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Otter Tail Power Will Build 50 Megawatts of Solar, But Its Electricity Will Come from Coal and Gas in the Dakotas

Otter Tail Power Company (OTP), the smallest electric utility in the state of Minnesota, will build 50 megawatts of solar near their soon-to-be retired Hoot Lake coal facility. The Fergus Falls Journal reports the facility will include around 170,000 solar panels and generate enough electricity to power about 10,000 homes each year, but by my calculations, based on federal data on electricity usage and factoring in Minnesota's unproductive solar panels, the number would be closer to 6,750 OTP customers. Either way, it doesn't really matter, because the vast majority of OTP's power will be shipped in from coal and natural gas...

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California is Still Struggling to Keep the Lights On

In Mid-August, more than two million California families and businesses lost their electricity during a record-breaking heat wave because the sun was setting, rending The Golden State's fleet of solar panels unable to generate electricity. Decades of bad energy policy had left the state with too few sources of reliable electricity. Blackouts, or rather "greenouts," ensued. Since that time, there have not been more blackouts, but there have been several very close calls, including over Labor Day weekend. Last weekend again brought scorching temperatures to the Southwest, and the California grid operator, the California Independent Systems Operator, pleaded with residents to voluntarily...

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California Blackouts: A Reality Check for Minnesota’s Wind and Solar Ambitions

The following article was written by Isaac Orr and originally appeared in the Faribault Daily News:  Millions of California families and businesses recently lost their electricity during a record-breaking heat wave. The blackouts occurred because of bad decisions by California politicians to shut down many of the state’s reliable nuclear, natural gas, and coal-fired power plants, resulting in an overdependence on unreliable energy sources like wind and solar. As a result, the state was unable to generate enough electricity to meet demand when it was needed most. California’s rolling blackouts should be a reality check for the Minnesota lawmakers, utility executives, and...

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Michael Shellenberger: Democrats Say California Is Model For Climate Action But Its Blackouts Say Otherwise

California is giving America a preview of the Green New Deal. Millions of families have had their power shut off because of the bad decisions made by politicians. These politicians set up the dominoes leading to the blackouts for decades by shutting down reliable forms of electricity like coal, nuclear, and natural gas, and believing in the fairy tale that wind and solar power would be able to get the job done when the chips were down. We are seeing in real time that they cannot. Michael Shellenberger writes about how Joe Biden's climate plan would usher in an energy system...

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Millions of Californians Lose Electricity Due to Cloud Cover, Low Wind Speeds

Last weekend, two million Californians suffered through rolling blackouts during record-breaking heat because cloud cover reduced the amount of electricity generated from solar power, and low wind speeds resulted in little production from wind energy, according to California's regional grid operator, the California Independent Systems Operator (CAISO). If Minnesota does not change it's current course on energy policy, we will soon suffer the same fate. California has some of the most stringent renewable energy mandates in the country. Currently, California law requires requires that 50 percent of California's electricity to be powered by renewable resources by 2025 and 60 percent by...

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How Much Metal Would A Minnesota Green New Deal Require? Part Two

Last week I wrote about how converting Minnesota's electrical grid to a combination of nearly 100 percent wind, solar, and battery storage would consume enormous quantities of copper, nickel, cobalt, iron, and steel. While that analysis determined that huge amounts of these metals would be needed for "green" electricity, it is important to remember that electricity is only part of the energy equation, and if we wanted to completely get rid of fossil fuel from our energy economy, it would require much more metal. The pie chart below was created using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. As you can see,...

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Xcel Energy CEO, Ben Fowke, Was the 4th Highest Paid CEO in Minnesota in 2019

Xcel Energy CEO, Ben Fowke, was the fourth-highest paid CEO in Minnesota in 2019, making $23.3 million in total compensation, according to an analysis in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. As proponents of free market principles, Center of the American Experiment does not take issue with CEO compensation at private companies, but as we have discussed many times before, Xcel Energy is not a private company. Private companies must compete for your business. If you don't like their product or their price, you are free to choose another provider. But Xcel Energy is a government approved monopoly, not a private company, and their "customers" are...

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How Long Can You Power a Light Bulb With Two Pounds of Fuel?

One of the most important concepts in energy policy is understanding energy density, or how much energy can be extracted from a certain quantity of fuel. Solar and wind power are the least energy dense sources of power. They require huge amounts of land to produce small amounts of energy. Wood, or biomass, is more dense than wind or solar, coal is more energy dense than wood, oil is more energy dense than coal, and uranium puts all of these other sources to shame. This is why wind and solar are the energy past, fossil fuels are the energy present, and...

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A Conservative Vision for Energy Policy in Minnesota

Last week, Ben Gerber, who is a board member for the Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum (MNCEF) took to the pages of The Minnesota Reformer, which is likely the most progressive outlet in the state, in an attempt to defend his positions on energy policy. In his article, which I encourage you to read, Mr. Gerber argues that MNCEF, and not Center of the American Experiment, is the group that opposes heavy-handed government solutions. But this claim is incorrect, as I spell out in my reply below. I am told may be run on the Reformer's website at some date in the future. The...

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Debunking the Minnesota “Conservative” Energy Forum’s Talking Points: Renewables Don’t Strengthen Our National Security, They Weaken It

Most of the conservatives I know strongly believe in limited a government that is primarily focused on enforcing contracts and maintaining law and order. As a result, many conservatives care deeply about having a strong national security to protect the United States from potential threats. National security is often thought of in terms of military might. In this regard, the United States is unparalleled. However, energy is also an indispensable ingredient to keeping America safe, but unfortunately, the Minnesota "Conservative" Energy Forum's advocacy for more wind and solar power doesn't strengthen America's national security, it weakens it. This article is the fourth in...

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