Minnesota-based Xcel Energy made a surprising announcement this week — it’s shutting down its coal-fired power plants in Minnesota by 2030.
The state’s largest power company is switching to renewable energy at a time when President Donald Trump bashes energy sources like wind. It is hard to understand why Trump mocks wind power, one of the fastest job-growing industries in the country.
At a Conservative Political Action Committee convention in March, and during a number of other public appearances, the President claimed wind-powered energy won’t be delivered if the wind is calm.
“When the wind doesn’t blow, just turn off the television, darling, please,” Trump said, to laughter. “No wind out today. There’s no wind. Please turn off the television, quickly.”
It is true that windmills don’t generate electricity when the wind isn’t blowing. But the electricity doesn’t go off; it is stored, and delivered.
Trump’s criticism of wind energy also extends to an apparent concern for bird deaths. Here is what he said at a Republican fundraising event in April:
“You wanna see a bird cemetery, go under a windmill sometimes. You’ll see the saddest,” he said.
Here are the facts. Windmills do kill birds: up to 300,000 a year, according the US Fish and Wildlife Service. That’s low compared to other sources. Communication towers kill 40 million, power lines kill 140 million, and cats kill hundreds of millions.
Perhaps one of the president’s most unusual– and controversial — claims is that windmill noise causes cancer.
“And they say the noise causes cancer! You tell me that one,’ Trump said before mimicking the sound of windmill blades.
No, noise windmill noise does not cause cancer. It might give you a headache if you are standing under one, but the American Cancer Society says it is “unaware of any credible evidence linking the noise from windmills to cancer.”
Here are a few more facts about wind power and renewable energy in Minnesota. There are three times as many clean energy jobs as there are fossil fuel workers. Wind provides at least 25% of the energy in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa. In Minnesota, it’s 18%.
The government says Minnesota ranks seventh in the nation for generating wind energy. That added up to more than 11 million megawatt-hours of electricity last year.
That’s Reality Check.