This week we passed three bills off the House floor that address energy affordability and security for our state. The Department of Transportation also gave us an update regarding ditch mowing guidelines.
The first energy bill we passed allows Xcel Energy to replace retiring coal-fired power generators with gas-fired units at the Sherco Power Plant in Becker, MN. Replacing coal with gas-fired units is the most cost-effective way for our state to meet Obama’s clean energy plan regulations, and maintain reliable baseload power that can’t be provided through solar or wind power.
The second bill on the floor allows energy co-ops to govern themselves in regards to net metering disputes. Because co-ops are owned by their consumers and are governed by a democratically elected board, the usual stakeholder/consumer conflict of interest does not exist, making it unnecessary for the Public Utilities Commission to manage these instances.
The third bill passed on Thursday disbands the wasteful Made in Minnesota Solar Program. $15 million in Xcel ratepayer money is allocated every year towards solar incentives for individuals and businesses purchasing solar panels from a small group of Minnesota companies. These incentives are available regardless of whether or not the beneficiaries use all of the energy they produce themselves. Canceling this program means that this $15 million can be reinvested into energy sources that are more cost-effective and beneficial to the general public.
Ditch Mowing Update
I’ve been contact a lot recently regarding the Department of Transportation’s new ditch mowing permits and requirements. These new requirements were released this week, and include restricting ditch mowing any time before August 1st, or after August 31st, meaning that any grass cut in the allotted amount of time will likely have no feed value. Not allowing ditch mowing until August has been in statutes for a while, but what never enforced. These new standards also include requiring people mowing to wear a safety vest when outside of their vehicle, mandating amber warning lights and “slow vehicle” markers on mowing equipment, and requiring a more extensive liability insurance policy that what the average farmer already has.
This is a ridiculous overstep by MNDoT, and there are bills in the works right now that will address this overreach.
As always, please be sure to contact me if you have questions or comments regarding this issue or any other matter before the legislature. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-9918 or via email at email@example.com.
Have a great weekend,