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Tonight was another of the Bull Renewable Energy shows, this time up on Eveleth, which works out well because I’ve got to be in Grand Marais tomorrow. BUT, much as I enjoy my role of advocating for a different reality, I’m having trouble seeing the point of the Pawlenty administration’s belief that we’re doing just great in renewable energy — how can that be when you consider the big picture? We have plenty of generation and we can CHOOSE our sources of generation – “need” of 6,300MW in region by 2020, 16,712 in MISO queue as of the CapX2020 report, p. 7, and here’s that great little map that shows it all:

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If I accomplish anything in this lifetime, I want to have this map imbedded in everyone’s eyelids long enough to understand — it’s not that difficult, but there’s way too much resistence. It’s simple, once more with feeling:

16,712 – 6,300 = 10,412 MW of wiggle room.

How can anything renewable be “progress” and what difference does it make when right now we’re “choosing” other noxious options? Right now, in this binary moment where we’re putting in billions of dollars of infrastructure, we’re faced with about 12-14 new transmission lines, new construction of many old-style coal plants, corporate welfare Mesaba at our expense, and the big money on central station wind and hundreds of miles of transmission with 30-40% line loss, yeah, so what if “we’re #1,” it has nominal impact at best. WE’RE MAKING THE WRONG “CHOICES.”

If we’re building billions of infrastructure that lasts 50-80 years, so what! There’s not much room for renewables when we’re already overloaded with electricity, evidenced in the push for an RES that creates a market! How much well-sited wind does it take to overcome hundreds of MW sited a long way from load? It takes at least three turbines in SW Minnesota to equal two turbines sited near load. How much “clean coal” to offset the “dirty” coal and who is going to make sure the water isn’t contaminated as it is near every other coal gasification project? And again, don’t forget that with the line loss, they must produce an extra 30-40% to make up for that, roll in an extra 30-40% more coal trains, use an extra 30-40% more water. What good is any of this “clean coal” and renewable development when they’re building the old style unsustainable plants and infrastructure and we’re paying for it? Why pretend that carbon sequestration is any solution? It’s nuts, ain’t gonna happen, and it’s not the way to deal with CO2 emissions because it’s very costly, can’t be done here, and it leaks and escapes — it’s false hope and wasted grant money. Why pretend that old style coal plants won’t be built, that renewables will replace noxious generation — it’s false. Color me tired — tired of project announcements that keep coming by every possible means of projects that should constitute “our worst nightmare.” Where’s the outrage?

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Sen. Tomassoni did claim Mesaba as “his” and wants me to join in support of it, after all, it’s better than the old ones, but this presumes that if Mesaba is built the others won’t be and that’s just not the way it works. They ARE building the new coal plants. Someday I do hope we can talk about the water problem, little things like selenium, cyanide and arsenic, and I’ll keep forwarding info as I get it, but right now, my focus is on the bigger picture, the hallucination of improvement, that we’re in the lead, when from what I can see, which in energy is a lot, we’re right down the crapper. “We’re” making policy choices that put us solidly down the “been there-done that” path of more central-station coal, and that’s not where I want to be. The commitments, though not made yet, don’t have much of a chance of derailment, though I, the eternal optimist, will keep looking for a way. In simple logistical and financial terms, who can afford to challenge these plants and transmission lines? Those with the resources aren’t about to put up a meangingful challenge and those with these noxious facilities in their communities cannot afford the fight. So where’s the good news? Where’s the outrage?

Enough — off to Grand Marais!

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