"He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left."
Matthew 25:33

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pat Anderson on the Next Generation Energy Act

This is too good for me to pass up. She sure sticks it to one of her opponents!

Minnesota's own job-killing energy legislation imposes higher energy prices on Minnesotans

In 2007 with the blessing of Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty and Democratic leadership and some bi-partisan support in the House and Senate, the Legislature passed the "Next Generation Energy Act" with fanfare about it being a bold investment in renewable power that would motivate energy conservation and decrease Minnesota's contribution to global warming. Noble-sounding ideas at the time, but as people tell me on the campaign trail the immediate consequence is a 20 percent rate increase in their utility bills for next year.

Duluth-based Minnesota Power, for example, is seeking a new rate increase before the end of 2009, citing, in part, the cost of increasing renewable-energy generation. Under the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, utilities must generate a quarter of their energy from renewable resources by 2025.

It should be noted that not all Republican legislators succumbed to pressure from environmental groups and the governor's office to foist the Next Generation Energy Act on Minnesotans. Two of my opponents in this race showed political courage and did the right thing and voted against the conference committee report. In the House, Rep. Tom Emmer voted against the legislation, voting against House Minority Leader Mary Seifert, who helped engineer a large margin of victory for the DFL-sponsored bill (S.F.145). In the Senate, Sen. David Hann stood up and voted against the bill.

The Next Generation Energy Act set two overall energy goals for the state: (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. That's a lot of windmills and solar panels.

The legislation has no basis in reality.

Of course, there was no methodology or justification for those ambitious goals in either the legislation or the reports that recommended the targets. In a paper published by the Minnesota Free Market Institute, David Strom notes that the report of the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group (MCCAG) on which the Next Generation Energy Act was based "overstates the costs of CO2 emissions, overstates the benefits of reduction measures, understates the costs and difficulties of remediation measures, and calls for actions that are directly at odds with Minnesota's recently adopted transportation policies."

One doesn't need to be a policy researcher to understand the concerns. The Next Generation Energy Act is a political document, not science-based energy policy. It is a less-than-transparent attempt to expand government control over a greater share of the state economy with utter disregard for the impact on the average Minnesotan. We are seeing that same disregard today in Washington and Copenhagen.

To the point of the people I'm talking to around the state: Because of the Next Generation Energy Act, utility companies like Minnesota Power are raising the cost of energy to current customers to pay for the necessary capital investments to meet the renewable standards. In other words, Minnesotans are today footing the bill for renewable energy they are not even getting and that will cost them even more in the future. They are paying more and getting less.

We must undo the damage.

First, immediately, the next governor must use her authority as chief executive to ensure consumer interests are represented at the Public Utility Commission. Today, the input the commission receives is dominated by environmental groups and special interests and the consumer has virtually no voice. This must change, and the governor, irrespective of legislative action, has authority to act.

Second, the next governor must throw her support to repeal of unrealistic energy targets and actions that would cripple the economy but have little impact on environmental protection. Minnesota must have clean, reliable, and inexpensive sources of energy. We must pass legislation that enables all forms of energy to compete in the marketplace, which certainly includes renewable. However, we must also remove unnecessary barriers to clean coal and nuclear power.

Third, we must insist that any future energy legislation be based on scientific and economic reality and not political agendas. Playing the "green job card" is a simplistic way to curry favor with the media and enhance one's political capital, but it is not the way to a better Minnesota. You don't create "green jobs" or any other color jobs when you impose legislation that requires producing less energy at greater cost. You can't achieve emission targets by simply imposing them when the technology is not there to achieve them.

We Republicans cannot run away from this one. Some in our party leadership were as complicit as the Democrats in passing the Next Generation Energy Act. It's a prime example of what went wrong with the Republican Party. Trying to "move to the middle" by buying into the left's agenda is once more coming back to haunt us. And it's Minnesotans that have to live with the consequences.

Now is the time to undo what was done. As your governor, I pledge no less.

Thanks for your support --


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