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Minnesota   Minnesota Profile

State Profile and Energy Estimates

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

Last Updated: March 15, 2018

Overview

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

Located in the upper Midwest, Minnesota extends further north than any of the other Lower 48 states, and it is one of the largest Midwestern states.1 Although Minnesota has no fossil fuel production, the state plays an important role in moving fossil fuels to markets throughout the Midwest and beyond. More than one-fourth of the length of the Mississippi River flows through Minnesota.2,3 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. That 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, and coal from Wyoming and Montana is transferred from rail to ship at the Port of Duluth/Superior to move east.4,5 Most of the crude oil that is shipped east by rail from North Dakota travels through Minnesota as well.6 Additionally, 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.7

Minnesota has significant renewable resources including winds that move unobstructed across the state's broad southern prairies.8,9 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.10,11,12 The state's abundant cornfields produce Minnesota's most valuable crop and provide feedstock for the state's many ethanol plants.13,14 The Mississippi River's headwaters are in Minnesota, and, with almost 70,000 miles of natural streams and rivers, the state's waterways are a hydropower resource.15,16,17

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 less than that of nearly two-fifths of the states.18,19 The industrial sector, which includes the energy-intensive petroleum refining, chemical products manufacturing, agriculture, and food processing industries, leads the state in energy consumption. The transportation sector is the second-largest energy-consuming end-use sector in the state, followed closely by the residential sector. The commercial sector is the least energy-intensive sector in the state.20,21,22

Petroleum

Minnesota has the largest oil refinery among the non-oil-producing states.

Minnesota does not have any crude oil reserves or production, but it does have two oil refineries.23,24 Much of the crude oil processed at those refineries comes from Canada. The Pine Bend Refinery, located in the Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs, is the largest oil refinery in Minnesota. It is also the largest oil refinery located in a non-oil-producing state.25 The Pine Bend Refinery produces transportation fuels for markets throughout Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.26 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.27,28

Two major pipeline systems bring crude oil from Canada and the western United States into Minnesota.29,30 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 a significant share of the petroleum used in the United States converge in Clearbrook.31,32 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 was the first state to require the use of ethanol in the fuel supply and is one of only two Midwestern states that require the statewide use of oxygenated motor gasoline blended with 10% ethanol.35,36,37 Overall, Minnesota's per capita petroleum consumption is slightly less than the national average.38,39 Although only about 2% of the state's households heat with fuel oil or kerosene, 1 in 10 Minnesota households heat with propane.40

Natural gas

Minnesota does not have any natural gas reserves or production and, although the state is crossed by several natural gas pipelines, the state has no natural gas market centers.41,42 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, mainly to Iowa and, to a lesser extent, Wisconsin, on its way to other markets in the Midwest and beyond.43,44 The industrial sector is Minnesota's largest natural gas consumer, accounting for more than one-third of the state's consumption. The residential sector, where two out of three Minnesota households heat with natural gas, uses slightly more than one-fourth of the natural gas delivered to consumers in Minnesota. Increasing amounts of natural gas are fueling electricity generation in the state. In 2016, about one-seventh of the natural gas consumed in Minnesota went to the electric power sector, more than double the amount of natural gas used for electricity generation in 2011.45,46

Coal

Almost 15 million tons of low-sulfur coal from Montana and Wyoming are shipped from the Port of Duluth each year.

Minnesota has no coal reserves or production.47 Wyoming and Montana supply almost all the coal consumed in Minnesota, most of which is used for electric power generation.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. Almost 15 million tons of low-sulfur coal from Montana and Wyoming are transported from the port each year to supply utilities and manufacturing plants along the Great Lakes and in Canada.49,50

Electricity

Although coal-fired power plants provide the largest share of Minnesota's net electricity generation, they contribute less than half. 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 2017, 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.54,55,56 Almost all the rest of Minnesota's electricity generation comes from wind and natural gas, with small amounts from biomass, conventional hydropower, and solar energy.57

Most of the electricity generated in Minnesota is produced by electric utilities; however, an increasing amount is provided by independent power producers. In 2017, independent power producers provided almost one-fifth of Minnesota's net electricity generation. Most of that electricity was generated using renewable resources, primarily wind.58 Retail electricity sales are distributed fairly equally across the residential, industrial, and commercial end-use sectors.59 About one in six Minnesota households use electricity for home heating.60

Renewable energy

Renewable energy resources supplied about one-fourth of the state's net electricity generation in 2017. 61 Wind power accounted for most of the renewable generation, providing almost one-fifth of the state's total net generation. Minnesota is among the top 10 states in the nation in both installed generating capacity and net electricity generation from wind.62,63 Minnesota has numerous wind farms, particularly on the gently rolling prairies of the state's southwest.64

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 waste plants are located in more densely populated areas in southern Minnesota, and most of the wood waste plants are found in the more heavily forested areas in northern Minnesota.65,66 The state has additional biomass resources from agricultural crop residues.67 Minnesota has four wood pellet plants and about 2% of the state's households heat with wood or wood pellets.68 More than two dozen small hydroelectric power plants in central and eastern Minnesota generate about 2% of the state's electricity, and a smaller but increasing amount of the state's net electricity generation comes from solar photovoltaic facilities.69,70

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.71 There are 19 ethanol production plants in the state, all of which use corn as a feedstock. All of the state's ethanol plants are in southern Minnesota where most of the state's farms are located.72,73,74 In 2007, the state legislature created a 4-year grant program that offered incentives to encourage the adoption of E85 and biodiesel. E85 is a mixture of 85% ethanol with 15% motor gasoline. The program provided funding assistance to fuel retailers for the installation of equipment to dispense E85 and biodiesel. By the end of the program, the state had 78 E85 facilities and 1 biodiesel site.75 Minnesota now has almost 400 E85 refueling stations, more than any other state and more than one-tenth of the nation's total.76 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 Minnesota contain at least 10% biodiesel during the summer months and at least 5% biodiesel during the rest of the year. In May 2018, the blend required from April through September will increase to a minimum of 20% biodiesel.77 Minnesota has three biodiesel plants with a combined capacity of about 63 million gallons per year, 2.5% of the nation's total.78

Minnesota has a renewable energy standard (RPS) that applies to all electricity providers in the state. The RPS requires that the state's utilities generate or procure at least 25% of retail electricity sales from eligible renewable sources by 2025. The RPS also requires that 1.5% of all utilities' retail electricity sales come from solar energy by 2020 with an additional statewide goal of 10% from solar by 2030.79 Beginning in 2010, Minnesota's energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) required that investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities reduce retail energy sales by 1.5% each year, based on the most recent three-year weather-normalized average. The EERS also requires that those natural gas and electric utilities spend a percentage of their annual operating revenues on advancing energy efficiency, demand-side management, and certain types of renewable energy.80

Endnotes

1 Infoplease, Minnesota: Geography, accessed February 13, 2018.
2 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Data, Supply and Distribution, accessed February 13, 2018.
3 exploreMinnesota, About Minnesota, Geography, Minnesota's Waters, accessed February 13, 2018.
4 Minnesota Department of Transportation, Ports and Waterways in Minnesota, Commercial Waterways, accessed February 14, 2018.
5 Bergeron, Dale, "What's in the Ships?" Minnesota Sea Grant (May 2007).
6 Minnesota Department of Transportation, Crude By Rail/Rail Safety Improvement Study, accessed February 14, 2018.
7 Shaffer, David, "A river of oil runs through small Minnesota town," Star Tribune (August 29, 2012).
8 NETSTATE, 50 State Rankings for Size, accessed February 13, 2018.
9 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, Wind Energy in Minnesota, accessed February 13, 2018.
10 NETSTATE, Minnesota, The Geography of Minnesota, The Land, updated February 25, 2016.
11 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.
12 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, DNR's Role in Biomass from Forest Resources, accessed February 13, 2018.
13 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, 2016, Minnesota.
14 "U.S. Plants, All Platforms, Operational," Ethanol Producer Magazine, updated January 24, 2018.
15 National Park Service, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Minnesota, Mississippi River Facts, accessed February 14, 2018.
16 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Lakes, rivers, and wetlands facts, updated 2013.
17 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), Minnesota Profile Overview, Map layer, hydroelectric power plants, accessed February 14, 2018.
18 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center, Climate of Minnesota, accessed February 14, 2018.
19 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2015, DOE/EIA-0214(2015) (June 2017), Table C13, Energy Consumption per Capita by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2015.
20 U.S. EIA, "Industries consumed more than 30% of U.S. energy in 2011," Today in Energy (September 25, 2012).
21 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, 2015.
22 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2015, DOE/EIA-0214(2015) (June 2017), Table C10, Energy Consumption by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2015.
23 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Data, Reserves and Supply and Distribution, accessed February 14, 2018.
24 U.S. EIA, Number and Capacity of Petroleum Refineries, Total Number of Operable Refineries, as of January 1, 2017.
25 U.S. EIA, Refinery Capacity Report (June 2017), Table 3, Capacity of Operable Petroleum Refineries by State as of January 1, 2017, p. 5-25.
26 Flint Hills Resources, Fuels and Aromatics, accessed February 14, 2018.
27 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 15, 2018.
28 Andeavor, St. Paul Park Refinery Fact Sheet (August 2017).
29 Minnesota House of Representatives, House Research Department, Minnesota's Petroleum Infrastructure: Pipelines, Refineries, Terminals, updated October 2016, p. 2-6.
30 Koch Pipeline, Koch Pipeline Company Facts, accessed February 15, 2018.
31 Shaffer, David, "A river of oil runs through small Minnesota town," Star Tribune (August 29, 2012).
32 Enbridge, Crude oil and liquids pipelines, accessed February 15, 2018.
33 Minnesota House of Representatives, House Research Department, Minnesota's Petroleum Infrastructure: Pipelines, Refineries, Terminals, updated October 2016, p. 9-10.
34 U.S. EIA, State Energy Consumption Estimates 1960 through 2015, DOE/EIA-0214(2015) (June 2017), Table C3, Primary Energy Consumption Estimates, 2015.
35 Nebraska Energy Office, Ethanol Facilities' Capacity by State, Ethanol Facilities Nameplate Capacity and Operating Production Ranked by State, updated January 11, 2018.
36 Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Ethanol, accessed February 15, 2018.
37 Gardner, K. W., U.S. Gasoline Requirements, American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil (June 2015).
38 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table F15, Total Petroleum Consumption Estimates, 2015.
39 U.S. Census Bureau, Data, State Population Totals and Components of Change: 2010-2017, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2017 (NST-EST2017-01).
40 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Minnesota, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
41 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Data, Reserves and Supply and Distribution, accessed February 15, 2018.
42 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Overview, Natural Gas Inter/Intrastate Pipeline and Natural Gas Market Hub Map Layers, accessed February 15, 2018.
43 U.S. EIA, U.S. Natural Gas Imports by Point of Entry, 2011-16.
44 U.S. EIA, International and Interstate Movements of Natural Gas by State, 2011-16.
45 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Minnesota, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
46 U.S. EIA, Natural Gas Consumption by End Use, Minnesota, Annual, 2011-16.
47 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Data, Reserves and Supply and Distribution, accessed February 15, 2018.
48 U.S. EIA, Annual Coal Distribution Report 2016 (November 2017), Minnesota, Table DS-22, Domestic Coal Distribution, by Destination State, 2016.
49 Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Port of Duluth-Superior, Port stats and facts at a glance, accessed February 16, 2018.
50 Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Port Authority, Port Facilities, Midwest Energy Resources Company, accessed February 16, 2018.
51 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.4.B.
52 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Electricity Profile 2016, Table 5, Electric power industry generation by primary energy source, 1990 through 2016.
53 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Electricity Profile 2016, Table 2A, Ten largest plants by capacity, 2016.
54 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant, Unit 1, accessed February 16, 2018.
55 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, Unit 1 and Unit 2, accessed February 16, 2018.
56 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Electricity Profile 2016, Table 5, Electric power industry generation by primary energy source, 1990 through 2016.
57 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.7.B, 1.9.B, 1.10.B, 1.14.B, 1.15.B, 1.17.B.
58 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.11.B, 1.14.B.
59 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Table 5.4.B.
60 U.S. Census Bureau, American FactFinder, Minnesota, Table B25040, House Heating Fuel, 2012-2016 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
61 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.11.B, 1.17.B.
62 American Wind Energy Association, Minnesota Wind Energy, accessed February 16, 2018.
63 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.14.B, 6.2.B.
64 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Overview, Wind Power Plant Map Layer, accessed February 16, 2018.
65 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Overview, Biomass Power Plant and Hydroelectric Power Plant Map Layers, accessed February 16, 2018.
66 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010 Census: Minnesota Profile, Population Density by Census Tract.
67 "Biomass Production in Minnesota and Potential Demand," AURI Energy Roundtable (March 16, 2012), p. 2-4.
68 "U.S. Pellet Plants, Operational," Biomass Magazine, updated May 17, 2017.
69 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Monthly (February 2018), Tables 1.3.B, 1.10.B, 1.11.B, 1.17.B.
70 U.S. EIA, Electricity, Form EIA-860 detailed data, 2016 Form EIA-860 Data, Schedule 3, 'Generator Data' (Operable Units Only).
71 Nebraska Energy Office, Ethanol Facilities' Capacity by State, Ethanol Facilities Nameplate Capacity and Operating Production Ranked by State, updated January 11, 2018.
72 "U.S. Ethanol Plants, All Platforms, Operational," Ethanol Producer Magazine, updated January 24, 2018.
73 U.S. EIA, Minnesota Profile Overview, Map layer Ethanol Plant, accessed February 16, 2018.
74 American Farmland Trust, Farming on the Edge, Sprawling Development Threatens America's Best Farmland, Minnesota (March 4, 2003).
75 Hennessy, Kevin, Petroleum Replacement Promotion, 2013 Legislative Report, Minnesota Department of Agriculture (January 1, 2013), p. 6.
76 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Alternative Fueling Station Locator, Minnesota, Ethanol 85, accessed February 17, 2018.
77 U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, Laws and Incentives, Biodiesel Blend Mandate, accessed February 17, 2018.
78 "U.S. Biodiesel Plants, operational," Biodiesel Magazine, updated December 13, 2017.
79 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Minnesota Renewable Energy Standard, updated November 19, 2015.
80 NC Clean Energy Technology Center, DSIRE, Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, updated February 4, 2015.