Some of the views recently shared in the News Tribune regarding Minnesota's energy future focused too little on how neither this state nor this country can afford a my-way-or-the-highway approach to meeting the energy needs of families and businesses.
Yes, it would be nice if 100 percent of energy came from emissions-free sources like nuclear power and non-fossil fuels, as writers urged in the Feb. 16 "Local View" column, "Ignoring protesters' pleas will cost even more," and in the Feb. 23 "Valve Turner's View" column, "Doing nothing about oil, pipelines poses the far greater risk."
However, that's not economically feasible for families on fixed incomes, and it's not a real solution given the technological and environmental constraints in Minnesota. It's just not possible.
Using 100 percent renewable energy, from a consumer standpoint, would mean converting every home and apartment building nationwide from natural-gas appliances to electric. That would cost more than $244 billion. Unfortunately, the average American family has less than $1,000 in savings. And let's not forget that electricity requires baseload power like natural gas.
Consider the implications this would have for manufacturing and airline industries. Yes, some equipment uses electricity, but close to every other piece of equipment requires diesel or gasoline. Variety is the spice of life. That's also true of the products we use every day.
We must utilize all available resources - traditional and alternative fuels plus advanced nuclear - to provide reliable, affordable energy.
February's polar vortex showed firsthand what happens to the batteries in electric vehicles when they're unable to charge promptly in freezing temperatures: a semi-functioning car with decreased operating range. Imagine trying to run a manufacturing facility or airport operation and not being able to count on equipment to function.
We need to have an honest, realistic conversation about energy and its importance in driving the economy and powering our lives. There is no better time to start than now.
The writer is the new Minnesota state director for the Consumer Energy Alliance.