For 2nd Straight Year, Renewables Are MN's Lead Power Source
Monday, April 25, 2022
Until this Friday, Minnesota is accepting public comment on broader plans to address climate change. While that takes shape, clean-energy leaders say new data show the state can build on strong actions already taking hold.
The 2022 Minnesota Energy Fact Sheet says at nearly 30%, renewables such as wind and solar power are the leading source of the state's generated electricity.
Virginia Mooty Rutter, director of engagement & strategic initiatives for Clean Energy Economy Minnesota, said that's the second year in a row that's happened. And combined with nuclear energy, 52% of Minnesota's power source is carbon free.
"It's exciting to see how Minnesota companies and utilities and our policymakers are choosing to invest in this clean-energy transition," said Rutter.
The remaining 48% is from coal and natural gas. However, Rutter noted that major utilities in the state are on pace to retire coal plants by 2035.
She added that while the state has seen clean-energy gains over a long period, it did have to combat with global instability in 2021 with supply-chain issues.
Despite some year-over-year volatility, industry observers say it's noteworthy Minnesota has held steady through short-term challenges - including the pandemic. Keven Lee, a deputy commissioner with the state Commerce Department, said the numbers speak for themselves.
"Wind and solar have transitioned from a sort of early-stage nascent technology in the eighties and nineties," said Lee, "to one of the mainstays of our grid."
Lee said the state needs to focus on infrastructure, including adding grid capacity, to ensure a smoother transition to renewables.
As for electric vehicles and hybrids, Minnesota had 24,000 of them on the road by the end of last year. And with the state implementing clean-car standards, Rutter said there's room for more growth.
"Transportation is currently Minnesota's largest source of carbon emissions or greenhouse-gas emissions," said Rutter. "And I think what we show in the report is that Minnesotans are adopting electric vehicles at increased rates."
Since 2017, registrations for the vehicles increased by 300%. 2021 saw a slight dip from the previous year, but the report says that's another example of supply-chain issues.
The findings come as Minnesota prepares its Climate Action Framework, with a final draft expected later this year.
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