Issues

Global Warming

Minnesota Power To Retire Two Coal Plants

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Today, Minnesota Power based in Duluth announced their decision to retire two older coal-burning power plants, Boswell 1 and 2 in Cohasset, MN, near Grand Rapids, by the end of 2018. Fresh Energy and our clean energy partners advocated that these units appear to be no longer economic to run, with cleaner energy available and cheaper. Regulators at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on June 9, 2016 evaluated the economics of running these older units with needed additional pollution controls, compared to other cleaner, cheaper options for meeting energy needs, and the PUC agreed with us.

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Global Warming

How the historic decision to transform Xcel Energy’s electricity was made

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Working directly with Xcel and with our “Clean Energy Organizations”, or CEO, partnership, Fresh Energy used for the first time in Minnesota the same utility inputs and modeling Xcel uses. We analyzed options for closing the Sherco 1 and 2 coal plants and replacing them with vast amounts of cost-effective energy efficiency, wind, and solar power. Our independent analysis demonstrated that Xcel’s cheapest course of action—and the lowest in carbon—was the retirement and replacement of these two units, which are the biggest sources of global warming pollution in the Upper Midwest. Xcel agreed with our analysis, and completely revised its 15-year plan to reflect those economic opportunities. Fresh Energy applauds the unanimous Minnesota Public Utilities Commission decision to modify and approve Xcel’s 15-year Resource Plan as the affordable, reliable, and clean path forward for Minnesota customers.

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Global Warming

Public Utilities Commission Unanimously Approves Xcel’s 15-year energy plan

Today, the Public Utilities Commission held its final hearing and unanimously approved with modifications Xcel Energy’s 15-year energy plan (Integrated Resource Plan). After two years of rigorous study, Xcel Energy proposed a Midwest-leading energy plan for the next 15 years – doubling the amount of wind and solar on its system and taking significant strides to reduce coal with the retiring of Sherco units 1 and 2 in the mid-2020s. Xcel’s proposed energy plan saw broad support from customers, including over 10,000 Minnesotans; cities of Becker, Red Wing, and Minneapolis; Sherburne County; clean energy organizations, and the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Global Warming

J. Drake Hamilton recognized as top climate leader

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Fresh Energy’s science policy director, J. Drake Hamilton, was recently recognized as one of the Top 10 Climate Leaders of 2015-2016 by the Climate Reality Project. J.’s actions on climate leadership led her to receiving the #6 award out of nearly 11,000 global leaders. At Fresh Energy, J. continues to inspire and encourage diverse audiences to support climate and energy policies that combat the threat of global warming and create a clean energy future. If you would like J. to speak at your event, please contact her at 651-726-7562 or Hamilton@fresh-energy.org.

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Global Warming

Technology, innovation, and energy

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A child born in Cairo, Egypt, Ramez Naam went on to become a leading expert on technology and innovation. On October 5, Ramez Naam will keynote Fresh Energy’s inaugural fundraising breakfast, bursting with insights that with the right policy framework, another wave of technology innovation just might be genius enough to maximize our chances of overcoming one of humankind’s most daunting and intractable problems: climate change and fossil fuel dependency.

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Global Warming

Public Utilities Commission protects customers from Minnesota Power’s aging coal plants

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On June 9, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted unanimously to approve Minnesota Power’s 15-year resource plan, requiring additional coal retirements and additional investments in wind, solar, and energy savings.

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Global Warming

175 nations sign the Paris Climate Agreement

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Over 170 governments declared an end to the fossil fuel era on Earth Day, April 22, signing the Paris Agreement, the first global commitment on climate change. Signers included the big emitters: the U.S., China, India, and Russia. World leaders were united in speaking of the urgency to act on climate change, calling for scaled up actions, and saying that political will was never stronger. Leaders also committed to rapid national processes to approve the agreement. However, while the landmark signing ceremony made history, global temperatures keep shattering records. As UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon explained, “We are in a race against time.”

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Global Warming

Nation-leading news: Judge recommends Minnesota use federal “social cost of carbon”

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A huge win for Minnesota on April 15 – a judge, after over a year of expert testimony, legal briefs, and public hearings, recommended to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that it adopt the federal “social cost of carbon” as the binding external cost of carbon dioxide emissions for all electric utility decision making. That means that the PUC (and the utilities that need the PUC to approve their spending plans) will have to include those very negative external costs in their calculations. As a result, fossil forms of electricity generation will be much more difficult to justify on economic terms.

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Global Warming

Looking at carbon issues at a different level

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While Fresh Energy sticks to its core work of shaping and driving policies to support a transition to clean and efficient energy economy, it’s always refreshing to step back and look at the broader picture. Short of geo-engineering, it well understood that the climate solutions have two big portions: reducing our emissions, and managing land use to better sequester carbon from the atmosphere. What we sometimes forget is that sequestering carbon can happen on land and at sea, especially in coastal ecosystems.

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