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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.

Cases: 768112

Reported Deaths: 8639
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1533481923
Ramsey63323978
Dakota56954525
Anoka53854520
Washington33598331
Stearns28397253
St. Louis23627358
Scott21603160
Wright21301171
Olmsted18125120
Sherburne15480115
Carver1361255
Clay1023599
Rice9966131
Blue Earth964559
Crow Wing9467109
Kandiyohi834397
Chisago833563
Otter Tail8020105
Benton7472111
Beltrami652879
Mower645440
Douglas627590
Goodhue619485
Itasca615382
Winona611254
McLeod593770
Steele585225
Isanti569274
Morrison556066
Becker532762
Polk510778
Freeborn487642
Nobles480852
Lyon454856
Carlton445566
Nicollet433352
Pine427031
Cass423144
Mille Lacs415367
Brown409947
Todd398836
Le Sueur385332
Meeker356253
Waseca327231
Martin326236
Wabasha29516
Hubbard289944
Dodge273310
Roseau263827
Fillmore243212
Redwood239643
Wadena236629
Houston231017
Renville227349
Faribault220230
Pennington216527
Sibley210612
Cottonwood196628
Kanabec191330
Chippewa190240
Aitkin182543
Watonwan170811
Pope16128
Yellow Medicine156620
Rock155019
Jackson146514
Koochiching138319
Clearwater136018
Swift134519
Marshall134320
Murray134311
Pipestone133327
Stevens124511
Lake109121
Wilkin102214
Lac qui Parle98324
Mahnomen89312
Norman8729
Big Stone7974
Lincoln7825
Grant7819
Kittson60822
Red Lake5899
Unassigned529124
Traverse5125
Lake of the Woods4714
Cook2460

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 474151

Reported Deaths: 6785
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk74657729
Linn29194394
Scott24733274
Black Hawk20335358
Woodbury19207244
Johnson17988100
Dubuque15834229
Pottawattamie14276200
Dallas14109108
Story1288551
Warren774296
Cerro Gordo6951110
Webster6950111
Clinton6929101
Des Moines667594
Marshall641885
Muscatine6352113
Wapello5936137
Jasper578279
Lee565689
Sioux565676
Marion508191
Buena Vista491746
Plymouth463487
Henry389847
Jones370861
Washington366856
Benton359257
Bremer357168
Boone350937
Carroll346353
Crawford339347
Mahaska322856
Dickinson301052
Clay279133
Buchanan279039
Jackson273546
Kossuth271873
Hardin270249
Tama264976
Fayette260649
Delaware258546
Cedar249526
Page249328
Wright243645
Hamilton233954
Winneshiek233338
Floyd221845
Harrison217777
Madison216925
Clayton214558
Poweshiek211741
Iowa208029
Butler206638
Cass201557
Jefferson201040
Mills199929
Allamakee194753
Cherokee193844
Lyon192941
Hancock187639
Winnebago186633
Calhoun186116
Appanoose180850
Shelby178439
Louisa171052
Grundy168537
Humboldt167727
Emmet167146
Franklin164628
Mitchell164043
Union162637
Chickasaw159318
Sac157924
Guthrie155434
Montgomery142342
Palo Alto142032
Clarke141328
Keokuk139635
Monroe134335
Howard128222
Ida118641
Greene116315
Davis115225
Lucas113724
Pocahontas111423
Monona108738
Worth10818
Adair105335
Osceola94017
Fremont86111
Van Buren84221
Decatur82612
Taylor79713
Wayne74824
Ringgold67727
Audubon66814
Adams5095
Unassigned380
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