(Editor’s Note: The following column was submitted by Rep. Shane Mekeland.)
House Democrats on Thursday approved legislation which increases consumer energy prices, reduces power reliability and ultimately compromises safety.
The bill (H.F. 7) extends and increases Minnesota’s renewable energy standard to 55% by 2035 and requires electric utilities in the state to generate or acquire 100% carbon-free energy by 2040.
A report from the Center of the American Experiment estimates the Walz/Democrat plan to move to 100% carbon free electricity by 2040 will cost $313 billion, or nearly $3,900 per family per year. The same study indicates the return on these massive consumer costs would be negligible at best, paying to potentially avert 0.00096 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100.
This Blackout Bill is the last thing Minnesotans need at a time we already are paying more to heat our homes and concern over energy shortages is increasing. My position remains firm in that our state’s approach on energy should be to ensure affordable, reliable power through a diverse grid. This bill takes us the complete opposite direction and I strongly oppose it – end of story.
The Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator currently has reported a 1,200-megawatt capacity shortfall, indicating Minnesota already doesn’t have enough reliable power-plant capacity online to meet expected peak electricity demand. MISO warnings of capacity shortfalls for peak periods will become more commonplace if our state continues to rely more on intermittent, weather-dependent energy sources as House Democrats propose.
All blackouts are bad, but winter blackouts in Minnesota could pose great dangers that House Democrats are not taking seriously. I’d rather see Minnesota focus on diversifying the state’s grid, tapping into new nuclear technology and carbon capture and storage as lower-cost alternatives for reducing carbon emissions.
Republicans offered amendments intended to improve H.F. 7, including by allowing generation and transmission outfits to evaluate their own criteria on whether to modify or delay standard obligations.
I share strong concerns I am hearing from local energy groups that are leery of having their decision-making ability seized by St. Paul bureaucrats. This amendment takes the decision-making away from the Public Utilities Commission and provides a more flexible, common-sense approach allowing for market-based solutions instead of government mandates. Unfortunately, House Democrats blocked this proposal and others offered by House Republicans before approving their partisan bill.
The bill is now in the hands of the Senate for a vote.