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Reader's View: Renewables a better bet than gas plant

Minnesota Power and its Wisconsin partner Dairyland Power Cooperative want to build a natural gas-fired power plant in Superior. Why am I concerned about a fossil fuel-powered electricity plant?

First, Minnesota Power has not demonstrated that this plant is currently needed. Indeed, it is not expected to be online until 2025. As additional power needs increase in the future, Minnesota Power should look for low-cost renewable energy sources such as increased wind, solar, and hydro power. These are becoming lower in cost compared to fossil fuels.

In order to reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions per state of Minnesota goals, we need to make a faster transition to renewables. Energy-storage capabilities already exist and can supply stored energy when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing.

Second, what about opportunities for energy conservation and demand response? Large industrial and commercial power users can make significant reductions in energy use through programs such as Strategic Energy Management. Dan Mellinger, a senior consultant at Energy Futures in Vermont, a firm specializing in energy efficiency, notes that such programs can potentially reduce energy waste and save 50 gigawatt hours per year of energy. Minnesota Power has no Strategic Energy Management program currently operating.

Another energy-saving strategy is demand response. Initiated by the power company, this program allows customers to save money while offsetting major electricity demands to off-peak hours.

As a ratepayer and someone concerned about the environment, I find this gas-plant proposal by Minnesota Power to be risky and environmentally dangerous. It'd be a gas plant supplied with gas obtained by the process of fracking, a public health hazard and the cause of extensive environmental damage, and at a cost that is unjustified.

Voice your opinion. Direct your online comments to: consumer.puc@state.mn.us. The docket number is 17-568.

Linda Herron

Duluth

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