Minnesota governor vetoes bill supporting more coal-fired generation

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton has vetoed a bill that would have allowed the state’s utilities to build or import up to 1,500 MW of coal-fired generation, saying the costs would be “excessively high” and that the energy source “poses unacceptable risks to human health and to our climate.”

The state legislature approved the bill and sent it to the governor’s desk earlier this month.

“Minnesota must continue on a path of progress to a sustainable, clean and safe energy future, rather than increasing our already heavy reliance upon coal-fired electricity, which threatens our health and climate,” Dayton, a Democrat, said in his veto message Friday.

Dayton said that while a recovery economy will increase the state’s demand for electricity, Minnesota “is well positioned to utilize lower-cost natural gas, new hydroelectricity in Canada and expected contributions from renewable energy and efficiency … .” The governor also said he believes coal-fired generation is more costly than alternatives, saying “conservative estimates” range from $3 billion to more than $5 billion for a 1,000-MW plant. “Even under optimistic estimates, coal-fired power would be more expensive than several other energy resources, including energy efficiency, wind power and natural gas-fired turbines.”

Further, Dayton said coal-fired electricity “poses unacceptable risks to human health and to our climate.” In addition to the adverse health effects from coal-fired emissions, the governor said CO2 emitted from coal plants “is one of the leading contributors to global warming. In Minnesota, over 40% of the CO2 released from all sources comes from coal-fired power plants. Our natural resources and quality of life depend on a stable climate that is increasingly threatened by our reliance on fossil fuels, particularly coal.”

–Jeff Barber, jeff_barber@platts.com

See Platts Article (McGraw Hill Publication)

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