MN Power shares vision of delivering 100% carbon-free energy by 2050

WDIO

Another announcement from Minnesota Power about their commitment to climate.

On Tuesday morning, they shared their vision to deliver 100% carbon-free energy to customers by 2050. Bethany Owen, ALLETE President and CEO, said, "Today's announcement is really a continuation of the journey we've been on for many years, to provide increasingly cleaner energy."

The company will outline their plans to achieve the carbon-free status in their upcoming Integrated Resource Plan. They will be filing it with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on February 1st.

Owen said they've been engaging with all of their stakeholders, like employees and customers and low-income advocates, and used feedback from them to put together the plan.

Some of the steps will include: 1) Adding an estimated 400 new megawatts of wind and solar energy. 2) Retiring Boswell Energy Center Unit 3 by 2030. 3) Transforming Boswell Energy Center Unit 4 to be coal-free by 2035.

"We still believe Boswell and the infrastructure are critically important for the reliability for our customers," Owen said. "We will be looking at options that don't increase carbon. Time is critically important as we make this transition, to ensure affordability. Technology advancement and innovation will all come into play." 

Just last month, the company celebrated providing 50% of their energy using renewables, and said they were the first utility in Minnesota to do so.

Minnesota Power says examples of carbon free sources they use include hydro, wind, and solar.

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy tweeted out, "The announcement that they plan to retire the final 2 coal plants in MN without a retirement date is welcome, as is their commitment to 100% carbon-free by 2050. But the urgency of climate change demands action now, not in the last few years before 2020."

And the mining industry, which is 50% of the overall customer base, is looking at affordability and reliability. "With any kind of renewable energy, we need a baseload source of power. As we watch this process play out, we'll be watching closely to ensure we have energy, 24/7, much like our operations run," Kelsey Johnson said. She's the president of the Iron Mining Association. "We have seen our energy costs go up for years. And we need to stay cost competitive, as we're competing against countries who don't care about green steel or green energy."

The Sierra Club sent a statement, adding, "“Minnesota Power is responding to what Minnesotans have been advocating for, and what the science of the climate crisis demands,” said Jenna Yeakle, Organizing Representative with the Beyond Coal Campaign. “We must transition to 100% clean, renewable energy as quickly as possible and ensure impacted workers, families, and communities are supported throughout this transition. Moving beyond coal at Boswell is an important step forward, as is shifting to economic dispatch of Boswell’s coal units until they’re retired, but our climate, and our communities, cannot afford more fossil gas plants. Any amount of fossil fuel is too much, and Minnesota Power must pledge not to replace coal units with gas, and to halt the development of the new NTEC gas plant.”

Once the resource plan is submitted, the MPUC will begin a regulatory process that provides for input from customers, organizations, and communities.

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