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minnesota solar energy

Gov. Dayton vetoes GOP assault on renewables

by Dan Burns on March 21, 2017 · 0 comments

solar2The Minnesota Party of Trump in the legislature has been pressing ahead with a radical-right agenda, despite what’s going down with their hero in the White House. Thankfully, in this state there is a remaining check and balance. From yesterday:
 

Since late January, Bluestem has chronicled the problems with HF234 in posts like “Are King Coal’s foxes to guard the co-op? HF234 would leave rural utility customers on defense” and “From our friends at CURE: tell Governor Mark Dayton: veto bill, protect solar in Minnesota.”
 
We are pleased as are so many friends that the governor chose to veto the bill today.
(Bluestem Prairie)

I’m adding some items that I’ve had sitting in my “environment” file for a while.
 

A five kilowatt rooftop solar installation now costs just $12,500 on average after tax credits, and pretty soon, installing one might soon be a matter of re-tiling your roof. Whether it’s right for you, however, depends in large part on how much sun your house gets. That’s where Google’s Project Sunroof comes in — launched just two years ago, it has now surveyed over 60 million US buildings in 50 states. That means there’s a good chance you can see the electricity production potential in your city, neighborhood and even specific house.
 
Google calculates the amount of sunlight on your roof based on “3D modeling of your roof and nearby trees,” weather patterns, the position of the sun in the sky during the year and shade from buildings, trees and other obstructions. That info is then converted to energy production “using industry standard models for solar installation performance,” Google says.
 
The results are surprising: 79 percent of all US rooftops are solar viable, meaning they have enough unshaded area for solar panels. Obviously, some regions are better than others — over 90 percent of homes in Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico are technically viable, but even northern states like Pennsylvania, Maine and Minnesota are over 60 percent. Houston, Texas has the most solar potential of any US city, with 18.9 gigawatt-hours of total power generation capability if all roofs had solar panels.
(engadget)

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ottertaillakeriverinletDespite the reality of what’s happening to Minnesota’s waters, many people just will not face the crying need for things like buffers. And now the Minnesota Party of Trump wants to revert entirely, by whatever means.
 

– H.F. 167 (Green): Eliminates buffer rule.
– S.F. 465 (Draheim)/H.F. 1859 (Miller): Delays the buffer rule for two more years.
– H.F. 684 (Backer): Prevents enforcement of the buffer law until/unless local governments approve of buffer maps first.
– H.F. 776 (Backer): Formally exempts all public water wetlands and most smaller streams from buffer rule.
– S.F. 938 (Westrom)/H.F. 683 (Backer): Two-year buffer delay, and prevents enforcement unless taxpayers pay 100% of buffer installation.
– S.F. 835 (Draheim)/H.F. 1858 (Miller): Buffers are not required unless/until local seed is available for planting the buffers.
– S.F. 1693 (Westrom)/H.F. 1994 (Torkelson): Similar to H.F. 1466 DE2; bars local enforcement, redefines public waters needing a buffer, delays the deadline for remaining buffers by one year, prohibits any enforcement of the buffer law unless public funding covers 100% of the cost of establishing and maintaining all buffers.
(Friends of the Mississippi River) (Follow that and then click on an action link to see the list.)

And this is from an email I got from Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light.
 

SENATE
 
SF141: Creates barriers for solar by increasing the power of co-op utilities and stripping the Public Utilities Commission of regulatory authority.
SF214: Eliminates a pro-solar program that has been an important driver of jobs and innovation in renewable energy.
 
HOUSE
 
HF1291: Eliminates the state’s Environmental Quality Board — at a time when the board’s oversight should be strengthened.
HF1377: Restricts the options available to homeowners for financing energy improvement projects.

I’m sure there are plenty more, but you get the point. I suspect that a significant part of how many strokes Minnesota’s Republican legislators get from ALEC is based on the sheer number of bulls*it bills that they introduce.
 

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MN lege: When will the crazy end?

by Dan Burns on February 16, 2017 · 1 comment

minnesota_state_capitolSome of the dumb sh*t that right-wing legislators from the Minnesota Party of Trump have been hard at work on.
 

In a 76-49 vote on (Feb. 9), the Minnesota House of Representatives passed H.F.235, a bill that would eliminate the Made in Minnesota Solar Incentive Program.
 
Launched in 2013, the 10-year incentive program helps residents, businesses and communities fund new solar PV and solar thermal systems whose equipment is certified as manufactured in Minnesota.
(Solar Industry)

This next one is basically about ending any liability for extremist kooks who booby-trap their property in anticipation of attacks from Obama’s hordes of ISIS Muslims. And pandering to fans of “survivalists” and the like on “reality” TV.
 

HF985, sponsored by Rep. Dan Fabian (R-Roseau), would prevent, in most cases, landowners from owing a “duty of care” to people who venture onto private property without permission…
 
Rep. Andrew Carlson (DFL-Bloomington) attacked the bill as a product the American Legislative Exchange Council, also known as ALEC, an organization dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism…
 
Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL-Brooklyn Center) warned that HF985 would freeze existing common law in statute, making it impossible for Republican proponents to expand protections for property owners in the future.
(Session Daily)

Comment below fold.
 
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Xcel to retire coal units in Minnesota

by Dan Burns on October 15, 2015 · 0 comments

coalFrom October 8:
 

Only one day after Sierra Club Minnesota and numerous partner organizations delivered more than 11,000 public comments to the state public utilities commission calling for less coal and more clean energy, Xcel Energy announced that it will retire two coal units and accelerate its investments in solar and wind power, retiring 1,200 megawatts (MW) of coal and adding 3,500 MW of wind and solar!
 
“Minnesota Beyond Coal has more work to do to make sure the strongest version of this plan that includes a just worker transition is approved, but the announcement was a major step in the right direction,” said Michelle Rosier, senior campaign and organizing manager for the Minnesota Beyond Coal Campaign. “To put it in perspective, today’s announcement nearly doubles the amount of coal burning megawatts announced for retirement in the state over the past decade.”
(Sierra Club North Star)

The public pressure is grounded in the reality that coal is an enemy of all humanity. Coal plant closings nationwide are accelerating.

 

Unfortunately, much of that is due primarily to gluts of fracked natural gas. But there are grounds for greater optimism in the longer term. Lifelong science nerd that I am, a couple of times a week I visit the Science Daily website to see what’s going on in various areas. One is energy technology, and almost every time there’s a new article or two about advances in solar – cheaper and/or more efficient. Most of those won’t get beyond the laboratory to large-scale production and use, but some will. It’s not too optimistic to envision the world’s electricity needs being powered almost entirely by solar and other renewables, by around 2050. Big Filthy Fossil Fuels, led by the Kochtopus, will do all that they can to undermine that, but they won’t succeed. People know.
 

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Grasslands-menggu(Part 1 here. Part 2 here. Part 3 here.)

 

Today it’s about energy and the environment. One doesn’t have to see much of farm country to realize how well solar could work, with panels not only on the roofs of the main house but also the barn and outbuildings. A family could even make a few extra bucks selling electricity to the utilities. But if you’re politically dependent on the Kochtopus and their ilk, who owe most of their fortune to Big Filthy Fossil Fuels, that sets your perspective. Period.
 

In summary, Rep. (Pat) Garofalo’s (R-Farmington) bill would dismantle most of Minnesota’s efforts to promote renewable energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by repealing the laws that support these efforts. He totally sabotages solar…
 
Six, the last thing to highlight is by no means the least. The bill comes down hard on all things solar. It would allow the solar energy standard to be met “through the use of solar energy or any other more affordable eligible energy technology” which, of course, is intended to gut the solar standard. The bill would also end the solar energy incentive program and change net metering.
 
The argument used by utilities and its fossil fuel friends against net metering is that it shifts costs to other rate payers. The anti-solar folks brought a witness from Boston to Rep. Garofalo’s committee who made that argument. However, he was very selective in the data he used and excluded the solar benefits of reducing air pollution and greenhouse gases. Our Pollution Control Agency estimates that air pollution costs Minnesota $30 billion a year. The “b” is not a typo.
(Rep. Jean Wagenius)

It looks like Governor Mark Dayton’s buffer zone proposal won’t happen, this session, except maybe in a substantially weakened version, despite:
 

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Minnesota energy bill wussed out on solar

by Dan Burns on May 28, 2013 · 3 comments

SOLAR_ENERGY_IN_ITS_FINEST_FORMI wrote before about proposed standards for solar power generation in Minnesota’s energy legislation. Originally, a House bill proposed a 4% mandate for solar generation by 2025; a Senate bill, 1%. What made it into law is:
 

The section that’s drawn the most attention is a 1.5 percent by 2020 solar electricity standard for large utilities that is on top of the state’s existing 25 percent by 2025 renewable mandate…
 
Clean energy supporters in Minnesota had high hopes going into this year’s legislative session, the first since an electoral sweep in November flipped control of both chambers back to Democrats.
 
A coalition of environmental groups announced in January that its top energy priority was a proposal to make utilities generate a tenth of their electricity from solar by 2030.
 
(Midwest Energy News)

That article is very informative on some details, and you should click and read if you’re into this. Also, behold:
 

In many countries– Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal — and in parts of the US such as the Southwest, solar is at grid parity. That means it is as inexpensive to build a solar plant as a gas or coal one. The pace of technological innovation in the solar field has also accelerated, so that costs have started falling precipitously and efficiency is rapidly increasing. By 2015, solar panels should have fallen to 42 cents per watt.
 
(Informed Comment)

If management at places like Xcel had some ‘nads, they’d look at a 4 percent standard, or even more, as a challenge to be gloriously and triumphantly met. Or better yet, exceeded. Show us what they got. That being said, what Minnesota now has, as far as legislated goals, is better than in most states.
 

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