Friday, January 29, 2016

Minnesota Loves Spending Money On Solar Energy -- January 29, 2016


February 1, 2016: St Cloud Times is reporting:
Xcel Energy said Friday that its plan to reduce carbon emissions at least 60 percent by 2030, including closing two coal-fired Sherco units and replacing them with a new natural gas plant in Becker, will have a minimal impact on electric rates.
In documents filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Xcel said its plan, if approved, would result in an annual rate increase of 2.4 percent, compared to 2 percent a year if it continued business as usual for the next 15 years.
The plan calls for replacing Sherco units 1 and 2 with a natural gas plant in Becker and more renewable energy like solar and wind.
It will be interesting to look at actual wind/solar results fifteen years from now. Something tells me this is not going to be as rosy as folks think. But, hey, it could have been worse -- the utilities could have gone all in with solar / wind.

January 30, 2016: from the Obama administrationAverage Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers by End-Use Sector, by State, November 2015 and 2014 (cents per kilowatt-hour) -- selected states. All things being equal, electricity rates should be going down, no up.

North Dakota moved from #3 to #2, behind Louisana, but jumped ahead of both Washington State and Idaho; regular readers are aware of the hydroelectricity issue in these northwestern states.

According to a reader, the MDU residential rate in southwestern ND as of Decembe, 2015, billing,  not including the 35 cents per day basic service charge, is 8.79 cents per KWH.

State - residential
November - 2015
November - 2014
New York
North Dakota
South Dakota
Iowa - wind
California - hmmm
Washington - Hydro
US Average

States in New England and the state of California "stand out."

Original Post 

Note: there will be typographical and factual errors in this post. It is not worth the time to fact-check or spell-check this article. Do not make any solar energy decisions based on anything you read here or anything you think you might have read  here.

Data points from this article:
  • even regulators had questions about the high cost
  • $30 million solar project
  • 10-million-watt output
  • 143,000 customers in Duluth area; Camp Ridley
  • at $3 / installed watt, exceeds Xcel Energy's North Star Solar Project near North Branch, MN ($1.80/watt); $3 / watt = $3 million / MW
For newbies, to put this in perspective:
From an August 25, 2014, post, this is 30-second sound bite for "cost of renewable megawatt":
  • Solar: $3 million / MW
  • Wind: $2.5 million / MW
  • Natural gas: $865,000 / MW
The utility, it appears, was forced into this project. The state of Minnesota mandates that 1.5% (no typo, 1.5%) of its electricity from the sun by 2020. This $30 million project will ... drum roll ... provide ... drum roll ... one-third of that requirement.

Just to show you how unnecessary this project is, this is the stated purpose of the solar panels: it will feed electricity to Camp Ridley during power outages. As long as those power outages occur during daylight hours, and recall from the Nevada experience, it takes one to two hours to "bring up" a solar energy farm. The more one reads between the lines of this article, the more one wonders.  If Arizona ever wants to sell the London Bridge, I know the state they can sell it to.

I'm not sure why regulators questioned the cost of this new Camp Ridley project; it was in line with what solar was costing back in 2014. Oh, that's right. Natural gas electricity is down to 3.5 cents/kw-hour. It is a shame that states are not eligible for the Geico Rock Award.

One can google Xcel at the milliondollarway blog. One gets the feeling that the solar industry has found THE state that can't say "NO" to expensive solar energy. It's really getting to be rather .... well, let's just say the most recent episode of I-98 discussed the high price of intermittent energy in Minnesota.
As the train rounded the curve, Sam and Liam saw the new billboards going up asking for donations to help Minnesotans pay their intermittent energy utility bills. The state was now completely reliant on intermittent energy, and utility bills had surged, as expected. Even the heirs to the great Dayton estate were surprised to see how many wind farms it took to generate enough electricity to keep the lights on, not to mention, to recharge the Teslas. To conserve electricity, the state had asked Minnesotans to stop making Swedish meatballs during peak electricity demand.

Sam noted the irony, "It's kind of funny how things worked out. Ever since CO2 dropped, it got colder in Minnesota just as they were meeting their state-mandated wind farm initiatives. And now no one can afford it." 
By the way, that $3 million/MW doesn't set any records: the Minnesotans are proud to say they installed solar energy at one of their airports for $7 million/MW. I can't make this stuff up. No links. Google it if interested. I'm burning daylight; more important stuff to cover.

By the way, the quotes for natural gas (above) were back in 2008; since then the price of natural gas electricity has come way down (as noted above, 3.5 cents/kw-hour). If you live in Duluth, MN, and you are paying more than 3.5 cents/kw-hour, send a note to Xcel. 

Remember, the new solar site will require complementary fossil fuel power to provide electricity during the night, during six months of winter, during cloudy days, ...



This is from November 6, 2013:
Don sent me this -- a look at the cost of electricity in the 57 US states. When you get to the link, click on the second presentation, an Excel spreadsheet.

North Dakota is third cheapest at 8.58 cents/kwh.
Idaho, with its hydroelectric power, is cheapest at 7.87 cents/kwh.
Washington State, also with hydroelectric power, is second, at 8.28 cents/kwh.

New York State, which bans fracking, and hates coal, but loves wind, pays 18.26 cents/kwh, more than twice what North Dakotans pay.

One can move the Excel spreadsheet to your own spreadsheet and then sort. Doing that, New York is the most expensive for electricity, excluding Hawaii, which is in last place, at 34.68 cents/kwh.

I think the Germans pay in excess of 35 cents/kwh. 

No comments:

Post a Comment