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Background Information for the Speakers for the September 2011 MN's Energy Future Forum

Our speakers explained how distributed wind and solar energy differs from centralized or base energy and how the coming energy revolution can democratize the electricity system.  Following are brief descriptions of their work.

Lynn Hinkle

The Minnesota Solar Industries Association promotes solar manufacturing in Minnesota.  Lynn Hinkle contributed to the strong clean energy provisions in the recently passed Property Assessed Clean Energy Law which allows property owners to finance solar, other renewable energy, energy efficiency, and electric vehicle plug-in improvements to their homes or businesses through voluntary property assessments.  Under the new PACE law, Minnesota has the potential to significantly increase solar and other types of renewable energy in buildings across our state. 

John Farrell

John Farrell watches developments in renewable energy not only in Minnesota, but also throughout our nation and worldwide. He reports them on his Energy Self Reliant States blog, which contains a broad range of information on wind and solar energy and effective ways to finance their development. 

He has authored two insightful reports, "Democratizing the Electricity System" and "Energy Self Reliant States."  Both are available for free download.  Farrell states, "If renewable energy generation can be dispersed widely, then it should be locally owned whenever possible.  With local ownership, the neighbors of energy generation are also the economic beneficiaries."

George Crocker

George Crocker has been an advocate on energy and environmental issues for decades.  The North American Water Office's Wind Program promotes local community based wind development as a way to increase the deployment of wind power.  NAWO has been involved as a formal intervenor in regulatory proceedings covering transmission line proposals in Minnesota and Wisconsin for many years including the recent Minnesota Dispersed Renewable Generation Transmission Study.  Crocker has helped Native American communities to oppose storage of dry cask nuclear waste on tribal lands and has organized to promote environmental justice.

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In June 2012, Think Again MN launched a history series that examines politics and policy-making in Minnesota during the last century from the immediate post World War II years up through the 1990s. That era witnessed fierce legislative battles at the State Capitol but it was also a time of shared values that cut across partisan lines. 

Read about it here

MN's Leading Election System

MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon


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Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

Get details on how to vote at

Oregon's Automatic Voter Registration

How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016

In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

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