Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Play

Bill to expand tax credits draws on children's health data, Alaskans file petition opposing giant grocery merger, and a revised Colorado water plan prioritizes conservation.

Play

President Biden is set to give the State of the Union address, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy calls the national debt limit the United States' greatest threat, and Kamala Harris announces new pledges to offer more economic stability in Central America.

Play

Is bird flu, inflation or price gouging to blame for astronomical egg prices? Pregnancy can be life-changing or life-ending depending on where you live, and nine tribal schools are transforming their outdoor spaces into community gathering areas.

Dispelling Misinformation on Wind, Solar Amid Utility Rate Hikes

Play

Thursday, January 20, 2022   

Minnesota is seeing a flurry of utility rate hikes either being considered or taking effect.

Those who support renewable energy warn there's some misleading information in the public sphere about what is behind the activity.

Xcel Energy has a pending rate hike before state regulators. If approved, it would boost electricity rates by 21% over three years. Minnesota Power also proposes a substantial increase.

Some policy groups opposed to renewable energy have launched campaigns suggesting the plans are solely caused by wind and solar projects.

Isabel Ricker, senior manager for clean electricity at Fresh Energy, countered it does not tell the whole story, noting there is aging infrastructure to be updated.

"The fundamentals of our electricity system; the poles, the wires, some of the larger equipment at substations," Ricker outlined.

Xcel Energy acknowledged upgrades would help the utility better transition to clean energy. And Fresh Energy contended a more modern system would make it easier for Minnesota to rely on such sources, also arguing they are still a less-expensive investment than traditional power plants.

Both utilities won approval for smaller, interim hikes late last year.

Annie Levenson-Falk, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Minnesota, pointed out while her group is fighting some rate hikes, utilities do see the need for investments in energy sources more economically viable in the long run.

"The sooner that utilities can move off of that old power generation, the more money that they are actually going to save for their customers," Levenson-Falk asserted.

Investment banking firm Lazard said wind and solar costs have declined by at least 70% over the past decade. As for rate hikes, CUB noted other factors, such as demand changes during COVID affecting utility revenue.

Fresh Energy emphasized there are still false claims being floated about the reliability of wind and solar.

Ricker stated in the Midwest, resources are managed in ways allowing them to function at a high-level in the winter.

"Wind turbines here are outfitted with winterizing equipment to ensure that they don't freeze, and they can operate at cold temperatures," Ricker stressed.

Ricker acknowledged other options, such as geothermal generators, will likely be needed to develop a robust renewable-energy system. Meanwhile, both groups say regulators traditionally try to keep rate hikes on the lower end, so customers are not paying for anything deemed unnecessary.

Disclosure: Fresh Energy contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


get more stories like this via email
As many as 11% of eligible voters do not have the kind of identification that is required by states with strict ID requirements, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Secretary of State Shenna Bellows said a bill to require Maine voters to present photo identification in order to cast ballots is unnecessary and coul…


Social Issues

A bill to increase tax credits in the Commonwealth is backed up by research showing the credits lead to better nutrition for working families and bett…

Environment

Part of the deal Wyoming struck for sending its water down the Colorado River was that state residents would be able to tap electricity generated at G…


Advocates and activists from both the liberal and conservative sides are trying to encourage voter turnout for the upcoming state Supreme Court race, given the impact the outcome will have on the court's ideological balance. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Wisconsin's primary election is two weeks away, and a high-profile state Supreme Court race is on the ballot. Several advocacy groups are behind a …

Environment

A coalition of conservation groups is giving Colorado's revised state water plan a thumbs-up for its increased focus on protecting Colorado's rivers…

Last year, the Federal Trade Commission reported a 70% increase in reported fraud losses from consumers. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

Victims of investment-related fraud in North Dakota could soon recoup some of their losses through a proposed restitution fund. A bill to establish …

Social Issues

West Virginia is among a handful of states with the highest increases in educational attainment between 2019 and 2021, according to a new report from …

Social Issues

The state's "divisive concepts" law is preventing educators from holding rational discussions about race relations in America, New Hampshire civil …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021