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216C.051 Legislative electric energy task force.

Subdivision 1. Findings. The legislature finds that it needs more information on the future management of high-level radioactive waste, the costs of that management, and the technical and economic feasibility of utilizing alternative energy resources. Before any legislative determinations may be reasonably made that are more specific than the determinations made in Laws 1994, chapter 641, the legislature needs detailed, credible, and reliable information on these issues.

Subd. 2. Establishment. (a) There is established a legislative electric energy task force to study future electric energy sources and costs and to make recommendations for legislation for an environmentally and economically sustainable and advantageous electric energy supply.

(b) The task force consists of:

(1) ten members of the house of representatives including the chairs of the environment and natural resources committee and regulated industries subcommittee and eight members to be appointed by the speaker of the house, four of whom must be from the minority caucus; and

(2) ten members of the senate including the chairs of the environment and natural resources and jobs, energy, and community development committees and eight members to be appointed by the subcommittee on committees, four of whom must be from the minority caucus.

(c) The task force may employ staff, contract for consulting services, and may reimburse the expenses of persons requested to assist it in its duties other than state employees or employees of electric utilities. The director of the legislative coordinating commission shall assist the task force in administrative matters. The task force shall elect cochairs, one member of the house and one member of the senate from among the committee and subcommittee chairs named to the committee. The task force members from the house shall elect the house cochair, and the task force members from the senate shall elect the senate cochair.

Subd. 3. Future energy solutions; technical and economic analysis. In light of the electric energy guidelines established in subdivision 7 and in light of existing conservation improvement programs and plans, utility resource plans, and other existing energy plans and analyses, the legislative task force on energy shall undertake an analysis of the technical and economic feasibility of an electric energy future for the state that relies on environmentally and economically sustainable and advantageous electric energy supply. The task force shall contract with one or more energy policy experts and energy economists to assist it in its analysis. The task force may not contract for service nor employ any person who was involved in any capacity in any portion of any proceeding before the public utilities commission, the administrative law judge, the state court of appeals, or the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission related to the dry cask storage proposal on Prairie Island.

The analysis must address at least the following:

(1) to the best of forecasting abilities, how much electric generation capacity and demand for electric energy is necessary to maintain a strong economy and a high quality of life in the state over the next 15 to 20 years; how is this demand level affected by achievement of the maximum reasonably feasible and cost-effective demand side management and generation and distribution efficiencies;

(2) what alternative forms of energy can provide a stable supply of energy and are producible and sustainable in the state and at what cost;

(3) what are the costs to the state and ratepayers to ensure that new electric energy generation utilizes less environmentally damaging sources; how do those costs change as the time frame for development and implementation of new generation sources is compressed;

(4) what are the implications for delivery systems for energy produced in areas of the state that do not now have high-volume transmission capability; are new transmission technologies being developed that can address some of the concerns with transmission; can a more dispersed electric generation system lessen the need for long-distance transmission;

(5) what are the actual costs and benefits of purchasing electricity and fuel to generate electricity from outside the state; what are the present costs to the state's economy of exporting a large percentage of the state's energy dollars and what is the future economic impact of continuing to do so;

(6) are there benefits to be had from a large immediate investment in quickly implementing alternative electric energy sources in terms of developing an exportable technology and/or commodity; is it feasible to turn around the flow of dollars for energy so that the state imports dollars and exports energy and energy technology; what is a reasonable time frame for the shift if it is possible;

(7) are there taxation or regulatory barriers to developing more sustainable and less problematic electric energy generation; what are they specifically and how can they be specifically addressed;

(8) can an approach be developed that moves quickly to development and implementation of alternative energy sources that can be forgiving of interim failures but that is also sufficiently deliberate to ensure ultimate success on a large scale;

(9) in what specific ways can the state assist regional energy suppliers to accelerate phasing out energy production processes that produce wastes or emissions that must necessarily be carefully controlled and monitored to minimize adverse effects on the environment and human health and to assist in developing and implementing base load energy production that both prevents or minimizes by its nature adverse environmental and human health effects and utilizes resources that are available or producible in the state;

(10) whether there is a need to establish additional dislocated worker assistance for workers at the Prairie Island nuclear power plant; if so, how that assistance should be structured;

(11) can the state monitor, evaluate, and affect federal actions relating to permanent storage of high level radioactive waste; what actions by the state over what period of time would expedite federal action to take responsibility for the waste;

(12) should the state establish a legislative oversight commission on energy issues; should the responsibilities of an oversight commission be coordinated with the activities of the public utilities commission and the department of public service and if so, how; and

(13) is it feasible to convert existing nuclear power and coal-fired electric generating plants to utilization of energy sources that result in significantly less environmental damage; if so, what are the short-term and long-term costs and benefits of doing so; how do shorter or longer time periods for conversion affect the cost/benefit analysis.

Subd. 4. Radioactive waste management; future and economic analysis. The legislative task force shall analyze the future of and the economic effects of the continued generation of electric power and radioactive waste at the Prairie Island nuclear power plant. The task force shall include in its report under subdivision 5, a specific discussion of:

(1) when radioactive waste will be removed from Prairie Island for permanent storage outside of the state, who will bear the costs of the future management of the radioactive waste generated by the Prairie Island nuclear generating plant; when that shift in responsibility is likely to occur; and to what extent utility ratepayers and shareholders and state taxpayers will be shielded from the costs to manage the waste in the future;

(2) the probability of an accident and the extent to which persons who may be at risk of personal injury or property damage due to foreseeable or unforeseeable catastrophic events that may allow the release of radioactivity from the nuclear power plant and associated activities could be fully compensated for the injuries or damage and by whom;

(3) a range of reasonable estimates of the costs to manage radioactive waste generated by the nuclear power plant under scenarios to be developed by the task force, ranging from monitoring the waste in the storage pool at Prairie Island to removal of waste from the state beginning in 1998 to permanent storage of the waste in the state; to the extent those costs will necessarily fall on present and future utility ratepayers and shareholders and state taxpayers, how to ensure they can be met without catastrophic disruption of the state's economy in the future; and whether funds should be set aside to ensure that present ratepayers pay the future costs of radioactive waste management based on volume of usage of electricity rather than on the rate structure of the utility;

(4) whether reprocessing and reuse of spent nuclear fuel generated by the Prairie Island nuclear generating plant is technically and economically feasible; if so, how to encourage development of reprocessing and reuse;

(5) whether emerging nuclear technologies, such as integral fast reactors, which can generate electricity without environmental damage while producing no or minimal radioactive waste, are economically feasible and practical electric energy alternatives in the foreseeable future and, if so, how to encourage and take advantage of such technologies;

(6) if the waste is likely to be removed from the state, whether technologies are likely to be economically feasible in the relatively near future for minimizing the handling of the waste and minimizing contamination of additional materials that will need special management prior to transport out of the state, including the availability of combination storage and transport containers;

(7) if the waste is unlikely to be removed from the state or if waste will need to be indefinitely stored outside the power plants after decommissioning, whether sites for storage of the waste outside the structure of the Prairie Island power plant potentially can be found that minimize economic and social disruption, maximize environmental, health, and safety protection, minimize transportation distance, and place the burden of storage of the waste on those communities that enjoy the immediate economic benefits of the existence and operation of the power plants; if potential sites exist, what process should be used to identify and utilize them if necessary; the entity that is searching for an alternative site within the state for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel from the Prairie Island nuclear generating plant, is seeking permits for the site, or is constructing the site shall report progress on those activities every six months to the task force commencing January 1, 1995;

(8) factors to be used in siting a high-level radioactive waste management facility to include at least:

(i) the proximity of the site to residents and businesses;

(ii) the proximity of the site to surface waters;

(iii) the vulnerability of the site to tornadoes and other natural phenomena;

(iv) the benefits received and the costs incurred by the host and adjacent communities due to operation of the nuclear generating facility that produced the high-level radioactive waste to be managed at the proposed facility;

(v) the benefits received and costs incurred by the host and adjacent communities due to operation of the proposed waste management facility; and

(vi) the availability of transportation routes between the nuclear generating plant and the proposed waste management facility; and

(9) federal law related to the interstate transportation of high-level radioactive waste and how that law may operate in relation to an independent spent fuel storage installation located in the state.

Subd. 5. Report and recommendations. (a) The legislative task force may contract with independent experts, none of whom can have been involved in any capacity in any of the proceedings before the public utilities commission, the administrative law judge, or the court of appeals related to dry cask storage at Prairie Island or in any proceedings related to the license for the facility granted by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to assist it with analysis of items and issues listed in subdivisions 3 and 4.

(b) The legislative task force shall convene a separate balanced group of experts in the fields of energy production and distribution and energy economics from within and without the state to include experts formerly or currently employed by the department of public service and/or the public utilities commission, an economist employed by the residential and small business division of the office of the attorney general, electric energy experts employed by utilities, experts from other states that have begun to implement policies for utilizing indigenous, sustainable energy sources, experts from public advocacy groups, and others to be determined by the task force. The task force shall request the group of experts to assist it in publicly examining and analyzing information received from the independent experts and in preparing the report required in paragraph (c).

(c) By July 1, 1996, the task force shall submit a report to the chairs of the committees in the house and in the senate that have responsibility for energy and for environmental and natural resources issues that contains an overview of plans and analyses that have been prepared, a critique of how those plans and analyses will assist in implementation of the energy conservation and sources for generation policies and goals in chapters 216B and 216C, and specific recommendations for legislative action that will ensure development and implementation of electric energy policy that will provide the state with adequate, sustainable, and economic electric power for the long term while utilizing, to the maximum reasonable extent, energy resources that are available or producible within the state and while developing, maintaining, and strengthening a viable and robust energy and utility infrastructure.

(d) By September 15, 1995, the task force shall submit to the chairs of the committees specified in paragraph (c), a preliminary report that provides:

(1) an overview of the current status of energy planning and implementation of those plans by state agencies and utilities, along with an analysis of the extent to which existing statutory energy policies and goals are being met for electric energy consumed in the state;

(2) an analysis of and any recommendations for adjustments to the specific targets set in subdivisions 4 and 5, relating to energy savings, electric generation sources for replacement and additional capacity needs, and development of wind and biomass energy sources; and

(3) as much information as the task force has been able to gather on future high-level radioactive waste management and transportation, including technologies and costs.

Subd. 6. Assessment; appropriation. On request by the cochairs of the legislative task force and after approval of the legislative coordinating commission, the commissioner of the department of public service shall assess from electric utilities, in addition to assessments made under section 216B.62, the amount requested for the operation of the task force not to exceed $700,000. This authority to assess continues until the commissioner has assessed a total of $700,000. The amount assessed under this section is appropriated to the director of the legislative coordinating commission for those purposes, and is available until expended.

Subd. 7. Guidelines; preferred electric generation sources; definitions. (a) The legislative task force on electric energy shall undertake its responsibilities in light of the guidelines specified in this subdivision.

(b) The highest priority in electric energy production and consumption is conservation of electric energy and management of demand by all segments of the community.

(c) The following energy sources for generating electric power distributed in the state, listed in their descending order of preference, based on minimizing long-term negative environmental, social, and economic burdens imposed by the specific energy sources, are:

(1) wind and solar;

(2) biomass and low-head or refurbished hydropower;

(3) decomposition gases produced by solid waste management facilities, natural gas-fired cogeneration, and waste materials or byproducts combined with natural gas;

(4) natural gas, hydropower that is not low-head or refurbished hydropower, and solid waste as a direct fuel or refuse-derived fuel; and

(5) coal and nuclear power.

(d) For the purposes of paragraph (c) within each clause, the more efficient an energy source is in generating electricity or the more efficient a technology is that utilizes an energy source, the more preferred it is for use in generating electricity for distribution and consumption in the state.

(e) For the purposes of paragraph (c), clauses (3) and (4), the use of waste materials and byproducts for generating electric power must be limited to those waste materials and byproducts that are necessarily generated or produced by efficient processes and systems. Preventing and minimizing waste and byproducts are preferred in every situation to relying on the continued generation or production of waste materials and byproducts.

(f) For the purposes of this section, "preferred" or "renewable" energy sources are those described in paragraph (c), clauses (1) to (3), and "subordinate" or "traditional" energy sources are those described in paragraph (c), clauses (4) and (5).

(g) For the purposes of this section:

(1) "biomass" means herbaceous crops, trees, agricultural waste, and aquatic plant matter, excluding mixed municipal solid waste, as defined in section 115A.03, used to generate electricity; and

(2) "low-head hydropower" means a hydropower facility that has a head of less than 66 feet.

Subd. 8. Subpoena power. The task force may issue a subpoena under section 3.153 to any person for production of information held by that person that is relevant to the work of the task force.

Subd. 9. Expiration. This section is repealed June 30, 2000.

HIST: 1994 c 641 art 5 s 1; 1995 c 4 s 1; 1995 c 248 art 2 s 5; 1996 c 266 s 1; 1997 c 191 art 1 s 6,7; 1998 c 380 s 1; 1999 c 19 s 1