Renewable Energy In Minnesota

  1. Is Renewable Energy a part of Minnesota’s energy mix?
  2. Does Minnesota have a Renewable Energy Mandate?
  3. Are the utilities on track to meet the mandate?
  4. How does Minnesota’s RES compare to neighboring states?
  5. Wind Power in Minnesota?
  6. Hydro Power in Minnesota?
  7. Solar Power in Minnesota?

1. Is Renewable Energy a part of Minnesota’s energy mix?

Renewable resources, including hydroelectric power, contributed one-fifth of the state's net electricity generation in 2013.

Minnesota has many wind farms, particularly in the southwestern part of the state, and is a major producer of wind-generated electricity. The state is among the top 10 in the nation in both installed wind capacity and net electricity generation from wind.

Minnesota also generates electricity from other renewable sources, including municipal solid waste, landfill gas, wood waste, and hydroelectric dams.

Hydroelectric power plants are found primarily in the eastern half of the state. Several biomass power plants are located in the southern part of Minnesota.

2. Does Minnesota have a Renewable Energy Mandate?

Yes, in 2007 the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) was established on all Minnesota electric utilities (investor-owned, cooperatives and municipals).  The legislation did not dictate what type of renewable energy the utilities had to build/buy to meet the mandate except that it could not be hydropower over 100 MW.

MINNESOTA’S CURRENT STANDARD:           25% renewable energy by 2025 for all Minnesota electric utilities except;

30% renewable energy by 2020 mandate for Xcel Energy

More than half of all U.S. states have some type of renewable energy standard or goal in place.

3. Are the utilities on track to meet the mandate?

Yes, the utilities regularly demonstrate to the MN Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that they are on-track to meet or exceed this mandate.

All of the utilities subject to the RES Statute have demonstrated.  In 2013, the RES requirement was 18 percent of Minnesota retail sales for Xcel Energy, and 12 percent of Minnesota retail sales for all other utilities subject to the requirement. The RES requirements had increased in 2012 from 7 percent of Minnesota retail sales to 12 percent of Minnesota retail sales for all utilities except Xcel Energy.  The next benchmark requirement is in 2016 with 25 percent of Minnesota retail sales for Xcel Energy, and 17 percent of Minnesota retail sales for all other utilities.

In fact, Minnesota Power met the 25% requirement by the end of 2014.

4. How does Minnesota’s RES compare to neighboring states?

Minnesota’s mandate is significantly greater than our surrounding states:  Iowa - 105 MW; Wisconsin: 10% by 2015; South Dakota:  10% by 2015 (voluntary); North Dakota:  10% by 2015 (voluntary).

5. Wind Power in Minnesota?

The force of the wind can be used to generate electricity. Wind blowing over the blades of a wind machine or turbine causes the blades to turn a shaft that runs a generator, which produces electricity. To maximize the electricity output of a wind turbine, it must be located in an area with strong, steady winds. Not all geographic locations are suited for wind energy production.

Minnesota is ranked 12th best wind resource in the United States bus is ranked seventh in the nation in net electricity generation from wind energy in 2013 according to the EIA

Minnesota's net generation was 8 million megawatthours in 2013, an increase of 5.9% from 2012   According to the Wind Energy Association, wind power now generates more than 15 percent of Minnesota’s electricity.

For a decade now Xcel Energy has been ranked the No. 1 utility wind energy provider in the country.  Minnesota Power is also listed in the TOP 10 wind providers in the United States. 

6. Hydro Power in Minnesota?

Hydroelectric generation begins with a forceful, rushing river or with a dam that holds back a river and diverts flow. Falling water flows through propeller-like turbines and causes them to rotate. The rotation of these turbines spins generators to produce electricity. The amount of electricity generated from each unit is determined largely by volume of water flow and "head," or the height from the water surface at the dam reservoir to the water surface downstream.

While the fuel is free and hydroelectric power produces no air emissions or waste, its use is limited because of the natural hydrological conditions it requires. There also can be ecological concerns, such as the impact on fish and other wildlife.

Minnesota Power is the state’s largest producer of hydroelectric power with 10 federally licensed

Facilities.

7. Solar Power in Minnesota?

Briefly, Minnesota does have a Solar Standard in addition to the RES requirements.  The solar mandate applies only to electric investor-owned utilities and requires each public utility to generate or procure sufficient electricity generated by solar energy to serve its retail electricity customers in Minnesota so that by the end of 2020, at least 1.5 percent of the utility's total retail electric sales to retail customers in Minnesota is generated by solar energy. At least ten percent of the 1.5 percent goal must be met by rooftop solar.

 There are some exclusion that must be considered by law when calculating the total retail electric sales of a public utility.

Xcel Energy is among the top-ten U.S. utilities for the amount of solar power on their systems, as determined by the Solar Electric Power Association.