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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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If Renewables Are So Cheap Why Is Germany’s Electricity So Expensive?

Renewable energy advocates like to say we should be a lot more like Germany when it comes to generating more electricity from wind and solar. This argument often goes like this: "Wind and solar are already less expensive than fossil fuels, and greedy corporations are the only reason we don't have a clean energy revolution!!!" My question for people making this argument is, "If renewables are so gosh-darn cheap, why does Germany now have the highest electricity prices in Europe?" In fact, the average cost of electricity is nearly 30 cents per kilowatt hour, almost three times higher in Germany than...

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ACSH: Conventional Farms Are Better For Environment Than Organic Farms

Every acre planted to organics represents an opportunity cost for the productivity of the American agricultural sector. It means we must plant more acres to grow our food, which means there are fewer acres for other uses, including land conservation. So the next time someone tries to virtue signal about the fact they buy local, organic food, you should let them know they can save their breath, and their money, by buying environmentally friendly conventional crops....

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If Wind Energy Saves Ratepayers Money, Why Does Xcel Brag About How Wind Investments Increase Profits for Shareholders?

Wind energy is supposed to be the cheapest energy source available, providing energy savings to Minnesota businesses and families.  Just read this opening paragraph of a StarTribune article, which claims that “The cost of wind energy in Minnesota, even without tax subsidies, now appears lower than that of electricity produced from both natural gas and coal.”  The validity of this statement can be proven false simply by using public data provided by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). As you can see from the graph below, the cost of electricity from wind farms is more expensive than both coal and natural gas plants.  Figure 1 The capacity factor of a power plant can...

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Dayton Considers Iron Range Solar Plant A Highlight of His Economic Development Legacy: What Do You Think?

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says the Heliene solar panel manufacturing plant opening on the Iron Range is one of the highlights of his economic development record. What do you think? The plant received $3.5 million in loans from the state to expand and purchase state-of-the-art equipment. But this begs the question, should the state of Minnesota be subsidizing an industry that is painfully dependent upon the 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit for survival? I sure don't. The company, will reportedly invest more than $18 million to get a 25,000 square foot factory up and running after another manufacturer abandoned it last year. The plant...

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View Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources Polymet Press Conference Here

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources held a press conference to announce the agency's decision to issue the Permit to Mine for the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine in northern Minnesota. You can watch the press conference for yourself below. [embed]https://www.facebook.com/MPRnews/videos/337897113459634/?hc_ref=ARTcOu3oCKeGF8beN1oWfsK3mO3oYKIu_RxwNpseNH5KCL-lNecnF3kEWSltEZ4u28I[/embed]...

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