Xcel Energy complains about the wind and solar groups they finance

A recent story from the Energy and Policy Institute (EPI) details how Xcel Energy is apparently approaching cities to join its Carbon-Free Future MN Coalition to promote Xcel’s goals of going 100 percent carbon-free by 2050.

EPI described this effort as an attempt to defeat the 100 percent carbon-free electricity mandate by 2040, which will be a top agenda item of Governor Walz and other liberal lawmakers this session.

The dust-up appears to be over timing. Xcel wants to charge us all more for wind turbines and solar panels, but over the next 28 years, whereas Governor Walz wants to expedite the process to 18 years.

It would be difficult to achieve Xcel Energy’s goals because the technologies needed to go 100 percent carbon-free don’t exist yet. Whether it be sufficient battery storage, hydrogen-fueled power plants, small modular reactors, or carbon capture and sequestration technologies, these techs are all still on the drawing board.

The most interesting part of the EPI report was these paragraphs:

The Carbon-Free Future MN website takes specific aim at “some interest groups” that “are urging Minnesota legislators and regulators to mandate the elimination of carbon emissions as soon as 2030.” Clean energy and environmental justice advocates pushing for accelerated emissions reductions have frequently questioned Xcel’s ongoing investment in fossil gas.

The coalition’s website claims that speeding up the transition to carbon-free electricity wouldn’t “meet the needs of most Minnesotans who expect our system of universal access to safe, reliable and affordable electricity to continue.” The messaging draws from an increasingly familiar playbook used by utilities to justify investment in fossil gas despite the major disruptions it’s caused in recent years. 

It’s pretty rich that Xcel Energy is taking aim at the interest groups pushing for Minnesota’s own version of the Green New Deal because Xcel frequently funds these same groups.

For example, Xcel donated between $5,000 and $9,999 to Fresh Energy in the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Xcel has also donated to the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Conservation Minnesota.

Maybe Xcel is donating to these groups in an attempt to placate them and give them a reason to come to the table on Xcel Energy’s carbon-free by 2050 goal, but if that is the case, it clearly isn’t working.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that the utilities and the wind and solar advocacy groups are on the same side; they are simply haggling over the timeline for implementation. Either way, it will make our electricity more expensive and make blackouts more likely.

It’s the Xcel/Green Group money-go-round.