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In Response: Minnesota a leader in clean power, renewable-energy innovation

From the column: "Clean energy is an $11.3 billion industry in Minnesota. To ensure future job creation and economic vitality, we must continue to invest in our homegrown, American-made clean energy."

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Dave Granlund / Cagle Cartoons
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Minnesotans are no strangers to innovation, and we are known for our "firsts," from Scotch tape and water skis to Spam and the pacemaker. With renewable energy, we must also strive to be a leader, leaning into clean-energy technologies to create a more reliable and modernized grid. Clean energy and transmission investments are critical to our state's economic growth and reliable power as the demand for electricity increases. The good news, as a “Statewide View” column in the News Tribune on Oct. 27 stated, “Minnesota's clean-energy efforts continue to pay off.”

Clean energy is an $11.3 billion industry in Minnesota. To ensure future job creation and economic vitality, we must continue to invest in our homegrown, American-made clean energy.

Transmission is critical to delivering low-cost energy when and where it is needed. Without sufficient transmission or proper upgrades, utilities can't access the cleanest, lowest-cost resources across the region for consumers. Transmission investments are key to affordable energy costs and will create a smooth transition to clean-energy sources.

Investments from reliable, clean-energy projects make their way back to Minnesota residents and businesses. Renewable energy drives economic development by providing tax revenue. Our clean-energy leadership has already resulted in more than $34.4 million in local and state tax revenue, which funds the infrastructure and services that support our way of life. With more clean-energy projects on the grid, our state can increasingly support our residents and put Minnesotans’ hands to work.

Wind and solar projects support around 7,000 jobs in Minnesota, making the industry a promising part of the state's economy. In addition, the clean-energy industry is an excellent fit for our nation's veterans, who find jobs in clean energy at a rate 34% to 67% higher than the average U.S. industry. Professional skills learned in the military are easily transferable to the clean-energy industry, opening the door for Minnesotans to work in clean-energy development and maintenance.

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The clean-energy sector offers farmers and landowners a stable source of income to host clean-energy projects on their lands. These payments provide a source of revenue during difficult economic times and supplement a farmer's income. With 25.4 million acres of farmland, Minnesota farmers can take advantage of clean energy's benefits.

Wind and solar have made a name for themselves, becoming the most affordable new energy sources . Wind-energy prices have fallen 47% in the last decade, and the cost of solar has dropped 71% during the same timeframe and is more cost-effective than fossil fuels. Adding more clean energy to the grid can increase energy efficiency and reduce consumer costs. With inflation on the rise, Minnesotans are looking for relief wherever possible, and our public officials are taking note.

Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer recently a nnounced U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds to support rural communities through renewable-energy and energy-efficiency investments. These investments will lend a helping hand as costs continue to skyrocket. With helpful initiatives like the USDA's rural energy program , we can increase our energy independence and continue to lead the Midwest in the renewable-energy transition.

It's no surprise that most Minnesotans — regardless of political affiliation — support clean energy because of its ability to create thousands of stable jobs and invest millions of dollars in our state. To ensure a strong economy, we must invest in transmission to increase connectivity and reliability of the grid.

Jonathan Weinhagen is CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber (mplschamber.com).

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Jonathan Weinhagen

Related Topics: CLIMATE CHANGECLEAN ENERGY
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