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CSG Midwest brings delegations of legislators to Canada, Germany for study trips on energy policy, innovation

Energy was at the top of the agenda of two recent study trips organized by CSG Midwest for legislators and other state officials. In November, an 11-person delegation visited Berlin and Dusseldorf as guests of the German government. Less than a month later, a different group of legislators traveled to Canada for a visit to a first-in-the-world power plant that captures and stores carbon dioxide emissions.
Germany’s transition to renewables
The purpose of the Germany trip was to learn about the country’s ongoing energy transition (known as the Energiewende) — namely, the shift from a reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy to a strategy built around renewables and efficiency.
The CSG Midwest delegation included officials from six different states:
For several days, this bipartisan group met with key policy leaders in Germany and heard presentations from energy researchers. The delegation also visited an energy-self-sufficient village outside of Berlin and toured some small-scale wind energy and biogas facilities.
Germany has established several goals under its transition plan — for example, to have 45 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2020. It also wants to increase electricity generation from CHP plants (combined heat and power), or cogeneration.
Carbon capture and storage in Canada
In the fall of 2014, a much-anticipated power plant opened in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. SaskPower’s Boundary Dam Power Station is home to the world’s first and largest commercial-scale carbon capture and storage project.
Members of the Midwestern Legislative Conference’s Midwest-Canada Relations Committee traveled to this plant in December. (CSG Midwest provides staff support to the MLC and its various policy committees.)
As part of their visit, legislators also toured a carbon-capture test facility and learned about the Aquistore Project, the goal of which is to demonstrate that CO2 can be safely stored deep underground.
Saskatchewan gets much of its electricity from coal. Similarly, in the 11-state Midwest, Indiana, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio and Wisconsin get more than 60 percent of their electricity from coal-fired plants.