Analysis: How Demand Charges Impact Electric Vehicle Fast Charging Infrastructure

July 31, 2019 in Electricity, Reports & Whitepapers, Transportation & Fuels Authors: Dane McFarlane, Matt Prorok

GPI recently released a white paper analyzing the economics of direct current fast charging (DCFC) as part of our work with the Midcontinent Transportation Electrification Collaborative (MTEC). DCFC stations are critical for widespread adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) because they provide access to much faster battery charging in public places and along major driving routes and highways. The white paper focused on a specific barrier to increased DCFC stations in the region: electric utility demand charges.  Continue reading »

Solar Energy & Agriculture: Pursuing Win-Win Opportunities

July 9, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Author: Brian Ross

NREL solar panels with pollinator friendly plants

The largest solar farm proposal in the Midwest recently received approval from Wisconsin state regulators. Most of the 3,500-acre Badger Hollow Solar Farm project, which is being developed by Illinois-based Invenergy, is located on active farmland and will include up to 1.2 million solar panels on 2,200 acres of the project area. Some in the community saw the project as a staggering land use change in their community and contrary to the county’s farmland preservation plan. Significant local opposition to the project decried the use of prime agricultural land for solar production.

This case is emblematic of the dilemmas faced by the solar industry, utilities, and those working at the local, state, and federal levels to decarbonize the power sector and increase the use of local renewable energy. The Great Plains Institute is working to address these issues in ways that support solar development and agricultural protection goals. Continue reading »

Want a 100 percent Carbon-Free Electricity Grid? Keep Carbon Capture in the Mix.

July 8, 2019 in Carbon Management, Electricity Author: Franz Litz

Workers at construction site

A number of states have set 100-percent clean energy standards or targets for their electricity sectors, with many others openly considering such a goal. In its recently released A Road Map to Decarbonization in the Midcontinent: Electricity Sector, the Midcontinent Power Sector Collaborative (which is convened by the Great Plains Institute) suggests that these 100-percent targets are achievable by 2050 with currently demonstrated technologies. The road map also supports a mid-century strategy that remains open to a mix of very low-carbon and carbon-free resources, including carbon capture. Continue reading »

Cities Go to Boot Camp to Overcome Barriers to Renewable Energy Adoption

June 18, 2019 in Communities, Electricity Author: Gail Nosek


When it comes to communities taking action to accelerate sustainability, the peer cohort model is proven to be successful time and time again because it allows people to learn together and learn from each other. To 
build on that success, the Great Plains Institute (GPI) and the Clean Energy Resources Teams (CERTs) are creating a network of Minnesota cities focused on identifying and overcoming barriers to renewable energy procurement.
Continue reading »

Electrifying the Family Road Trip

June 10, 2019 in Electricity, Transportation & Fuels Author: Gail Nosek

The American Automobile Association (AAA) expects 100 million Americans and more than 50 percent of families to pack up the car for a road trip this summer (even more than last year). 

In Minnesota, the popular trip ‘Up North’ to Lake Superior is the first to go fully electric with the Interstate 35 corridor now boasting enough chargers to power any electric vehicle (EV) from the Twin Cities to Duluth. Historic Highway 61, made famous by Bob Dylan’s acoustics, is also now electrified with chargers located near popular recreational and historic stops.  Continue reading »

Combined Heat and Power’s (CHP) Reliability Recognized in Recent Actions by Midwestern Regulators and Utilities

June 3, 2019 in Efficiency, Electricity Author: Jamie Scripps

Recent regulatory decisions in Michigan and other Midwestern states indicate a growing recognition of combined heat and power (CHP) facilities’ demonstrated reliability. The decisions impact the rates and fees charged to CHP systems due to their potential need for standby service (i.e., backup service) and are important steps toward increasefinancial viability of CHP facilities in the region. As other states look to encourage CHP facilities, these recent actions can provide examples of aligning rates and fees more closely to actual CHP performance.  Continue reading »