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PNS Daily Newscast - June 11, 2021 

We reflect and update as HIV/AIDS first came to national attention 40 years ago this month; and when it comes to infrastructure spending, bipartisanship isn't dead yet.

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President Biden offers up more COVID-19 vaccines to the world; Dems and GOP close in on an infrastructure deal; and Speaker Pelosi tries to quell a spat over the Middle East among Democrats.

Report: Moving Beyond Coal to Renewable Energy in the Midwest

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 By Sharon RolencContact
September 21, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - While climate and energy legislation stalls in Congress, some industry experts aren't waiting for clean energy solutions. A recent report commissioned by the Civil Society Institute compares what they call a "Business as Usual" model relying on fossil fuels to one that eliminates coal production completely by the year 2050, maintains some level of natural gas and nuclear power, and invests heavily in renewable energy sources like wind.

Critics have argued that investment in wind energy is not cost-effective, but that's an outdated notion, says Geoff Keith, associate at Synapse Energy Economics and the report's co-author.

"What we found, really, is that when you're looking at a time frame that long, it's really quite feasible, and it's not that expensive in the out years."

The report estimates that by transitioning to renewable energy sources, each Midwestern consumer would be spending just over two dollars more per month in 2020, but by 2050, would be saving almost four dollars per month.

Keith says relying on conventional fossil fuels such as coal would be much more expensive in the long run than investing in renewable energy, since existing power plants would need to be updated to meet environmental standards.

"They're going to have to install new emission controls for nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and mercury, and this is going to be hundreds of billions of dollars nationwide in new investment in emissions controls for these plants."

In the report, it is assumed that the Midwest's level of nuclear power generation in 2050 will remain the same as at present. But with aging facilities and Minnesota's current moratorium preventing the building of new nuclear plants, Keith admits there are questions about how long nuclear power will be viable in the state.

"If existing nuclear power plants were not able to make it through their entire 20-year license extension or beyond that, then we'd have to make up that electricity from somewhere else."

Keith says nuclear power could be taken out of the mix. Under that scenario, it might take longer to phase out coal, or more upfront investments could expand the use of renewable energy.

The Midwest snapshot of "Beyond Business as Usual: Investigating a Future Without Coal Power" is available at:

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