Reaching new audiences on energy
This week, Center of the American Experiment kicked off a campaign to reach out to new audiences with our radio ads on Minnesota’s rising cost of energy. The radio ads…
Last weekend, the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote an article about Xcel Energy’s plans to increase the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by giving rebates of up to $2,500 to people who purchase EVs. These rebates, which would most likely be paid to wealthy urban liberals, would be paid for using your money.
It’s always important to remember that Xcel isn’t really a private business, they are a government approved monopoly. As an Xcel customer, you have no freedom to choose another provider if you want to shop around for a better deal. You are forced, by the state of Minnesota, to buy your electricity from Xcel no matter how much they charge.
It is also important to remember that Xcel doesn’t get to make a profit on the electricity they sell. Instead, they are allowed to make a guaranteed profit every time they spend money. The more Xcel spends, whether it be on wind turbines, solar panels, corporate C-Suites, and even potentially EV rebate programs, the more money they make. This gives Xcel a very powerful incentive to spend as much as possible, even if these investments are irresponsible.
The key paragraph in the Star Tribune article talks about how Xcel plans to pay for these rebates. It reads:
“Details are light on Xcel’s rebate proposal, though Xcel said they will be forthcoming. Xcel said it would seek recovery of the program’s costs from ratepayers, while also trying to mitigate a full-pass. The PUC must approve any such plan.”
Translated into more accessible terms, Xcel plans to charge everyone more for their electricity to pay for the rebates, even though most EV buyers are already much wealthier than the rest of us.
According to research from Morgan State University, 85 percent of EV owners are white, and that “EV owners are white males who are more educated, affluent, older, and more environmentally focused than are owners of internal combustion engine vehicles. EVs were most popular among Democrats and least among those not interested in politics.” This means the rest of us will most likely be paying more to keep the lights on in order to subsidize the EV purchases for wealthy liberals in the Twin Cities.
In fact, 86.8 percent of battery EVs in Minnesota are registered in the seven county metro area, according to the online dashboard AtlasEVHub. According to the Energy Information Administration, 67 percent of EV-owning households make more than $100,000 per year, meaning Xcel’s plan is siphoning money from low and middle income families to give to those who make more money. It is unclear how any of this can be construed as “environmental justice.”
While Xcel’s CEO Ben Fowke tried to play up the environmental benefits of this spending spree, the plan is really an attempt for Xcel to get their hands on another type of green: your hard-earned money. The $150 million Xcel wants to spend on EVs is a down payment on future spending. If EVs increase the need for more power plants, then Xcel gets to spend even more money, and make even bigger profits.
According to a recent slideshow from Xcel, the company plans to spend an additional $8.9 billion from 2020 through 2024, and you will have the privilege of paying for this spending through much higher electricity prices.
Xcel Energy clearly has a financial incentive to put EVs on the road, and it wouldn’t be surprising to me at all if Xcel was lobbying behind the scenes for the Walz administration to adopt California’s car mandates. This is purely speculation, and I don’t have any hard evidence to support it. However, it would make sense given what we know about Xcel’s lobbying history.
Xcel is one of the largest lobbyists in Minnesota. Xcel’s CEO appears to have helped President Obama draft coal-killing regulations, and Xcel frequently gives money to green groups who lobby for more wind, solar and electric cars. It is an unvirtuous cycle where the utility funds green groups to lobby lawmakers to pass legislation mandating more wind, solar, and EV requirements that make Xcel more money at your expense.
American Experiment has been a leading organization educating Minnesotans about the strengths and shortcomings of electric vehicles. If some Minnesotans want to buy an electric vehicle, we’re happy for them and we hope they enjoy the ride. However, the rest of us should not have to pay for them in any way. Whether that is through paying more for electricity because Xcel wants to dole out rebates, or paying higher taxes because the legislature wants to give rebates or tax credits.
Electric cars should be forced to compete like every other technology out there. May the best car win.