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Letter: Urge opposition to House energy bill

Our main concern in writing this letter is to respectfully call your attention to Minnesota House File 956, the Omnibus Energy Bill. This bill would require utilities to purchase 4 percent of their electricity from solar energy and to set a goal of up to 10 percent of its total energy production from solar energy. This amount would be in addition to the 25 percent renewable energy amount legally required now. HF 956 also includes a 1.33 percent annual assessment on all utility sales to fund solar energy subsides.

This proposed legislation could cost Minnesota utilities and taxpayers as much as $10 billion in capital costs and thus lead toward more increases in our monthly electric bills! Such increases would work a severe hardship on our area’s utility customers. The Legislature is thus now considering bills that would counter the best interests of users of the Itasca-Mantrap Cooperative Electrical Association and other coops throughout Minnesota.

We understand the Legislature’s desire to increase the use of renewable energy. However, on behalf of the 12,069 members of the Itasca-Mantrap and the thousands of other coop members, present laws requiring development of renewable energy provide balance between the ideal of the practical goals. Please contact your legislative representatives and urge them to oppose HF 956 as we submit its provisions would be unnecessary and result in a very costly, burdensome addition to our area’s consumers. This at a time of a fragile local economy! Refer to the political listings in the newspaper. We do support continued development of cost-competitive renewable energy production, a process that Itasca-Mantrap and other state coops have been steadily developing for many years.

Martin Steffel