Archive for April 2018

Nuclear Power in Minnesota

Two nuclear stations in Minnesota, Monticello and Prairie Island, produced 23% of the state’s energy last year. Both were built in the 1970s. Between the three reactors at the two plants, they have a maximum capacity of 1,594 megawatts (MW)—enough to power more well more than a million homes. For those curious about how they…

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Budget Deficits on the Horizon

With an official projected state budget surplus of $329 million in the current fiscal year (FY) 2018-19 biennium and $580 million in the upcoming FY 2020-21 biennium, some state lawmakers are giddy about the prospects of more tax cuts during the 2018 legislative session. However, there are at least three good reasons why Minnesota policymakers…

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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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Minnesota Per Capita GDP Growth Surpasses U.S. Average

High per capita gross domestic product (GDP) states—such as Minnesota—tend to have lower rates of GDP growth over time, for reasons discussed in part 1 of this series. However, Minnesota has successfully bucked this trend during the current business cycle, with per capita GDP growth nearly double the U.S. average—a trend which stands at odds…

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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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Convergence is Back! (It Never Really Went Away)

Convergence refers to the tendency of states with below average levels of economic activity to enjoy somewhat higher growth rates than other more prosperous states. Convergence occurs because less well-performing states tend to make up ground over time relative to more prosperous states as innovations and technology diffuse throughout the economy.* If convergence is real,…

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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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Minnesota Still Outperforming “Right to Work” Wisconsin

For most of the last decade, earnings in Minnesota and Wisconsin grew at a similar pace—until 2015. In that year, Wisconsin adopted its so-called “right to work” (RTW) law. Since then, earnings growth in Wisconsin slowed relative to Minnesota. In 2017, the average hourly earnings gap between Minnesota and Wisconsin was 42% greater than it…

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