Clean Power Plan: What we heard

In June 2019, U.S. EPA adopted the Affordable Clean Energy Rule, which replaces the Clean Power Plan.

MPCA Air Policy Specialist Melissa Kuskie talking to meeting attendees

Screenshot of dotmocracy data toolClean Power Plan Dotmocracy results

Use the interactive tool to see what topics matter most to Minnesotans as the MPCA creates the state's Clean Power Plan.

The MPCA conducted several public listening sessions to hear input from all Minnesotans. We received feedback from over 400 people and organized comments into several key areas.

Maximize greenhouse gas emissions reductions and move as quickly as possible to minimize climate impacts

  • I’m not getting enough of a sense of urgency. I’m feeling it is not enough, not fast enough…we are going to be too late. Glaciers are melting too fast. (Rochester)
  • The costs of inaction are four times the cost of action. Minnesota led the way on acid rain – do the same now. Don’t delay. (Bemidji)
  • We need to act. We are suffering the consequences of climate change. I worry about my children’s future. (Bemidji)

Ensure that health impacts from co-pollutants and also from climate change are adequately factored into any plan

  • We’re seeing health impacts from climate change and fossil fuel emissions – increased number of ticks, respiratory problems from increased ozone, mercury levels in children. (St. Paul)
  • Mitigating public health impacts should be on our list of Clean Power Plan objectives. Asthma, COPD, cardiopulmonary impacts – these disproportionately impact the poor, the young, the old (Minneapolis)
  • The ALA strongly supports the Clean Power Plan. Climate change threatens our health and the CPP promises prevention of many deaths, and 90,000 asthma attacks nationally. (Rochester)

Factor in externality costs – the costs of climate-change-caused natural disasters, related health effects, etc - when determining acceptable versus unacceptable costs

  • Weather patterns are already changing. This is the #1 issue in the world…The 2012 flooding in Duluth demonstrated the harms of extreme weather, and added costs that monthly energy bills don’t account for. (Duluth)
  • Add in the outside costs – breathing polluted air, hospitalizations, sick days (St. Cloud)
  • Make clear the costs of healthcare and cobenefits of action. (Bemidji)


Renewable energy is cheap and provides significant opportunities for job growth and economic growth in Minnesota

  • There weren’t many job opportunities here…Wind power came along, and now people are staying in the area. Wind is providing good jobs and keeping our small towns alive. (Marshall)
  • Keep in mind that jobs created in renewable energy/wind are local jobs. Every state should be looking at this (Minneapolis)

Energy efficiency is the cheapest and quickest way to reduce CO2 emissions

  • Energy efficiency should be done first and fastest. UMD has doubled its footprint without increasing energy use. Consider mechanisms to incentivize energy efficiency. “I am addicted to energy efficiency.” (Duluth)
  • There are huge opportunities for industrial energy conservation. They are huge users of power. (Minneapolis)

Ensure that Minnesota’s early actions in clean energy are recognized by EPA

  • Rural co-ops don’t have a lot of members to spread new costs among. Minnesota has a great deal of wind, and we want credit for that in whatever plan comes out. (Marshall)
  • Consider how to capture the full benefit of the early initiatives we have taken; make sure we aren’t worse off for having started early. (Duluth)

We are at a “Manhattan project” moment and need to innovate our way out of climate change disaster

  • One way to encourage moving faster is through innovation – encouraging 3rd party innovation. Things like combined heat and power. We have the talent and innovation to do this, and do it faster and cheaper. (Duluth)
  • We have to move towards renewable energy, we have to look towards the future. Innovation is key. (Bemidji)


Consider the impacts on reliability and electric bills before rapidly changing the state’s energy portfolio

  • Don’t oversimplify [how difficult it is to plan/change the energy system] – consider when and how electricity is used. Peaking [generation] is harder with renewables. (Bemidji)
  • To date, outages come from transmission problems, not generation, but the Clean Power Plan will affect that. When adding more intermittent resources (100% renewables), the system becomes less reliable. I don’t believe that EPA can know this plan will be reliable. (St. Cloud)
  • We all want clean air, but we need to consider if a drastic energy transition will allow us to make enough power for industry. (Duluth)

Don’t underestimate the effect of job losses from the current energy sector for families or communities

  • Shutting down coal, having our brothers (IBEW) lose their jobs, and then raising their electricity costs as consumers will cripple the economy (Marshall)
  • The Clean Power Plan will create winners and losers. Becker will be a loser – 15% of our taxes come from Sherco. We will lose jobs. We need to think about preserving current energy sector jobs (St. Cloud)

Ensure that any new energy source is properly regulated to protect public health and the environment (including renewable energy resources)

  • The MN model [MN’s RES of 25% by 2025) didn’t have a scientific basis – no models, studies. Wind is a disaster and we should have no more siting of it. (Rochester)
  • There are issues about wind and solar siting that we need to address – statutory changes and PCA noise rules (Rochester)


Trading could pose problems, especially for vulnerable communities, if the dirtiest plants are allowed to continue polluting at high levels

  • I worry about accountability in a trading system. How will you make sure you have actually achieved the reductions? (Bemidji)
  • The flexibility of trading means that potentially the dirtiest coal plants could continue to operate, and could continue to disproportionately affect vulnerable communities that bear the burden of that pollution (St. Paul)

Make sure any Clean Power Plan legitimately considers environmental justice – both in terms of the cumulative effects of pollution and in terms of the potential benefits the plan can produce 

  • I want to advocate for consideration of vulnerable communities, to ensure they are targeted for benefit from these new policies and make sure they’re at the table every stop along the way. (Rochester)
  • Communities of color have been marginalized by the federal and state process. An equity analysis is critical. I urge that you engage with organizations and experts to inform the process. (St. Paul)
  • What are you planning to do about a just transition? To ensure benefits are going to communities traditionally deprived of them? Folks are concerned about cumulative impacts. (Minneapolis)

Push for more community solar programs

  • Solar is getting cheaper. Distributing energy generation means we need less of a grid. (St. Paul)
  • We have a solar garden array on Broadway Ave (Shiloh Temple). It saves energy, and invests in our community. We need you to partner with the groups that are doing the work already. Invest in communities and you’ll see the residuals (Minneapolis)
  • We need legislative action to make it easier for people to install solar panels. (Rochester)

Don’t allow garbage/biomass incineration to count for credit in the plan

  • Folks are concerned about cumulative impacts – especially with the HERC incinerator running. We do not want any garbage incinerators in our neighborhood, creating credits that Xcel can use to run Sherco. (Minneapolis)
  • Too much of PCA’s focus has been on helping utilities not have to do anything rather than reducing climate-changing causing emissions. We need to move away from the combustion problem in Minnesota where garbage and biomass burning have a lot of clout. (Rochester) 


Work with other states in your planning to avoid over-regulation and reduce costs

  • Many people here are co-op members. Don’t make people who get power from North Dakota comply twice. (Bemidji)
  • The electric grid follows the load, not state boundaries. (Marshall)
  • I support the idea of working with other states, and an open process. (St. Cloud)

Think outside the framework of the plan – consider a carbon tax/fee to reducing emissions

  • With a carbon fee and dividend structure, we determine how much it will cost to emit; business like the predictability, and unlike a tax, the profits don’t go back to the government, but directly back to households like a tax return to help offset the cost of fuel going up. (Rochester)
  • The Clean Power Plan only targets 40% of the CO2 from power plants in Minnesota. Would a carbon tax work with the Clean Power Plan? (Minneapolis)

Trading will make the plan more flexible and cost effective

  • The proper role of the government is allowing the marketplace to work and ensuring incentives are in the right place (St. Cloud)
  • We’re concerned about North Dakota versus Minnesota regulations, and we’re concerned about cost. Trading is key. We want everyone to be able to trade. (Bemidji)

Past Clean Power Plan Listening Sessions

  • February 9: St. Cloud State University, Atwood Memorial Center, Voyageur's Room, St. Cloud, MN
  • February 16: Bemidji State University, American Indian Resource Center’s Gathering Place, Bemidji, MN
  • February 23: University of Minnesota-Duluth, Swenson Civil Engineering Building, Duluth, MN
  • February 24: Southwest Minnesota State University, Conference Center Upper Ballroom, Marshall, MN
  • March 2: Wellstone Center, 179 Robie St E, St. Paul, MN
  • March 8: Minneapolis Urban League, 2100 Plymouth Ave N, Minneapolis, MN
  • March 9: Centerstone Plaza Hotel, 401 6th St SW, Rochester, MN

All listening sessions followed the same schedule:

5:30 - 6:30 p.m.: Open house and a chance to speak one-on-one with MPCA staff

6:30 - 8:00 p.m.: A brief presentation, followed by an opportunity for people to voice their interests and ask questions

MPCA staff were also be available for follow-up questions after each listening sessions.