Minnesota’s Smarter Grid
Date Published: July 2018
Authors: Vibrant Clean Energy LLC
This is a study of the potential for Minnesota to transition from its current energy system to 80% economy-wide decarbonization compared to 2005 by 2050. The study models energy efficiency improvements and electrification, as well as shifting the electricity generation mix to renewables. The primary purpose of the study is to determine pathways for Minnesota under various possible scenarios modeled over the entire U.S. portion of the Eastern Interconnection for generator siting, transmission expansion, storage capacity expansion, demand-side resource deployment, transmission power flow, economic dispatch, and metric tracking. These scenarios are evaluated against a baseline scenario that assumes minimal electrification and no additional climate policies beyond those already established. An optimization model called WIS:dom is applied in this study to demonstrate numerous viable pathways to decarbonization. This model validates that Minnesota can achieve 80% decarbonization by 2050 with stronger energy efficiency across existing electricity demand, heavy electrification of transportation, transitioning space and water heating from natural gas to electricity and changing resistive heating to heat pumps, building new zero-emission generation technologies and retiring fossil-fuel generation. Electrification in Minnesota is predicted to provide net cost savings for consumers because the reduction in spending on other energy outweighs the additional spending on electricity. The study demonstrates that electrification and decarbonization would reduce consumer exposure to potential fuel price increases. These efforts could also create more new jobs in the electricity sector.