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Rural MN energy board

SLAYTON, Minn. -- When wind turbines were first built on the Buffalo Ridge in the mid-1990s, area farmers and landowners took ownership.

The result was the Ridge Counties Task Force, which has grown to become a 15-county Joint Powers Board that sets policy and promotes renewable energy development in southwest Minnesota.

Annette Bair of the Southwest Regional Development Commission works with the board. It is working to eliminate barriers to local wind energy generation and development, she said.

The board supported the Wind Energy Production Tax established to balance the needs of communities with a policy to encourage renewable energy development, she said. The group has also supported other renewable energy development including ethanol, biodiesel, bio-mass, methane, hydrogen, solar and waste to energy projects and development.

The group found a lack of communication between energy companies and rural areas and opened dialogues on renewable energy issues, she said.

Counties involved in the board are mainly located in southwestern Minnesota with one eastern Minnesota county, she said. Cottonwood, Faribault, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Mower, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, Rock and Watonwan counties have representatives on the board.

It's not the only effort to promote greater renewable energy... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
The result was the Ridge Counties Task Force, which has grown to become a 15-county Joint Powers Board that sets policy and promotes renewable energy development in southwest Minnesota.

Annette Bair of the Southwest Regional Development Commission works with the board. It is working to eliminate barriers to local wind energy generation and development, she said.

The board supported the Wind Energy Production Tax established to balance the needs of communities with a policy to encourage renewable energy development, she said. The group has also supported other renewable energy development including ethanol, biodiesel, bio-mass, methane, hydrogen, solar and waste to energy projects and development.

The group found a lack of communication between energy companies and rural areas and opened dialogues on renewable energy issues, she said.

Counties involved in the board are mainly located in southwestern Minnesota with one eastern Minnesota county, she said. Cottonwood, Faribault, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Martin, Mower, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, Renville, Rock and Watonwan counties have representatives on the board.

It's not the only effort to promote greater renewable energy ownership in rural areas.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has announced Community-Based Energy Development programs. The C-BEDs encourage communities to develop their own energy programs. Incentives will be available for over 200 megawatts of small, community-based, wind projects including wind grants with similar incentives for solar and methane digester projects, said Mike Bull, assistant commissioner in the Department of Commerce.

Rural residents become energy producers, not just takers, Bull said. The University of Minnesota-Morris is a good example of C-BED activity. The college is installing a bio-mass system to help heat the campus. The city of Morris is working with a nearby dairy farm that could, through an anaerobic cattle-manure digester, generate electricity to the community.

Wind, biomass and other projects have staying power in rural areas, Bull said. It's not like the energy crunch of the 1970s where conservation efforts seemed to fizzle once gas and energy prices dropped.

Programs like C-BED gives greater ownership to communities and rural areas where most renewable energy sources are grown, produced or available.

The West Central Research and Outreach Center's renewable energy center has been instrumental in developing renewable energy research projects for western Minnesota.

The Energy and Environmental Research Center located on the University of North Dakota campus in Grand Forks conducts research, development, demonstration and commercialization at its site.

Its research involves an array of renewable energy systems including wind and biomass plus hydrogen development and coal ash.
    

Source: http://webstar.postbulletin...

FEB 6 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1228-rural-mn-energy-board
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