Connexus Energy’s resource plan looks to future with clean power, electrification

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On January 15, 2024, the Board of Directors for Connexus Energy, the largest electric co-op in Minnesota, unanimously adopted its 10-year resource plan for how it will supply electricity for its members. As a customer in Connexus Energy’s service territory north of the Metro, and staffer at Fresh Energy, I was excited to look through their first resource plan and to wear both hats as I considered the clean energy purchases and investments its planning to make in the coming decade.

Connexus Energy’s plan will add 100 megawatts (MW) of solar, 50 MW of nuclear energy through a power purchase agreement (PPA), and 30 MW of four-hour battery storage between now and 2033. This plan looks to minimize future costs—especially by taking advantage of federal support provided in the Inflation Reduction Act—and keep Connexus on track to meet Minnesota’s 100% clean electricity law by 2040. Today, nearly 40% of Connexus’ annual energy is carbon-free; by 2033, and Connexus projects this plan will make them almost 90% carbon-free.

An innovative aspect of Connexus’ resource plan is its emphasis on local rooftop solar and storage. Connexus plans for growth in customer solar systems from 11 MW to 130-280 MW by 2033, while exploring utility-led solar additions with low-income and/or underserved communities. In addition, for planned growth in customer solar, Connexus plans to keep building competitively procured, large-scale distribution system solar projects up to 10 MW. These investments will also provide a new source of tax revenue for local communities to reinvest as they choose—like investing in roads and bridges, schools, local emergency services, and more—which means everyone will benefit.

As a member, I’m confident Connexus is planning well for the future, too: while they help members charge fewer than 2,000 electric vehicles (EVs) today, Connexus is planning to provide power for between 14,000 and 54,000 EVs by 2033. As Minnesotans transition off fossil fuels to carbon-free energy to power our homes and businesses, how we get around, and beyond, it’s incredibly important for electricity providers to plan and facilitate that complex change.

“Fresh Energy applauds Connexus Energy’s forward-looking resource plan that will provide more carbon-free electricity for its members,” said Isabel Ricker, director, clean electricity. “With an eye toward new technologies and electrification, this plan will enable local clean energy and support for communities across Connexus’ service area.”

Fresh Energy looks forward to continuing to work with Connexus Energy and other electric co-ops in the future, as well as investor-owned utilities at the Public Utilities Commission, to ensure Minnesota is on track to meet its state climate goals.