Moving forward with natural gas, renewable energy

Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday signed a bipartisan bill to allow Xcel Energy to move forward with converting a retiring coal plant to natural gas and renewable energy in Becker. The bill passed with strong bipartisan support in the House 80-45 and Senate 39-25.

According to the governor’s office, the new natural gas plant is estimated to create an estimated 150 jobs in Sherburne County. More importantly, the announcement says the legislation will provide protections for Minnesota ratepayers, so residents paying for electricity do not end up on the hook for costs incurred because of new construction.

“As Xcel Energy transitions to the next generation of energy production at its Becker facilities, I strongly support the construction of a natural gas plant to replace the old coal plants,” Lt. Gov. Tina Smith said. “Converting from coal to natural gas will improve public health, as well as reduce carbon emissions.”

It’s good news that the state is committed to move away from coal to natural gas and renewable energy.

According to the American Gas Association, natural gas is a fossil fuel, but the global warming emissions from its combustion are much lower than those from coal or oil.

The AGA admits natural gas costs about the same as oil and is more expensive than coal. However, it’s more energy efficient and cleaner to burn.

“Minnesota has been a nationwide leader in promoting renewable energy, reaping the reward in good paying jobs, cost savings for our people, and environmental benefits. This bill sends a strong message that we intend to stay that way,” Sen. Nick Frentz, DFL-Mankato, said.

We agree and encourage our state leaders to find ways to use cleaner energy and at the same time promote job growth.


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