March 14, 2019
The Minnesota press has been awash lately in clean energy story coverage. (It helps when Governor Walz makes big clean energy announcements like this one). There’s a lot to discuss, with both the Minnesota House and Senate reviewing a flurry of bills relating to big overarching clean energy goals as well as smaller more technical legislation relating to community solar gardens, energy storage, and EV charging stations.
But we understand not everyone has time to read every article, and digest every new report. We break down the five biggest takeaways from the just released Minnesota State Energy Factsheet, and how the clean energy community can leverage the new data.
- The cost of renewables continues to go down significantly. The cost of unsubsidized wind in Minnesota declined 16 percent last year, and the cost of solar (with subsidies) went down a whopping 23 percent. This is a big deal because it means renewable sources are cost competitive with natural gas.
Renewable energy generation has gone up 37 percent between 2013 and 2018. Renewables now account for 25 percent of our state’s electricity generation for the second year in a row. Also notable here: for the second straight year new solar buildout has exceeded wind. Minnesota now has 508MW of community solar online, the most of any state in the nation. There are several reasons that might help explain this: Minnesota’s successful community solar garden program, the production tax credit for wind is winding down before the solar investment tax credit, and finally there is a need for greater transmission for big renewable projects like wind.
- The total average monthly electricity bill for Minnesota households was $97.58 in 2017 (the last year for which data is available); this is 13% below the national average.
Electricity demand ticked up slightly just 0.2% in Minnesota last year, while while electricity demand nationwide rose 2.2% in 2018. The increased national demand is attributed to faster economic growth and extreme weather conditions throughout the year that prompted greater use of air conditioning than in 2017.
4. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranked Minnesota 8th out of all 50 states, the highest ranking in the Midwest, for its overall energy efficiency programs (up from a rank of 9th last year).
Minnesota has long prized energy efficiency through the implementation of statewide policies like Minnesota’s Energy Efficiency Resource Standard. This policy created an energy savings target for utilities and has saved ratepayers billions of dollars by using energy more efficiently and avoiding the need for new power plants to be built. By continuously increasing our already high ranking, it’s nice to see Minnesota is leading the rest of the nation on efficiency policy.
- Minnesota-based corporations are increasingly stepping up their efforts to procure renewable energy. Corporations like 3M Co., Cargill Inc., Ecolab Inc., Target Corp., and General Mills have all signed agreements to power their operations with either wind or solar.
Many businesses cite that sustainability is being built into their business growth strategy, illustrating how the two can go hand-in-hand. According to PV Magazine, American corporations last year purchased close to 5 GW of renewable energy, and the article states that, “ Where there are big data centers there is a need for energy. And, where there is a need for energy, corporations are proving day in and day out that they’ll choose renewable.”
The Minnesota State Energy Factsheet is a companion to the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, compiled by research firm BloombergNEF for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE). The Factbook outlines key trends influencing national and state investment and economics, energy supply, and energy demand.