FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 13, 2006
Contact: David Morris or John Bailey, 612-276-3456
Minnesota’s Future Wind Energy Development An Opportunity to Nurture Local Ownership
MINNEAPOLIS – “In the next five years, Minnesota is poised to become the community-owned wind energy capital of the nation,” says David Morris, co-author of a new report from the Minneapolis-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), Renewable Electricity Mandates in Minnesota: Status and Impact. “The question remains whether existing and proposed renewable energy mandates in Minnesota will translate into a substantial expansion of locally owned wind projects after 2010,” adds co-author John Bailey.
The debate about a proposed 20 percent renewable electricity mandate has divided political party ranks and the environmental community. As ILSR’s new report notes, under existing renewable electricity mandates Minnesota utilities are obligated to obtain energy from about 2,340 MW of wind energy by 2010 and 3,870 MW by 2015. The proposed 20 percent renewable mandate would boost the 2015 requirement by 1,350 MW and require a total of 7,340 MW of wind energy capacity by 2020.
While a minimum amount of renewable electricity is required, neither the existing mandates nor the proposed mandate, requires that the electricity come from locally owned facilities. For several years Minnesota offered an incentive payment to locally owned wind energy facilities under a certain size. In 2005, the legislature enacted a new program that may in the long run have an even more substantial impact.
Known as the Community Based Energy Development (C-BED) tariff, the “incentive” is in the form of front-loaded contracts – higher payments for wind energy in the first 10 years, lower payments in the final years of the contract.
With the availability of the new C-BED tariff structure, the ILSR report concludes, locally owned, community-based wind projects could constitute more than 60 percent of all new renewable electricity coming on-line between 2005 and 2010. “This would translate into an investment of more than $1.2 billion over the next 5 years. That could surpass the total investment in all farmer-owned ethanol refineries in Minnesota to date.” notes Morris.
The report, Renewable Electricity Mandates in Minnesota: Status and Impact, can be downloaded from ILSR’s web site at http://www.newrules.org/de/mnrenewable.html
John Bailey is a research associate and directs the Climate Neutral Bonding Project at the Minneapolis-based Institute for Local Self-Reliance. (www.ilsr.org).