Obama Orders Carbon Emission Cuts, Minnesota Power Says They're Already Investing in Renewable

Updated: 06/02/2014 10:46 PM
Created: 06/02/2014 10:42 PM

Minnesota is being asked to cut carbon emissions by roughly 41 percent over the next 15 years as part of a nationwide plan to reduce pollution from power plants.

Across the border, the federal government is proposing that Wisconsin cut its emissions by one-third by 2030.

President Barack Obama announced his plan Monday. The goal is to reduce carbon emissions nationwide 30 percent by 2030 - when compared with 2005 levels.

Some states will be allowed to emit more pollutants than others, but the overall reduction goal is 30 percent.

Minnesota is one state being asked to do more.

Officials with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, utilities and environmental groups were still reviewing Obama's plan Monday. But they say the state is already successful in reducing emissions and creating renewable energy, and is well-positioned going forward.

Minnesota Power spokesperson Amy Rutledge says that their utility company is well-positioned as well. Recent investments in more environmentally-friendly energy production will cut about 4 million ton of CO2 annually by 2016.

"Back in 2005, we were predominately coal-based, about 95% coal," Rutledge said Monday. "Now by the end of 2014 we'll be at 25% renewable energy, so really some significant steps in a relatively short amount of time...with really the thought that a tougher carbon rule would be coming down."

Rutledge says that adding more than 600 megawatts of wind energy is allowing them to phase out more coal-fired energy. She also pointed to the $15 million project changing the Laskin Energy Center in Hoyt Lakes to an all natural gas facility and the idling of a 75-megawatt unit at the Taconite Harbor plant as steps forward.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin's 2012 carbon emission rate was more than 1,800 pounds per megawatt hour of energy produced. The EPA is asking the state to develop a plan to lower its emission rate to about 1,200 pounds.

Nathan Conrad of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin says the EPA's proposals are likely to cost ratepayers, but it's too early to speculate how much.


(Copyright 2014 WDIO-TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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