How Manitoba Hydro fits into Minnesota’s clean energy bill

On Feb. 7, 2023, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed a new renewable energy standard bill into law. Effective Feb. 8, 2023, electric utilities in Minnesota will be required to provide 100% of their electricity from carbon-free resources by 2040. This can include electricity both generated by the utility or procured on the market — and procured is where Manitoba Hydro steps in.

“Minnesota utilities have been important customers for us for over 50 years,” said Nikhil Karanwal, Manitoba Hydro’s Director of Energy Markets. “This bill ensures those relationships can continue well into the future — and will help us help our neighbours by providing clean, reliable hydropower to backstop other in-state intermittent renewables like wind and solar.”

Prior to this bill, only hydroelectric facilities with a capacity less of than 100 megawatts counted as a renewable resource under Minnesota’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). However, under the new bill, Manitoba Hydro’s entire hydroelectric fleet as of February 7 count as a renewable energy source.

“Becoming carbon-free by 2040 is an aggressive target and we’re more than happy to help our Minnesota utility customers reach it,” said Karanwal. “With this change in legislation, Minnesota utilities will now be able to take full advantage of the dispatchable nature of our hydropower resources to support their decarbonization efforts.”

This new legislation highlights yet another benefit to the interconnected nature of the Manitoba and Minnesota power grids and the entire northern region of the Mid-Continent Independent System Operator (MISO), of which Manitoba Hydro is a coordinating member. Multiple interconnections across the international border help ensure enhanced reliability and energy security to customers in both countries, while allowing the most efficient and effective use of generation resources in a wide area, providing significant financial and environmental benefits.