Saturday, April 25, 2015

Weaselly Language in House Energy Omnibus Bill Undermines Clean Energy Goals

     The Energy omnibus bill that passed the MN State House on Earth Day is quite clear and up front about repealing the hard-won 10% by 2030 solar standard. But one of the portions the House Energy Omnibus bill’s language is far from forthright and honest about is language to allow the 1.5% by 2020 solar standard to "be met through the use of solar energy or any other more affordable eligible energy technology."  If it is possible for the solar standard to be met with wind, then it is not a solar standard anymore. The bill uses disingenuous weasel words instead of being forthright and honest about repealing the solar standard. I also heard accusations that the bill turns an Xcel renewable development fund into a multimillion dollar tax for Xcel ratepayers to potentially fund non-renewable purposes that goes against the intent of the fund when established.

If the bill nips the solar industry in the bud before it has a chance to prove itself, were Garofalo and his Omnibus bill a bit gentler on wind energy since it has gotten a chance to prove itself wide-scale?
If the bill becomes law, close to 9% less wind energy will be required, but not because of the overt repealing of Renewable Energy Standards or incentives. It is because the bill would allow utilities to include large established hydro, such as the infamous Manitoba Hydro in Canada, to count as percentage to the state’s overall  25 percent by 2025 Renewable Energy Standard. Imported large hydro accounts for approximately 9% of our electricity generation today. 

Other Trojan horse revisionist language includes renaming Next Generation Energy act’s Renewable Energy Standard into the “Advanced Energy Standard” to be filled with “eligible energy technology.” Furthermore could the term "affordable eligible energy technology" could be reclassified to include "clean coal" (which does not actually exist)? Of course the bill author wants to leave room for him to deny he is repealing the 1.5% solar standard. But what would happen if both the 1.5% and 10% solar standards are repealed? On hot summer days when the load on the electric grid is peaking we will continue dependence on more natural gas peaking power plants if there is not enough solar capacity deployed.

State Representatives wore buttons that read “cleaner and cheaper” to express support for this energy omnibus bill. But being held hostage to natural gas that has great unpredictability in price and is increasingly extracted from toxic fracking puts a big question mark on “cleaner and cheaper”.

No comments:

Post a Comment