All but two DFL Senators vote against legalizing new nuclear power
Earlier this week, the Minnesota State Senate moved forward to legalize the construction of new nuclear power plants in the state by including it in an omnibus bill for further…
The pandemic has been terrible for many reasons, but it has also made it easier than ever to make your voice heard by elected officials as they consider the merits of legislation in the various committees they hold.
On Thursday at 10:30 am, the Minnesota House of Representatives will be holding a hearing on their version of Clean Energy First (CEF). Members of the public who are interested in testifying must email Mike.Molzahn@house.mn by 3:00 p.m. the day before the meeting to ensure consideration.
Why You Should Testify
You should consider testifying on this bill because it will dramatically increase electricity costs in Minnesota, make our electric grid less reliable, and fail to reach its environmental objectives. The legislation will be all pain and no gain.
Costs of Clean Energy First
If passed, the legislation would force Minnesota families and businesses to pay billions of dollars for wind turbines, solar panels, transmission lines, and battery storage facilities. It would also force them to pay millions of dollars for coal plants that are being torn down before the end of their useful lifetimes!
We can see the massive costs this legislation would impose on Minnesotans by examining American Experiment’s cost calculations for Xcel Energy’s plan to prematurely retire their coal fleet and spend billions on wind turbines, solar panels, and transmission lines.
Our modeling shows Xcel’s plan would cost $57 billion through 2051, which equates to an annual average increase of $1,428 per customer every single year.
As you can see in the graph below, Xcel’s plan would cause electricity prices to skyrocket from 10.72 cents per kilowatt-hour (KWh) in 2019 to 18.94 cents per KWh in 2034. This means Xcel Energy customers would have higher electricity prices than those currently paid in California.
Clean Energy First would also make Minnesota’s electricity system less reliable.
Clean Energy First would mandate more wind and solar on Minnesota’s grid even though we have seen that these energy sources do not show up to work when we need them most. Temperatures are below zero in many parts of the state, but wind energy is missing in action.
According to data from the regional grid operator, the wind is providing just 1 percent of the current electricity on the grid, and solar is providing just 0.31 percent. Coal currently accounts for 55 percent of generation, natural gas accounts for 28 percent, and nuclear accounts for 14 percent.
Not only is wind not producing much electricity, but it is also producing only a small fraction of its potential output. There are 22,000 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity installed on the regional grid, but these wind turbines are only producing 1,055 MW of electricity. In other words, wind turbines are only producing 4.8 percent of their potential output.
The fact that wind and solar often don’t show up to work when it is too cold out is a major reason why the regional grid operator believes it will become exponentially more difficult to integrate more unreliable renewables onto the grid while making sure we have enough electricity available to keep our houses cozy as the temperatures plummet.
Not only will this legislation increase costs and harm reliability, but it will also fail to accomplish the environmental goals set forward by the authors because it does not allow new nuclear power plants to be built, and it does not allow electricity generated by large hydroelectric dams to meet it’s “clean energy” requirements, even though hydroelectric power produces no emissions.
This is a massive mistake because the legislation essentially becomes a wind, solar, and battery storage mandate. If the goal of this legislation is to reduce emissions as quickly as possible, then battery storage will deliver an enormous price tag for almost no reduction in emissions.
A recent analysis by the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie estimates there will be about 741 gigawatt-hours of battery storage in 2030. This amount equates to 741,000 megawatt-hours (MWh). These may sound like big numbers, but the figures are actually damning evidence that battery storage is an entirely unserious energy proposal.
In 2019, the state of Minnesota consumed 72 million megawatt-hours of electricity. This means the amount of battery storage expected to be in existence for the entire world would be the equivalent of just one percent of Minnesota’s annual energy consumption.
Those who advocate for wind, solar, and battery storage as the quickest way to reduce emissions need to get real about the fact that battery storage will not be available at the needed scale anytime in the next decade. Not only will the needed battery storage not exist, but it’s also incredibly expensive.
Current cost estimates for battery storage are about $250 per kilowatt-hour, which equates to a cost of $250,000 per megawatt-hour. This means the cost of all the expected battery storage in the world (741,000 MWh by 2030) would cost $185 billion to build, and this doesn’t even begin to include the cost of building the wind turbines and solar panels needed to charge the batteries!
Add in the fact that battery storage only lasts for 10 years, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and it becomes blindingly obvious that we should instead be focusing on building new nuclear power plants that will come online faster and produce much more electricity for a much lower cost.
The Korean Electric Power Company (KEPCO) is currently building four nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for an estimated cost of $22.4 billion. Construction on the plants began in 2012, and when completed, each of these nuclear reactors will deliver 1400 MW of power to the grid. The first of four reactors will begin commercial operation this year, and the construction of the other reactors is nearing completion.
Now that the first plant is generating electricity, we can expect it to generate about 11 million MWh per year. This is approximately 15 times more energy than Wood MacKenzie believes will be stored in batteries by 2030.
This means the UAE will be producing nearly 44 million MWh of electricity from nuclear plants over the next few years, or nearly 60 times more electricity than will be stored in grid-scale batteries by 2030 for a fraction of the cost.
As written, Clean Energy First is a massive giveaway to government-approved monopoly utilities who love building wind and solar because it increases their government-guaranteed profits. However, the legislation would make electricity much more expensive for Minnesota families, reduce the reliability of the grid, and fail to produce the environmental benefits the authors seek to accomplish.
Also, if you’ve made it this far, you should sign our petition telling the Public Utilities Commission to reject Xcel’s plan that would cause our electricity rates to skyrocket.