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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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The Big Problem With Wind, Solar, and Batteries

The following article originally appeared in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. There have been many recent articles in The Daily Sentinel on Xcel's new Colorado Energy Plan related to climate change policy. In addition, the national news has been covering the Green New Deal being proposed by many politicians to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels in the next 10 years. It is ludicrous to think that we could live in a modern society without fossil fuels. Affordable fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas, and oil have brought more people out of poverty in the modern world than ever before. Nineteenth...

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Xcel Energy Property Taxes Soar 131.6 Percent Since Minnesota Began Mandating Renewable Energy – Ratepayers are Stuck with the Bill

We at American Experiment often write about how wind and solar energy cause nearly every aspect of the energy grid to be more expensive, but one aspect of this story we have not yet covered is the role wind and solar play on increasing property taxes. Property taxes constitute approximately 6 percent of your electric bill, as utility companies are allowed to pass these expenses directly on to their consumers. As property taxes rise, so does the amount you pay for electricity each month. As renewable energy sources increase on the grid, so do the property tax expenses that ratepayers are stuck...

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Our Take: Complicated Economics of Community Solar Gardens Subject of Debate

The Star Tribune recently ran an article called "Complicated economics of community solar gardens subject of debate." Seeing how the Strib did not seek our opinion on the topic for their article, I'm providing it below. First and foremost, Minnesota's Community Solar installations are a mess. These solar installations are small, inefficient, and expensive. According to the article in the Star Tribune, Xcel Energy currently purchases power from the solar gardens at a price of 13.5 cents per kilowatt hour, which is 4.3 times more expensive than the electricity generated at the Sherburne County (Sherco) coal-fired power plant in 2016. Cost data for...

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