October 15, 2018
Duluth News Tribune
By Ann Galbraith Miller
Minnesota Power’s “EnergyForward” plan is misleadingly named considering the utility’s push for a natural-gas plant in Superior. Administrative Law Judge Jeanne Cochran deemed the project would not be in the public interest after considering testimony from both proponents and opponents, yet Minnesota Power continues to lobby for the plant. I question how it can tout this project after learning that a Citizens Utility Board survey showed that 77 percent of residents oppose it.
Judge Cochran recommended denial for several reasons: cost, detrimental health effects (“natural” gas is a fossil fuel), and climate change. In view of recent dire warnings from a United Nations study about the devastating and imminent effects of climate change, that last item requires attention.
Minnesota has bipartisan greenhouse gas-reduction goals that include moving away from fossil fuels like coal and fracked gas and investing in wind, solar, and energy savings. Unfortunately, Jeff Johnson, Republican candidate for governor, is not proposing to take Minnesota down the path to 100 percent clean energy.
Minnesota has 57,000 clean-energy jobs, and many of our leaders are supportive of clean-energy technologies. However, that momentum may not continue if Minnesotans fail to consider all the costs of climate change when they go to the polls on Nov. 6.
The Public Utilities Commission will review Judge Cochran’s recommendations about the gas plant on Thursday beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Duluth City Hall. Although the public will not be allowed to weigh in, it is important for citizens to show up to support clean, renewable energy for Minnesota — the only true “energy forward” path toward a sustainable future.