Ladies and Gentlemen, last Tuesday, I wrote a post about President Obama’s Energy Plan, and how the Crown Hydro project fit in. In that story, I promised that later Minnesota’s 25% by 2025 green energy goal would be discussed. Well, gentle reader, today’s your lucky day!
If the internet’s Wayback Machine went that far back, I’d link to a few stories about the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo that really put the screws to the American Economy. But, the Wayback Machine doesn’t, so just assume for the moment that that embargo did indeed stick the screws to the good ol’ USofA. I certainly remember having to check the license plate for an odd or even last number, to have the privilege to wait in line to buy gas. Not on my car; I’m not THAT old. But, I still remember. And that caused a whole bunch of people to take a real hard look at energy policy and how reliance on foreign oil is a problem – for us. For those foreign oil exporters, not. But again, for us it is; we have a serious dependency on, and massive transfer of wealth to, folk that all too often really don’t like us too much. We’ll get to some of those looks at the problem, in the years between then and now, later. Last Tuesday, we looked at President Obama’s Energy Plan; today, we look at what our legislature did, and what the Governor signed off on*, in 2007, to address this problem. So, go below the fold, and let’s look!
Let’s start with the dry stuff; the actual legislation:
2007, Regular Session
Chapter 136–S.F.No. 145
An act relating to energy; modifying and adding provisions relating to energy efficiency and conservation, energy savings and audits, energy projects and information, residential energy requirements, a nuclear energy study, community-based energy development and related issues, the reliability administrator, an electricity resource assessment, wind energy conversion systems and authority of counties, greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy standards; requiring studies; making technical and clarifying changes;….
…and yada, yada, yada. The preamble to this legislation (well, ANY legislation) is boring, but it does tell what it’s about. Here’s the important part, for this discussion: ”…greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy standards…”
Remember, a hydro project has no emmissions; a hydro project helps meet the renewable energy standards.
Here’s what this Act says, about why this Act is important:
Sec. 2. Minnesota Statutes 2006, section 216C.05, is amended to read:
216C.05 FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.
Subdivision 1. Energy planning. The legislature finds and declares that continued growth in demand for energy will cause severe social and economic dislocations, and that the state has a vital interest in providing for: increased efficiency in energy consumption, the development and use of renewable energy resources wherever possible, and the creation of an effective energy forecasting, planning, and education program.
The legislature further finds and declares that the protection of life, safety, and financial security for citizens during an energy crisis is of paramount importance.
Therefore, the legislature finds that it is in the public interest to review, analyze, and encourage those energy programs that will minimize the need for annual increases in fossil fuel consumption and the need for additional electrical generating plants, and provide for an optimum combination of energy sources consistent with environmental protection and the protection of citizens.
Subd. 2. Energy policy goals. It is the energy policy of the state of Minnesota that:
(1) the per capita use of fossil fuel as an energy input be reduced by 15 percent by the year 2015, through increased reliance on energy efficiency and renewable energy alternatives; and
(2) 25 percent of the total energy used in the state be derived from renewable energy resources by the year 2025.
Got that? This great state needs renewable energy projects. It’s right there, in that Act. The Crown Hydro project is not only “possible” – it actually re-uses existing tunnels that were built decades ago for this very purpose. Now, I’m not going to say that it should be a “slam dunk” – no, not me! That’s so “Bush-League”…. But – there’s no doubt Crown Hydro not only possible; it’ a “shovel ready” project – and according to that legislation, this is the kind of project that is in the State’s “vital interest.”
That’s the State talking, folks – NOT the developer.
And this isn’t the only legislation that encourages projects like the Crown Hydro project; let’s look at existing statutes, and see what they have to say about hydro projects:
103G.535 HYDROPOWER GENERATION.
Subdivision 1.Public purpose.The legislature finds that:
(1) the public health, safety, and welfare of the state is also promoted by the use of state waters to produce hydroelectric or hydromechanical power in a manner consistent with laws relating to dam construction, reconstruction, repair, and maintenance; and
(2) the leasing of existing dams and potential dam sites primarily for power generation is a valid public purpose.
So, to quickly review, we’ve seen that hydro projects fit right in with President Obama’s Energy Plan; we now clearly see that hydro projects fit right in with existing state statute and the nationally-recognized 25 By 2025 legislation.
And I’d like to point out that this 25% By 2025 legislation wasn’t passed in a squeeker; it was a landslide. The House passed it’s version of the bill 92-37. After the conference report, the House voted 125-9 to approve the new version; the Senate voted 59-5 for the final bill. And Governor Pawlenty happily signed the bill.
Can anybody tell me, in this decade, the last significant legislation that passed with those kind of bi-partisan numbers?
Class? Anyone? Anyone?
Clearly, with the energy crisis our country and our state faces, Crown Hydro should be part of the solution.
So, why isn’t it?
We’ll get to that, later.
* — way up at the top of this post, I said Governor Pawlenty signed off on what the legislature wrote and passed. I like to think I’m correct; but I will recognize Governor Pawlenty likes to take credit for the 25 by 2025 bill. In the interest of bein’ “fair ‘n balanced” – here’s what the Governor had to say when he signed that bill:
“The best time to have taken action on energy issues would’ve been 30 years ago. The second best time is right now,” Governor Pawlenty said. “The nation has been asleep at the switch, but here in Minnesota we are kick-starting the future by increasing our nation-leading per capita renewable fuel use, boosting cost saving measures and tackling greenhouse gas emissions.”
Governor Pawlenty first introduced his Next Generation Energy Initiative in December 2006 to provide more renewable energy, more energy conservation, and less carbon emissions for Minnesota. (Office Of The Governor)
Personally, I don’t care who gets/takes credit; I’m interested in seeing that the goal of 25% renewable by 2025 is attained. And that’s why I’m looking into this Crown Hydro project – every renewable project, big or small, helps get us off the dependence on foreign oil (a national security issue) and domestic coal (an environmental issue). And for the record: when Governor Pawlenty said that the best time to have taken action was 30 years ago, he was correct.