Later today, President Obama will meet with clean energy entrepreneurs and leaders to discuss strategies for building a clean energy economy to help create the jobs of the future.
Minnesota is a leader on the new clean energy front, one of the reasons the Middle Class Task force picked St. Cloud for its second meeting.
Minnesota’s leadership in the new energy sector began in 2007, when Minnesota adopted what was, at the time, the strongest renewable energy standard in the country, requiring Minnesota utilities to generate 25% of their power from renewable sources by the year 2025.
This past summer, I had a chance to tour one of the facilities at the forefront of clean energy research here in Minnesota:
UM-Morris is a leader in renewable energy initiatives, both in Minnesota and America, and is home to the first large-scale wind research turbine ever constructed in the United States, which produces 5.6 million kilowatt hours of power each year–more than half of the campus’ annual energy requirements.
The wind turbine and biomass gasification facility are an example of what can be done to secure our energy future, and it’s going to require far more than the same old Washington gimmicks proposed by John McCain and Sarah Palin. It will require a sustained and shared effort by government, businesses, education and research facilities, and the American people. With the clean tech research being done at UM-Morris, Minnesota proves that, with clarity of direction and adequate resources, Americans poses the insight, courage, and determination to build a new economy.
The Biomass Gasification Facility is a testament to the potential of partnerships between communities, universities, and state and local governments, as Senator Obama calls for. What started with the Minnesota Legislature’s appropriation of funds to build the facility in 2005, is on track to reach its goal of energy self-sufficiency on the UM-Morris campus by 2010.
Biomass technology allows crops such as corn stover and other fibrous plants to be used as fuel sources, sources which don’t produce greenhouse gases and emit fewer pollutants than coal, oil, and wood.
The facility at UM-Morris generates steam to meet 80% of the campus heating and cooling needs–proof that, with proper investment, Americans can rise to the energy challenge and transform our energy economy.
The Obama administration has taken the first step to securing our energy future, including billion in energy investments and billion in tax incentives for clean energy in the economic recovery package. This is the money that will end up back in the pockets of Minnesota’s families and funding the important research being done at Minnesota’s universities.
The combination of public spending and tax benefits is important, because the research shows that every dollar of tax benefit stimulates as much as an additional dollar of private research and development spending, increasing the economic benefits derived from the President’s plan.