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What Would a Joe Biden Fracking Ban Look Like? Part Seven: Rising Greenhouse Gas Emissions

During the Democrat debate between Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice-President Joe Biden on Sunday, March 15, 2020, Vice-President Biden stated that he would allow “no new fracking” as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, banning fracking would cause  greenhouse gas emissions from Minnesota power plants to increase by approximately 25 percent above estimated 2019 levels. Greenhouse gas emissions would increase because a fracking ban would triple the cost of generating electricity with natural gas, making it impossibly expensive to use. As a result, Minnesota utilities would likely return to burning more coal to generate electricity, which emits...

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What Would a Joe Biden Fracking Ban Look Like? Part Six: Impossibly Expensive Electricity

During the Democrat debate between Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice-President Joe Biden on Sunday, March 15, 2020, Vice-President Biden stated that he would allow “no new fracking.” However, banning fracking would cause the cost of generating electricity with natural gas to skyrocket by tripling the cost. As a result, places like Minnesota would either see utilities switch back to coal-fired power plants, or if Xcel Energy gets to fully implement it's plan to shut down coal-fired power plants before the end of their useful lifetime and replace them wind, solar, and natural gas, Minnesota families will be shocked at...

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Darling, is the Wind Blowing? I’d Like to Go to the Hospital For COVID-19

Last year, President Trump mocked the unreliability of wind power at the Conservative Political Action Conference stating, "Darling, is the wind blowing today? I'd like to watch television." While the President's jabs were directed at watching television, the unreliable nature of wind and solar power makes them ill-suited to providing reliable, affordable electricity for our nation's hospitals when they need it most. For example, earlier this week, the wind wasn't blowing very well. In fact, data from the regional grid operator show wind was producing just 12.87 percent of its potential, meaning coal, nuclear, and natural gas power plants were needed...

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Minnesota Electricity Rates Increased Again in 2019, Reaching New All-Time Highs

Newly-released data from the United States Energy Information Administration show that electricity rates in Minnesota increased again in 2019, reaching new all-time highs. The increase in electricity costs affected all classes of consumers, resulting in higher costs for families, businesses, and factories. It didn't used to be this way. In fact, Minnesota once had electricity prices that were nearly 20 percent below the national average, but since 2005, when Xcel Energy was required to start adding significant amounts of wind on its system, electricity prices have increased by nearly 60 percent, which is about 30 percent more than the national average,...

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Despite More Turbines, Minnesota Wind Production in 2019 Was Still Below 2017 Levels

If you build them, the wind won't necessarily come. I've recently reported that wind facilities in Minnesota produced less electricity in 2018 than 2017, and newly-released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration shows electricity generation from Minnesota wind facilities was about one percent less in 2019 than 2017, although 2019 saw more generation from wind turbines than 2018. The decline, relative to 2017 generation, occurred despite the fact that there are about 3.6 percent more wind generation capacity installed in Minnesota today (3,843 megawatts) than there were at the end of 2017 (3,699 megawatts), according to the U.S. Department of Energy's...

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My Response to Fox 9’s “The Last Gasp of Coal”

Earlier this week, Fox 9 ran a story entitled "The Last Gasp of Coal," which suggested that coal plants are costing ratepayers a lot of money because of a practice known as self scheduling. Several of our readers sent this story to me, so I decided to reach out to Tom Lyden, the lead reporter on this story, to offer a perspective other than those shared by Fresh Energy, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. You can read my email to Mr. Lyden below. Dear Mr. Lyden, My name is Isaac Orr, and I am a policy fellow specializing in energy and...

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The “How Do We Make This Bill Less Ugly?” – Proposed Changes to Improve Clean Energy First

The last two days I've reviewed The Good and The Bad parts of the proposed Clean Energy First legislation currently circulating in the Minnesota States Senate. Today, in sticking with our Sergio Leone theme, I'll talk about a few ways to make the bill less Ugly. 1. Instead of Granting Cost Recovery for Prematurely Retired Assets, Require Utilities to Sell the Plants on the Open Market to the Highest Bidder Why should Minnesota families and businesses be forced to continue to pay for a coal plant that is going to be destroyed before the end of its useful lifetime? This should be...

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Video: The Year 2019 on ElectricityMap [Europe]

You can talk to people about the weather-driven variation in electricity output from wind and solar power until you're blue in the face, but it will never be as effective as showing them, in real time, what sources of electricity generation are currently keeping the lights on. This is where ElectricityMap becomes an indispensable tool. If you're interested in energy issues, you must download this app on your phone. The reason this app is such a great tool is that it shows how "green" the electricity is in areas throughout the world, as measured by the amount of carbon dioxide produced...

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Grid Operator Study Shows Complexity of Integrating Renewables Increases Exponentially After 30 Percent

The grid operator for the region including Minnesota, the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator (MISO), recently released it's study examining the complexity of integrating renewable energy onto the grid. The findings show that it becomes exponentially more difficult to integrate renewable energy into the regional grid as the amount of renewable energy increases beyond 30 percent, as you can see in the graph below. This is important, because it clearly shows that the challenges of integrating intermittent renewable energy sources like wind are not, in fact, overblown, as the Star Tribune editorial board argued earlier this year. In reality, these challenges have...

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Turkey Point Nuclear Plant Will Operate for 80 Years, While Wind Turbines Still Last for 20 Years

According to the Daily Energy Insider, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved Florida Power & Light’s proposal to add an additional 20 years of operation for the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Units 3 and 4 near Miami, Florida. This is the first time the NRC has approved renewed licenses for operation extending the lifetime of a nuclear plant from 60 to 80 years, but it may well be the beginning of several companies seeking longer operating licenses for their existing nuclear facilities. As a result of the renewal, Turkey Point Unit 3’s renewed license now expires on July 19, 2052....

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