Our investments in renewable sources and more efficient technologies have us on track to reduce carbon emissions from our owned generation resources from 2005 levels by approximately 50% by 2025. As of 2022 we’ve cut our carbon emissions by 43%. But our goals to reduce emissions don’t stop there. We also plan to meet our longer-term goal of reducing carbon emissions by 97% from 2005 levels by 2050.
Producing electricity with steam generation requires large volumes of water, so we look for ways to responsibly manage our water use. By employing recirculating cooling systems, we reused 2.2 billion gallons of water in 2022. We also manage water quality to stay within permit limits to protect environmental and human health.
From Minnesota’s famed 10,000 lakes to the plains of North and South Dakota, our service area covers diverse environments. Environments people and every other species on the planet rely on. For example, the world needs pollinators. This especially true in our agriculture-rich service area, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that almost all fruit and grain crops in the U.S. depend on pollinators. The Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources designated our Hoot Lake Solar project Habitat Friendly Solar, combining support for pollinators, songbirds, and other species while also providing water management and soil health benefits.
Beyond responsible resource use, we're committed to the proper transportation and disposal of energy generation by-products. The primary by-product we manage is coal combustions residuals (CCR). We look for opportunities to give new life to our CCR by providing it to third parties for shingle grit and sandblasting media.
Since retirement of coal-fired Hoot Lake Plant in May 2021, there has been a lot of activity at the site. We commenced decommissioning in August 2021. In June we worked with experienced demolition contractors to safely implode the flue stack and remaining boilers, taking care not to damage the surrounding environment. We plan to complete Hoot Lake Plant demolition and site restoration in 2023.
Just like a plant has to be properly permitted and carefully built, it must be properly retired and responsibly dismantled.<br>
Lisa McFarland, Associate General Counse
While we work to become more efficient and lower our environmental impact, we’re helping our customers do the same. To help customers conserve energy and manage their electric bills, we provide education on efficient new technologies, outline rate information to help calculate operating costs associated with energy use, and encourage participation in energy-efficiency and load-management programs.
One example is our Home Transformer program. By participating, customers learn how to increase their homes’ energy efficiency though a free in-home energy consultation. Customers also receive energy-saving products such as LED light bulbs, faucet aerators, and low-flow plumbing fixtures.
In 2022 Minnesota and South Dakota customers saved 56,422 megawatt-hours (MWH) of energy through our energy conservation programs.
Our partnerships to create more efficient spaces don’t stop at rebate programs. We're also taking steps to encourage electric vehicle (EVs) adoption within our service area. To reduce range anxiety—the fear of depleting an EV's battery without having an accessible place to recharge—we began construction on 11 fast-charging sites throughout Minnesota. With our EV infrastructure plan, all of our Minnesota customers will be within 60 miles of a charging station. As we gain experience in operating the Minnesota fast-charging sites, we’ll propose similar EV fast-charging opportunities to the North Dakota Public Service Commission and the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission to expand charging options for customers in those states.
In 2022 we continued our collaboration with Otter Cover Children’s Museum on a Discover Energy! Program that began in February. The program consists of 12 unique learning experiences designed for children ages 6 to 10, allowing them to explore and learn about renewable energy and energy conservation. More than 19,000 children visited the museum and had the opportunity to interact with the exhibits.