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Gov. Dayton: Minnesota should stop using coal for power

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Gov. Mark Dayton wants Minnesota to eliminate coal as a source of energy production in the state.

Speaking to energy policy and business leaders, MPR News reports that the DFL governor said Minnesota can lead the nation in the move away from the traditional power source. Dayton wants the conversion of coal plants to natural gas to continue, along with boosting investment in renewable energy sources.

Currently almost half of the electricity generated in Minnesota comes from power plants that burn coal.

"Tell us what a timeline would look like, what has to happen for that timeline to be met and what kind of incentives or inducements do we need to provide to make that happen," he said. 

Dayton made his comments at the state's first-ever Clean Energy Economy Summit. The Minnesota Farm Guide reports that clean energy experts from across the state and nation were in Minneapolis for the summit, which is part of a National Governors Association initiative. The summit looked at policy initiatives and strategies for clean energy reforms that would promote the state’s economy and create jobs. Minnesota was one of four states to be selected to participate in the NGA Policy Academy.

Over the last decade, Minnesota’s use of coal has been reduced by 33 percent. Today, renewable sources of energy account for 20 percent of the state’s annual electricity generation, up from just 5.8 percent in 2000.

The New York Times noted that Minnesota now gets more of its power from wind than all but four states and that the amount of coal burned at power plants in the state has fallen by more than a third since 2003. The story also noted that Minnesota's electricity consumption is declining faster than the national average.

Residential electricity rates in Minnesota are below the national average. In April 2014, residential rates averaged $11.97 per kilowatt hour, which is 3 percent below the national average of $12.31.

According to a preliminary report by Collaborative Economics, a consultant hired by the state, Minnesota's clean energy sector now employs more than 14,000 people working for about 1,000 different companies.

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