Minnesota makes dramatic decarbonization progress – Clean Energy Economy Minnesota
Guest post by Amelia Cerling Hennes, Clean Energy Economy Minnesota
A dramatic shift in how electricity is being generated across Minnesota has led to a significant decarbonization of our state’s power sector. It’s part of a longer term trend in transitioning Minnesota to a clean energy economy, one that supports more than 61,000 Minnesotans currently employed in the clean energy industry. In partnership with rural communities, utilities’ investments in renewable electricity have helped the state cross a new threshold — in 2019 nearly half of Minnesota’s power came from zero-carbon sources.
That threshold is one of several new findings in the 2020 Minnesota State Energy Factsheet, compiled by research firm BloombergNEF for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) and Clean Energy Economy MN (CEEM). The Factbook outlines key trends influencing national and state investment and economics, energy supply, and energy demand as well as offers a roadmap where policy could speed up progress.
The report finds carbon emissions from Minnesota’s power sector fell nearly 14 percent from 2018 to 2019. Over the last decade, renewables have accounted for 84 percent of all new electricity generation capacity added since 2010, totaling 3.4 gigawatts. Farmers’ decisions to lease their land for new wind farms, solar farms and community solar gardens is helping contribute to this progress. In fact the clean energy industry can be mutually beneficial to rural landowners and communities. Just last year alone, 26 Minnesota counties received more than $12 million in production tax revenue from wind farms according to the Minnesota Department of Revenue.
Increased local electricity generation has meant the gap between demand and supply is narrowing. Minnesota imports of electricity from across state lines feel to their lowest level in over two decades. The report also finds that the costs for building a new wind farm is cheaper than the cost of building a new natural gas plant. When you factor in the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit, utility-scale wind and solar technologies are the cheapest form of new electricity generation in the state.
At Clean Energy Economy MN, we’re working hard to make sure Minnesota is on the right track to seize the market opportunities available for clean energy growth. Along the way, clean energy businesses are innovating, solving problems, and creating good-paying jobs. The data in the Factsheet this year undergirds the progress we’ve been making, and signals a path forward for continued declines in carbon emissions as renewables take on an ever-increasing role in how Minnesotans receive their electricity.