December 8, 2022
  • December 8, 2022

Permit reform is a necessity to meet emissions targets

By on October 12, 2022 0

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was largely the product of negotiations between Sen. Joe Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, includes about $370 billion for energy investments clean – from large-scale commercial projects to consumer credits and rebates – all of which will work to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 40% by 2030. That’s an ambitious goal, but workable – if we can get transmission projects through the permitting process, which can take years. Although not perfect, Manchin’s licensing reform bill, which recently collapsed due to a lack of support, was an important step forward in addressing current licensing delay issues.

So why is authorizing reform important and how does it relate to Minnesota’s clean energy transition? A lot in fact. Currently, government regulations make the permitting process for transportation infrastructure projects too long and costly; especially at a time when the Midwest (and the nation) is eager to reduce energy costs, improve energy security, while meeting the greenhouse gas reduction goals set – and demanded – by businesses and industrial customers, utilities and consumers.

The country’s transmission infrastructure is old. Most of the country’s transmission lines were built in the 1950s and 1960s and were expected to last 50 years. Now that we’re well into the 21st century, many of these lines are well past their expiration date. Permitting critical transmission infrastructure remains cumbersome and time-consuming despite the obvious need for investment. To reliably manage our growing electric economy that aspires to energy security, to strengthen our infrastructure to cope with the effects of climate change and to charge electric vehicles, we need to invest in our transmission system now. And we can’t wait several years to get a permit.

A local example of how delays affect our economy comes from the 102-mile Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line that will run from Iowa to Wisconsin. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), our regional power grid operator, approved this line as part of a multi-value project portfolio in 2011. Eleven years later, it is still unfinished, largely party due to a dispute over the need for the line. and its environmental impact. Yet 127 renewable power generation projects located in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota and Wisconsin depend on the construction and operation of this single transmission line. These projects can deliver nearly 20 gigawatts (GW) of clean, affordable, and reliable power to our electrical grid. This could represent nearly 15 million households.

To achieve the objectives set under the recent Minnesota Climate Action

Frame, which means our state will be completely carbon neutral by 2050 – we need to dramatically increase the amount of clean energy we build and connect to the grid. This work is already underway – but speeding up the permitting process will allow this work to be done more quickly – and in time to avoid the worst predictions of climate catastrophe. Currently in Minnesota, 52% of our electricity is carbon-free, with renewables contributing 28%.

Our organizations have long discussed the economic benefits associated with transitioning to a clean energy economy. According to a new Midwest Clean Jobs Report will be released this week, Minnesota is home to nearly 58,000 clean energy jobs. As investments in energy efficiency and clean energy increase, opportunities for well-paying jobs also increase. In fact, clean energy jobs grew by 5% overall last year, with some sectors like renewable energy jobs up 10% and advanced transportation jobs up 23%. %.

The development of renewable energy also comes with substantial economic benefits. Minnesota alone has received more than $11 billion in capital investment from wind, solar and energy storage projects. Clean energy projects invest $35 million annually in local, state, and local property taxes, and private landowners have received more than $38 million in lease payments.

Our environment also benefits. In 2021, wind, solar and energy storage facilities in Minnesota saved 9 billion gallons of water and avoided 14.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (the equivalent of removing 3 .1 million cars on the road) supplying nearly 2 million homes. None of this would be possible without transmission to deliver the goods.

The growth and demand for renewable energy does not stop. There are now 114 GW of renewables and storage in the MISO queue. MISO covers 9 states in the Upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, and the Dakotas.

Just this week, MISO received record setting apps for an additional 164 GW of renewables and storage to be interconnected to the grid. In July, MISO approved the Tranche 1 plan for 18 transmission line projects that will enable 53 gigawatts of renewable energy and also create approximately 333,000 jobs through transmission development work and renewable resource construction combined. Three more tranches are planned, but it is clear that time is running out essence. Without necessary transmission, the multiple economic and environmental benefits that would flow from diversifying our power generation resources will be lost.

Nationally, more than 80% of the potential emissions reductions to be delivered by the IRA will be lost if transmission expansion continues at the current rate. To unlock the full emission reduction potential of the IRA, transport expansion needs to more than double over the past decade. To achieve this rapid growth, we need to speed up the existing authorization process. Streamlining the process will allow the many benefits of renewable energy to permeate the economy by strengthening the critical infrastructure needed to build a clean economy that will power our homes, businesses, cars and lives. And that, my friends, is worth supporting.