Good News from the Land of 10,000 Lakes
Earlier this month, Minnesota adopted a daring latest clean energy plan.
The headline news is that Minnesota has adopted a 2040 deadline for a carbon-free grid. The headline is accurate, however the law in query comprises a number of other interesting features that deserve attention. Despite the law’s extremely unglamorous name (“Senate File 4”), this can be a big step forward for the state, in addition to evidence of how much difference it makes to unified party control of state government. I’ll begin by describing those features after which turn to possible legal challenges, including a lawsuit by North Dakota to guard its coal generators.
Key Features of the Law
The very first thing to notice in regards to the law is that it actually comprises two sets of targets. One goal is for utilities to get 90% of their power from carbon-free sources by 2035 (and 100% by 2040). The opposite goal is for utilities to acquire 55% of their power from “eligible” sources by 2035. In case you’re wondering how these are different, the reply appears to be that nuclear counts toward the more ambitious goal but only renewables count toward the opposite one. One other way of putting it’s that by 2040, utilities must get all their power from zero-emission sources , with not more than 45% from nuclear. It’s also price noting that utilities are allowed to purchase clean energy credits to satisfy these obligations.
The bill also comprises several other features which can be price noting:
- Social cost of carbon. The law requires Minnesota’s public utility commission to make use of EPA’s recently proposed estimates of the social cost of carbon, that are substantially higher than the federal government’s previous estimates.
- Inflation Reduction Act. The commission is allowed to provide a preference to technologies produced domestically that receive IRA advanced manufacturing tax credits.
- Permitting reform. The law limits the necessity to think about alternative possible sites for solar farms within the environmental impact statement. It requires the impact statement to consider a project’s helpful environmental and reliability impacts. And it requires the commission to make a final decision on major transmission lines inside 180 days of receiving a whole application.
What about litigation? North Dakota is unquestionably going to sue. It won a lawsuit against a previous Minnesota law limiting coal power, but I don’t think that ruling goes to assist it much. That ruling from the Eighth Circuit got here from a badly fractured panel. One judge thought the previous law banned interstate commerce, partly since the judge didn’t understand the essential physics of the electrical system. One other judge thought it was preempted since it regulated power purchases, and the third judge dissented. The brand new law is far more rigorously drafted to give attention to the procurement decisions made by Minnesota utilities. A state commission had also given the sooner law an interpretation that made it more legally vulnerable. Overall, I don’t think the sooner precedent goes to do much to assist North Dakota this time around.
Putting aside the sooner precedent, the state’s law seems to follow very much the identical parameters as renewable energy programs across the country. Perhaps a number of details are subject to attack, but seems unlikely that the courts will overturn the core provisions of the law.