What is the MPCA doing?

Clean Power Plan repeal 

The MPCA’s work on developing a rule to comply with the Clean Power Plan is suspended while the federal government clarifies its plans for regulating power-sector CO2 emissions. 

On October 16, 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed to repeal the Clean Power Plan. The EPA is considering a narrower rule to regulate CO2 emissions from power plants. The MPCA continues to support the Clean Power Plan as originally designed and will engage in EPA’s repeal and replace process in order to continue to advocate for strong CO2 regulation.

Minnesota continues to be a leader in clean energy nationally. MPCA analyses indicate that Minnesota is on track to meet the emission reduction requirements of the Clean Power Plan, even without the federal regulation in place. Minnesota will continue to work on developing our clean energy future. In the development of the Clean Power Plan, EPA acknowledged Minnesota’s strategies for reducing CO2 as some of the best in the country. See the section “Clean energy leader” below to learn more about Minnesota’s efforts.   

Legislative activities

On March 15, 2016, MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine and Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman provided to the legislature an overview of a potential Clean Power Plan submittal. The Commissioners’ letter fulfilled statutory obligations under Minn. Stat. §216.077H to jointly submit to the legislature for review and comment “the draft plan the state is required to submit to the federal EPA” under the Clean Power Plan. See the legislative submittal below: 

PDF icon Clean Power Plan submittal overview (lraq-1sy16)

Response to the Supreme Court stay

On February 9, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay that temporarily halts the implementation of the Clean Power Plan while legal challenges to the rule are decided by the courts. While MPCA is committed to gathering input from Minnesotans on the Clean Power Plan, some lawmakers have expressed opposition to the agency's engagement with Minnesotans around the state. On February 12, 2016, Rep. Jim Newberger, R-Becker sent a letter urging the MPCA to immediately discontinue efforts to gather feedback from Minnesotans on the Clean Power Plan:

PDF icon Clean Power Plan - Rep. Newberger letter (aq-4-40)

The MPCA currently has no plans to cancel or otherwise discontinue its work to connect with Minnesotans on the Clean Power Plan. See MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine's response letter below:

PDF icon Clean Power Plan - Commissioner Response (aq-4-41)

Clean energy leader

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the primary climate change-causing greenhouse gas emitted through human activities, and power plants that burn fossil fuels, such as coal and natural gas, are the largest source of CO2 emissions in the U.S.  Minnesota is a national leader in reducing carbon pollution from the utility sector and increasing the use of electricity generated from renewable sources, such as wind and solar.  
Our state’s efforts to reduce CO2 emissions at power plants have used four key strategies:

  • Making existing plants cleaner and more efficient
  • Significantly expanding renewable energy resources
  • Relying more on natural gas and less on coal for electricity production
  • Encouraging energy conservation

Minnesota’s state energy policies and exemplary work by our utilities have put us well on our way toward a clean energy future.  

Minnesota’s 2007 Next Generation Energy Act is a law that establishes state-level greenhouse gas emission reduction targets of 15% from 2005 levels by 2015, 30% by 2025, and 80% by 2050. The law also established a greenhouse gas emission reporting structure, a comprehensive planning process, and limitations on new or imported coal generation for Minnesota customers. Further, the law expanded and improved Minnesota’s Conservation Improvement Program, a demand side (energy efficiency) management program, and established an annual statewide energy conservation requirement of 1.5% of annual retail electric and gas sales, effectively reducing the amount of energy needed.

Also in 2007, the Minnesota Legislature adopted a state Renewable Energy Standard (RES) that requires utilities to generate at least 25% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025 (30% by 2020 for Xcel Energy). Likewise, our state solar energy standard, adopted in 2013, requires investor-owned utilities to meet 1.5% of their electricity needs from solar generation by 2020.

Minnesota’s investor-owned utilities are on track to meet our state renewable energy goals. Our estimates indicate that annual greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 from the electric power sector were 23% lower than they would have been without the laws.

Clean Power Plan

The Clean Power Plan aims to reduce CO2 emissions from existing power plants.  Everyone has a stake in electricity and our climate, so we’re reaching out to all sorts of people to hear what matters most to them.  The rule has a lot of highly technical aspects (to dive into those, visit our Mass-based versus rate-based page), so we’re talking with lots of experts in electricity and the environment in both the public and private sectors as well as across a variety of non-governmental organizations and think tanks.  To see what those discussions have been about, visit our rulemaking page.  There you can find notes and presentations from all of the meetings.

We also want to hear from YOU!  We are holding meetings and attending events all across the state. To find out more about how you can get involved, visit our “what can you do?” page!