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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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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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Center of the American Experiment Testifies on the Minnesota Senate’s Clean Energy First Bill in Rochester

Last night, I drove down to Rochester to testify at a hearing on the Minnesota Senate's Clean Energy First bill. As you will see in my testimony, this proposed legislation offers several significant improvements over previous legislation introduced to shape Minnesota's energy future, such as those proposed last session by Governor Walz and the Minnesota House of Representatives. However, there are still a few problematic parts of this legislation that I address later on in my comments. My testimony begins at 1:31:29 and I've pasted my comments below with additional links to provide references for my testimony. https://www.facebook.com/mnsrc/videos/477619166520895/   January 15, 2020 Testimony Clean Energy...

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South Carolina Has Much Lower CO2 Emissions and Lower Electricity Prices Than Minnesota

Liberal politicians in Minnesota love to pretend that they are leaders in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, which they claim are fueling an existential climate crisis. The data, however, shows that conservative South Carolina has much lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of electricity produced and lower electricity prices than Minnesota. The reason? South Carolina embraces nuclear power, whereas Minnesota liberals eschew it. According to the data, emissions of CO2 are 40 percent lower in South Carolina, per unit of electricity generated, than they are in Minnesota, according to the graph below which was constructed using 2018 data from the...

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Let Them Use Solar: California Power Outages Highlight Economic Disparity

Despite being governed by progressives for most of the last five decades, California has the fourth-highest degree of wealth inequality in the country, and this wealth inequality is on full display as more than 2.5 million people were plunged into darkness as a result of Pacific Gas and Electric shutting off the power to prevent wildfires. Wealthy Californians are more likely to have solar panels and battery storage at their houses than low-income families, and as a result, these families are more likely to have electricity during the blackouts because low-income families cannot afford to buy back-up generators to keep their...

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WindFail: Congestion on Transmission Lines Hinders New North Dakota Wind Farms

A recent story in the Bismark Tribune states that wind developers in North Dakota are thinking twice about building new industrial wind facilities in the state because there is no room on the transmission lines needed to transport the power to population centers like the Twin Cities. Wind and solar are often built further away from the areas that use the electricity, requiring a massive investment in transmission lines that routinely cost $1 million per mile. The cost of transmission is growing even more as many wind companies seek to build wind turbines in North Dakota and South Dakota, rather than Minnesota,...

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Statewide View Column: Closing Down Coal Gives China’s, India’s Iron Industries An Edge

The following article was written by me, and it originally appeared in the Duluth News Tribune. Xcel Energy recently made headlines by announcing it wished to close down its coal-fired power plants 10 years before they were previously scheduled to retire. However, it would be nothing short of a disaster for Minnesota’s mining industry, both present and future, if Minnesota Power pursued a similar path by closing the coal-fired Boswell Energy Center at a time when China and India are greatly expanding their use of coal. Mining requires an enormous amount of energy. In fact, the MinnTac mine in Mountain Iron reportedly...

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There is No Holy Grail: Some Perspective on Battery Storage

Today I wanted to share this graphic I found on a pro-nuclear Facebook page that really hammers home the point: we simply require far too much energy for wind, solar, and battery storage to ever be a viable, reliable source of electricity. If the folks who claim that climate change is an "existential crisis" were actually serious about reducing carbon dioxide emissions they would legalize new nuclear power and allow the electricity generated by hydropower that we already buy from Canada to count toward our "carbon free" goals. Instead, the DFL-lead house said these two proposals were non-starters. There is simply no...

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One Korean Nuclear Reactor Would Produce As Much Electricity As All Minnesota Wind Turbines at a Much Lower Cost

Last week, Korean Electric Power (KEPCO) connected its second advanced pressure reactor (APR) 1400 nuclear reactor to the grid. This is significant because these power plants, with a generation capacity of 1,400 megawatts (MW), would be able to generate about as much electricity as the combined output of all the wind facilities in Minnesota, for a fraction of the cost. Nuclear power plants are incredibly efficient, with capacity factors of 90 percent or higher. This means nuclear plants will generate about 90 percent of their theoretical output during the course of a year. As a result, building just one APR1400 reactor...

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