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Isaac Orr: Minnesota’s High Electric Bills Will Continue to Rise Higher

This article originally appeared in today's Pioneer Press. The version below is the same text, but with graphics added. Xcel Energy recently unveiled its plan to prematurely retire its coal plants and replace them with billions of dollars’ worth of wind, solar, and most importantly, natural gas. Unfortunately, Xcel’s plan will constitute a large increase in electricity costs for Minnesota families, businesses and schools, and these costs would far exceed any potential environmental benefit. Many people may not realize that Minnesota residential electric bills reached a new all-time high in 2018. In fact, these bills exceeded $103 per month for the first time ever...

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Xcel Energy CEO Made $26.2 Million in 2018 As Your Electric Bill Reached a New All-Time High

The Star Tribune recently ran a piece announcing that Xcel Energy CEO Ben Fowke was the third-highest paid CEO in Minnesota in 2018 with a total pay of $26.2 million for the year. This wouldn't necessarily be outrageous compensation if Xcel Energy were a private company competing for your businesses in a free market, but the fact that Xcel customers are literally forced by the government to buy their electricity from the  government-approved monopoly makes this level of compensation unconscionable. Why does the Xcel CEO get paid so much? According to the Star Tribune: "Fowke’s annual bonus is based on five factors: employee...

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Renewables Will Make Minnesota Less Energy Independent, Not More

Happy 4th of July, everyone. Today I'd like to debunk a common myth among renewable energy advocates about the impact wind and solar will have on Minnesota's energy independence. The common trope goes like this, "Minnesota doesn't have any coal, natural gas, or oil, so we should build wind turbines and solar panels to make our state less dependent on energy from other states." The first part is true, every ton of coal, drop of oil, or molecule of natural gas consumed in Minnesota must come from out of state, but that does not make the second portion of this statement true....

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Every Wind Turbine and Solar Panel Built Today Will Be Scrap Metal by 2050

Wind turbines and solar panels only last for 20 and 30 years, respectively, meaning every wind turbine and solar panel built today will be scrap metal by 2050. How can anyone who claims climate change is an "existential crisis" seriously advocate for building tomorrow's scrap metal, today?...

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Should EV Charging Stations Be Regulated as Utilities? Kentucky Joins Majority to Say ‘No,’ Minnesota Should Too

Last week, Kentucky regulators ruled that electric vehicle charging stations were not considered utilities under state law, according to Utility Dive. In doing so, Kentucky joins Iowa, Vermont and California in determining that chargers do not provide a public service in the same way that other electric services do. This makes sense, because owning an electric car is a luxury item. The graph below from the Energy Information Administration shows most electric car owners make more than $100,000. Not surprisingly, most of the household that own electric cars also have a regular car. Therefore, the argument that electric car chargers are a vital public...

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Rob Port: Xcel’s Coal-Free Plan is Politics Not Reality

The article below originally appeared in the Inforum, and it's spot on.  Xcel's decision is about padding its ratebase, and thus its corporate profits, and if they have to team up with the environmental groups, then so be it. MINOT, N.D. — “Xcel Energy plans to shutter its two remaining coal plants in the Upper Midwest a decade earlier than scheduled — a move that will make the utility coal-free in the region by 2030,” Mary Divine reported for the St. Paul Pioneer Press this week. That’s big news. All the more so because it’s not the full measure of Xcel’s ambition. The...

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Pollution Control Equipment Has Greatly Reduced Emissions at Minnesota’s Clean, Beautiful Coal Plants

Some renewable energy advocacy groups claim that Minnesota should aspire to have cheaper and cleaner electricity by using more wind and solar. Of course, this logic makes no sense because wind and solar increase the cost of electricity in Minnesota, but it is worth looking at whether coal-fired power, which is among the most affordable ways to generate electricity in Minnesota, is actually dirty. According to data from the Energy Information Administration, it isn't. When most people think of coal, they probably think of the smog-filled skies of 1950's Pittsburgh or scenes from modern-day Beijing, but advanced pollution control technology at coal-fired...

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Xcel’s Plan to Close Coal Plants Early Is Bad News for Minnesota Families and Businesses

Last week, Xcel Energy announced their desire to shutter the last of their coal-fired power plants a decade earlier than previously planned. If approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the plan would increase electricity costs for Minnesota families and businesses and produce zero measurable reductions in global temperatures. It would, however, result in handsome corporate profits for Xcel Energy, which would be a direct wealth transfer from everyday Minnesotans, who are forced by the government to buy their electricity from Xcel, to the company's shareholders. Minnesota's coal plants provide some of the lowest-cost electricity in the state. The graph below...

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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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