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Minnesota energy has begun a new chapter.

Minnesota has taken a first step in outlining the next big leap forward in the state's sustainable energy future. Pushed by more than 60 environmental, labor, business, youth, and faith groups, the jobs omnibus bill -- expected to be signed by Governor Mark Dayton -- includes a Clean Energy and Jobs package that sets a standard of 1.5 percent solar by 2020 with a broader goal of reaching 10 percent by 2030. This is a great start for a state that is in position to lead the Midwest into the clean-energy economy.

I remember seeing pictures earlier this month of people filling the halls of the Capitol in St. Paul to demand phasing out coal and bringing in clean energy jobs. Legislators, impressed by the turnout, stopped in the rotunda to express their support. The governor even put a picture of the rally on his Facebook page

Retiring coal is key to solving climate disruption and investing in healthy communities. But just as important is the transition to clean energy. Minnesota's solar legislation will propel the state's investment in energy innovation, generate jobs, and build on the existing goal of reaching 25 percent renewables by 2025. This new standard includes:

- An estimated 450 megawatts of new solar by 2020 added to the existing 13 MW in the state.

- Community-shared solar. Utilities will offer solar "subscriptions" to anyone who wants to invest in an off-site project and receive credits on their energy bill. This is perfect for Minnesotans who rent or have shady roofs.

- A solar tariff. Minnesota will be one of the first states in the country to adopt a tariff that will pay homeowners who generate and pump clean energy back into the grid.

- The commission of a study to explore how Minnesota can achieve an energy system free of burning fossil fuels over the next several decades.

Critics have complained that this will increase rates. But they conveniently overlook the fact that the cost of Big Coal has sharply increased while solar and other renewables have been steadily getting cheaper. This is one reason why the vast majority of Minnesotans support more wind and solar. They are tired of polluters calling the shots. That's why their representatives have taken action by paving the way for a bright energy future.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tell more (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, Roadbed Guy, Calamity Jean

    Tell us more about the solar tariff.


  •  I love the idea of paying homeowners (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy

    who put more electricity into the system than they take out. I don't know why more states don't do this.

    However, solar is still far more expensive than coal, so there will be an added cost to Minnesotans.  The only way the homeowners won't see this is if it is subsidized, so someone else is paying extra, and that's still money that could be used elsewhere.  Given that MN usually has the cleanest air in the nation, this might be a hard sell to the average homeowner.  

    Also, while solar is certainly far superior to coal from the perspective of CO2 emissions, the metals in those panels have to be mined somewhere, and eventually have to be disposed of, so it's far from a perfect solution for the environment, in general.

    •  Concerning your first sentence (0+ / 0-)

      by googling "paying homeowners for excess solar power they generate" it seems like several states are already doing this (although some consumers are pissed that they're getting smaller payments than they anticipated).

      So this "tariff" must be something else.  Like the comment just above yours, I agree that it would have been nice to have been told more about it.

      And yes, the pollution generated by "clean" energy is a huge problem - but thankfully in places like China, Mongolia, and Indonesia - so it's out of sight and something we don't have concern our beautiful minds about!

  •  Definitely a step in the right direction (0+ / 0-)

    but a rather timid one unfortunately.

    For example 450 MW of installed solar in 7 years - considering that it will probably operate at 14 to 17% generating capacity in MN - is approximately equivalent to 1/10th of a large coal or nuclear power plant.

    IOW, not that big of a deal

    Another way to look at this, will the 10% capacity by 2030 even cover * new * demand? Let alone start pecking away at existing carbon based sources?

    Perhaps naively, wind would seem to be a somewhat better "green" alternative for MN than solar.  Is that being pursued separately from what is described in this diary?

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