EnergyForward is how we’re doing our part to provide safe, reliable and clean energy while helping to transform the way energy is produced, delivered and used. We’re strengthening the electric grid that delivers energy to homes, businesses and industry. We’re generating more power from renewable sources like the wind, water and sun. And we’re helping customers find ways to understand, manage and reduce their energy use.
Our road map to a cleaner energy future is based on a balanced and diverse energy mix of renewable energy, baseload coal and natural gas.
Six things you should know about EnergyForward:
1. Strengthen the reliability and resiliency of the energy grid.
Our transmission and distribution network safely and reliably delivers electric energy from where it’s generated to where it’s used by customers. Since 2009, we’ve invested more than $400 million to replace aging infrastructure, enhance security, prepare for outages caused by extreme weather events, support the integration of more renewable resources, comply with federal standards, and add more lines to meet customer needs. In addition, new technologies such as Advanced Metering Infrastructure will help deliver the benefits of the smart grid and give customers more convenient ways to manage their energy use and costs.
2. Adds renewable sources of energy.
About 25 percent of the electricity we generate comes from renewable sources. By about 2026, we expect one-third of the power we produce to come from wind, water, wood and the sun.
Wind: The 500-megawatt Bison Wind Energy Center in wind-rich North Dakota generates power for our customers in northeastern Minnesota. Our Taconite Ridge Wind Energy Center is the first commercial wind energy center in northeastern Minnesota. The 25-megawatt installation began operating in 2008.
Hydro: Minnesota Power is the largest hydroelectricity producer in Minnesota. A series of upgrades have made our hydro stations even more efficient. Beginning in 2020, we plan to move more than 350 megawatts of hydropower a year from Manitoba Hydro to our customers in Minnesota.
Solar: A 10-megawatt solar installation at Camp Ripley will help us meet the state mandate requiring utilities to produce 1.5 percent of their electricity from the sun by 2020. We’re also constructing a community solar garden made up of a 1-megawatt array and a 40-kilowatt array.
3. Reduces emission and increases efficiency.
Boswell 4 is the largest and newest of the four generators at our Boswell Energy Center. At 585 megawatts, Boswell 4 provides a big portion of the electricity our customers need. To keep it running, we had to meet requirements of the Minnesota Mercury Emission Reduction Act and the federal Mercury Air Toxics Standards Rule. That meant installing new emissions-control technology.
The more than $300 million investment at Boswell 4 followed a similar emission-control project at Boswell 3. Completed in 2016, the Boswell 4 project reduced mercury by 90 percent. Overall emissions at power plants have been reduced by 70 percent. We’re using increasing amounts of biomass (up to 90 percent) to reduce emissions at two power plants that generate steam and efficient electricity for nearby paper customers
4. Cuts carbon dioxide emissions.
Minnesota has set a goal of reducing statewide carbon dioxide emissions 15 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2015. Minnesota Power expects to reduce its CO2 emissions 20 percent by 2020 and 30 percent by 2025.
How are we doing that?
We’ve retired one of the three coal units at Taconite Harbor and idled the remaining two units in 2016. All coal operations at the plant will cease by 2020. We’ll retire two small generators—or about 130 megawatts—at Boswell Energy Center in 2018.
We’ve added more wind power at the Bison Wind Energy Center in North Dakota.
We’re helping customers save energy in their homes and businesses through our energy efficiency and conservation programs.
We’ve converted Laskin Energy Center from coal to a natural gas peaking facility.
CO2 emissions will decrease even more when the Great Northern Transmission Line begins delivering carbon-free hydroelectricity from Manitoba to Minnesota beginning in 2020. We also plan to add 200 to 300 megawatts of natural gas generation by 2025. Natural gas has about half the emissions of coal.
5. Enriches a successful conservation program.
Our energy efficiency and conservation programs provide homeowners, businesses and communities with tools for saving energy. These programs have exceeded state energy conservation goals for the past five years, and we plan to offer additional options and ideas to help customers be even more energy efficient.
6. Keeps electricity reliable and rates reasonable.
We’re balancing the needs to preserve reliability, improve environmental performance and minimize cost increases.
While we’re moving toward a more diverse energy supply, we also need to be realistic about how we provide power 24/7 to keep the lights on, businesses running and communities thriving. Using a balanced mix of renewable fuels, baseload coal and natural gas to generate electricity ensures customers will have the power they need when they need it at a reasonable cost.