OPINION: Clean Power Plan will penalize Minnesota for taking lead in energy future

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. -- Many people understand what drives Main Street. Quite simply, prosperity not only relies on the ability to compete regionally, but also globally. Minnesota has earned a reputation as being a great place for doing business. ...

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GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. - Many people understand what drives Main Street. 

Quite simply, prosperity not only relies on the ability to compete regionally, but also globally.
Minnesota has earned a reputation as being a great place for doing business. Unfortunately, new onerous federal regulations are putting the pro business climate at risk.
In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency released new rules regulating carbon dioxide emission known as the Clean Power Plan. The EPA set a target that carbon dioxide emissions should be reduced by 32 percent nationally. Minnesota’s target for reduction, based on 2012 numbers, is 42 percent.
In 2007, Minnesota passed the NextGen Energy Act that establishes a goal of generating 25 percent of our electricity from renewables by 2025. While utilities are making progress in meeting those targets, many of the neighboring states have no standard, giving them an advantage in being able to meet the EPA targets.
The result: Minnesota will be penalized for taking the initiative in supporting and investing in clean energy.
Recent studies have found that the Clean Power Plan is likely to increase the cost of electricity for the average Minnesota family by almost $500 a year.
Furthermore, the industrial rate will see increases upward of 38 percent. The impacts will be felt throughout the state, especially among residents on the Iron Range who are already dealing with challenging economic conditions.
Currently, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is tasked with formulating a plan for how Minnesota will comply with the rule.
As part of that process, the PCA held a series of listening sessions to receive input on the new regulation from stakeholders. The response from the public was that Minnesota should remain committed to ensuring that the state continues our energy policy, utilizing all resources, including coal.
Following the sessions, the PCA asked the legislature for more time in setting a timetable. Like the PCA, industry also needs more time. There are numerous promising clean energy projects currently in the research and development stage that would capture carbon dioxide gas from power plants.
One of those technologies is known as the Allam Cycle. According to RTO Insider, a trade publication, the Allam Cycle “uses another byproduct of typical combustion, carbon dioxide, as a type of fuel itself. Rather than having to expend energy to capture CO2 as in other carbon-capture processes, the Allam Cycle collects the CO2, pressurizes it into a liquid and uses it to turn a Toshiba-designed CO2 fluid turbine, instead of a steam turbine. When the power plant is done with the CO2, it is pipeline-grade material ready either for sequestration or to be sold off for industrial uses.”
Researchers are currently in the commercial stage in Texas and others are investigating similar uses in North Dakota. Tomorrow’s energy future depends on the ability for industry leaders and scientists to have the necessary time and resources to continue developing solutions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. But time is running out.
Minnesota needs to continue advancing towards a diversified and reliable energy portfolio that includes an all-of-the-above strategy that will meet our needs for the future. The EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan is an unnecessary intrusion by the federal government that will impede existing efforts to diversify the state’s sources of energy and increase reliance on renewable fuels without adversely impacting the economy.
Editor’s note: Solberg, a former DFL lawmaker from Grand Rapids, Minn., serves as co-chair of the Coalition for a Secure Energy Future.

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