Minnesota Public Radio: Economics, not EPA, drive down power plant emissions in Minnesota

March 28, 2017

States continue to press forward to meet their carbon pollution reduction goals. Minnesota Public Radio reports that Minnesota is set to meet its carbon emissions targets under the Clean Power Plan even if the rule goes away under executive action signed Tuesday by President Trump, state officials said. The federal regulations curbing carbon emissions from existing power plants directed Minnesota to reduce those emissions by about 40 percent by 2030.

Utilities are on pace to do that, thanks to changing energy economics, said David Thornton, an assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. "Goals and targets that two or three years ago seemed unreachable are, all of a sudden, business as usual," he said. "I would not be surprised if that trend continues."

"A number of power companies are saying, 'We're going to be planning for a lower carbon future because we know that's inevitable,'" said Gabe Pacyniak, mitigation program manager at the Georgetown Climate Center.  

Wind and solar energy are getting cheaper, and there's excitement over the possibility of batteries to store renewable energy. Corporations, local governments and some state governments are embracing clean energy both for economic reasons and because it's better for the environment. The utilities, which make plans about how to best generate power decades into the future, are choosing less coal.

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