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Report: MN on track to exceed clean energy targets

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An analysis released Thursday shows Minnesota is the only state in the Midwest on track to exceed federal targets aimed at reducing climate change.

  The report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, which supports the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, said Minnesota's early investments in renewable energy and energy conservation will help it surpass the targets set for 2022 and 2030.

  The Clean Power Plan requires states to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, and each state has different targets to meet. Minnesota's is roughly 40 percent from 2005 levels.

  The Union of Concerned Scientists analyzed state policies and plans that are already in place that will help meet the targets. In Minnesota's case, that includes the state's renewable energy standard and an energy conservation law. There are also already plans to retire some coal-burning power plants in the state.

  "Minnesota has a history of being a clean energy leader," said Steve Frenkel, the group's Midwest director.

  Minnesota is among 21 states on track to surpass the EPA's first targets in 2022, Frenkel said. Besides new investments in renewable energy, Minnesota has also traditionally relied less on coal than some other states in the Midwest, he said.  

But Frenkel described the Clean Power Plan as only a down payment on addressing emissions linked to climate change.

  "Even though Minnesota is ahead of the curve today, it doesn't mean that is enough to address the climate crisis and climate problem that we're facing," he said, adding he hopes state officials will continue pushing for investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

  Officials with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said they haven't seen the group's analysis but said they were optimistic the state could meet the EPA's targets. Officials are still analyzing utilities' plans to see what other actions are needed to comply with the new rules.