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WOW Hosts Candidate Education Forum in Worthington, MN

By Kelley Welf on September 27, 2012

Wind on the Wires has joined the Minnesota Clean Energy & Jobs Coalition, which is a partnership of business, farm, labor, faith, health and clean energy advocates working together to create a clean energy economy with clean energy jobs that invest in our communities and our future.  Recognizing that 35% of Minnesota’s legislature is turning over due to retirements or redistricting, the group saw an outstanding opportunity to educate candidates about clean energy issues in Minnesota.

Eight candidates attended an educational forum about clean energy in Minnesota on a blustery September afternoon in Worthington including Senator Julie Rosen, Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Committee. The other Southwest Minnesota candidates representing both parties were: Cheryl Avenel-Navara, Rod Hamilton, Al Kruse, Gene Metz,  Darryl Nelson for Gene Short, Alan Oberloh, and Bill Weber.  The event was sponsored by EDF Renewable Energy, Iberdrola Renewables, juwi Wind, PRC, Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce, Windustry and Vestas.  

The event was very positive and there was excellent interaction between the candidates and speakers during the question and answer time. 

Steve Morse, executive director of Minnesota Environmental Partnership, presented polling data revealing that 84% of Minnesotans support the increased use of clean wind energy Other highlights from his presentation included that 70% of respondents statewide would support a 30% renewable electricity requirement in Minnesota, and that 72% of voters believe increasing the use of clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar will create new jobs.

Jackson County Coordinator Janice Fransen discussed the economic benefits to local counties and communities resulting from wind energy development.  This year, Jackson County received a total of $1.15 million in wind production tax revenues, which have been used in the form of tax relief to residents and road improvements, among other things.  

Gene Metz, a juwi Wind Community South project landowner offered a local perspective on harvesting the wind, stating that wind is a win-win for everyone in the county.  He says he’s always looking for ways to diversify in business.

Adam Sokolski, business developer for Iberdrola Renewables, also shared the economic opportunities provided by the wind industry. He stated that that the recently constructed Elm Creek II wind project near Jackson, Minn created 350 on site construction jobs including supplier jobs in cement, gravel and culverts, in addition to assembly, manufacturing and shipping jobs. Another 15 jobs stayed in Minnesota in the operations and maintenance of the turbines.

Lisa Daniels, executive director of Windustry, explained the benefits of community wind projects provide to the communities they are in. “Minnesota is a national leader in community wind projects,” she said. Such projects offer more local involvement, control and ownership.  She added that 20% of installed capacity in Minnesota is community wind projects.

Following the educational forum, several candidates visited a construction site of the 30 MW juwi Wind Community Wind South project.  Aaron Peterson, community relations and regulatory affairs manager for juwi Wind, conducted the tour and answered questions from candidates and the media.  On site were the blades, nacelle, hub and the crane that will be used to erect the turbines, which will be the tallest in Minnesota to date.  The project is due to be completed later this fall.

News coverage of this event included:

Television:

http://www.ksfy.com/story/19601391/future-of-wind-energy-uncertain

http://www.kdlt.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=20547&Itemid=57#video

Radio:

WCCO RADIO - Steve Murphy taped an interview with Aaron Peterson on Wed., Sept. 19 to be aired on Thurs., Sept. 20. 

KELO-AM radio, Sioux Falls - Jack Taylor taped an interview on Sept. 19 to be aired on Thurs. Sept. 20.

For more photos, click here and here.

Tags:  minnesota
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