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Minnesota Energy Plans

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 8 months ago

Highlights of Obama's plan Obama Energy Plan

August 4, 2008



• Emergency energy rebates of $500 for individuals, $1,000 for married couples, financed by oil companies' recent record-breaking profits.

• Crackdown on excessive energy speculation by closing loopholes and increasing transparency.

• Release of light crude oil from Strategic Petroleum Reserve to cut gasoline prices; oil to be replaced later with heavy crude more suited to long-term needs.



• Within 10 years, save more oil than currently imported.

• Invest $150 billion over 10 years to boost private efforts in clean energy.

• Employ an economy-wide cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

• Increase fuel economy standards 4 percent a year. Paired with $4 billion in tax credits for U.S. automakers so those cars can be made domestically.

Put 1 million plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road by 2015. Also mandate that all new vehicles have flex-fuel capability.

• Ensure 10 percent of electricity comes from renewable resources by 2012 and 25 percent by 2025.

• Require oil companies to drill on existing leases or surrender them so another company can drill.

Source: Obama campaign

July 2008. Solar Car Race from Plano, Texas to Calgary, Alberta, i.e. nearly 2400 miles.
The solar car from U. of Minnesota finished 5th in this year’s race. Congratulations!

RankCar #      Team Name                                                             Total Time (h/min/s)

1       2       University of Michigan <http://www.engin.umich.edu/solarcar/home/index.html>        51:41:53       

2       32      Principia College <http://www.prin.edu/solar/>                                    61:38:45      

3       1       FH Bochum Solar Car Team <http://www.fh-bochum.de/solarcar>       63:47:55       

4       24      University of Waterloo <http://www.midsun.uwaterloo.ca/>               64:00:06       

5       35      University of Minnesota http://blog.lib.umn.edu/itcomm/svpupdates/  65:41:48       

6       65      University of Calgary <http://www.calgarysolarteam.ca/>                   75:42:53       

7       42      Missouri U. of Science and Technology <http://solar42.mst.edu/>    81:20:36      

8       9       Iowa State University <http://solar.eng.iastate.edu/>                         91:12:59       

9       95      Red River College <http://www.rrc.mb.ca/raycer>                                92:15:02       

10      8       University of Arizona <http://www.solarcar.arizona.edu/>                  98:26:12       

11      3       University of Kentucky <http://www.engr.uky.edu/solarcar>            100:33:24     

12      100     Queen's University <http://www.qsvt.ca/>                                       106:36:20      

13      11      Northwestern University <http://nusolar.org>                                  113:58:11      

14      175     Durham University <http://www.dur.ac.uk/dusc>                             134:07:06      

14      256     Oregon State Univ. <http://www.oregonstate.edu/groups/solar>  145:20:00      


The U. of Minnesota solar car (Centaurus, UMNSVP's 8th generation).uses a Sunpower A-300 1500 kW peak power solar cell, a 30-kg Lithium-Polymer 6 kWh battery and a 8.5 kW custom brushless DC motor. See http://www.svp.umn.edu/specs.html for additional specs. Some quotes from that website: Typically, the car with one 180-lb driver + 420 lbs of own weight travels at 65 mph using 2.5-3 horsepower. The team is developing its own motor that will perform similarly or even better. The solar cells produce ~1500 Watts of power on a sunny day. Regulations require that no driver operate the car more than 6 hours per day.




May 17, 2008

Law enables governments to fund, build wind turbines
by Charley Shaw Staff Writer


Counties and cities in Minnesota can now get into the business of generating wind energy.



Renville County Commissioner Bob Fox and other officials from rural and metropolitan governments pushed for the new authority this session.


Gov. Tim Pawlenty signed the bill Tuesday despite objections from some in his GOP party that the legislation would allow the state to be too involved in private business matters.



Fox, whose central Minnesota county is doing a study to determine its potential for wind-energy development, said that investors are interested in building wind turbines in his area – and that the new policy approved by Pawlenty would allow Renville and other counties to partner with wind energy investors.



“We did not have the right as a county to do this before. That was our first step to have this authority,” said Fox, a member of the Rural Minnesota Energy Board, which consists of 17 counties in southern and western Minnesota.


The Metropolitan Energy Policy Coalition, which consists of seven metropolitan counties and the Metropolitan Council, also advocated for the legislation.



Sen. Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, and Rep. Lyle Koenen, DFL-Clara City, sponsored the legislation.



Kubly said local units of government that build wind turbines will be able to sell power wholesale to utilities or sell retail power to residents. The new law will help Minnesota meet state requirements that electric utilities generate 25 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025.


“I think it will help the utilities meet their mandate in addition to allowing local units of government to save money,” Kubly said.



The bill sparked controversy in the House and Senate before Pawlenty signed it. The House passed the measure 95-35. The Senate passed it 53-10.


Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie, voted against the bill. He questioned if government should get involved in the marketplace for wind energy.



“If things are really economically advantageous, you don’t need to spend taxpayer money to make it happen,” Hann said in an interview.


Kubly, however, said developing wind energy will benefit Minnesotans. Moreover, wind can be obtained for free, while other energy sources such as coal can only be gotten for a price.



“The cost of wind will still be nothing. ... I think it is going to save the taxpayers’ money,” Kubly said.



The bill received several hearings this session in House and Senate committees. Among the changes made during the legislative process, lawmakers inserted a provision that would deny local governments from using eminent domain to take land on which to build a turbine. Kubly said that most cities own land on the outskirts of their boundaries that tend to be good locations for a turbine or two.



Fox noted that investors of smaller community-based energy development (C-BED) projects are limited to a 15 percent stake in a single project. But he said the new law is useful because a county could chip in for a portion of the project if necessary.



A separate bill moving through the Legislature at the end of session would help finance local energy projects. The bill, which was waiting for a vote in the House and Senate on Friday, was sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Kalin, DFL-Lindstrom, and Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis.



The bill would provide financing to help local units of government obtain the engineering and other services needed to do renewable energy projects. The financing is called a tax-exempt lease purchase agreement. Kalin said the proposal would provide financial assistance to local governments who want to do wind and conservation projects.



“The lease purchase, I like to describe it, is a ‘funded unmandate,’ ” Kalin said.



Fox said government officials still have more work to do to provide wind energy incentives.



Federal tax policy, in particular, needs to be changed in order to provide better incentives for renewable energy, Fox said. But he added that Minnesota’s wind-energy potential should be pursued in the face of rising energy costs.



“We’re going to have to do something different. Our demand curve for energy keeps going up,” Fox said.




April 15, 2008 4:59 PM CDT

Minnesota power company buys $200 million of wind energy

by Bob Geiger Staff Writer



(AP File Photo)

(AP File Photo)


Southern Minn. Municipal Power buys 100 megawatts of wind energy from enXco


Rochester-based Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) has signed a 20-year contract to buy wind energy generated by the Wapsipinicon Wind Project LLC in Mower County.



Located 90 miles south of Minneapolis near the Iowa-Minnesota border, the Wapsipinicon Wind Project will boost the renewable energy portion of SMMPA’s energy capacity to 10 percent.



Dan Hayes, manager of member support programs and agency communications for SMMPA, said that Escondido, Calif.-based enXco plans to install 67 General Electric 1.5-megawatt wind turbines before the end of 2008.



Wind farm developers typically spend about $2 million per megawatt of capacity to install the tall white wind turbines whose spinning rotors generate electricity.



Hayes said he would not comment on the financial particulars of the deal, but the 101.5-megawatt capacity indicates that total development costs are about $203 million.



Developers are driving to have their wind energy projects finished and online by the end of 2008 because they will receive a 2-cent-per-kilowatt-hour renewable energy tax credit from the government for 10 years if a project is finished before then.



Xcel Energy launches groundbreaking wind-to-battery project

MINNEAPOLIS - Xcel Energy soon will begin testing a cutting-edge technology to store wind energy in batteries.  It will be the first use of the technology in the United States for direct wind energy storage.


Integrating variable wind and solar power production with the needs of the power grid is an ongoing issue for the utility industry. Xcel Energy will begin testing a one-megawatt battery-storage technology to demonstrate its ability to store wind energy and move it to the electricity grid when needed.  Fully charged, the battery could power 500 homes for over 7 hours.


“Energy storage is key to expanding the use of renewable energy,” said Dick Kelly, Xcel Energy Chairman, President and CEO. “This technology has the potential to reduce the impact caused by the variability and limited predictability of wind energy generation. As the nation’s leader in distributing wind energy, this will be very important to both us and our customers.”


Xcel Energy has signed a contract to purchase a battery from NGK Insulators Ltd. that will be an integral part of a project. The sodium-sulfur battery is commercially available and versions of this technology are already being used in Japan and in a few US applications, but this is the first U.S. application of the battery as a direct wind energy storage device.


The 20 50-kilowatt battery modules will be roughly the size of two semi trailers and weigh approximately 80 tons. They will be able to store about 7.2 megawatt-hours of electricity, with a charge/discharge capacity of one megawatt. When the wind blows, the batteries are charged. When the wind calms down, the batteries supplement the power flow.


The project will take place in Luverne, Minn., about 30 miles east of Sioux Falls, S.D., with the battery installation beginning this spring adjacent and connected to a nearby 11-megawatt wind farm owned by Minwind Energy, LLC.  S&C Electric Company will install the battery and all associated interconnection components.  The battery is expected to go on-line in October 2008.


 Partners in the project with Xcel Energy include the University of Minnesota, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Great Plains Institute and Minwind Energy, LLC. Xcel Energy is testing emerging technology and energy storage devices as part of its overall Smart Grid strategy, which modernizes and upgrades the grid to allow for easier integration of renewable energy sources.  


The project has been selected to receive a $1 million grant from Minnesota’s Renewable Development Fund, pending Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approval this spring.


Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company with regulated operations in eight Western and Midwestern states. Xcel Energy provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.3 million electricity customers and 1.8 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis. More information is available at www.xcelenergy.com.


Sound-Bites Alone Won't Create a Renewable Energy Economy

By Leah Peterson
Minnesota 2020 Fellow




Minnesotans recognize that clean energy is important to our state's security, environment and economic development. Exciting renewable energy policy ideas are coming fast and furious, because now is the time for action.   


The Legislature has a multitude of opportunities to strengthen Minnesota's economy, create hundreds of jobs and move Minnesota toward a clean energy future. In the end, Minnesotans will care less about who comes up with the ideas and more about whether new laws will actually make a difference. 


Unfortunately, some recent recommendations lack commitment, collaboration, investment and, perhaps, will power.


Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently called for authorizing local governments to issue $10 million to $20 million in revenue bonds to provide low-interest loans for "microenergy" projects and creating a state Office of Energy Security. The governor deserves kudos for proposing these ideas, and low-interest loans will likely help individuals and small businesses install clean energy technology. But one-time bonding and an office with a new name will not secure a clean energy future for Minnesota. 


In addition to the governor's and legislators' recent proposals, the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group (MCCAG) released its preliminary recommendations to reduce the state's greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent by 2015, 30 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. Those are the goals set by the Next Generation Energy Act signed into law by Pawlenty last year. 


MCCAG, which began meeting in April 2007, is a 56-member group representing a vast range of public- and private-sector organizations and citizen interests. Its preliminary report encourages a cautious review of our state's nuclear policies and urges stricter auto emissions standards, but fails to propose strict emissions regulations for two new coal-fired power plants being planned in northern Minnesota and eastern South Dakota. 


In response, the governor diverted from the MCCAG recommendations and called for repeal of a moratorium on new nuclear energy plants in the state and omitted any mention of stronger auto emissions standards. It's too bad that he did not divert further and recognize that for Minnesota to achieve a clean energy future, greenhouse gas emissions spewing from new coal plants cannot be permitted. 


The governor can paint the Capitol green, but it will not turn legislation that simply "encourages" utilities and businesses to enact conservation measures into requirements.  


Regardless of how beneficial the "clean coal" advocates make them sound, new coal plants on the Iron Range or in South Dakota won't be good for Minnesota unless they capture and sequester all greenhouse gas emissions.  While nuclear energy may produce no greenhouse gas emissions, all the slick sound bites in the world will never make storing toxic nuclear waste a reasonable form of "clean energy security." 


It took six long years for the Legislature to pass Minnesota's nation-leading renewable energy standard, requiring that 25 percent of our electricity come from renewable sources by 2025. The Legislature cannot merely bask in the glow of its 2007 renewable energy breakthroughs. In 2008 and into the future, underfunded, short-sighted, slow-stepping proposals should be unacceptable.  


Minnesota's sagging job market, unmet economic development potential and priceless natural resources cannot wait around while the governor proposes small, one-time loans; promotes antiquated, dirty and dangerous forms of energy and refuses to commit real dollars to renewable energy research and development.  


If Minnesota wants to fully capitalize on its competitive advantages in renewable energy development opportunities, Pawlenty must cease his unilateral approach and put aside his allegiances to dirty energy producers.  


Legislators must seriously consider the MCCAG recommendations and evaluate whether they are strong enough to reach clean energy goals fast enough. To truly move Minnesota ahead, Pawlenty and legislators must commit to strong, substantive laws that actually expand clean, renewable energy industries, measurably increase conservation, invest significantly in renewable energy infrastructure and create permanent, high-paying green-collar jobs.





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