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Minnesota   Minnesota Profile

State Profile and Energy Estimates

Profile AnalysisPrint State Energy Profile
(overview, data, & analysis)

Last Updated: April 20, 2017

Overview

Located at the northern edge of the central plains, Minnesota is one of the largest Midwestern states.1 It has significant renewable resources, including energy from winds that blow unobstructed across the state's open prairies.2 Minnesota's rolling plains are covered by fertile topsoil, giving the state some of the nation's richest farmland, which, along with 17 million acres of forest lands, provide the state with ample biomass potential.3,4,5 The state's abundant cornfields produce Minnesota's most valuable crop and provide feedstock for the state's many ethanol plants.6,7 The Mississippi River's headwaters are in Minnesota, and, with almost 70,000 miles of natural streams and rivers, Minnesota's waterways are a hydropower resource.8,9,10

Minnesota plays an important role in moving fossil fuels to markets across the Midwest and beyond.

Minnesota has no fossil fuel production, but the state plays an important role in moving fossil fuels to markets across the Midwest and beyond. More than one-fourth of the length of the Mississippi River flows through Minnesota.11,12 The Mississippi River carries half of the state's agricultural exports, as well as other commodities, including petroleum and coal. But Lake Superior, on Minnesota's northeastern border, is the waterway that plays the most significant role in energy transport. Of Minnesota's four ports on Lake Superior, the Port of Duluth is the state's largest. The port is at the western end of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System, which connects the Port of Duluth to worldwide shipping. Coal is the second largest commodity by tonnage shipped on Lake Superior. Coal from Wyoming and Montana is transferred from rail to ship at the Port of Duluth/Superior to move east.13,14 Several pipelines bring Western crude oil into the state, and other pipelines move Canadian supplies of crude oil from the north to Minnesota's refineries and on to other U.S. markets.15

Minnesota's climate is known for Arctic chills in the winter. While the northern part of the state has reported freezing temperatures in every month of the year, southern Minnesota can experience prolonged heat spells in the summer when warm air pushes up from the Gulf of Mexico. Even so, Minnesota's per capita energy consumption is lower than that of one-third of the states.16,17 The industrial sector, which includes the energy-intensive petroleum refining, chemical products manufacturing, and food processing industries, leads the state in energy consumption, followed by the electric power sector. The transportation sector is the third-largest energy-consuming sector, followed closely by the residential sector. The commercial sector is the least energy-intensive end-use sector in the state.18,19,20,21

Petroleum

Among the non-oil-producing states, Minnesota has the largest oil refinery.

Minnesota does not have any crude oil production, but it does have two oil refineries.22,23 Much of the crude oil processed at those refineries comes from Canada. The Pine Bend Refinery, located in the Twin Cities suburbs, is the largest oil refinery in Minnesota, and it is also the largest of all oil refineries located in non-oil-producing states.24 The Pine Bend Refinery produces transportation fuels for markets throughout Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.25 Minnesota's other refinery, the St. Paul Park Refinery, is located along the Mississippi River. St. Paul Park became Minnesota's first oil refinery when it was relocated from Texas in 1939. The refinery has been expanded over the years and now produces a variety of products refined from sour and sweet crude oils from the United States and Canada, including motor gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, and asphalt.26,27

Two major pipeline systems bring crude oil from Canada and the western United States into Minnesota.28,29,30,31 The Clearbrook terminal in northwestern Minnesota is a key distribution point, supplying crude oil to refineries in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and beyond. Pipelines that can carry one-seventh of the petroleum used in the United States converge in Clearbrook.32 Additional pipelines cross the state, distributing petroleum products from refineries in Minnesota and other states.33

Motor gasoline accounts for almost half of the petroleum consumed in Minnesota.34 A major ethanol-producing state, Minnesota is one of only two Midwestern states that require the statewide use of oxygenated motor gasoline blended with 10% ethanol.35,36 Overall, Minnesota's per capita petroleum consumption is slightly less than the national average.37,38 Although less than 3% of the state's households heat with fuel oil or kerosene, 10% use liquefied petroleum gas.39

Natural gas

Minnesota has no natural gas production or reserves40 and, although the state is crossed by several natural gas pipelines, no natural gas market centers.41 Natural gas supplies enter Minnesota primarily from South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa, and Canada. The state ships out three-fourths of the natural gas it receives, primarily to Iowa and, to a lesser extent, Wisconsin, on its way to other markets in the Midwest and beyond.42,43 The industrial sector is Minnesota's largest natural gas user, accounting for more than one-third of the state's consumption. The residential sector, where two-thirds of the households heat with natural gas, typically uses about three-tenths of the natural gas delivered to consumers in Minnesota.44,45

Coal

More than 10 million tons of low-sulfur coal from Montana and Wyoming are shipped from the Port of Duluth each year.

Minnesota has no coal production or reserves. Wyoming and Montana supply almost all the coal consumed in Minnesota, most of which is used for electric power generation.46,47,48 Coal from the Powder River Basin is shipped by rail to the port at Duluth, Minnesota, where it is transferred to vessels for shipment on the Great Lakes. Coal and iron ore, in roughly equal proportions, account for about four-fifths of the tonnage shipped from the Port of Duluth. More than 10 million tons of low-sulfur coal from Montana and Wyoming are transported from the port each year to supply utilities and manufacturing plants on the Lower Great Lakes.49,50

Electricity

Coal-fired power plants provide the largest share of Minnesota's net electricity generation, but their contribution fell below half for the first time in 2012.51,52 The state's largest power plant is the coal-fired Sherburne County plant, which has a generating capacity more than twice that of each of the next two largest power plants in the state, the Clay Boswell coal-fired plant and the Prairie Island nuclear facility.53 In 2016, coal fueled about two-fifths of Minnesota's net electricity generation. The state's two nuclear power plants, located on the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota, typically provide between one-fifth and one-fourth of the state's net electricity generation.54,55 Almost all the rest of Minnesota's electricity generation comes from wind, natural gas, biomass, and conventional hydropower.56

Most of the electricity generated in Minnesota is produced by electric utilities; however, an increasing amount is provided by independent power producers. From 2003 to 2016, the contribution from independent power producers to the state's net generation increased more than fourfold, and independent power producers now provide more than one-sixth of Minnesota's net electricity generation.57,58 Most of that generation comes from renewable resources, primarily wind.59 Retail electricity sales are distributed fairly equally across the residential, industrial, and commercial end-use sectors.60 About one in six Minnesota households use electricity for home heating.61

Renewable energy

Renewable resources, including hydroelectric power, fueled more than one-fifth of the state's net electricity generation in 2016.62 Minnesota is a major producer of wind-generated electricity. More than one-sixth of the state's net generation came from wind power in 2016, and the state is among the top 10 states in the nation in both installed wind capacity and net electricity generation from wind.63,64 Minnesota has numerous wind farms, particularly on the gently rolling prairies of the state's southwest. Minnesota also generates electricity from biomass, including municipal solid waste, landfill gas, and wood waste. Of the biomass power plants, most of the landfill gas and municipal solid plants are located in more densely populated southern Minnesota, and most of the wood waste plants are found in more heavily forested northern Minnesota.65,66,67 There are more than two dozen small hydroelectric power plants in Minnesota. A small but increasing amount of the state's net electricity generation comes from solar photovoltaic (PV) facilities.68,69

Minnesota has more E85 refueling stations than any other state and has more than one-tenth of the nation’s total.

Minnesota is among the top five ethanol-producing states in the nation.70 There are 19 ethanol production plants in the state and another one under construction. All of the ethanol plants are located in the southern part of Minnesota.71,72 In 2007, the state put in place a 4-year program that offered incentives to encourage the adoption of E85, a mixture of 85% ethanol with 15% motor gasoline. From 2007 to 2011, funding assistance was provided to fuel retailers for the installation of equipment to dispense E85 to the public.73 Minnesota has more E85 refueling stations than any other state and has more than one-tenth of the nation's total.74 In addition to Minnesota's requirement that motor gasoline sold in the state contain at least 10% ethanol, the state's biodiesel mandate requires that diesel fuel sold in the state contain at least 10% biodiesel during the months of April through September and at least 5% biodiesel during the rest of the year. On May 1, 2018, the blend required from April through September increases to a minimum of 20% biodiesel.75,76 Minnesota has three biodiesel plants with a combined capacity of about 63 million gallons per year, more than 2% of the nation's total.77

Minnesota's renewable energy standard (RPS) applies to all electricity providers in the state. The RPS requires that the state's nuclear utility obtain 31.5% of its retail electricity sales from renewable resources by 2020, including at least 1.5% from solar energy. Investor owned utilities must obtain 26.5% of retail sales from renewables by 2025, with 1.5% from solar energy. All other utilities have a requirement that at least 25% of retail electricity sales come from eligible renewable sources by 2025. The RPS also set a goal that 10% of retail electricity sales statewide come from solar by 2030.78 Beginning in 2010, Minnesota's energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) required investor-owned utilities and retail energy suppliers to reduce average retail energy sales by 1.5% each year. The EERS also directs that the energy suppliers spend a portion of their annual revenues on advancing energy efficiency, demand-side management, and certain types of renewable energy.79,80

Endnotes

1 U.S. Census Bureau, Guide to 2010 Census State and Local Geography, Minnesota.
2 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, Minnesota Wind Resource Map and Potential Wind Capacity, accessed February 26, 2017.
3 NETSTATE, Minnesota, The Geography of Minnesota, The Land, updated February 25, 2016.
4 Becker, Dennis R., et al., 2010 Outlook for Forest Biomass Availability in Minnesota: Physical, Environmental, Economic and Social Availability, University of Minnesota, Department of Forest Resources (October 2010), p. 1.
5 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, DNR's Role in Biomass from Forest Resources, accessed February 26, 2017.
6 U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Farm Income and Wealth Statistics, Cash receipts by state, commodity ranking and share of U.S. total, 2015, Minnesota.
7 Ethanol Producer Magazine, U.S. Plants, All Platforms, Existing, updated February 14, 2017.
8 National Park Service, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Minnesota, Mississippi River Facts, accessed February 26, 2017.
9 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Lakes, rivers, and wetlands facts, updated 2013.
10 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Minnesota Profile Overview, Map layer, hydroelectric power plants, accessed February 26, 2017.
11 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Data, Reserves and Supply, accessed February 26, 2017.
12 exploreMinnesota, About Minnesota, Geography, Minnesota's Waters, accessed February 26, 2017.
13 Minnesota Department of Transportation, Ports and Waterways in Minnesota, Commercial Waterways, accessed February 26, 2017.
14 Bergeron, Dale, "What's in the Ships?" Minnesota Sea Grant (May 2007).
15 Shaffer, David, "A river of oil runs through small Minnesota town," Star Tribune (August 29, 2012).
16 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center, Climate of Minnesota, accessed February 22, 2017.
17 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2014, DOE/EIA-0214(2014) (June 2016), Table C13, Energy Consumption per Capita by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2014.
18 U.S. EIA, "Industries consumed more than 30% of U.S. energy in 2011," Today in Energy (September 25, 2012).
19 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Regional Data, GDP and Personal Income, Annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by State, GDP in Current Dollars, All Industries, Minnesota, 2014.
20 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2014, DOE/EIA-0214(2014) (June 2016), Table C10, Energy Consumption by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2014.
21 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2014, DOE/EIA-0214(2014) (June 2016), Minnesota Tables CT4, CT5, CT6, CT7, CT8.
22 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Data, Reserves and Supply, accessed February 27, 2017.
23 U.S. EIA, Number and Capacity of Petroleum Refineries, Total Number of Operable Refineries, accessed February 27, 2017.
24 U.S. EIA, Refinery Capacity Report (June 2016), Table 3, Capacity of Operable Petroleum Refineries by State as of January 1, 2016, p. 5-25.
25 Flint Hills Resources, Fuels and Aromatics, accessed February 27, 2017.
26 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star, Energy Labeled Buildings and Plants, Energy Star Plant Profile, Minnesota Refining Division (now St. Paul Park Refinery), accessed February 27, 2017.
27 Western Refining, The St. Paul Park Refinery, accessed February 27, 2017.
28 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Data, Distribution and Marketing, accessed February 27, 2017.
29 Enbridge Inc., Enbridge Energy Partners North Dakota Pipeline Company LLC (2014).
30 Enbridge Inc., Enbridge Energy Partners United States Mainline Pipeline System (West) (2014).
31 Koch Pipeline, Koch Pipeline Company Facts, accessed February 27, 2017.
32 Shaffer, David, "A river of oil runs through small Minnesota town," Star Tribune (August 29, 2012).
33 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Data, Distribution and Marketing, accessed February 27, 2017.
34 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2014, DOE/EIA-0214(2014) (June 2016), Table C3, Primary Energy Consumption Estimates, 2014.
35 Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Ethanol, accessed February 27, 2017.
36 Gardner, K. W., U.S. Gasoline Requirements, Exxon Mobil (June 2015).
37 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table F15, Total Petroleum Consumption Estimates, 2014.
38 U.S. Census Bureau, State Population Totals Tables: 2010-2016, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2016 (NST-EST2016-01).
39 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Minnesota, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
40 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Data, Reserves and Supply, accessed February 27, 2017.
41 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Data, Distribution and Marketing, accessed February 27, 2017.
42 U.S. EIA, U.S. Natural Gas Imports by Point of Entry, 2015, accessed February 27, 2017.
43 U.S. EIA, International and Interstate Movements of Natural Gas by State, 2015, accessed February 27, 2017.
44 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Minnesota, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2010-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate.
45 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Consumption by End Use, Minnesota, Annual, accessed February 27, 2017.
46 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2015 (November 2016), Table 15, Recoverable Coal Reserves at Producing Mines, Estimated Recoverable Reserves, and Demonstrated Reserve Base by Mining Method, 2015.
47 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Report 2015 (November 2016), Table 26, U.S. Coal Consumption by End Use Sector, by Census Division and State, 2015 and 2014.
48 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report 2015 (November 2016), Minnesota, Table DS-22, Domestic Coal Distribution, by Destination State, 2015.
49 Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Port of Duluth-Superior, Port stats and facts at a glance, accessed March 5, 2017.
50 Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Port Authority, Port Facilities, Midwest Energy Resources Company, accessed March 5, 2017.
51 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.4.B.
52 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Electricity Profile 2015, Table 5, Electric power industry generation by primary energy source, 1990 through 2015.
53 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Electricity Profile 2015, Table 2A, Ten largest plants by capacity, 2015.
54 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Nuclear Profile 2010.
55 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.9.B.
56 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.7.B, 1.10.B, 1.14.B, 1.15.B.
57 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Table 1.3.B.
58 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly, DOE/EIA-0226 (2004/03) (March 2004), Table 1.6.B.
59 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.14.B, 1.15.
60 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Table 5.4.B.
61 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Minnesota, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2011-2015 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimate.
62 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.11.B, 1.17.B.
63 American Wind Energy Association, Minnesota Wind Energy, accessed March 9, 2017.
64 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.14.
65 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Overview, Map layers Wind Power Plant, Biomass Power Plant, accessed March 9, 2017.
66 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census: Minnesota Profile, Population Density by Census Tract.
67 U.S. Forest Service, Minnesota Forest Health Highlights 2003, updated January 2004.
68 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2017), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.11.B, 1.17.B.
69 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Form EIA-860 detailed data, 2015 Form EIA-860 Data, Schedule 3, 'Generator Data' (Operable Units Only).
70 Nebraska Energy Office, Ethanol Facilities' Capacity by State, Ethanol Facilities Nameplate Capacity and Operating Production Ranked by State, Largest to Smallest Capacity as of September 2016.
71 Ethanol Producer Magazine, U.S. Ethanol Plants, All Platforms, Existing, updated February 14, 2017.
72 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Overview, Map layer Ethanol Plant, accessed March 9, 2017.
73 Hennessy, Kevin, Petroleum Replacement Promotion, 2013 Legislative Report, Minnesota Department of Agriculture (January 1, 2013), p. 6.
74 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Alternative Fueling Station Locator, Minnesota, Ethanol 85, accessed March 9, 2017.
75 American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, State Motor Fuels Specifications, Minnesota, updated June 2014.
76 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Laws and Incentives, Biodiesel Blend Mandate, accessed March 9, 2017.
77 Biodiesel Magazine, USA Plants, existing, updated December 12, 2016.
78 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Minnesota Renewable Energy Standard, updated November 19, 2015.
79 U.S.EIA, Annual Energy Outlook 2016 with projections to 2040, DOE/EIA-0383(2016) (August 2016), p. LR-17, LR-18.
80 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, updated February 4, 2015.