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Anti-Mining Special Interest Groups Are Trying to Kill Coal To Stop Mining in Minnesota

Yesterday the Minneapolis Star Tribune featured an article discussing how Minnesota Power, an investor owned electric utility in northern Minnesota, was relieved that the state's iron ore mines were starting production back up after being idled due to low demand as a result of the pandemic. The families of 1,700 miners are also relieved the mines are reopening because the wages paid by Minnesota's iron mines are some of the highest in the state. But these jobs are at risk of leaving if it becomes too expensive to mine in Minnesota, and affordable electricity plays a big part in that equation. As...

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Gas Prices Will Soon Be Under $1 As a Result of COVID-19 Lockdowns, Saudi and Russian Price War

Minnesota drivers might have noticed falling prices at the pump over the weekend, and prices are about to fall below a dollar per gallon of gasoline, at least that's my prediction based on the fact that crude oil prices have now fallen to a 17-year low. Prices are falling because many people are no longer commuting to work and businesses are closed to help slow the spread of the COVID-19, and because a price war is being waged by Saudi Arabia and Russia, the second- and third-largest producers of oil in the world, behind the United States. Demand Drops from COVID-19 According to...

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What Would a Joe Biden Fracking Ban Look Like? Part Three: A $3,000 Pain at the Pump for Minnesota Families

During the Democrat debate on Sunday, March 15, 2020, between Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice-President Joe Biden, Vice-President Biden stated that he would allow "no new fracking." However, banning "new fracking" would have incredibly bad  consequences for the whole country because it would greatly increase the cost of gasoline, causing a big pain at the pump for Minnesota families. This article is the third installment in this series. Higher Costs for Gasoline According to a 2016 study conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce entitled "What if Hydraulic Fracturing Was Banned?" a national fracking ban would cause gasoline prices to...

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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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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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How the Renewable Energy Grinch Stole Your Christmas Budget

Christmas is a time where friends and families come together to appreciate each other during the holidays. However, Christmas can also be a stressful period of time, especially for parents, because of the impact holiday spending has on their finances. Unfortunately, this financial stress has been exacerbated by Minnesota’s mandates for renewable energy which have driven up the cost of electricity. Minnesota families used to have electricity prices that were nearly 20 percent below the national average, but this changed dramatically beginning in 2005 when Xcel Energy was first required to add renewables to their system. The trend became even more...

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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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