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: 609016

Reported Deaths: 7741
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1261631795
Ramsey52955910
Dakota47198475
Anoka43176465
Washington27637296
Stearns22651227
St. Louis18233319
Scott17667139
Wright16506153
Olmsted13495103
Sherburne1211496
Carver1073349
Clay829392
Rice8247111
Blue Earth769244
Crow Wing687298
Kandiyohi669685
Chisago626754
Otter Tail589887
Benton585098
Goodhue485474
Mower477333
Douglas477281
Winona463252
Itasca462668
Isanti445066
McLeod433861
Morrison427462
Beltrami410163
Nobles409650
Steele400519
Polk390772
Becker389157
Lyon365054
Carlton356858
Freeborn350134
Pine337223
Nicollet333845
Mille Lacs314556
Brown308640
Le Sueur299427
Todd288033
Cass287933
Meeker265144
Waseca240723
Martin236833
Roseau212021
Wabasha20833
Hubbard197641
Dodge18883
Renville183046
Redwood177941
Houston175316
Cottonwood168124
Wadena164923
Fillmore158910
Faribault156920
Chippewa154038
Pennington153820
Kanabec147828
Sibley147310
Aitkin139137
Watonwan13619
Rock129019
Jackson123112
Pipestone117126
Yellow Medicine115320
Pope11366
Murray107210
Swift107218
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89217
Marshall88817
Lake84020
Wilkin83713
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49022
Unassigned47993
Red Lake4037
Traverse3815
Lake of the Woods3474
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 374664

Reported Deaths: 6109
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58891646
Linn21448342
Scott20426250
Black Hawk16680319
Woodbury15319230
Johnson1473686
Dubuque13595213
Dallas1144099
Pottawattamie11307177
Story1082848
Warren592092
Clinton564393
Cerro Gordo562297
Webster538996
Sioux519174
Muscatine4920106
Marshall491479
Des Moines478275
Jasper452073
Wapello4366123
Buena Vista431040
Plymouth404982
Lee392658
Marion369177
Jones301257
Henry301037
Bremer292763
Carroll286252
Boone271234
Crawford270841
Benton262755
Washington259851
Dickinson250745
Mahaska232551
Jackson225842
Kossuth219166
Clay217327
Tama213372
Delaware211743
Winneshiek200636
Buchanan196734
Page195422
Cedar192923
Hardin191144
Wright189140
Fayette188243
Hamilton186851
Harrison181973
Clayton173057
Butler167835
Madison167719
Floyd164642
Mills163824
Cherokee161538
Lyon160941
Poweshiek159036
Allamakee155552
Hancock153134
Iowa148324
Winnebago145731
Calhoun143113
Cass140855
Grundy139333
Emmet136741
Jefferson134535
Sac132620
Shelby131838
Louisa130249
Union129535
Appanoose128049
Franklin127823
Mitchell127243
Chickasaw125717
Guthrie124532
Humboldt124526
Palo Alto114924
Montgomery106738
Howard105322
Clarke102424
Monroe100633
Keokuk99932
Ida92735
Adair89632
Davis86825
Pocahontas86822
Monona85931
Greene79111
Osceola79017
Lucas77423
Worth7568
Taylor67112
Decatur6629
Fremont64810
Ringgold56824
Van Buren56718
Wayne56323
Audubon52913
Adams3494
Unassigned90
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