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Tuesday Talk: How do we spur momentum for clean energy?

January 31, 2012 By Katie Sanders, Interim Communications Director

Minnesota used to have a clean energy agenda but support and focus have largely evaporated. That must change, as the President advocated in last week’s State-of-the-Union address. While this year’s unusually mild winter is a nice change of pace, Minnesota winters require heat. We’ll always need to generate energy but relying on last century’s technology is unsustainable.

How do we spur momentum for clean energy in Minnesota?

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  • Michael J Germain says:

    January 31, 2012 at 9:14 am

    The first step in gaining positive momentum for clean energy is eliminate the Republican majorities in the House and Senate, and with a progressive majority in both chambers, push forward with an aggressive clean energy momentum without them.  The Republicans love pollution and polluting, its money in their pockets.

  • Trilby Busch says:

    January 31, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I second the previous post, and I applaud Gov. Dayton for standing up to the GOP caucus in their refusal to confirm Ellen Anderson. This is the conservatives’ answer to bipartisanship: obstructionism.  They want what they want, and they’ll blackmail to get it.

  • Mike Downing says:

    January 31, 2012 at 9:38 am

    The first step is ignore all the facts and data such as the unsubsidized cost/kWh of wind & solar. The second step is to ignore the unsubsidized cost of ethanol. The third step is to ignore the unsubsidized cost of hybrids, PHEVs and EVs. The fourth step is to ignore the fact that the earth has been cooling for over 10 years. The fifth step is to ignore the medieval warm period. The sixth step is to ignore the fact that temperature rises and then CO2 rises not the other way around……………

    Thanks for this topic. It was fun to think about it by an owner of two hybrids for national security not global warming!

  • Sue Engstrom says:

    January 31, 2012 at 10:09 am

    After what happened in the MN senate yesterday, it’s pretty clear we need to replace the climate-change deniers in November.

  • Dean says:

    January 31, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Minnesota isn’t an island and we need to compete, as a minimum, with the surrounding states for industry and jobs.  I can drive south to the Gulf of Mexico or west to the Pacific Ocean and never drive through a state with more expensive electricity than we have right here in MN.  Someone needs to be looking at costs because it sure hasn’t been the team we’ve had in charge for the last ten years.  How can anyone justify installing vast amounts of wind generation at $0.06/KWH when power is available on the grid at $0.024/KHW.  Businesses aren’t so stupid they don’t consider the cost of electricity when locating their plants.

  • Will Nissen says:

    January 31, 2012 at 11:35 am

    We can always argue over the environmental, economic and geopolitical impacts of continuing to burn fossil fuels.  But what about the health impacts on humans?  Some nasty chemicals are released into our air and water from fossil fuel consumption (mercury, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, etc.) that impact everyone’s health and contaminate our food supplies.  So we should re-frame the issue from a human health perspective—> Renewable energy sources DON’T release these toxins and therefore can prevent diseases and afflictions associated with burning fossil fuels, save money on health care costs, and increase longevity and overall human health.

  • ChristeenStone says:

    January 31, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I have read the comment above and there really isn’t a lot I can add but to say,AMEN! Michael took the words right out of my mouth, that would have been my solution. I have known Ellen Anderson as a new legislator and watched her dedication through the years as Senator and now in her most recent position. She would have been an ideal person for the appointment.
    It proved one point without question the GOP members who rejected her don’t give a hoot about what is best for Minnesota and are very mean spirited people.

  • Dean says:

    January 31, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Not all renewables are created equal.  In the US, the largest renewable form of electricity generation is large hydro.  Sure it’s got the problem with fish kills and of course the flooding of land.  But it has reduced the need for building more fossil generation.  Compare that record to that of wind generation in MN:  not one fossil generator has been replaced by wind.  And it never will because wind generation has a Zero Capacity Credit.  Wind is too unreliable to move the needle unless the state invests in some form of storage such as pumped hydro. 

  • Dan Fix says:

    January 31, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    I think that we should eliminate the land use (zoning) and building code restrictions that impede alternative energy production. 

    I think that we should make the power grid “production neutral” so all small users and producers can market their excess power at market rates.

  • TONY says:

    January 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Hey everybody, Mike is telling us to ignore the facts. Must be a conservative. Oh, and mike, the 80’s were warmer than the 70’, the 90’s were warmer than the 80’s, the 00’s were warmer than the 90’s & the teens are on a pace to be warmer than the 00’s. 2011 was warmer than 1998. South central US was the warmest it’s ever been & dryer than the 30’s. Mn is replacing it’s coal plants with natural gas. Those are FACTS..

  • Dean says:

    January 31, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Ellen Anderson would have been an extremely poor fit for the PUC.  She favors using shale gas generation to compliment wind - the worst to both worlds.

  • Mike Downing says:

    January 31, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Tony: And the medieval warm period was even warmer than the 1930s which were much warmer than the last three decades. The medieval warm period also had much more CO2 than we have today. Why would that be? Was it due to the much lower population, no cars, no coal power plants, no lawn mowers, no ATVs, no snowmobiles, etc.? An inquisitive mind would want to answer these logical questions.

    You must not be doing any good reading to get the facts Tony. Are you getting your “facts” from OWS, Soros, etc.?

  • Mike Downing says:

    January 31, 2012 at 4:20 pm


    We are replacing old coal plants due to the overabundance of nat gas and the very low prices. The U.S. is even exporting nat gas due to private enterprise development even though gov’t leases are way down under Obama.

    Nat gas is down to $2.47/MMBTU. It was over $11 just a few years ago.

  • TONY says:

    January 31, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Mike, leases are up under Obama. Turn off Rush & Fox. Yes, we have more gas available. We also have people lighting their tap water & boiling streams w/escaping gas. We have people drinking bottled water cuz their wells are contaminated from drilling. Get the gas but do it clean. Also the oil companies are buying up much of SE MN & Wisc for frack sand to use in their drilling(can you say carcinogen). Remember those nice bluffs you see when you drive thru Lake City, well their going away, more sand pits for fracking. At what cost do you you need your oil & gas. Clean energy? Remember the gulf. How come the Governor of Nebraska(Repub) doesnt want a pipeline. Maybe he likes his water clean. I’ve seen your warming sites. Funded by the Koch bros.? A lot of maybes & most people say it was regional event. We are talking global climate change & the CO2 was lower then. Push for alternatives as fast as we can & use as little oil & gas as possible & get those in a clean fashion, no short cuts, the Koch bros. have enough money. I’m smart enough to know that they dont care about you, just your vote.

  • Jeff Reed says:

    January 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    There is absolutely no record of a warm medieval period.  That, like growing grapes in Greenland, is stuff of urban, conservative legend that has been dismissed years ago.  Keep grasping at your straws, filling the earth with toxic chemicals so you can continue your pathetic subsidized standard of oil-based living, but to be sure, when Mother Nature tips, rest assured that pay-back is going to be a bloody bitch.

  • Dean says:

    January 31, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    So-called “Clean Energy” is beginning to look like nuclear power in the early days.  Sure, everyone then imagined all that clean energy with no ash to deal with.  But like today’s renewables, the end use is the most visible and cleanest part of the cycle and it’s the stuff up front that’s damaging.  The production of solar PV cells generates tremendous amounts of toxic waste and the US is presently using fully 25% of the country’s steel industry output to make towers for wind farms.  Oh, but I guess since it’s for “clean energy” none of that counts.  The fact is there is no such thing as clean energy - every source has its impact on the environment.  The only energy campaign that makes sense is to improve the efficiency of all energy use.  The only energy that’s truly clean is the energy you avoid using through better efficiency.  And by the way, lawyers shouldn’t be the primary people setting the state’s energy policy - sorry Ellen.

  • rich says:

    January 31, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Viewed as a business problem rather than a political one, clean energy looks a lot more sane and reasonable.  Policy has a role to play, but creating markets for products and services and creating value for those markets are not philosophical tasks; they simply take a bit of insight and a lot of hard work and persistence.  Oil and gas are not going away, and neither is the demand for them. So if your technology of choice is wind, solar, or whatever, take a good hard look at market conditions, figure out how to make money where nobody else is, and get it working. 

    After that we can talk about updating obsolete small-producer caps, reducing government subsidies for shale gas production, conservation tax credits, polluter penalties, or what have you. 

    Meanwhile we shouldn’t be arguing so much about “my energy is better than your energy.”  Minnesota has wind, biomass, and sun, all in abundance.  We also need to pursue economic value or no market for those resources will be sustainable.  Anyone up to the task?

  • Lois Braun says:

    February 1, 2012 at 12:21 am

    If we could only undo the vote of the legislature on Monday to reject Ellen Anderson to head the Public Utilities Commission.  If she had been confirmed Ms. Anderson would have had everything it takes to lead Minnesota in the direction of clean energy.  Too bad the Republicans who control the legislature chose to play politics instead of doing what was right for Minnesota.

  • Dean says:

    February 1, 2012 at 8:59 am

    While I’m sure Ellen Anderson is a fine and decent person, her skills set aren’t a good match for heading the PUC.  She’s a liberal arts major with a law degree whereas the PUC job is more suited to someone with a technical and business background.  The switch to a renewable economy is primarily one of technology and economics.  It can’t be legislated from the bench and it does great harm to the credibility of the Dems to suggest otherwise.

  • WAYNE TAYLOR says:

    February 2, 2012 at 1:14 pm


  • Lloyd Klefstad says:

    February 9, 2012 at 12:11 am

    Chaska is where the underground wind turbines are manufactured. Belle Plain is the manufacturing point of personal-size wind turbines.

  • Dean says:

    February 9, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Most of the installed base is the large 2MW+ wind turbines however.  And the expensive high-value components like the gearbox and generator are not produced in Minnesota.  Even worse is that many wind farms are owned by outside groups and Minnesotans get nothing for the ecological damage the large turbines are doing.