Twin Cities Business: Small City Utilities Grapple with Minnesota’s Carbon-Free Standard

EXCERPT: “Hibbing is something of a rarity when it comes to electricity. Since 2021, most of the city’s power has been generated by burning wood chips and mulch — up to 9,000 tons a month — largely from a local pallet manufacturer. The plant allows the small municipal utility to support northeastern Minnesota’s logging industry and also avoid buying electricity from large for-profit companies. ‘The independence of the city is something that is very important to our ratepayers and that’s why we have the lowest cost of energy of anybody in the area,’ said Luke Peterson, general manager of Hibbing Public Utilities. And because state law counts biomass as renewable energy, Hibbing has likely already met a newly updated goal for 55% renewable electricity more than a decade before a 2035 deadline. But the plant, and the city, is now in limbo. A landmark climate law passed in February by Democrats who control the Minnesota Legislature requires electric utilities to be 100% carbon-free by 2040. And the regulations do not say whether a renewable wood-burning plant will be considered carbon-free.” FULL STORY: