Gov. Dayton: Minnesota should eliminate coal use

Published 9:36 am Friday, July 18, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — Gov. Mark Dayton challenged energy policy and business leaders Thursday to find a way for Minnesota to eliminate coal from the state’s energy production.

Dayton, who has spoken of his aim to eliminate coal before, said it’s time to start talking details so that Minnesota can lead the nation.

“Tell us what a timeline would look like, what has to happen for that timeline to be met and what kind of incentives or inducements do we need to provide to make that happen,” Dayton told the state’s first-ever Clean Energy Economy Summit.

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Dayton said converting coal plants to users of natural gas should continue, along with investments in renewable energy.

About 46 percent of electricity generated in Minnesota last year came from burning coal. But the clean energy industry has grown. Minnesota’s clean energy sector now employs more than 14,000 people working for 1,000 different companies, according to a new analysis from a consultant hired by the state.

In preparing its report, Collaborative Economics reviewed five different sectors of Minnesota’s economy — energy efficiency, wind, solar, bioenergy and smart grid technology. The company’s full analysis won’t be available until September, but it presented preliminary results at the clean energy summit.

Energy policy and business leaders are discussing how to ensure Minnesota continues to be a leader in clean energy.

David Mortenson, president of Mortenson Construction, said his company and others are embracing renewable energy as a cost-competitive solution. He said the cost of wind and solar has dropped while coal and natural gas markets become increasingly volatile.