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BCSE In Action

April 28, 2015

Contact: Zoe Berkery, Business Council for Sustainable Energy
Email: [email protected]
Office: 202.785.0507

Contact: Ethan Zindler, Bloomberg New Energy Finance
Email: [email protected]
Office: 202.416.3466

Report: Minnesota Has the Tools to Meet EPA Power Plant Standards

Bloomberg New Energy Finance Analysis Finds State Has the Locally-Available Resources, Favorable Economics, and Some of the Required Policies to Comply with the Clean Power Plan

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Minnesota can achieve the long-term pollution reductions called for by the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Clean Power Plan if the state properly exploits its natural resources and continues on its current policy-making trajectory, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

The BNEF report finds that Minnesota could comply with the EPA's requirements - even though it faces the tenth most stringent EPA carbon dioxide emissions reduction targets in the country - thanks to a combination of strong state policies, leadership on energy efficiency and falling prices for natural gas and renewables.

"Minnesota is using renewable energy sources more than ever before, with 21% of its electricity coming from renewables in 2013," said Nathan Serota, BNEF Analyst for US Power and Clean Energy Economics and co-author of the report. "Natural gas is also a growing part of the state's electricity mix, up more than twofold since 2008, and Minnesota is a leader in energy efficiency thanks to strong state policies."

"Minnesota is already on the clean energy path, thanks to more than a decade of innovative policy and investment from both the public and private sector," said Jeff Riles, Manager of Regulatory Affairs at Enel Green Power North America, a member of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. "Enel Green Power is proud to be a part of Minnesota's growing clean energy economy with a total of 230 MW of installed wind capacity, including through our 200-megawatt Prairie Rose wind project in Rock County. We are confident that renewables will continue to grow in Minnesota and significantly contribute to the state's clean energy policies."

BNEF's report, "State Energy Fact Sheet: Minnesota," is available at http://bit.ly/1Gnunrt. BNEF identified several recent local trends that potentially bode well for the state to comply with EPA's pollution targets, including:

  • An increase in natural gas' role as a power source in Minnesota, providing 14% of the state's electricity and accounting for 33% of installed capacity in 2012. Meanwhile, coal-fired electricity generation fell from 59% in 2008 to 46% in 2013 and 396 megawatts of coal plants have announced plans to retire between 2015 and 2017.
  • Renewable energy generation expanding quickly in Minnesota as prices fall rapidly. Renewables including wind, biomass and others grew from 12% of Minnesota's annual power generation in 2008 to 21% in 2013 thanks to falling prices and strong state policy support.
    • Between 2008 and 2012, Minnesota built 1.7 gigawatts of utility-scale renewable capacity, mostly from wind power, and wind is already cost-competitive with coal in Minnesota, even without subsidies.
    • Solar power has begun to grow in Minnesota with installed capacity quadrupling from 4 megawatts to 16 megawatts between 2012 and 2014.
    • Biomass and Waste to Energy (WTE) are other important renewable energy resources, as Minnesota is home to 9 WTE facilities.
    • BNEF estimates that Minnesota's Solar Energy Standard will require 644 megawatts of solar capacity by 2020.
  • Minnesota's strong leadership on energy efficiency, driven by the state's Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS). Thanks largely to this policy, Minnesota electricity consumers have saved millions of dollars, according to a Minnesota Department of Commerce report, and Minnesota was ranked fifth in the US by The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) for utility and public benefits programs and policies in 2013.
    • BNEF also notes that the role of energy efficiency in Minnesota can increase significantly. A study prepared for Xcel Energy, the state's largest utility, found that Minnesota can economically achieve 7 terawatt-hours of cumulative annual energy savings by 2020.

"The country is at a crossroads when it comes to energy, and Minnesota is ready to head in the right direction," said Paul Bertram, Director of Environment, Sustainability and Government Affairs for Kingspan Insulated Panels. "Consumers across the state are already saving money thanks to Minnesota's strong, smart energy efficiency policies. We are confident that energy efficiency can and should play a central role in helping the state meet its Clean Power Plan targets, saving consumers even more money while helping to create jobs across the state. "Kingspan works closely with Target and other Minnesota businesses to reduce their energy use through smart green building designs and technologies.

BNEF's report was developed in partnership with the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE).

"What we see in Minnesota is similar to what we have seen in other parts of the country - states can benefit from complying with EPA's Clean Power Plan," said Lisa Jacobson, President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. "Thanks to the state's policy leadership and the Clean Power Plan's flexibility, Minnesotans can look forward to seeing more cheap sustainable energy and less pollution from traditional energy sources. We're encouraged by these results and look forward to watching as the sector continues to grow."

Download the full press release.