MN House Jobs and Energy Omnibus Includes A Giveaway to Wind Developers

A new provision in the Minnesota House of Representatives Energy and Jobs Omnibus bill includes a giveaway to wind developers at your expense. It is yet another step in the wrong direction on energy.

The provision, H.F. 4289 Section 13, would make it so wind projects larger than 5 megawatts would no longer have to go through the normal regulatory process. This is a bad idea because it means wind developers will have a blank check signed by you and your family.

According to H.F. 4289:

“[216B.243] Subd. 8. Exemptions. Excludes wind and solar projects whose capacity is five megawatts or more, including those engaged in a repowering project (as defined here), from the requirement to obtain a certificate of need from the commission prior to construction.”

A certificate of need is a regulatory review process that essentially says that if an electric company wants to build a power plant (regardless of whether they are coal, gas, wind or nuclear), they must demonstrate to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that the power plant is needed to meet consumer demand.

The omnibus bill would exempt wind developers from having to demonstrate the electricity is needed.

Therefore, the incentive of wind developers is to build as many wind turbines as possible and sell the output to electric utilities. Wind developers have an additional incentive to get as many projects up and running before 2020 so they can cash in on federal subsides before they expire.

Minnesota families and businesses have no alternative to purchasing their electricity from the utility companies, so they rely on the PUC to prevent electric generators from building more turbines when there is no need for the additional electricity.

This is crucial, because electricity demand in Minnesota has been flat since 2005, meaning building more power plants (of any type) will simply increase electricity prices for consumers (as seen below).

Despite the fact that Minnesota has not needed any additional power plants for years, we have spent around $15 billion on wind turbines and the transmission lines needed to transport the energy generated from them. That is a major reason why electricity prices in Minnesota have increased 23 percent faster than the national average since 2001 (see below).

Some groups may try to spin this as a free-market deregulation of our energy markets, but this is simply false.  Removing certificate of need is simply a way for wind developers to more-easily help themselves to subsidies before the federal tax credits expire.

Is making it easier to for wind developers to help themselves to your tax dollars encouraging a free market? I think not.

If wind developers were private companies taking a risk to build these turbines because they believed they could offer consumers the best possible electricity service for the lowest price, I would be the first to sign up for their electricity, but that is not the world we live in.

This is not a common-sense, free-market reform for energy. Removing the certificate of need process for wind facilities is a bad idea because it is simply giveaway to the big wind developers at your expense.

Unfortunately, it is another step in the wrong direction on energy issues.

American Experiment will continue to monitor this bill as it moves through the process. In the meantime please watch and share Minnesota Blows Billions, to spread the word about the disastrous impact of wind energy on Minnesota.