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Undiminished: American Experiment’s work continues, albeit from home

As the latest issue of Thinking Minnesota reaches doorsteps, the news is dominated by the COVID-19 epidemic that began in China and now has spread worldwide. A number of states have been virtually shut down, and here in Minnesota, bars and restaurants have been closed and groups of more than 10 are being discouraged from meeting in public. The ultimate impact of COVID-19 on both public health and the U.S. economy remains to be seen, but meanwhile every business and organization has been impacted. Center of the American Experiment is no exception. We had to postpone our Annual Dinner, featuring Sarah...

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How “Clean Energy First” Would Increase Electricity Rates for Xcel Customers

Last session, the Minnesota legislature considered passing legislation called Clean Energy First (CEF). This bill, as the name suggests, would mandate utility companies in Minnesota to prioritize renewable and carbon-free energy sources over traditional energy sources when building a new power plant. Clean Energy First, in this way, is an extension of the renewable energy goals withing the Next Generation Energy Act (NGEA) passed in 2007, which has resulted in a tremendous increase in the cost of electricity in Minnesota. In fact, this legislation has all but eliminated the state's price advantage compared to the national average. The graph below shows residential electricity rates...

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The ECO Act Would Force You To Subsidize Electric Vehicles

Next week, the State Senate will be considering the ECO Act, which would make changes to Minnesota's energy efficiency program, which is called the Conservation Improvement Program, or CIP. There are several positive aspects of this bill, including an important shift away from forcing utility companies to spend more money than they may need to reach their energy efficiency goals. However, there are also provisions of the ECO Act that would force Minnesota families to subsidize electric vehicle (EV) rebates by paying more for their energy each month, and these provisions should not be included in the bill. Our readers strongly oppose...

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Shutting Down Boswell Energy Center Would Devastate the Iron Range Economy

Standing on the banks of the Mississippi River in Cohasset, Minnesota, the Boswell Energy Center is the most productive, lowest-cost source of electricity in the entire state. Because Minnesota’s mining and paper industries use massive quantities of electricity, only the coal-fired Boswell plant can provide the reliable, affordable electricity needed to keep these industries running strong. However, liberal lawmakers from the Twin Cities—and their friends in the wind and solar lobby—want to shut the plant down to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, even though doing so would have zero measurable impact on future global temperatures. It would, however, have devastating consequences for Iron...

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Restaurants, bars, barbershops and other establishments to open on June 1st but with some heavy limitations

Nobody has said that reopening the economy will be a quick path to recovery but it sure is a good start for most businesses. We can all agree that the service industry even though it stood to lose from the coronavirus, has been more hurt by the heavily mandated one size fit all lockdowns and the way they have been imposed. The restaurant industry has especially been hard-hit by the uncertainty surrounding the length of the lockdown order. There have been so many changes made to the stay at home order since it was first introduced on March 18th to selected...

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How Falling Production From Wind Turbines Increases the Cost of Wind Energy

Yesterday, we wrote about a newly-released, peer-reviewed study conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that found a steep drop off in wind turbine production over the course of a wind turbine's lifetime. The fact that wind turbines produce less electricity as they age has means that most of the cost estimates for electricity generated from wind turbines that don't take this production decline into account are too low. Less Productive Means More Expensive The cost of generating electricity from all power plants is often expressed using a metric called the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), which attempts to figure out the...

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