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The State of Electric Cars?

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2020 Issue of Thinking Minnesota, now the second largest magazine in Minnesota. To receive a free trial issue send your name and address to info@americanexperiment.org. Are Minnesotans eager to embrace a future that includes large numbers of electric vehicles, mandated by a state government rule? That is the subject of the cover story in this issue of Thinking Minnesota. When we asked Minnesota voters, we found very little support for that initiative. The Thinking Minnesota Poll was conducted by Meeting Street Research. Interviews were completed December 12-15, 2019 among 500 registered voters with a mix of cell phone...

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A Cold California

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2020 Issue of Thinking Minnesota, now the second largest magazine in Minnesota. To receive a free trial issue send your name and address to info@americanexperiment.org. Frustrated by his inability to persuade Congress to enact sweeping "cap and trade" laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, President Barack Obama simply bypassed the legislative branch of government. He used administrative bureaucracy, particularly the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to force additional regulations on the American people. It appears Governor Tim Walz is now taking. a page out of the Obama playbook. After last year's legislature decisively dispatched Walz's proposal to address greenhouse gas...

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Net Metering: How People With Solar Panels Are Picking Your Pocket

Did you know that people with solar panels on their roofs are picking your pocket in more ways than one? Federal subsidies for solar have been increasing your tax liability for years, but people with solar panels are also picking your pocket through a lesser-known policy called net metering. At its core, net metering pays people with solar panels more for their electricity than it is worth. This is accomplished by paying people with solar panels the retail rate for their power, rather than the wholesale rate. In fact, this is the only reason that solar panels are able to "pay...

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Spare the Electric Space Heater (and Turn Up the Gas) to Save Money and Keep Warm this Winter

This article was written by me and originally appeared in the Monticello Times: Winter has come, and that means college students will be looking for ways to keep warm without breaking the bank. A common way students seek to do this is by using electric space heaters, but in general, using space heaters is more expensive than turning up the thermostat on your natural-gas powered furnace. Space heaters can be more affordable than gas if they are only being used in one or two small rooms while the rest of the house is cool, but beyond that they are much more expensive to...

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Sunday Funnies: Unicorns More Realistic Than Running a Grid on Renewables and Batteries

The Time to Go Nuclear Facebook Page is definitely worth a follow. They published this meme and boy is it spot on. Unicorns are just as realistic as the battery request. I recently wrote about an Xcel Energy slideshow which shows the enormous cost of using 100 percent renewable energy with battery backup in California. The slide was notable because it shows the cost of electricity increases exponentially as renewable and battery storage penetration increases. The numbers I wrote about in the piece above only reflected the costs on Xcel Energy customers, who use less electricity than other customers due to high natural gas...

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Why Does Minnesota Have More Power Plants Than Texas?

Minnesota has more power plants than Texas, according to federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. This is despite the fact that Minnesota has 23 million fewer people than the Lone Star State, and that Texas requires six times more electricity than Minnesota. This is simply mind boggling. The main reason Minnesota has more power plants is because of our solar energy mandate and Community Solar program. These programs incentivize smaller, more-expensive forms of solar rather than larger utility-scale solar installations. Make no mistake, solar in Minnesota doesn't make sense because it is "too expensive" to clear snow off of the panels,...

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How the Renewable Energy Grinch Stole Your Christmas Budget

Christmas is a time where friends and families come together to appreciate each other during the holidays. However, Christmas can also be a stressful period of time, especially for parents, because of the impact holiday spending has on their finances. Unfortunately, this financial stress has been exacerbated by Minnesota’s mandates for renewable energy which have driven up the cost of electricity. Minnesota families used to have electricity prices that were nearly 20 percent below the national average, but this changed dramatically beginning in 2005 when Xcel Energy was first required to add renewables to their system. The trend became even more...

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Sunday Funnies From the Babylon Bee: California Considering Tax On Breathing

The following article was first published on the Babylon Bee. SACRAMENTO, CA—The California legislature unveiled plans last week for a new tax on the privilege of breathing. The "Check Your Oxygen Privilege Act" will be voted on later this week. If passed into law, Californians will pay a progressive tax on inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide, with wealthier residents paying as much as 40% of their income for every breath they take. The poorest tax bracket may receive a subsidy for their breaths under the new model. "Once again, California is at the forefront of progress," Governor Gavin Newsom said in a...

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Grid Operator Study Shows Complexity of Integrating Renewables Increases Exponentially After 30 Percent

The grid operator for the region including Minnesota, the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator (MISO), recently released it's study examining the complexity of integrating renewable energy onto the grid. The findings show that it becomes exponentially more difficult to integrate renewable energy into the regional grid as the amount of renewable energy increases beyond 30 percent, as you can see in the graph below. This is important, because it clearly shows that the challenges of integrating intermittent renewable energy sources like wind are not, in fact, overblown, as the Star Tribune editorial board argued earlier this year. In reality, these challenges have...

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Great News! Twin Metals Submits Its Mine Plan to State and Federal Agencies for Review

Yesterday, Minnesota took another step toward unearthing prosperity when Twin Metals Minnesota formally submitted its mine plan to state and federal agencies for review. According to the Twin Metals press release: "This marks the culmination of more than a decade of engineering, hydrogeological, environmental and engagement work including the evaluation of dozens of project configurations and technologies that maximize environmental protection." "Submission of the project starts a multi-year scoping and environmental review process that will thoroughly evaluate this proposal. The review process will include additional baseline data collection, impact analyses, and multiple opportunities for public input." The move was predictably decried by anti-mining...

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