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Minneapolis Adds $2 Million Climate Surcharge to Utilities

When it comes to innovative ways to wring more revenue out of residents,  you've got to hand it to Minneapolis.  The Minneapolis City Council plans to hike utility bills next year by $2 million over and above the already higher than ever gas and electric rates on the books. Why? The Star Tribune headline says it all: "Minneapolis is using electric bills to fight climate change."And ratepayers are supposed to feel as good about their involuntary contribution as their elected officials who imposed it. The City Council raised its franchise fees — payments that Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy collect from customers...

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Feds Reverse Controversial Ban on Northern MN Mining

Northern Minnesotans looking to reverse the Obama administration's last-minute arbitrary ban on mineral exploration just got an unexpected holiday gift out of the blue to the shock of just about everyone, including the Star Tribune. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Friday unexpectedly opened up access to hard rock mining on the borders of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Voyageurs, reversing an Obama decision that might have protected the wilderness indefinitely. In an opinion posted on the agency’s website, officials said that contrary to its decision a year ago, it does not have the discretion to deny Twin Metals its leases for copper...

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Early Christmas Present as Township Kills Western MN Wind-Solar Project

[caption id="attachment_8723" align="alignright" width="236"] Pelican Lake, Otter Tail Co.[/caption] It's not often the so-called little guy gets to take a victory lap, especially after challenging the well-connected green energy industry. But the Fargo Forum reports the residents of Dunn Township on Pelican Lake in Otter Tail County just overcame the odds and pulled the plug on a nearly 500 foot wind turbine and solar system proposed for their corner of paradise. "We have cancelled the community based renewable project, which was a wind/solar hybrid project," Lake Region CEO Tim Thompson said in an email. "The project was being developed by Juhl Energy...

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The High Cost of Our Failing Wind Policies: Why Minnesota’s electricity costs are above the U.S. average and emissions are rising

This op-ed appeared in the Star Tribune on December 14, 2017.  Star Tribune file photo. Like many states, Minnesota is on the bandwagon for renewable energy, especially wind power. Despite all of the hype about falling wind power costs, Minnesota's energy policy is starting to exert upward pressure on electricity prices, and it is notably failing at its chief objectives. America's fixation on renewable energy dates to the energy crisis of the 1970s, when it was thought that oil and natural gas were quickly running out and that we needed brand-new energy sources. Today, we are told that we need to develop...

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Minnesotans’ Electric Rates: Gone With the Wind

Minnesota has been on the cutting edge of mandating renewable energy quotas for the past decade. But to what end? Center of the American Experiment answered that question in our recently released report, Energy Policy in Minnesota: The High Cost of Failure. You can download and read the report here. Or you can get the Cliff Notes version in an op-ed in Thursday's Star Tribune by the report's co-author Stephen Hayward. Here's the gist of Hayward's overview. Minnesota has met its political mandate of supplying 15 percent of electricity from renewable sources, but the effects of this target are disappointing and worrisome...

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Pipeline Remains On Hold But Not Protesters

Construction on replacing Enbridge 3 with a far superior pipeline hasn't even gotten underway yet in Minnesota. In fact, the project hasn't even received regulatory approval from the state yet, thanks to stalling by the Dayton administration. But the Duluth News Tribune reports that hasn't stopped pipeline protesters from getting a head-start on their job anyway.   Three Duluth residents were cited for trespassing on Friday after occupying Enbridge's downtown office to demand that the company abandon its Line 3 replacement project. Donna Howard, Mark Daniel Hakes and Michele Naar-Obed delivered a letter to Paul Eberth, director for the project intended to replace the existing...

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Key Legislators Make the Bipartisan Case for met Council Reform, Again

Distrust of the council arises from a governance structure that allows this unelected body to exercise power over 3.5 million metro residents with little to no accountability. The council, reporting only to the governor, now controls all federal and state resources for metro transportation, transit, subsidized housing, water treatment, parks and airports. ...

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Xcel Reveals Solar Garden Power Costs Double Other Sources

The Minneapolis City Council's recent approval of two more community solar gardens led to glowing coverage in The Journal, a community newspaper. But the report also appears to contain a bombshell from an Xcel Energy executive about the true cost of solar power, a disclosure that solar costs Minnesota ratepayers tens of millions of dollars more than conventional electricity. At face value, the new community solar deal "saves" Minneapolis $28,000 a year on electric bills, while helping Xcel Energy meet the state mandate to produce 1.5 percent of Minnesota's electricity through solar. Community solar gardens allow utility customers in Minnesota to support...

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Taxpayer and Ratepayer Subsidies Squandered as Suburb Dismantles Solar Project

There were no dignitaries on hand, ribbons to cut or speeches on sustainability to commemorate the latest chapter in solar power at the Maplewood Community Center (MCC). Five years after a massive $310,000 subsidy from taxpayers and Xcel Energy ratepayers, the St. Paul suburb now has nothing to show for the supposed model renewable energy project—except for 216 obsolete solar panels and 198 reflector panels headed for storage and, more than likely, oblivion. The Maplewood Community Center’s rooftop solar system was one of dozens of green projects in Minnesota rolled out with little scrutiny under the 2009 federal stimulus program (ARRA), meant to put...

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EPA Cleans House After Obama-Era Advisers Pocket $77 Million in Grants

"Political science" took on a whole new meaning under the Obama administration. Now we're finding out just how politicized and cozy the relationships were between the environmental agency under the previous administration and the ostensibly objective scientists advising it. The Environmental Protection Agency has identified tens of millions of dollars in government grants that were awarded to scientists at the same time they were serving on three of the powerful agency's advisory boards. In other words, numerous scientists on advisory panels were deciding on national environmental regulations even as their pet projects received funding from the EPA--a textbook conflict of interest. But...

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