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Xcel Advocates CO2 Reductions

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Maria Energia discusses Xcel's recent announcement encouraging mandatory reductions in carbon dioxide emissions.

Now this is where it gets confusing.

Because of its wind, nuclear and hydropower facilities, Xcel would be well-positioned to meet the standards under the draft legislation proposed by Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.

The legislation would require utilities to generate up to 10 percent of their power from sources that don't emit carbon by 2020, increasing to 20 percent by 2025. Utilities would receive carbon- offset credits for renewables such as wind and solar power, coal-gasification plants, nuclear power and programs that encourage efficiency and conservation by consumers.

What is up with Coleman? We just ran a post about his opposition to state policies to regulate greenhouse gases. Now he is proposing the feds do it? I don't know enough about his motivations, but I have to wonder if some business interests (like MN-based Xcel) are encouraging him to make their life easier by setting a nation-wide renewable energy standard rather than the state-by-state patchwork of regulations they now face.

Xcel could clearly be motivated by the fact it faces steep renewable requirements in Colorado from the recent Amendment 37 and in Minnesota from the Prairie Island deal (which requires them to invest heavily in wind in return for expanded nuclear waste storage at that facility).

Xcel also seems to recognize the inevitability of a regulatory sytem to stem greenhouse gases. They are pushing for a renewable energy standard (sometimes called RPS) rather than a general carbon tax. Again, they must feel quite competitive compared to other energy companies when it comes to generating from renewable sources.

Nonetheless, as Maria Energia noted, they do not appear to be ending their opposition to a state-wide RPS here in Minnesota. I imagine they are worried about this proposal which would not include their mandated renewable generation from the Prairie Island deal in its renewable portfolio, forcing them to invest most heavily in renewable sources than any other energy company.

While I support a national RPS, this must not come in return for a trade that does not allow states to regulate GHG emissions. States like California must retain the right to both legislate car emissions standards and a higher RPS than the federal if they choose. This may not be ideal for the energy companies, but it is necessary to known global warming down a peg and encourage the industries that will thrive under a carbon constrained future.

Update: Coleman actually has a press release stating his position on the RPS. The press release basically says that he is in favor of it.