Apr 20, 2017 at 12:17 pm
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Despite some setbacks on the national level when it comes to clean, renewable energy, Minnesota is making strides in the solar and wind sector and should reach its goal of having a quarter of the state's energy coming from renewables by 2025.
Lt. Gov. Tina Smith has called for Minnesota to increase its renewable energy standard from 25 percent by 2025 to 50 percent by 2030.
Andy Olsen, a senior policy advocate with the Environmental Law and Policy Center, says it's important the state keep moving forward.
"The momentum right now is toward renewable energy, and even with some of the setbacks that we see at the national level from the utility industry, they recognize that the way to go is with renewable energy," he states. "The technology is there. It's the right thing for our environment, for our society."
Olsen says a new website called ruralsolarstories.org
provides more information about solar power and success stories from those who have made the switch to renewable energy.
Community solar farms are highlighted on the website. They work by allowing home and business owners who can't install their own solar panels to buy into a nearby solar farm.
Olsen says it makes solar both more accessible and more affordable.
"It's important for the members of rural electric cooperatives to speak up and let their cooperatives know that they want more solar," he stresses. "If they do so, it's very likely that they'll see more solar get built, and that's good for jobs, it's good for public health and it's good for the environment."
There are some roadblocks being thrown up in the Minnesota state Legislature. Bills have been introduced that would abolish a renewable energy fund, change the makeup of the Public Utilities Commission and cut the budget of the Commerce Department, which oversees energy related programs.
On the other hand, a massive new 10-megawatt solar array was completed. It's a joint project between the Minnesota National Guard and Duluth-based Minnesota Power. It's one of the first solar fields built on state land.
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