Statewide View: 'All of the above' approach would strengthen Minnesota's energy industry
Minnesota's clean-energy sector is quite the success story. After a decade of growth, renewables are now the second-largest source of energy in the state. The technology to bring renewables and clean energy to households and businesses further declines in cost every day. Clean energy is here to stay. It's not just improving the environment; it's driving economic growth, creating jobs, and strengthening our national security.
Conservatives have an enormous opportunity to lead this conversation moving forward, especially because the country needs a more practical plan as a commonsense alternative to the wholly unfeasible Green New Deal.
That is why I traveled to Washington, D.C., along with dozens of conservative advocates for clean energy from across the country. We brought this message to Republican members of Congress, and the group met with 62 Republican officeholders in the House and Senate. My team from Minnesota visited the offices of U.S. Reps. Tom Emmer, Jim Hagedorn, and Pete Stauber. I'm happy to report they all share our enthusiasm for Minnesota's success in clean energy and recognize that clean energy is an issue Republicans should support because it aligns with our values.
Importantly, we believe in an "all-of-the-above" approach because we know Minnesota's economy is best served by fair and commonsense energy policy — not the fantasies and delusions of the Green New Deal. Alongside renewables, we can work to make traditional energy sources more efficient. The modern grid will benefit from embracing every energy source and diversifying our mix.
Furthermore, conservatives understand the free market should be the weapon of choice in advancing clean energy at both the state and federal levels. Competition rewards the best ideas, and questions of which energy source to use should be decided by consumer preference, not overreaching legislation.
Government programming is better focused on national security. For example, thanks to a security-focused U.S. Department of Energy grant, researchers at the University of Minnesota are developing techniques to create power systems that effectively respond to grid events and variability. That has big implications for energy reliability, a chief concern of conservatives.
Integrating new technologies into the grid's mix creates more energy security. Decentralizing our grid makes it much more robust against attacks. The U.S. military uses the decentralization principle at its bases, and microgrids are now common at military installations across the nation.
The members of Congress know how important affordable, reliable energy is to rural economies in Minnesota and across our nation. Farmers need the flexibility that low-cost power provides, and denying them access to it would leave communities behind. Wind and solar are new ways for farmers to diversify the revenues they earn from their land, and Minnesota farmers already are seeing huge economic benefits from wind development.
Clean energy is also great for Minnesota miners: There's a lot of copper and other precious metals in wind turbines and other clean-energy technologies. Minnesota can safely mine these resources here at home, providing made-in-Minnesota electricity and producing Minnesota resources for our entire nation.
The fact is conservatives are urging the GOP to lead on this issue. The Green New Deal simply cannot be implemented, and conservatives should grab the spotlight. According to a poll commissioned by the Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum, 70 percent of likely voters — and 68 percent of Republican voters — agreed that Republicans in Congress should present their own solutions to reduce emissions.
I'm glad Minnesota's national-level lawmakers understand the future of America's energy industry, because they'll play a crucial role in our country's foundational energy transition. I applaud Congressmen Emmer, Hagedorn, and Stauber for their unwavering commitment to Minnesotans and their dedication to a better energy tomorrow.
Adam Seidel of Eden Prairie, Minn., is executive director of the Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum.