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The Dirty Little Secret Behind Clean Energy Jobs

The Clean Energy Economy Minnesota jobs report will likely draw favorable media coverage, but a deeper look at the numbers exposes the fact that these numbers are artificially inflated by including workers who are only tangentially related to energy efficiency, and that only 2.2 percent of the wind and solar jobs are non-temporary construction jobs....

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No, Wind Capacity Factors Are Not 50 Percent in Minnesota, And That’s Very Important

Renewable energy advocates in Minnesota often claim that capacity factors for wind, the percentage of electricity generated by a power plant compared to its theoretical output, are sky high in Minnesota, exceeding the 50 percent threshold. Data from the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs show this claim is completely false. As you can see on the map below, there is not a single wind facility in Minnesota that operates above a 50 percent capacity factor.  The results don't get much better as we lower our standards, either. The U.S. Energy Information Administration shows the state-wide capacity factor for wind was only 35.9 percent in...

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Isaac Orr: Lower Electricity Costs From Going Carbon-Free? Wanna Bet, Gov. Walz?

The following article originally appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press: Gov. Tim Walz recently announced his plan to make Minnesota’s electricity 100 percent carbon-free by 2050, and while the governor claims his plan will reduce energy costs for Minnesota families due to improvements in energy efficiency, I could not disagree more with his assessment. Therefore, I am willing to bet the governor a month’s salary that his claim is incorrect and that electricity costs will skyrocket under his plan. Increasing quantities of renewable energy result in increasing electricity prices because they are more expensive than conventional sources of electricity, like coal....

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Doubling Down on Failure Installment Four: Renewable Energy Fails Cost/Benefit Analysis Using Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Social Cost of Carbon

This article is the fourth installment explaining the findings of our new study entitled Doubling Down on Failure, How a 50 percent by 2030 Renewable Energy Standard Would Cost Minnesota $80.2 Billion. This installment explains how the cost of reducing carbon dioxide emissions under the Renewable, Short-Term Nuclear, and Long-Term Nuclear would exceed the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC) established by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) scenario, is the only scenario that passes this cost-benefit analysis. This post is pretty in the weeds, so the main takeaway is that the costs of reducing our carbon dioxide emissions...

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MN House Energy and Climate Finance Committee Modeling Should Include Future Wind Speeds

The Minnesota House of Representatives has proposed spending $550,000 on a study to be conducted by the University of Minnesota exploring the impacts of climate change in Minnesota. What's unique about the study is that it would require the University to conduct a study producing climate model projections through the rest of this century for 10-square mile blocks covering the entire state. The study would be required to develop a series of projections of temperature, precipitation, snow cover, and a variety of other climate parameters over the rest of this century. This morning I testified in front of the Committee instructing them to add another requirement to...

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Doubling Down on Failure Installment Two: Generation, Utility Profits, Property Taxes, and Transmission

This article is the second installment explaining the findings of our new study entitled Doubling Down on Failure, How a 50 percent by 2030 Renewable Energy Standard Would Cost Minnesota $80.2 Billion.   Today, I’ll break down four main components that drive the cost of our energy system that we explored in our study. As you can see below, generation accounted for 59 percent of the total cost of electricity in the Renewable Scenario, utility profits constituted 22 percent, property taxes accounted for 11 percent, and transmission accounted for 8 percent of the total cost of electricity....

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The Dirty Secret Behind “Clean Energy”

Renewable energy advocates often talk about wind and solar as "clean" energy resources, and talk about "dirty" fossil fuels, but how accurate is their assessment that renewables are actually clean? Not very. We've talked about the fact that wind solar, and batteries require massive amounts of copper, nickel, rare earth metals, lead, cadmium, and cobalt. Many times, these materials are mined in countries where there are few, if any, protections for the environment or workers. The Clear Energy Alliance has produced a very good video debunking the claims that fossil fuels are inherently dirty, and video shines a much-needed light on the...

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Minnesota’s Third-Largest Wind Farm is Already Losing Steam: Output Falls 14 percent from 2014 Highs

According the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, wind turbines have operational lifetimes of 20 years, but it appears Xcel Energy's Nobles wind project, the third-largest wind farm in Minnesota, is losing steam after just eight. The graph below was produced using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration plant-level data. It shows the electricity generation of the Nobles wind project, which became operational in 2010, through 2018. You'll notice that electricity generation peaked in 2014, and that generation was about 14 percent lower in 2018, compared to the 2014 production levels. It is important to take note of this decline in electricity production...

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