Minnesota Power announces carbon-free plan

Wed 1-13-2021

Minnesota's second-largest utility has laid out new carbon-emissions goals. The effort is getting praise for helping reduce the industry's impact on climate change, but a key element is drawing some questions. Minnesota Power, which provides electricity in the northeastern part of the state, says it wants to be 100-percent carbon-free by the year 2050. The company's Josh Skelton says setting that timeline gives it a lot of room to make transitions...MNC Jan 13 cut 1 

  "And the longer term-goal allows time, allows time for techonology to develop, for us to make a thoughtful transition that doesn't sacrifice reliability or affordability in the region."

He says 50-percent of Minnesota Power's output is already renewable, with a goal of 70-percent by 2030. To get there, it will add an estimated 400 new megawatts of wind and solar energy. And it will close its last two coal-fired plants, but also keep pursuing a new natural-gas plant just across the border in Wisconsin. Environmental groups believe Minnesota Power should avoid any fossil fuels. But the company insists it needs a "bridge" to balance the needs of customers.

Gregg Mast of Clean Energy Economy Minnesota says he also questions the need for a natural gas facility in the plan, in part for its potential impact on ratepayers. But overall, he points to similar goals announced by Xcel Energy in 2018 as part of a movement by regional utilities that puts the state on a better path to cut emissions...MNC Jan 13 cut 2 

  "We're really fortunate that they are moving toward cost-effective, clean and reliable sources for energy."

Still, Mast says his group would like to see more emphasis on energy efficiency for buildings, as well as cleaner technology for transportation. No matter the sector, he says progress will depend on whether technology for renewables can be more cost efficient, but adds there are promising signs it will be.


**Story courtesy of Minnesota News Connection**