How American Experiment fought to keep the grid reliable and affordable at the Public Utilities Commission

Saturday, May 14, 2022, was likely the first time many Minnesotans were told that our electric grid could suffer from rolling blackouts in the near future. Our readers have known we were heading in that direction for years.

In addition to the frequent articles we write on our website, American Experiment filed three sets of comments at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) totaling 110 pages arguing for reliable, affordable energy in our state. Many of our predictions are already starting to come true, which should bolster our credibility in the eyes of regulators in the future.

Our comments argued that Xcel Energy’s plan to prematurely retirement of its coal plants and its desire to build wind turbines and solar panels would result in a situation in which they would not have enough reliable power plants on their system to meet the needs of their customers.

In other words, Xcel Energy was planning to fail.

If, but probably when, rolling blackouts hit the Midwest, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will not be able to pretend like no one saw them coming. We did, and we warned them that approving Xcel’s plan would increase costs for consumers and undermine the reliability of the grid.

I have attached links and brief summaries to these comments below, but this page will mostly serve as a good reference point for the documents we submitted to the PUC.

Submission 1

On February 10, 2021, American Experiment submitted 60-page initial comments arguing that Xcel’s plan would cost Minnesota families and businesses billions of dollars. We also raised questions about the impact that these costs would far outweigh any environmental benefits and undermine grid reliability, arguing that pursuing the same resource planning policies as California would lead to similar results.

Submission 2

Our 33 pages of reply comments show that Xcel Energy customers pay far more than other Minnesota investor-owned utilities, especially Otter Tail Power Company. Our research found Xcel’s residential electricity prices are nearly five percent higher than the national average, and that their industrial prices are almost 18 percent higher than the national average.

Our comments also explain how Xcel is making a dangerous gamble with reliability by relying on intermittent wind and solar and turning the power off on large industrial consumers to keep the lights on in the future.

Submission 3

On October 15, 2021, we submitted 17 pages of comments warning Minnesota regulators that the European energy crisis should make them reconsider their plans to make the exact same mistakes.

We argued that the unreliability of wind in Europe had made the continent too reliant upon imports of Russian natural gas and that this dependency was driving up the price of natural gas and electricity.

We then explained how surging energy costs harmed European manufacturers, and that similar increases in energy costs would hurt Minnesota’s economy.

We closed with segments highlighting the unreliability of wind in Minnesota and urged Xcel Energy to pursue a long-term strategy that involved keeping its coal plants open until they could be replaced with new nuclear power plants.