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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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Coronavirus Aid Package Fails Because Liberal Democrats Want Green New Deal, Student Debt Forgiveness

This weekend, a $1.6 trillion spending planned aimed at reducing the economic strain Americans will feel due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus failed to pass out of the Senate because it wasn't the Green New Deal, and because it did not include provisions for student loan forgiveness. These two aspects apparently made the package a deal breaker for House and Senate Democrats in Washington, D.C. Green New Deal, or No Deal One of the demands being made by House Democrats in a draft proposal are requirements for airline companies that receive financial assistance to offset 100 percent of their carbon dioxide emissions by...

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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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What Would a Joe Biden Fracking Ban Look Like? Part Two: Devastating Economic Impacts

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," and touted his role in spending $90 billion on the solar industry as part of the Obama administration's stimulus package. As I explained in Part One of this series, banning "new fracking" is essentially the same thing as banning all fracking. Such a bad policy would have devastating economic impacts for the entire country. According to a 2016 study conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce entitled "What if Hydraulic Fracturing Was Banned?"...

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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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Coronavirus-Induced Shortage of Solar Panel Components Highlights China’s Major Role in Solar Supply Chain

Last week, the Star Tribune ran a story about how the Coronavirus has disrupted the global solar panel supply chain, potentially causing the delay of two large solar installations in Wisconsin. The supply-chain interruptions have occurred because of factory shutdowns and travel restrictions in China, highlighting the major role that China has plays in the solar supply chain. According to the article: "Asia, and particularly China, is the globe’s primary supplier of solar cells and panels, and is also a major source of inverters and racking system components. Racks hold solar panels in place; inverters convert panels’ DC current into AC. Also, about...

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Xcel Energy Provides Strong Testimony Against the Community Solar Program

I have a lot of policy disagreements with Xcel Energy, but I firmly believe it is important to give credit when credit is due. The video below is from last week, and it shows Rick Evans of Xcel Energy testifying about the huge inefficiencies related to the Community Solar program. Evans makes many of the same arguments Center of the American Experiment makes about wind and solar every day. https://youtu.be/I-jPAY1wL-4?t=3431 Evans states: "Our customers are required to pay triple the cost of solar energy, in an unlimited quantity, that comes on to our system regardless of whether we need it or not. First of...

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Federal Data Confirms Minnesota Solar Panels Don’t Work Well in Winter

Recently-released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) confirms what many of us already knew, that solar panels don't work well in our Minnesota winters. The data is interesting because this is the first time EIA has shown the productivity (or capacity factor) of solar panels on a monthly basis, as you can see in the graph below. While solar panels generated nearly 30 percent of their potential output in July of 2018, electricity generation from Minnesota's solar fleet dropped to 5.6 percent by December. There are multiple reasons for this. One, the days get a lot shorter in the winter...

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Why Did Minnesota Solar Jobs Fall by Six Percent in 2019?

We're constantly told that solar is the energy source of the future, and that we need not worry about rising electricity prices and the loss of jobs in the mining, manufacturing, timber, and agriculture industries because of the booming solar economy. It appears that narrative suffered a setback this week. According to the Star Tribune, the number of solar jobs fell in 2019 by 267 jobs, or 6 percent relative to 2018 numbers. This brought the number of solar jobs in the state to 4,335 in 2019.  The article did not offer an explanation for the fall in solar jobs, but it can...

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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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