On Monday, September 21st, the House Job Growth and Energy Affordability Committee, of which I am a member, toured the Sherco Xcel Energy Power Plant in Becker, Minnesota and held a committee hearing at the Becker Community Center to discuss President Obama's Clean Power Plan, a regulatory rule that sets emissions reduction goals for power plants on a state-by-state basis. There are serious concerns about the future of reliable energy in our state as well as rising costs for families and small businesses when this overreaching Clean Power Plan goes into effect. Sherco (2400 megawatts of baseload power) provides 27% of the state’s energy needs at a cost of 2.2 cents per kilowatt, compare that to the current Aurora Solar Project (100 megawatts of intermittent power) at just under 10 cents per kilowatt requiring an estimated 1000 acres of land.
The hearing Monday evening attracted a standing room only crowd with more than 225 attendees including a variety of policy experts, union members, local citizens and locally elected officials. Congressman Tom Emmer gave a pre-recorded video message emphasizing the importance of a balanced energy portfolio that includes coal baseload power plants that provide just under half of the nation’s electricity. Assistant Commissioner David Thornton of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) also was there to share more about our state's response to the Clean Power Plan, as his agency under the direction of Governor Dayton will be in charge of complying with the federal Environmental Protection Agency's new rules.
The hearing focused on several key points of concern regarding the implementation of the Obama Power Plan including our state not getting credit for reductions already made in CO2 emissions under the Next Generation Energy Act. Additionally, the implications this plan will have on the wallets of hardworking Minnesotans who could be faced with dramatic energy bill increases and the possibility of forced closures of baseload power plants in our state like Sherco.
What's more, the Dayton administration will have total control over the implementation of the Clean Power Plan with no legislative input on meeting these costly new standards being thrust upon our state. The legislature will have follow up hearings regarding the Clean Power Plan prior to and during the next session starting in March 2016, and will have officials from Governor Dayton's administration share more about the potential costs their actions will have, but for now we are continuing to gather data and listen to people's concerns around the state.
As always, please feel free to contact me about any state legislative issue. You can e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.MN or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 549 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.