Sunday, January 21, 2007

Minnesota Gears up to be #1 in Wind Power

Posted by Kirk Mona
It seems things may really come together this year to reform state policy on renewable energy. In Minnesota, renewable energy means Wind.

As part of the agreement between then Northern States Power (now Xcel Energy) and the state, money went to build the first wind turbines in exchange for being allowed to have dry cask nuclear storage on the banks of the Mississippi at the Prairie Island nuclear power facility. That was a devil's bargan but at least it kick-started the wind industry in the state.

Now, new proposals in the legislature would force utilities to be 25% renewable by the year 2020. The current goal is 10% by 2015. Increasing to 25% means, according to a StarTribune article, "about 5,000 [more] megawatts of renewable generating capacity to Minnesota's electrical grid. Most of it would probably come from an estimated 3,000 new giant wind turbines dotting farm country" According to the same article we're at 6% renewable now. 25% would be the highest state goal in the country.

Reading the Minnesota senate Energy, Utilities, Technology and Communications Committee Update, I see that on January 16th they had an information session with various interest groups presenting. Tucked in at the end was this gem. "Jay Lofgren, Boise Cascade, asked that the committee define renewable energy as broadly as possible and that members not enact a mandate." Hmm, Boise Cascade? The timber company? I read this to mean they want to consider forests a renewable resource and they have plans to turn Minnesota forests into biomass fuel. Someone please tell me I'm wrong.

Also, the cry from industry for there not to be a mandate is pathetic. "We the people" will stop using mandates when industries do the right thing all on their own, which is to say, never.

"The market" has no morals. We, the people of the nation, do and we have government of, by and for the people (with nods to Lincoln) that is there to set a course for the better future we seek to live in.

I'm happy to see the Minnesota legislature is doing just that.

~Kirk

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