NoDak officials upset about Minnesota's coal penalty

North Dakota wants Minnesota to reverse coal energy penalties.
North Dakota wants Minnesota to reverse coal energy penalties.

Minnesota imposes a fee upon utility companies that use coal-generated energy.

The fee harkens back to the Pawlenty-backed 25 by 25 initiative, which required that 25 percent of the state's energy come from renewable sources by 2025.

North Dakota extracts a lot of coal. But Minnesota's fee reduces the profit margins available to NoDak coal interests, and now NoDak regulators are asking their Minnesota counterparts to roll back the regulation.

According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, coal burning accounts for 20 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions -- a reality that motivated the 25 by 25 initiative in the first place. But the North Dakota Industrial Commission, primarily concerned with NoDak's economic self-interest, wrote a letter yesterday to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission arguing utilities should not incur any extra costs for using coal-fired power.

NoDak Gov. Jack Dalrymple said the coal penalty "has long-term implications about the growth of the industry from where it is today. We feel that the time has come to clear up this issue once and for all."

According to a CBS report, Minnesota's coal penalty costs utilities $9 to $34 per ton of carbon dioxide that is given off when coal is burned to provide electricity, which in turn incentivizes power generated from renewable sources. Reports suggest the penalty ends up costing residential consumers using 800 kilowatt-hours of electricity each month about $8 to $24 per electrical bill.

The Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill rolling back the coal penalty last year only to be stifled by Gov. Dayton's veto pen. At the time, Dayton said rolling back the coal penalty "poses unacceptable risks to human health and to our climate."

NoDak regulators are apparently hoping Dayton might have a change of heart this legislative session, but why they think he would flip flop remains anyone's guess.

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