Energy, Utilities, Technology, Communications
A revolution is underway to create a clean energy economy. Minnesota is well positioned to be leader in the industry.
The road to energy independence is through a broad-based renewable energy portfolio. With the renewable energy portfolio passed in 2007 we have established generation goals and a commitment from state utilities to meet those goals. Meeting these goals is not without its challenges. The variability of wind and solar, the management of distributed generation, battery technology, infrastructure and growth of the renewable energy market to name a few. Already these issues are being addressed successfully, yet much remains to be accomplished in order to secure more independent and clean energy portfolio in our state.
To borrow from Ben Franklin, a kilowatt saved is a kilowatt earned. Our focus as a state as we move through these turbulent economic times and the decade to come must be on efficiency. Between our buildings and our appliances we can reduce our energy consumption by 30% or more and see little to no change in our lifestyle. Investing in energy efficiency is much cheaper than generating new energy. Much cheaper than building a new power plant. By reducing our energy consumption, even as we grow in population and expand economically our load growth curve will flatten. This keeps our energy costs restrained and gives us time to develop our renewable portfolio. Energy efficiency projects also put people back to work immediately. At a time when large segments of the construction industry is idle, when equipment manufacturers and material suppliers have unsold inventories, we can put many of them back to work making our current building stock meet new energy efficiency standards. In addition, we must carry those standards forward into new construction. It is also important to note that nearly half of the buildings standing in 2050 are not built yet. Let's make certain that they meet our expectations for energy conservation.
Nuclear energy is a vital part of our energy mix today and likely will continue to be in the future. Currently, there is a big push to remove the moratorium on the certificate for need process for nuclear power plants. While this may appear to be a simple and obvious move to expand our choice of energy sources we have a responsibility, morally and economically, to have deep and thoughtful discussion on the needs, requirements and impacts of lifting the moratorium on the certificate of need process for a new nuclear plant in Minnesota . Since it is unlikely that any one company in our state can afford to build a new nuclear facility and that the implications of building one will touch nearly everyone, I am calling for a state commissioned, comprehensive study on the issue before we lift the moratorium so that we make an informed decision. While it is acknowledged it can take nearly 10 years to build a nuclear power plant, the need for an additional base-load power plant, given the measures we are currently undertaking, is several years beyond that. At a time when it is critical we keep our eye on the goal of developing a sustainable renewable energy generation and distribution system, opening this door will only serve to draw essential resources away our renewable initiatives.
High Speed Broadband
We all recognize the global nature and competitiveness of the marketplace today. To maintain our edge in the region and around the globe it is critical that we have a ubiquitous, secure, high speed broadband infrastructure in Minnesota. While the metro region is moving forward in a timely fashion, many parts of our state are underdeveloped. We also lack a redundancy throughout the system that will ensure continued communications capability despite natural disasters or criminal infiltration. The recent work of the Minnesota High Speed Broadband Task Force has developed a set of goals, target dates and a road map by which to achieve them. The state should, and I believe will, enact those goals and dates as state policy and then establish an ongoing High Speed Broadband Coordinating Board to guide the process to completion by 2015. The goals are ambitious yet doable and the all of the stakeholders are on board. This is something we can and will get done.