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Letter: Unlock the potential of clean energy

Unlock the potential of clean energy It's very exciting to see utility leaders in our community continuing to warm to the idea of wind and solar energy. Willmar has been a pioneer in clean sources of energy since the bold windmill project in 2008...

Unlock the potential of clean energy It’s very exciting to see utility leaders in our community continuing to warm to the idea of wind and solar energy. Willmar has been a pioneer in clean sources of energy since the bold windmill project in 2008. While these turbines have had their issues, as the Tribune indicated in a recent article, “The technology is changing costs so quickly - especially for wind and solar energy - that utilities and customers have an ‘unprecedented amount of choice and competition available to them.’” To further hash this out, the November 2015 Lazard’s Cost of Energy Analysis demonstrated that since 2009 the average cost of unsubsidized solar power has fallen from over $350 per megawatt hour to $64 and the average wind power cost has fallen from $135 to $55 per megawatt hour. In comparison the same analysis showed the average cost of coal-fired power and natural gas-fired power at $108 and $65 per megawatt hour respectively. So when the CEO of Xcel Energy indicates that his company views wind specifically as a hedge against natural gas, he’s setting the tone for where the country’s electricity supply is headed. Even if combatting climate change doesn’t convince you of the value of wind and solar, one cannot deny that clean sources of energy are becoming cost-preferable to carbon-intensive sources of energy. In the U.S. there are twice as many jobs in renewable energy than in the coal industry, and last year wind and solar jobs outnumbered gas, coal, and pipeline jobs combined. So when fossil fuel industry and utility executives tell you that clean energy is expensive, they’re blowing more smoke than their dirty power plants. Let’s get the special interests out of the way and unlock the real potential of the clean energy economy.

Erik Hatlestad New London

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