Minnesota Passes Renewable Energy Legislation

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signed legislation that firms up the state’s commitment to renewable energy and helps ensures the future for low-cost energy in Minnesota. The bill covers both issues pertaining to the Prairie Island Nuclear Facility and conversely helps create an improved legislative atmosphere for Minnesota’s Renewable Energy industry.

St. Paul, Minnesota – June 4, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “This legislation ensures that Minnesotans will continue to have reliable, low-cost power while reducing the current and future environmental impacts from the generation and delivery of that electricity,” said Governor Pawlenty. “It represents a fair and reasonable compromise for the Prairie Island Indian Community, Minnesota ratepayers and utility shareholders.” The bill – which affirms the settlement between Xcel Energy and the Prairie Island Indian Community – allows the Prairie Island nuclear facility to continue operating until the end of its federally-licensed life. The bill also allows additional storage of nuclear waste at Xcel’s Prairie Island plant. The legislation calls for the following measures to continue Minnesota’s leadership on renewable energy: o Nearly doubles the Renewable Development Fund contribution required by Xcel Energy from US$8.5 to US$16 million each year for as long as the Prairie Island Facility is in operation; o Requires Xcel to deploy at least an additional 300 MW of wind, as well as install renewable energy sources whenever they are the most cost-effective resource; o Requires all utilities to develop formal plans on how they plan to meet their 10 percent renewable energy objective by 2015 and require the Public Utilities Commission to establish criteria to review the plans; o Provides US$4.5 million in additional subsidies for an additional 100 MW of small windmills; and o Provides US$1.5 million to subsidize on-farm, bio-gas projects. Governor Pawlenty noted that the measure also helps Minnesota prepare to meet its long-term energy needs by making a lump sum grant of US$10,000,000 and then providing for US$2,000,000 annual funding to the University of Minnesota for hydrogen and other renewable energy research and development. The new law makes important progress in transitioning to cleaner forms of energy by ensuring that metro-area coal plants are cleaned up and by providing regulatory incentives for the Excelsior Energy clean-coal project on the Iron Range. “This legislation expands Minnesota’s use of renewable energy and keeps the Prairie Island plant open to ensure affordable energy prices,” the Governor said. “But most importantly, Minnesotans can be pleased with all that this bill accomplishes in building our state’s energy future.”
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