Walz sets goal: 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050

Gov. Tim Walz has set an ambitious goal for Minnesota to get 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050.

Posted: Mar 4, 2019 11:45 AM
Updated: Mar 4, 2019 2:30 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Gov. Tim Walz set an ambitious goal Monday for Minnesota to get 100 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050, though his plan was short on specifics of how to meet that target.

Walz said his clean energy proposals would put Minnesota at the forefront of addressing climate change while ensuring "reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity." He said his proposal is different from some other states' approaches because it involves partnering with utilities that have also set ambitious goals for reducing their carbon emissions to zero. He said each utility would have the flexibility to choose how and at what pace it meets the standard.

"We have the capacity to put forward a plan that will change not only Minnesota's future but the world's future," the Democratic governor said at a news conference.

Environmental and climate change groups, several of which were represented at the announcement, welcomed the governor's proposals. Michael Noble, executive director of Fresh Energy, said they're ready to stand with Walz "to ride this vision of a One Minnesota clean energy future."

But Republican leaders said the plan bets on unproven technology that will be risky and expensive.

"Governor Walz's extreme energy proposals would cause Minnesotans' energy bills to skyrocket, force the closure of reliable and cost-effective power plants, and put Minnesota all-in on technology that simply cannot provide the reliable power you need to keep the lights on and heat your home in the winter," said Rep. Chris Swedzinski, of Ghent, the lead Republican on the House energy and climate committee.

Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley said the proposals would build on the success of Minnesota's Next Generation Energy Act, which passed in 2007 and was signed into law by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. That law requires Minnesota utilities to get at least 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The state largely achieved that goal in 2017 thanks to the growth of wind and solar power.

Minnesota still gets most of electricity from coal-fired plants but its major utilities are in the process of retiring some large, older coal plants and replacing the capacity with natural gas plants, which produce less carbon dioxide than coal plants, and adding wind and solar farms.

Minnesota's largest electrical utility, Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, announced a similar goal in January of carbon-free electricity by 2050 through expanded investments in wind and solar power, and keeping its Monticello and Prairie Island nuclear plants, which went on line in the early 1970s, operating until their licenses expire in the 2030s. The company has said smaller reactors could be part of its future mix. Walz's plan would count nuclear as clean energy, Kelley said.

Kelley said the 100 percent standard "sets the destination, but it does not dictate the specific road map for getting there." But he said utilities would need to prioritize clean energy over fossil fuels when setting long-range plans for replacing or creating new generating capacity. He said the proposal would also set higher energy efficiency goals for utilities, but provide them with incentives to develop innovative new programs to help customers switch to cleaner energy. It also calls for more help for low-income households to heat and cool their homes more efficiently.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 554536

Reported Deaths: 7083
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1155051679
Ramsey47786853
Dakota42410422
Anoka38477415
Washington24913273
Stearns20994218
St. Louis16774297
Scott15946117
Wright14764127
Olmsted1273297
Sherburne1060080
Carver980145
Clay781289
Rice7632101
Blue Earth695840
Kandiyohi627380
Crow Wing615086
Chisago548250
Otter Tail542673
Benton530597
Mower450532
Goodhue442471
Douglas441870
Winona438149
Nobles400248
Morrison394659
McLeod394355
Isanti375159
Beltrami372257
Itasca370752
Polk365367
Steele361914
Becker353948
Lyon347848
Carlton329352
Freeborn326829
Pine311821
Nicollet306542
Brown294439
Mille Lacs281250
Le Sueur269722
Todd268730
Cass249626
Meeker235937
Waseca231221
Martin212529
Wabasha19953
Roseau197318
Renville172043
Hubbard171841
Dodge17123
Redwood166435
Houston162614
Cottonwood156821
Fillmore15169
Pennington150619
Chippewa145836
Wadena144021
Faribault143419
Sibley135710
Kanabec130621
Aitkin128636
Watonwan12549
Rock122719
Jackson117310
Yellow Medicine110419
Pipestone109725
Murray10229
Pope10226
Swift99518
Marshall85617
Stevens82010
Lake78419
Clearwater77414
Koochiching76913
Wilkin76812
Lac qui Parle73522
Big Stone5644
Lincoln5592
Grant5478
Norman5229
Mahnomen5048
Unassigned49578
Kittson46622
Red Lake3877
Traverse3595
Lake of the Woods3053
Cook1450

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 357796

Reported Deaths: 5821
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk55970604
Linn20297330
Scott19082234
Black Hawk15550306
Woodbury14897221
Johnson1404281
Dubuque13153202
Dallas1089196
Pottawattamie10747162
Story1031147
Warren555186
Clinton537390
Cerro Gordo521986
Webster508291
Sioux506073
Marshall477174
Muscatine459896
Des Moines441465
Wapello4253120
Buena Vista421740
Jasper407670
Plymouth397079
Lee368155
Marion354575
Jones293055
Henry286137
Bremer279260
Carroll279151
Crawford262040
Boone258533
Benton250355
Washington249550
Dickinson242043
Mahaska224850
Jackson217942
Kossuth212663
Clay211025
Tama206671
Delaware202839
Winneshiek194433
Page190321
Buchanan188831
Cedar183823
Fayette182941
Wright180435
Hardin179942
Hamilton178049
Harrison176373
Clayton167055
Butler162534
Mills158620
Cherokee157138
Floyd155342
Lyon154741
Madison153919
Poweshiek152733
Allamakee149051
Iowa145524
Hancock143534
Winnebago136031
Grundy135232
Cass134354
Calhoun133211
Jefferson130635
Emmet128840
Shelby128337
Sac127219
Louisa126849
Appanoose126747
Mitchell125241
Union124032
Chickasaw122615
Humboldt118326
Guthrie117929
Franklin112721
Palo Alto110922
Howard102822
Montgomery100637
Unassigned10030
Clarke98223
Keokuk94530
Monroe94128
Ida89633
Adair84532
Pocahontas83621
Monona81230
Davis79924
Greene76710
Osceola75516
Lucas74923
Worth7078
Taylor65212
Fremont6139
Decatur5899
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53623
Wayne52123
Audubon4949
Adams3284
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