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Big power users face potentially smaller harvest from community solar gardens in Minnesota

State regulators’ recent decision to limit the number of solar gardens per site — a change sought by Xcel and supported by some solar developers — has clouded the prospects for corporate and institutional deals. Read more

Minnesota Power shapes a future with less coal and more renewables in plan filed with state regulators

Duluth, Minn.- In its 2015 Integrated Resource Plan filed today with state regulators, Minnesota Power, a division of ALLETE, Inc. (NYSE: ALE), explains how its EnergyForward resource strategy will continue to reshape the company's power supply through 2029. The strategy, which was developed in 2013, relies less on coal and more on renewable energy sources while emphasizing reliability, conservation, continuing to reduce emissions and minimizing costs.

The nearly 500-page resource plan, required by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) every two years, explains how the Duluth-based utility will supply customers with a safe, reliable, and affordable power supply while further improving environmental performance, further reducing emissions, sustaining the company's high-quality energy conservation program and adding more renewables in the near-term and new natural gas generation in the long-term. The company is forecasting modest load growth for its customers in the next 15 years with over 200 megawatts of additional load by 2029. Read more

Developers pushing solar gardens for energy savings, but communities are wary

They began showing up in the spring — e-mails, calls and unannounced visits to Dakota County office buildings from solar garden developers wanting to talk about regulations.

These gardens aren’t about plants. Instead, they feature solar panels that can gather energy for use throughout a community, lowering the energy bills of those who might not be able to put the panels on their own homes and businesses. Read more

Public Utilities Commission testimony looks at pollution, carbon costs

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will take testimony Wednesday afternoon on the pollution-related costs of generating power.

In the 1990s, the state began requiring utilities and regulators to factor in the environmental and health costs of pollutants when making decisions about how best to generate electricity. Advocates concerned about climate change, asthma and other effects say those cost figures are long overdue for an update.

The PUC is looking at costs associated with a range of pollutants, including carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and fine particles. But leading into today's hearing, carbon emissions and their link to global warming are so far generating the most discussion. Read more

Greenspace: Saving water could lead to a drop in gas usage

For a gas company, Minnesota Energy Resources sure is concerned about the water you're using.

The natural gas utility is offering kits to help households save their water. Why? Because using less water means using less energy.

"At first you wouldn't think water would have anything to do with natural gas," said Jeff Larson, senior manager of external affairs at Minnesota Energy Resources. "But when your hot water consumption goes down, less gas is needed to heat that water." Read more

Xcel Energy Continues to Lead the Way in Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Xcel Energy is leading the way in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and is now the first U.S. utility to verify and register all of its greenhouse gas emissions data with The Climate Registry for seven consecutive years. The company’s emissions reporting validates Xcel Energy’s more than 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in the last decade.

“Xcel Energy pledged to begin reducing emissions in 2005, well before many other utilities in the country. Setting a standard to accurately measure these emissions was the first step in fulfilling our commitment,” said Frank Prager, vice president, policy and federal affairs for Xcel Energy. “As a founding member of The Climate Registry, we contributed significant expertise and helped develop the protocol for counting emissions in the electric power sector-which ultimately helped us verify that we are meeting our goals.” Read more

Unlikely allies on energy, Minnesota and North Dakota are pushed to work together under the Clean Power plan

Minnesota and North Dakota may need to make nice over energy policy.

The two states have been fighting in federal court for two years over Minnesota’s cross-border restrictions on coal-based electricity. Now, the federal government’s even-more-sweeping regulations to cut coal power plant greenhouse gas emissions are pushing states to work together.

“Pretty clearly there are benefits to consumers and power companies for states working together and collaborating in some way that allows power companies to access the cheapest, most cost-efficient compliance options,” said Gabe Pacyniak, an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law School who manages the mitigation program at the Georgetown Climate Center.

The benefits of cooperation include carbon emissions trading, which could help utilities in states with difficult compliance targets, like North Dakota. For such trading to work, states need to apply similar regulatory strategies, however. Read more

How wind's record low prices are driving a 'big build cycle'

“This year will be big. Next year will be similarly big. What happens after 2016 is anybody’s guess because of concerns about the federal production tax credit.” Read more

How regional compliance can help states meet EPA emissions targets faster and cheaper

How regional compliance can help states meet EPA emissions targets faster and cheaper

Southwest Power Pool analysis shows states can save almost $1 billion per year through cooperation. Read more

Looking for a free fundraiser for your nonprofit?

Otter Tail Power Company is looking to partner with tax-exempt nonprofit groups on a free fundraiser in the Bemidji and Crookston areas.
Here’s how it works:
•Otter Tail Power Company will donate energy-efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) to nonprofit organizations.
•The organizations will sell them to Otter Tail Power Company customers in their area—and keep 100 percent of the proceeds. Read more