One of the Willmar Wind Turbines as the Thrive Drive Went By
Willmar finished construction on two wind turbines in early June of this year. Each turbine generates two megawatts of power, which means that the two of them will replace around three percent of the city’s annual energy needs. Wesley Hompe, an engineer with Willmar Municipal Utilities, told MPR,
"Over the life of one of the turbines … 236,000 tons of carbon will not be released compared to using some sort of fossil fuel," Hompe said.
Hompe also told MPR that the city of Willmar hopes to have more wind turbines in the future, which might prove more challenging then he thought. With one quick slash, Governor Pawlenty and his allies drastically reduced local government aid to make up for the state’s deficit earlier this year. That means Willmar probably won’t have another $10 million to spend on wind turbines in the next two years.
The combination of Pawlenty’s careless budget cuts and unallotment and the tough economic times Minnesota is going through have not encouraged the development of the wind industry. Instead, budget cuts have resulted in cities cutting everything in their budgets not vitally necessary and the recession has made it difficult for the wind industry to access capital.
With a state mandate that 25 percent of Minnesota’s energy, including fuel, comes from renewable resources by 2025, Governor Pawlenty’s cuts certainly won’t encourage cities to take the expensive steps needed to help fill the mandate. As Minnesota 2020 Fellow Nathan Paine has pointed out, Minnesota has the renewable energy resources to thrive, but Governor Pawlenty’s cuts have cities struggling just to survive. This is what the Thrive Drive has been all about, discovering the things that make Minnesota great, like our potential to thrive in the wind industry, but are being jeopardized by irresponsible budget cuts. Follow along with the Thrive Drive on our website.