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Representative Garofalo Eviscerates Bill To Raise Renewable Energy Mandate

Yesterday, newly-elected Representative Jamie Long (DFL) introduced  House File 700, which if signed into law would increase Minnesota’s renewable energy mandate to 55 percent of energy generated from wind, solar, small hydro, or hydrogen produced from renewable energy by 2030. The bill would increase this total to 80 percent by 2035. While Representative Long introduced the bill, it was Representative Pat Garofalo (R) who stole the show with a withering cross examination which was a work of beauty to behold.

The video below shows the exchanges between Rep. Long and Rep. Garofalo, and Representative Gene Wagenius (DFL), who chairs the committee. Some of the key take away’s are posted below.

 

At the 8:11 mark, Rep. Garofalo asks Rep. Long if there is a fiscal note, which puts a price tag on proposed legislation, attached to the bill.

Astonishingly, Rep. Long had not requested one, and when Rep. Garofalo asked Representative Wagenius if a fiscal note was going to be requested, she dodged the quested before eventually saying “we’ll see.”

How is this acceptable? According to the findings of our forthcoming study Doubling Down on Failure: How a 50 Percent Renewable Energy Mandate Will Cost 80 Billion (working title), some of which I shared in my own testimony yesterday, a 50 percent renewable energy mandate would cost $80 billion and increase the cost of electricity by 41.5 percent. This bill, which proposes to go even further, would dramatically increase the cost of electricity for every Minnesota household, school, hospital, and government building. In fact, every building using electricity will be impacted by this legislation.

Therefore, it is incredibly concerning that Rep. Long and Rep. Wagenius don’t seem to care about the massive cost this would impose on Minnesota families and businesses.

Rep. Garofalo then asked how this system would provide reliable electricity during weather events like the polar vortex that struck Minnesota last week, noting utility companies shut off their wind turbines when it is -10 degrees F. Rep. Long’s answer was a common one among renewable energy advocates, that the wind would be blowing somewhere and that reliability could be achieved by building our resources out over a wide area, but as I mentioned last week, the wind wasn’t blowing anywhere.

This one’s the kicker:

Next was the discussion of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which are a piece of paper attached to a megawatt hour of renewable energy produced anywhere in the United States. Rep. Garofalo asked if this bill would allow the use of RECs. Rep. Long didn’t know, so after a legislative researcher found they were, in fact, allowed, Rep. Garofalo asked how this bill would reduce pollution, reduce costs, or in-source jobs to the state of Minnesota.

Long’s answer was entirely unsatisfactory. While conceding that purchasing REC’s from other parts of the country would not create jobs in Minnesota, he continued to push against the other claims, but to no avail.

On cost: Purchasing a REC from California is not a magic wand that will automatically transform a megawatt hour produced using coal into one produced by solar power. The cost of the megawatt hour of coal remains the same, but the cost of the REC is added to the cost of the coal-fired megawatt hour. This means RECs necessarily increase the cost of power. Rep. Garofalo explained this brilliantly, arguing that purchasing this piece of paper would necessarily increase the cost of electricity.

On pollution: Rep. Long argued the REC would cause a reduction in emissions of criteria pollutants and also carbon dioxide, and that supporting the use of these technologies would result in cleaner air in Minnesota. But Garofalo pushed back, if we are still using the same sources of energy for electricity generation, then Minnesota will have the same emissions, and he’s right.

In essence, this bill will impose massive costs on Minnesota families and businesses but the bill’s author did not even ask for a fiscal note. Furthermore, the environmental “benefits” are illusory and this bill could very well promote renewable energy jobs outside Minnesota. Astonishing.

I’d highly recommend watching the entire exchange if you have the time.

 

 

 

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