Minnesota's Energy Future
Produced by Bill Sorem Video Reporter at the Uptake
State and National Public Policy
For Increasing Renewable Energy
From the forum for Tuesday, November 1
Bloomington City Council Chambers
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Chair of the Public Utilities Commission Ellen Anderson reviewed the history of Minnesota's renewable energy requirements and suggested the transformation to clean energy sources and a smart grid are inevitable. Given the declining price of wind and solar energy and the availability of low cost gas supplies to balance their variability, her outlook was hopeful for reducing Minnesota's greenhouse gases (GHG). Professor Dean Abrahamson, however, cautioned us that the new supplies of natural gas come from a process called fracking which releases methane, a GHG that is twenty times as potent as CO2. As a result gas produced by fracking causes as much global warming as the coal it is replacing. He gave us a broad sweep of the U.S. contribution to global warming and energy use. Barb Freese concluded the forum with a discussion of Americans' views of global warming and their relationship to party affiliation.
Moderator - John Doll
Small Business Owner, Former MN Senator and
Vice-Chair of the Senate Energy Committee
Ellen Anderson - Chair, Public Utilities Commission
Ellen Anderson's dedication to clean energy for Minnesota resulted in the passage of the Clean Energy Bill of 2007 when she was a MN Senator.
The History of Minnesota's Clean Energy Laws
How the Public Utilities Commission Can Lead the Way to a Clean Energy Future
"I believe this will be the most transformational decade in the energy world since rural electrification, possibly even longer than that. . . If Alexander Graham Bell came back from the dead and looked at our telecommunications world, he would be stunned and amazed. But if Thomas Edison came back and looked at our electricity system, he'd say, 'It looks just like it did when I left.' We have an old fashioned grid, an analogue grid. It's not in the digital world. We need to move to a smart grid."
Dean Abrahamson - Professor Emeritus, Energy and Environment Policy, University of Minnesota. Professor Abrahamson was the first head of environmental studies programs in the Institute of Technology and the School of Public Affairs at the U of M and has published several books on climate change and energy including The Challenge of Global Warming.
Energy Options in a Greenhouse World
"In the U.S., the average carbon emissions per year are about 24 tons per person. That's 2 1/2 times as much as in Europe. . . Keeping global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius requires reducing greenhouse gas emissions 60 to 80% by mid century"
"You can feed a person for a year or give one fill to an SUV. Are we going to use our precious farm land to grow food or use it to make motor fuel?"
"The capital cost of new nuclear plant is $10,000 per kilowatt. . . The cost of increasing efficiency is $300 per kilowatt, and it provides a lot of jobs."
Barbara Freese - Author, Coal: a Human History; Climate and Energy Policy Analyst and Environmental Attorney; former MN Assistant Attorney General
Making Room for Clean Energy in a Shifting Political Landscape: The Opportunities and Challenges for Replacing Environmentally Destructive Coal Plants with Clean Energy
"U.S. coal plants are old and uncontrolled. They contribute to thousands of deaths, affect the brain development of children, and are our greatest source of mercury. . . The National Academy of Sciences said the need for urgent action to address climate change is now indisputable.
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