Description: Environmental groups asked the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to update its environmental cost values for carbon dioxide and other emissions associated with electricity generation.
In re Further Investigation into Environmental and Socioeconomic Costs Under Minnesota Statutes Section 216B.2422, Subdivision 3
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 04/15/2016 Not Available Download Administrative law judge issued findings of fact, conclusions, and recommendations on carbon dioxide values. Administrative Law Judge Recommended Use of Federal Social Cost of Carbon in Minnesota Utility Proceedings. An administrative law judge (ALJ) with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (Commission) recommended that the Commission adopt the federal social cost of carbon (FSCC) as reasonable and as the best available measure to determine the environmental costs of carbon dioxide. Under Minnesota law, utilities must use environmental costs “when evaluating and selecting resource options in all proceedings before the [Commission], including resource planning and certificate of need proceedings.” The ALJ found that various assertions by parties challenging the use of the FSCC were not adequately demonstrated, including assertions that climate change was not occurring, that climate change impacts were beneficial, and that the discount rates used in the FSCC’s development were arbitrary. The ALJ also said that it was necessary to consider a global scope for damages, not just damages to the United States or Minnesota. The ALJ found, however, that state agencies and environmental organizations had not presented a reasonable basis for their calculation of a value for the social cost of carbon that took into account the risk of a “tipping point,” even though the ALJ concluded that the agencies and organizations had demonstrated that the FSCC likely understated damages associated with this risk. The ALJ also concluded that a 2300 time horizon for the FSCC was not reasonably supported by adequate evidence, but said that it would be reasonable to extrapolate to the year 2200. The ALJ also recommended that the Commission open a separate proceeding for considering issues related to “leakage,” i.e., the replacement of lower-emissions power in one jurisdiction by higher-emissions power in other jurisdictions.