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Xcel Energy: Celebrating a Cleaner Kilowatt Hour

The kilowatt hour you use today isn’t the same as yesterday. When you flip the switch, the electricity you consume is about one-third cleaner than it was a dozen years ago, and it’s going to be even cleaner in the future.

We’ve been steadily transforming how we produce, deliver and encourage the efficient use of energy, and doing it while providing service that is reliable and affordable. Since 2005, we’ve reduced our carbon footprint 30 percent and aspire to do even more as we work toward a 60 percent reduction target by 2030.

A Cleaner Kilowatt Hour: Our company-wide progress reducing carbon emissions while providing customers with reliable, affordable energy. Read more

Nuns bring another solar array to Mankato

MANKATO — When a developer suggested in 2015 that the Mankato-based School Sisters of Notre Dame sign up as a subscriber for the power generated by a planned solar array in the area, the nuns had a more ambitious idea: build the array on our land.

Two years later, Innovative Power Systems of Roseville is beginning construction on a 1.3 megawatt solar array with roughly 40,000 solar panels capable of creating enough energy to power 165 average Minnesota homes.

The School Sisters will be a major subscriber for the new power, expected to go on line by late winter, as will Blue Earth County, the Hilton Garden Inn and the city of New Richland.

"To be able to collaborate with others is a great gift," said Sr. Mary Kay Gosch, campus administrator of the provincial headquarters on Good Counsel hill.

During a ground-breaking ceremony Wednesday, Gosch said the nuns feel a moral obligation to support non-polluting sources of energy. Read more

Two big new Xcel wind farms in Minnesota to be built by Mortenson

Xcel Energy Tuesday announced the prime contractors for four Upper Midwest wind energy projects, and Golden Valley-based Mortenson landed two of the deals.

The projects are part of Xcel’s plan to add 1,850 megawatts of wind energy in the Upper Midwest over the next four years, enough power for nearly one million homes. The contracts unveiled Tuesday cover 750 megawatts of generation capacity. (A megawatt is one million watts).

Mortenson, one of the largest U.S. wind energy contractors, won bids for the Blazing Star 1 and Blazing Star 2 wind farms in Lincoln County in southwestern Minnesota. Each Blazing Star project will have the capacity to generate 200 megawatts of power, utilizing about 100 turbines a piece.

Construction on the Blazing Star wind farms will start by 2019. Read more

Minnesota one of the most energy efficient states

KNSI) - Minnesota ranked high in a report of the Most and Least Energy-Efficient States.

The study says Minnesota is the fourth most energy-efficient state out of 48 states, Alaska and Hawaii weren't included.

Only New York, Vermont and Utah rank higher. Read more

MN Tops in Midwest for Energy Efficiency

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota gets the number one spot in the Midwest in a new report from the American Council on an Energy Efficient Economy.

The state ranks ninth in the nation, up one place from last year.

The council comes up with its rankings by comparing states' building codes, transportation, appliance standards, utility programs and other state initiatives that encourage energy savings.

"In the U.S., a lot of the innovation and a lot of the driving forces behind energy efficiency really occur at the state level,” says Weston Berg an analyst with the council, who worked on the report. “We hope as part of the state scorecard, by tracking each state's efficiency policies, we can kind of create some friendly competition between states, as well as highlight some best practices." Read more

Minnesota Power updates Hydroelectric system at Island Lake Dam

DULUTH, Minn. – Minnesota Power is currently undergoing a unique construction project on the Island Lake Reservoir. Crews are working to replace several gates under one of its hydroelectric dams. It’s a two-year project aimed at modernizing the more than 100-year-old hydroelectric system.

“It’s a once in 100 year project,” hydro operations manager Chris Rousseau said. “It’s not often that you’re doing this kind of work, but we need to continuously invest in these assets if we want them to have the longevity that they’ve had.”

Almost all of the work is being done under-water, which means much of the construction crew is made up of divers. They are moving and setting parts about 30 feet under the water surface. Read more

Minn. conservatives praise Clean Power Plan rollback

While environmental groups admonished the Trump administration for rolling back President Obama's signature climate policy, some Minnesota conservatives welcomed the news.

The Clean Power Plan aimed to reduce carbon emissions from power plants and set emissions reduction targets for each state. But President Trump has said the policy amounts to a "war on coal," and on Tuesday EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt began the process of eliminating it.

Minnesota U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican, said the Clean Power Plan was "federal overreach."

"I am proud that Minnesota companies and elected officials have taken it upon themselves to work to reduce carbon emissions without the heavy hand of the federal government demanding so," Emmer said in a written statement. Read more

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fall 2 percent in 2016, led by power industry: EPA

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Greenhouse gas emissions from America’s largest industrial facilities fell 2 percent in 2016 to 2.99 billion tonnes, led by a large cut from the power sector, according to data published on Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The decline, which came in the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency, brings the total drop in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from large industrial facilities over the past five years to nearly 10 percent.

The decline in emissions in 2016 was led by a 4.6 percent cut from U.S. power plants, to 1.88 billion tonnes from 1.97 billion tonnes in 2015, according to the data. That marks an 18 percent decline from five years ago, when the EPA started gathering data.

Emissions from the natural gas and oil sectors, however, including pipelines and gathering systems, rose to 283 million tonnes in 2016 from 233 million in 2015. Read more

Trump administration to terminate Obama's climate plan

HAZARD, Ky. (AP) — The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that he will sign a new rule overriding the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era effort to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

"The war on coal is over," EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt declared in the coal mining state of Kentucky.

For Pruitt, getting rid of the Clean Power Plan will mark the culmination of a long fight he began as the elected attorney general of Oklahoma. Pruitt was among about two-dozen attorney generals who sued to stop President Barack Obama's push to limit carbon emissions.

Closely tied to the oil and gas industry in his home state, Pruitt rejects the consensus of scientists that man-man emissions from burning fossil fuels are the primary driver of global climate change. President Donald Trump, who appointed Pruitt and shares his skepticism of established climate science, promised to kill the Clean Power Plan during the 2016 campaign as part of his broader pledge to revive the nation's struggling coal mines.

In his order Tuesday, Pruitt is expected to declare that the Obama-era rule exceeded federal law by setting emissions standards that power plants could not reasonably meet. Read more

October is proclaimed Energy Awareness Month

SAINT PAUL — Governor Dayton has proclaimed October as Energy Awareness Month and Oct. 5 was observed as Energy Efficiency Day across the nation. The Minnesota Department of Commerce urges all Minnesota residents and businesses to act every day to save energy and reduce their utility bills.

Minnesota is recognized as a national leader for its energy efficiency efforts, ranking ninth among all states in the new 2017 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard compiled by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

To continue improving on Minnesota’s efficiency score, there are many actions that people can take on their own to save energy. At minimum, Energy Efficiency Day sponsors suggest taking the national Light Bulb Challenge— replacing at least one incandescent or compact fluorescent bulb with an LED (light-emitting diode). LEDs use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb. Read more