This summer, we’ve all seen stories about the state of our electrical grid and the challenges of managing the energy transformation amid climate change and historic shifts in weather patterns here in Minnesota and the Midwest. That’s why it’s important during American Clean Power Week to pause and reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going.
Making our grid more reliable, affordable and clean is key. Fortunately, there is good news to share. Clean energy – wind, solar and battery storage – is a dependable and growing source of homegrown power for Midwesterners and the grid is poised for a much-needed modernization. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) recently approved an 18-line transmission plan that will support 53 gigawatts of renewables as it improves grid reliability.
States like Minnesota would not be able to meet today’s demand without utility scale clean energy. Minnesota is one of only 11 states where wind energy supplies more than 20% of the electricity, with 26.6% of the overall grid supplied by a combination of solar, wind and battery storage.
These numbers make it clear that clean energy has been successfully integrated into the electricity grid, reliably and affordably. The future is bright, the wind is at our backs and our batteries are charged up and ready to go. The future is now, as we create energy and economic growth here at home through better grid management and markets that are less vulnerable to price spikes, like we see in world oil and gas markets. The energy transition will not happen overnight, providing grid operators time to bring clean energy onto the grid at higher and higher rates reliably, mitigating immediate and large outages from conventional generators that often unpredictably stress the grid.
Renewable energy is a win, win, win for Minnesota – reliable, affordable and clean. It directly benefits consumers by keeping electricity rates low and stable, keeping the lights on in a cost-effective manner for both families and businesses. As energy demand continues to increase throughout the United States, modernizing the grid to be clean and consumer friendly is key to providing more market flexibility and predictability.
The future is now.
Jeff Danielson is the vice president of advocacy with Clean Grid Alliance. He resides in East Gull Lake, Minnesota.