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Minnesota Opinion: On wind power moves ahead in Minnesota

An excerpt from recent Minnesota editorials.From The Associated Press

On wind power moves ahead in Minnesota:

By now it may be becoming apparent to most Americans that no single energy technology comes without its faults. Midwestern farmers still see ethanol as a viable tool in the arsenal, but the shine has rubbed off somewhat. Oil? Not working out too well in the Gulf right now.

Not everyone loves wind power, either, but a growing number of Minnesotans are embracing the wind turbine technology, and not just in the windiest section of the state that sweeps through the southwest corner. This, despite the fact that an early 2010 report showed Minnesota falling from fourth to fifth place in national wind rankings.

New reports reveal a more promising outlook as the state works toward its goal of having 25 percent of its energy produced through renawable sources by 2025. Sen. Ellen Anderson, chair of the Senate's environment and energy committee, calls Minnesota's renewable energy standard "aggressive" and on track. To be sure, wind farms are being started and proposed in rural areas all across Minnesota, and in some urban areas, too. State officials are considering turbines for state-owned lands, and a few school districts continue contemplating them as a new source of income.

Before wind takes over the state, however, there are controversies to deal with. Various groups have popped up to question how close is too close for turbines to be located near people. About 750-1,000 feet from homes is considered proper for noise standards, but some dispute the distance. Also disputed is how human health is affected, if at all. Some have complained of headaches and sleepless nights, though others living close by say turbines are quieter than highway traffic.

Eyesores? To some, not to others.

Assuming wind energy is the wave of the future (and it seems to be in this state), Minnesota must continue to work toward efficient energy transmission -- ensuring all the electricity that will be produced in the future will find its way onto the grid.

Power line opponents aren't going to give up the fight, and turbine skeptics will remain for years to come. But those skeptics should slowly turn to believers if good faith leads the way.

Proponents of wind energy need to work with patience and understanding to meet everyone's interests. A good example would be the distance turbines may be placed from homes. When more information becomes available as more turbines go up, the rules may have to be adjusted.

Even so, Minnesotans should not cringe from wind. There are far more disagreeable energy entities to live next to, like nuclear plants, coal plants or oil derricks. All in all, wind looks pretty good in comparison.

-- The Free Press of Mankato