Renewable energy is now the second largest electric producer in Minnesota, which has helped the state reduce its emissions by 34 percent—compared to 2005 levels. Their growth in the state is likely to continue, and to continue to contribute to lower emissions, as the costs of wind and solar power in the state are now lower than the costs of energy from other sources.
That’s according to the new 2019 Minnesota State Energy Factsheet BloombergNEF for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE), which shows the dramatic cost reduction of renewable energy in the state. The organizations introduced the factsheet at the state’s legislature and Governor Tim Walz (D) are considering proposals to move the state to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. Legislators had previously proposed moving the state to 50 percent renewable energy.
The costs of renewable energy have continued to drop in recent years, but in the past year alone, factsheet showed significant cost drops. It showed that in Minnesota wind costs declined 16 percent while solar costs declined 23 percent over the past year.
“Sustainable energy’s contributions to Minnesota are expanding and delivering increased jobs and economic benefits to communities, businesses and manufacturers in the state,” said Lisa Jacobson, President of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “We examine sustainable energy trends across the country—and Minnesota is a clear leader. We look forward to seeing businesses and policymakers in the state build on these encouraging trends.”
The new factsheet shows that the subsidized levelized costs of electricity (LCEO) of wind, at $26 per megawatt hour, and solar power, at $39 per MWh, were lower than the costs of power from natural gas at $52.5 per MWh. Even without subsidies wind is less than natural gas at $38 per MWh and PV was close to the costs of natural gas.
The factsheet also found that renewable electric generation now makes up a quarter of the state’s energy, with wind alone providing 18 percent. The state’s also rapidly built out the nation’s largest community solar program, with more than 100 community solar gardens added to the state in 2018 and 508 megawatts of community solar online, which BNEF noted is the most of any state in the nation. Yet electric prices in the state remain low. “The total average monthly electricity bill for Minnesota households was $97.58 in 2017 (the last year for which data is available); this is 13% below the national average,” the factsheet stated.
"The dramatically changing clean energy landscape means our business has to stay alert to changing prices, technologies and attitudes. As the costs for wind, solar, and energy storage all continue to fall year-over-year, that means new opportunities for our business, which in turn creates new jobs. Werner Electric is thrilled with the direction clean energy is headed in Minnesota.” said Ryan Butterfield, Director of Energy Services & Solutions at Werner Electric.Tweet