The High Cost of 100 Percent Carbon-Free Electricity by 2040

Governor Walz’s Proposal Would Cost Minnesota $313 Billion Through 2050 and Lead to Blackouts

The 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040 mandate proposed by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz would cost the state $313.2 billion through 2050 and lead to devastating blackouts.

Governor Walz’s Proposal would commit the state to obtaining 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free energy sources by 2040, but his proposal would not legalize the construction of new nuclear power plants in Minnesota or allow the hydroelectric electricity generated in Canada that Minnesotans already purchase to count as “carbon-free.” As a result, the Walz Proposal is essentially a wind, solar, and battery storage mandate.

We also investigated another scenario, called the Lower Cost Decarbonization (LCD) Scenario, that uses new nuclear power plants, coal plants with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) equipment, battery storage, and Canadian hydro and found that this suite of technologies would reduce emissions for a much lower cost.

This report is the most robust modeling on the true cost of attempting to power our state using wind turbines, solar panels, and battery storage technology. Our study finds:

  • Minnesota electricity customers will see their electricity expenses increase by an average of nearly $3,888 per year, every year, through 2050.
  • The Walz Proposal would reduce the reliability of the grid by making the state more vulnerable to fluctuations in output from weather-dependent energy sources like wind and solar.
  • Shockingly, Minnesota would experience a devastating 55-hour blackout in late January if wind and solar output is the same as it was in the year 2020, and electricity demand was the same as 2021.

These are just a few of our findings. By contrast, embracing a diverse portfolio of reliable technologies, including new nuclear power plants, coal plants with carbon capture and sequestration equipment, battery storage, and large hydroelectric power facilities in Canada, would reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the electricity sector by 98 percent. This portfolio would cost $224 billion less than the Walz Proposal and not cause blackouts.

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