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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.

Confirmed Cases: 38569

Reported Deaths: 1511
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin12456787
Ramsey4911228
Dakota238291
Stearns237119
Anoka2241109
Nobles16696
Olmsted112915
Washington111440
Mower9522
Rice8447
Scott7344
Clay58738
Kandiyohi5731
Blue Earth4792
Wright4755
Todd4012
Carver3811
Sherburne3175
Lyon3162
Freeborn2920
Watonwan2340
Steele2311
Benton2173
St. Louis18015
Martin1695
Nicollet16912
Cottonwood1360
Goodhue1318
Winona12515
Crow Wing10612
Pine1050
Le Sueur1031
Chisago1001
Otter Tail951
McLeod920
Carlton870
Dodge870
Polk822
Chippewa791
Unassigned7837
Isanti730
Waseca680
Douglas650
Itasca6412
Murray640
Meeker611
Morrison591
Becker560
Faribault560
Jackson550
Sibley542
Pipestone522
Pennington510
Renville352
Mille Lacs342
Wabasha330
Brown312
Rock310
Beltrami300
Fillmore300
Yellow Medicine300
Houston260
Swift221
Wilkin213
Norman200
Redwood180
Cass162
Roseau160
Aitkin150
Big Stone150
Koochiching151
Wadena150
Kanabec141
Grant120
Marshall120
Lincoln100
Pope100
Mahnomen91
Clearwater80
Hubbard70
Lake60
Traverse60
Lac qui Parle40
Stevens40
Red Lake30
Kittson20
Cook10
Lake of the Woods00

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 31670

Reported Deaths: 722
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk6638179
Woodbury325244
Black Hawk230158
Buena Vista171411
Johnson13148
Linn129482
Dallas128029
Marshall104919
Scott81510
Story7793
Pottawattamie73612
Wapello70830
Dubuque70222
Crawford6772
Muscatine64344
Sioux4770
Tama46529
Wright3861
Louisa36213
Jasper32517
Plymouth3225
Warren2901
Dickinson2663
Washington2439
Webster2292
Hamilton1891
Cerro Gordo1821
Boone1481
Clay1340
Clarke1322
Allamakee1314
Mahaska11617
Shelby1140
Clinton1121
Poweshiek1068
Carroll991
Pocahontas971
Bremer946
Des Moines922
Franklin900
Emmet880
Henry863
Cedar841
Taylor790
Hardin770
Monona770
Cherokee751
Floyd732
Marion700
Benton691
Guthrie664
Jefferson640
Sac640
Osceola620
Jones610
Butler572
Buchanan551
Humboldt551
Hancock540
Harrison540
Lee542
Calhoun532
Iowa530
Delaware511
Fayette510
Monroe516
Madison482
Clayton443
Lyon440
Davis411
Palo Alto410
Mitchell390
Winneshiek390
Grundy380
Mills370
Kossuth350
Howard340
Jackson320
Lucas314
Greene300
Chickasaw290
Union290
Winnebago290
Ida240
Cass230
Van Buren220
Appanoose213
Keokuk211
Page210
Worth200
Unassigned170
Adair160
Audubon161
Ringgold160
Decatur120
Montgomery102
Wayne100
Adams80
Fremont70
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