Minnesota Sets Goal Of Having 100% Carbon-Free Energy by 2040
Duluth, Minn. — Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a bill into law on Tuesday that mandates Minnesota’s public power companies become 100% carbon-free by 2040. Power companies and political leaders are not sure how this will be accomplished. What is clear, is that there is a need for many more solar, wind and biomass facilities to be added to replace coal and natural gas plants.
“I hear people say you’re moving too fast,” said Walz. “We can’t move too fast when it comes to addressing climate change,” he continued as he spoke to supporters at the bill signing ceremony.
Minnesota Power says the company is already 50 percent carbon-free and had planned to be 100 percent free by 20-50. Vice president of strategy and planning, Julie Pierce, says even though the new law moves that goal up by ten years, she’s confident the company can meet it.
Pierce said, “We identified we’d be adding additional renewables and ceasing coal operations at our facilities in two down strokes, one in 2030 and another in 2035. So, by that time frame we will be 80 percent renewable, we are already 50 percent renewable. So, we’re very excited by the momentum we have and have been working on for many years to decarbonize the energy supply plan for the northland.”
Northland Republican representative Natalie Zeleznikar says she believes in clean air and clean energy. However, her concern is over the cost and reliability of a system that does not include Coal or Natural Gas as any part of the solution. “It makes no sense to me why we wouldn’t have a diversified energy portfolio for the very way we heat our homes, our businesses and use transportation,” said Zeleznikar. “There’s nothing in life that’s 100%. We aren’t 100% doing anything and we never have,” she added.
Everyone involved agrees that the technology needed to accomplish the 100 percent goal does not exist today. And they agree the state’s energy grid needs to have significant improvements made to it.
“It’s going to take a lot of components to reach this ambitious goal. We’re going to need to strengthen the gird, were going to need to leverage new technology and were going to have to work together with the state, with our regions and with our customers to make sure that we can do this in a thoughtful way and get it right,” said Pierce.
The real question that remains is: can this goal be accomplished and still provide affordable and reliable energy for everyone long into the future?