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The Production Tax Credit: Corporate Subsidies & Renewable Energy

Wind energy is a $14 billion industry made up of wind facilities, turbine manufacturers, and financiers. While the industry grew over the past few decades, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and its corporate members pushed for new and continued subsidies that would enable large energy corporations to profit at the expense of taxpayers....

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Want to Save on Your Utility Bill? This Minn. Nonprofit Has Some Tips

MPR ran a piece about the efforts of Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Minnesota to educate people on how to lower their utility bills. Among the brilliant, energy-saving insights provided by CUB were: Changing light bulbs and turning off lights and gadgets when not in use. Turning down the heat on your water heater. Washing clothes in cold water, instead of warm water. Adding insulation to your home. Putting plastic over windows in the winter to keep the cold air out These revolutionary recommendations can probably save the average home tens of dollars over the course of a year! But if CUB, which has...

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MPUC Chair’s Nomination for New Job Raises Concerns

Remember the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Chair who was so torn over the burdens of exercising her authority over the Enbridge 3 pipeline replacement project last summer that she sobbed during the panel's deliberations? MPR's coverage left little to the imagination. PUC Chair Nancy Lange broke down at one point, grabbing a handful of tissues and expressing how conflicted she was about allowing fossil fuels to cross the state for decades to come. "How would I feel if I woke up in five years and that line had leaked?" Lange said, referring to the possibility that the old Line 3 would continue operating, despite...

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Listen Up: Isaac Orr Talks About the Importance of Keeping Existing Power Plants Running on the Plugged in Podcast

I had the pleasure of being on the Plugged In podcast, hosted by the Institute for Energy Research, last week. On the show, I talk about why closing down existing coal and nuclear plants is a bad idea, and how Australia has experienced skyrocketing electricity prices in the wake of imposing a carbon tax (now repealed) and setting aggressive renewable energy mandates. Enjoy! [embed]https://soundcloud.com/ieresearch/9-issac-orr-of-the-center-of-the-american-experiment-on-energy-in-minnesota[/embed]...

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Crackpot California Cage-Free Ballot Measure Threatens MN Farmers

You may not have heard about Prop 12, the latest crackpot measure approved by voters in California, given the wild fires and mass shooting dominating the news from the Golden State. But you will before long. Check out the rapid response to the latest ballot measure backed by California's cage-free caucus on the Farm Journal website. California consumers will likely experience an unnecessary increase in food prices and a decrease in consumer options now that Proposition 12, a ballot measure that requires more housing space for certain hens, breeding pigs and calves raised for veal, has passed in their state, says Jim...

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A Little Math Shows Switching to Natural Gas Will Probably Increase Fuel Costs for Minnesota Ratepayers

It's a common refrain for energy policy: it is cheaper to generate electricity from natural gas than coal. In some respects this is true, but power plant efficiency and fuel prices are important variables we should consider before we completely shutter Minnesota's coal fleet in favor of renewables and natural gas. Combined cycle natural gas plants are more efficient than coal plants because they use the heat produced as gas is burned to make 50 percent more electricity. It's hard to explain, so I've included a video below. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQ4yp_0Djvc#action=share[/embed] However, not all natural gas plants are combined cycle plants, and many of the...

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Republicans Who Favored Renewable Energy Got Clobbered in the Midterms

Moderate Republican candidates seem to think they can use energy and environmental issues as a bargaining chip to placate the electorate into giving them their vote, whether that is supporting stupid forms of energy like wind and solar, or opposing natural resource development like mining, but history shows this is a losing strategy....

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Fracking, Not Renewables, Is the True Energy Revolution of Our Time

Fracking shows what a technological disruption in the energy truly looks like, a rapid adoption of new technology that lowers prices for consumers regardless of the hurdles placed in front of it by governments and attempts to squash it by vested players in established industries like OPEC.  Fracking also shows us what technological disruptions don't look like, and wind and solar fit this bill. Despite decades of subsidies and tens of billions of squandered taxpayer dollars, and state laws requiring their use, these sources of energy simply cannot compete in terms of reliability or affordability of fossil fuels. ...

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As Blue Wave Fizzles to Purple Haze, There Are Reasons for Optimism Amid Midterm Results

It turns out there was no blue wave or red wave, and the purple haze that settled over the country in the wake of the midterm elections gives me reasons for optimism moving forward regarding energy and environmental policy in the coming years. 1.Senate gains could mean we will finally end the handouts for wind and solar: As you may know, wind and solar are huge recipients of federal tax subsidies, and these subsidies are the main reason why anyone invests in wind or solar. Fortunately, last night's results maybe these subsidies may finally go the way of the dodo bird. The wind...

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High Industrial Electricity Prices Harm Manufacturing Sector

We often hear from so-called progressives that we must fight income inequality and move toward renewable energy, but the problem is these two goals are incompatible with each other. This is because intermittent sources of renewable energy like wind and solar make electricity more expensive, and expensive electricity hurts the blue-collar industries like manufacturing and mining, which use an enormous amount of electricity. Just look at California, which has enacted a 100 percent carbon-free energy mandate that will continue to send electricity prices soaring. In fact, industrial electricity prices in California are nearly twice as high as in the rest of the...

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