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Continued: Pawlenty: Think ahead on energy

  • Article by: CONRAD DEFIEBRE , Star Tribune
  • Last update: December 12, 2006 - 10:21 PM

House Speaker-Designate Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, predicted House passage of significant energy legislation early in the 2007 session. Steps to spur manufacturing of wind turbines in Minnesota, already on track with a new factory in Pipestone, will probably be included, she said.

House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, predicted bipartisan agreement on many of Pawlenty's initiatives. "You're going to be surprised that we're going to have a very common goal on all of this," Seifert said.

Meanwhile, Xcel Energy Corp. executive Dave Sparby said the state's largest utility is "supportive and at the same time very interested in learning more" about the governor's plan. Sparby, vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs, called the proposal "very aggressive" and expressed concern that mandatory reductions in sales of natural gas and electricity could cut into the company's profits unless rate adjustments are made.

Pawlenty acknowledged that his proposal could have financial effects "on utilities and possibly ratepayers if it's not managed well."

On global warming, Pawlenty noted that "Minnesotans did not create this problem, nor can we solve it by ourselves." But he said the state can take "reasonable and fair steps" to cut greenhouse gases, including a requirement that electric utilities offset carbon emissions from new fossil-fuel generation plants.

That could be done by shutting down other operations or by buying emissions credits from registries such as the Chicago Climate Exchange, he suggested. He also said he is inviting the Pennsylvania non-profit Center for Climate Strategies, which he described as "nationally recognized," to help develop a broad state plan for cutting carbon emissions.

"Taking these steps," Pawlenty concluded, "will be good for the environment, good for rural economies, good for national security and good for consumers."

Staff Writer Mark Brunswick contributed to this report. Conrad deFiebre • 651-222-1673 • cdefiebre@startribune.com

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