On Friday, Feb 14th, a few members of CLEAN met with Cass County Electric Coop (CCEC) and Minnkota Power Coop (MPC) leaders to discuss several issues. The main issues discussed were the practice of self committing, load control, Project Tundra, and net metering. It was an informative meeting. MPC showed the challenges of operating an electrical grid with renewables. They have to size their system for peak demand. That means that there are many times during the year when they don’t need energy from all of their sources.
MPC presented in depth on Project Tundra which is designed to capture up to 95% of CO2 emissions from the largest of MPC’s coal plants. Their plan is to inject the CO2 right near the coal plant in a 6 square mile area. There are many challenges with this project including ensuring that the CO2 stays in the ground, cost, amount of CO2 captured, and it doesn’t address the pollutants generated as a result of burning coal. The estimated cost of the project is $1.1 billion dollars +/- 25%. They hope to use the new 45Q tax credit to mostly fund the project although some of the cost will have to come from ratepayers. The amount of energy needed to run the CO2 capture system is estimated at 150 MWh. This may be powered in part by the coal plant or by a new gas plant. Instead of building a gas peaker plant to aid when the wind doesn’t blow, they’ll build one just to run Project Tundra.
Regarding net metering, we discussed CCEC’s mission of providing reliable electricity. What is more reliable than energy generation at a member’s home when there are grid issues? Several CLEAN members asked CCEC to look at tying the net metering rate to a percentage of the market rate at the time of generation. CCEC didn’t appear to be receptive to those requests. Stating that electricity isn’t typically needed when solar is generating. Their peak load is during winter around 5pm when the sun has already gone down.
Overall a good discussion was had. CLEAN would like to thank both CCEC and MPC for taking the time to meet with us.