Minn. on track to exceed requirements of Obama's climate policy

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It turns out Minnesota is ahead of the game when it comes to renewable energy and reducing power-plant carbon emissions, two key components of Pres. Barack Obama's climate change policy announced Tuesday.

MPR reports the state already has a more agressive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2025 compared to the administration's goal of 17 percent by 2020.

Xcel Energy, Minnesota's largest utility, has been preparing for regulations on carbon pollution and shifted its focus to renewable energy projects. In recent years, Xcel retired two coal plants and has plans to close one more, according to MPR.

Frank Prager, Xcel Energy’s vice president for environmental and public policy, tells MinnPost that the utility has reduced its carbon emissions by 22 percent since 2009 and is on track to achieve a 30 percent reduction by 2020.

At the end of 2012, about 17 percent of Xcel's companywide power supply came from wind, solar, hydro and biomass resources, according to their website.

Minnesota's second-largest electricity generator, Great River Energy, has also been investing in renewables and conservation, but still 70 percent of the utility's production is from coal. However, they still seem to be in good shape when it comes to the revised regulations.

"It seems like the utilities in Minnesota, and Great River Energy in particular, are well ahead in meeting the spirit of what was discussed," Great River spokesman Randy Fordice tells MinnPost.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has already created ads in response to Obama's climate policy.

CNN says the online ads targeting several representatives, including Minnesota Reps. Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan, claim regulations on coal-fired plants will increase electricity rates.

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