – one of the impending fossil plant closures that gave rise to the enabling legislation for this commission. Touring the facility and surrounding communities gave me a greater appreciation for the role Boswell – and large generating facilities in host communities across our state – plays in Northern Minnesota. It is an economic backbone, both as a direct employer and a source of low-cost, reliable energy that supports tens of thousands of jobs across the region. The unique role of these facilities, as well as the complexities related to their decommissioning and existing transmission capacity, must be well understood by any commission planning for their host communities’ future.

If appointed, I will provide an experienced voice on which to advocate for sensible policies that protect local communities which host power plants and champion sound energy policy that supports the needs of our state. This means advocating for technologies like new nuclear power plants and carbon capture and storage at host communities that will be harmed by the closure of existing baseload power units.

Thank you for your consideration,

Isaac M Orr