Energy

What Coal Plant Closures Mean for Minnesotans

In the last few years, several coal plants in Minnesota have either shut down their boilers, idled them, or converted them to another fuel source. These closures have followed national and international trends, where coal-fired electricity loses on cost to natural gas and renewables. What economic impacts will Minnesotans feel? The Becker, MN Sherburne County…

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Energy Insecurity in Minnesota

Energy insecurity strikes too many Americans, and too many Minnesotans. More than any other reason, high utility bills force Americans turn to pay-day loans, or even out of their homes. High energy bills literally plague the poorest among us, as the stress of a looming payment and inconsistent heat leads to worse health outcomes. This…

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Energy Myth: Renewables Cost More

Many folks, here in Minnesota and elsewhere, falsely believe that renewable energy simply costs more than fossil and nuclear energy. Perhaps these folks only remember when solar panels best adorned satellites and not homes. Perhaps the modest subsidies for wind and solar convince some that these technologies cannot stand on their own (nevermind the long-running…

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What Can Batteries Do for You?

The United States just surpassed an important milestone, and you might not have noticed. The country’s electric grid can now store over a billion watts for one hour (1 GWh) with batteries for later use. By the end of 2018, analysts predict that capacity to double. Some even predict 50 times that within the next ten…

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Time to Raise the Renewable Portfolio Standard?

Minnesota’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)—sometimes called a Renewable Energy Standard (RES)—was last updated in 2007. Most utilities have met it ahead of schedule. All but twelve states have some sort of RPS, twenty-nine of which are mandatory. Is it time for an update in Minnesota? What’s feasible? The details and progress In 2007 lawmakers codified…

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The Room that Controls your Electric Sockets

The Room that Controls your Electric Sockets Did you know that a giant room in a nondescript building in Eagan, MN controls your electric sockets? Reminiscent of a scene from Dr. Strangelove, a full wall of brightly colored lines and blips and bits represents the sale and flow of electricity from Manitoba to Louisiana. Welcome…

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Mid-Week Reads: Intelligence and Pollution

Every week, North Star will take some time out of our schedules to bring you our favorite reads from the past week. Jeff Van Wychen The War on Stupid People Intelligence—narrowly defined in terms as the kind of “smarts” that is measured by SAT scores—is an attribute that only about one-third of Americans have, according…

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Minnesota Renewable Energy Goal is On Track

In 2007, the legislature passed a bill, called the Next Generation Energy Act, that aimed not only to reduce electricity use from fossil fuel by 15 percent by 2015, but also to increase electricity from renewable sources to 25 percent by 2025. A recent report

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