(Townhall) — Our beloved Leftist Legislature in Minnesota is back in the news again. Never letting facts get in the way of their opinions, they are boldly charting a course into the dark beyond, into a place where no Legislature has gone before. Without so much as a by-your-leave or expert testimony they have decreed that the Star of the North State will be carbon free in just 17 years. Minnesota will use green power only by 2040. We could almost feel their endorphin rush. They had accomplished something that even California had not. It was a special moment when time stood still and the earth began to heal. Saving Our Mother the Earth is heady stuff indeed.
Ahhh, it must be wonderful to be a Leftist and feel so satisfied, so self-important, so sanctimonious. Not to mention, so irresponsible.
There are a number of facts that should have gotten in the way of their grand opinion. First and foremost, it gets cold in Minnesota. Very cold! When a brutally cold high pressure center settles in, wind turbines don’t turn because the wind doesn’t blow much. Being in the far northern latitude, during those long winters solar panels don’t generate much juice either. But of course, that’s not their problem.
They claim that during those periods when the sun and wind aren’t producing, we will just buy green power from states where they are. That presents what is the biggest problem of all for our carbon free warriors: transmission. How do we get enormous amounts of green energy from Arizona or even Iowa without dramatically improved transmission capacity?
Well, the utilities will just have to build them, they say. That will create jobs, they say.
New electric power lines (if they can ever get permits) will require enormous amounts of copper. But aren’t some of these same save the planeteers the ones who are blocking a new copper mine in … Minnesota? So mining copper somewhere else is somehow better for the planet? Is it far-fetched to assume that these activists will be rolling up their sleeves to block any of these new power lines as well?
Many of these Planeteers weren’t even born when Paul Wellstone was becoming an activist icon in the early ’70s by organizing opposition to proposed power lines through west-central Minnesota. The power line protester turned politician wrote a book and created the blueprint for blocking increased transmission capacity. That blueprint has been used successfully nationwide by the Left ever since.
If we are going to move to an all renewable electric future, we will need to double (at minimum) transmission capacity. We currently have about 240,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the United States. If we phase out natural gas and we all start driving electric vehicles, capacity will need to grow geometrically. Experts on all sides of the debate agree with those facts.
Leftist activists may agree on the need to build transmission infrastructure. Just not in areas where they live. They’ve studied the Wellstone playbook.
According to respected energy experts, at current build rates for new high-voltage lines, it will take 140 years to double our transmission capacity. Current buildout costs for the doubling will total over $1 trillion. Increased EV usage, banning gas stoves, protracted legal fights over permitting and inflation will drive those costs much higher.
For example, a multi-billion dollar project for a line carrying wind energy from Kansas to Indiana has been in legal limbo for over 12 years. Before being overturned by the state Supreme Court, the Missouri PCS rejected the application because “landowners’ costs exceeded the benefits.” It still faces legal battles in Illinois.
The TransWest Express project aims to move wind energy from Wyoming to California. First proposed by billionaire Philip Anschutz in 2005, he is developing a giant wind farm in Wyoming. The TransWest power line is critical to the entire development. With a little luck, Mr. Anschutz is hoping to get final approval this year and finish construction in three years, 21 years after inception.
So 21 years to build one power line. And the Minnesota Legislature believes the state can be completely carbon free in only 17? It must be nice to live in a fool’s paradise, a place where hard questions can be ignored. The rest of us live in reality where hard facts and questions matter.
With all of the other reckless ideas advancing through the Leftist Legislature, this green power mandate won’t matter. The last taxpayer will have turned out the lights long before 2040.