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Niska: House Democrats pass unaffordable, unreliable, dangerous energy package

Friday, January 27, 2023


ST. PAUL – House Democrats on Thursday approved legislation Rep. Harry Niska, R-Ramsey, said increases consumer energy prices, reduces power reliability and ultimately compromises safety.

The bill (H.F. 7) extends and increases Minnesota’s renewable energy standard to 55 percent by 2035 and requires electric utilities in the state to generate or acquire 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2040.

A report from the Center of the American Experiment estimates the Walz/Democrat plan to move to 100 percent carbon free electricity by 2040 will cost $313 billion, or nearly $3,900 per family per year. Niska said the same study indicates the return on these massive consumer costs would be negligible at best, paying to potentially avert 0.00096 degrees Celsius of warming by 2100.

“Our state’s energy policy should be squarely focused on ensuring Minnesotans have access to affordable, reliable energy,” Niska said. “To the contrary, this bill would increase costs for Minnesotans who already are suffering under historic price increases and also make our power grid less reliable at a time others are facing energy rationing or even grid collapse. Minnesotans can’t afford the mistake of passing this Black-Out Bill into law.”

Reliability already is a concern in Minnesota, Niska said. The Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator currently has reported a 1,200-megawatt capacity shortfall, indicating the state already doesn’t have enough reliable power-plant capacity online to meet expected peak electricity demand. He added that MISO warnings of capacity shortfalls for peak periods will become more commonplace if our state continues to rely more on intermittent, weather-dependent energy sources as House Democrats propose.

Niska indicated all blackouts are bad, but winter blackouts in Minnesota could pose great dangers that House Democrats are not taking seriously. He said he’d rather see Minnesota focus on diversifying the state’s grid, tapping into new nuclear technology and carbon capture and storage as lower-cost alternatives for reducing carbon emissions.

Republicans offered amendments intended to improve H.F. 7, including one Niska authored to insulate Minnesota from potential lawsuits resulting from this bill. Electrical flow does not cease at our state borders, Niska said, which means Minnesota is on the same power grid as its neighbors.

“If legislation in our state effectively regulates the Dakotas, for example, it exposes Minnesota to costly legal challenges,” Niska said. “North Dakota just a few years ago successfully sued Minnesota for $1.4 million by arguing it was damaged by carbon regulations our state was projecting. The amendment I offered would do taxpayers a favor by protecting them another expensive lawsuit that, by all accounts, seems certain to be filed if this bill does become law.”

House Democrats blocked Niska's amendment and other Republican proposals providing more local control before approving the bill and sending to the Senate for a vote.


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