Published January 13, 2021
Minnesota Power plans to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity to northern Minnesota by 2050.
In an announcement yesterday, the Duluth-based utility promised 70% renewable electricity by 2030. It will reduce coal plant operations immediately and close all of its coal generation by 2035. And it will do so while maintaining the reliability and affordability of the system for small ratepayers and the large mining and paper industries it serves.
This is a fantastic commitment from a utility that depended on coal for 95% of its electricity in 2005. It is a recognition that electricity can decarbonize quickly, and must do so in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with Minnesota law and the needs of the global climate.
Minnesota Power’s commitment also demonstrates that electricity generation nationwide no longer needs to rely on fossil fuels (as study after study has shown). Roughly two-thirds of Minnesota Power’s electricity goes to taconite mines and plants, paper companies, and other industrial customers that require power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That makes it uniquely challenging to transition from traditional baseload power generation. However, it’s not only possible to meet electricity needs with all clean energy; it is the best choice for consumers. And, if Minnesota Power can do it, the rest of the country can, too.
Minnesota Power’s plans need approval from the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The utility will submit its integrated resource plan – its plan for the next 15 years of electricity generation – on February 1, which will kick off a public review process expected to take approximately one year.
The Citizens Utility Board, teaming up with the technical experts at GridLab, will be digging into the details to make sure Minnesota Power is on the path to 100% carbon-free energy that is best for its customers. We’ll analyze the specifics of the utility’s proposals and expect to make recommendations to the PUC. We’ll share more after Minnesota Power’s integrated resource plan is released.
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