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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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Minnesota’s Third-Largest Wind Farm is Already Losing Steam: Output Falls 14 percent from 2014 Highs

According the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, wind turbines have operational lifetimes of 20 years, but it appears Xcel Energy's Nobles wind project, the third-largest wind farm in Minnesota, is losing steam after just eight. The graph below was produced using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration plant-level data. It shows the electricity generation of the Nobles wind project, which became operational in 2010, through 2018. You'll notice that electricity generation peaked in 2014, and that generation was about 14 percent lower in 2018, compared to the 2014 production levels. It is important to take note of this decline in electricity production...

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Two Answers I’d Like on Xcel Energy’s Carbon Report

Xcel Energy made headlines by announcing they would be the first electric utility to derive 100 percent of their electricity from sources that don't emit carbon dioxide by 2050. Earlier this month, the government-approved monopoly utility company released a 28-page report outlining their plan for "Building a Carbon-free Future." After reading the document, I was left with two nagging questions that should have been answered in the report: what would it cost, and how much future warming would it prevent?...

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Xcel Blames Snow Cover for Poor Performance of Solar Panels During Polar Vortex

Xcel Energy representatives recently stated that the company's solar panels only produced 8 to 10 percent of their potential output because of snow cover. Xcel Energy posted a profit of $1.1 billion in 2017, and you're telling me they can't pay a high-schooler to scrape off their solar panels for a little extra cash?...

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