This week Gov. Walz announced that his “Stay at Home” emergency order will expire on Monday, May 18th. Most retail outlets will be allowed to begin to allow customers into their stores, but only at half the normal occupancy.
Our small Main Street retailers will finally be able to operate in a manner that the big-box stores have been allowed to operate since the first day when Gov. Walz declared a state of emergency. However, the governor still forbids restaurants, bars, salons, and gyms to open.
I remain convinced that after two months of detailed planning by our restaurants, bars, salons, and gyms they should be allowed to open with the procedures they are all ready to implement. Here is a graphic summarizing the governor’s recent announcement.
We moved nine bills today most with little controversy. However, I did have heart burn with HF 1842 - Energy Renewable Development Account (RDA), which passed, 84- 49. The bill appropriates $70.9 million to renewable energy projects from the RDA account. The RDA account is funded by Excel Energy rate payers because the company operates two nuclear power plants in Minnesota.
I could not support this bill for several reasons. First, it adds unnecessary costs to Excel customers electric bills with a huge arbitrary surcharge on the production of nuclear generated electric energy. Nuclear generated electric power has a carbon-free footprint. Minnesota is penalizing cheap, reliable energy production that is not fossil fuel based.
Second, RDA funds were used to support three long term bio-mass electric power plant projects (Becker, Hibbing & Virginia). Logging operations from across our region provided wood chips to fuel those plants, with the understanding that this market would be available for at least 20 years.
RDA support was abruptly terminated long before the 20-year period had elapsed. One plant shut down, the others are now using natural gas. That severely hurt our timber industry’s market for renewable bio-mass wood chips.
Tomorrow will be another busy day. Enjoy the nice weather.