As a suicide survivor, I know how impossible it can be to pick up the phone or even open your mouth ("Suicide at age 6? Cops left to puzzle," Jan. 15). My brother was unable to swallow a new antidepressant 20 minutes before he accomplished a much tougher task. So, if you're having trouble staying alive, at least stay in a visible place. Sooner or later, someone will see you and you won't disappear.

June Thiemann, Minneapolis

Celebrating solar, speaking up for wind

Ecolab's decision to acquire 16 megawatts of solar energy ("Ecolab sees bright future going all solar in state," Jan. 13) demonstrates that renewable electricity is an affordable and reliable option for consumers.

The decision shouldn't be all that surprising. After all, the costs to install solar energy have dropped 40 percent during the last four years. What's more, solar provides reliable energy that helps companies gain energy security by locking in a fixed, affordable electricity rate.

Ecolab's announcement is just one recent example of solar's growth in the state. Last month, Xcel Energy announced a much-higher-than-expected response to applications to construct solar gardens. These allow consumers to go solar without installing it at their own home or business. Minnesota happens to be a leader in this type of solar project.

Mike Grover, Excelsior

The writer is managing director for client relations at EverStream Energy Cap.

• • •

The Jan. 8 article "Bankruptcy filing a first for state's wind farms" deserves further clarification to place Minwind's predicament in context.

Minwind is a group of nine community wind projects around Luverne, Minn. It began in 2002 when local residents developed a new business model for community-owned wind. This was a big deal — the majority of the wind projects in the United States are owned by multinational energy companies.

The Minwind folks were pioneers. Their projects were carefully designed and maintained. They have been an important voice for the agricultural and rural community for over a dozen years.

Yes, Minwind stumbled by not filing Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reports. However, it had been regularly reporting to the Federal Energy Information Agency and did not receive notification that additional reports were required.

1) Why was the penalty so high for a report that no one missed for eight years?

2) Why isn't FERC following its guideline that it cannot impose a penalty that results in bankruptcy?

3) Should FERC regulations be adjusted as more people own and operate distributed renewable-energy projects?

4) Why was there no notification when the FERC report changed from voluntary to mandatory?

Lisa Daniels, Minneapolis

The writer is executive director and founder of Windustry and managing partner of the Midwest Wind Energy Center.


Reading the paper, I was less inundated

Did Harvard really study and did the Los Angeles Times really report and did the Star Tribune really reprint and did I really waste time responding to the "news" that maybe the reported rising of sea levels is possibly incorrect by 1/32nd of an inch? ("Sea level rise is overstated," Jan. 15.)

We really need some of our winter teams to start winning some games.

Terry Larkin, Minnetonka

Nonetheless, the content is appalling

Along with the rest of the world, I was appalled and saddened by the recent violence in France. Out of curiosity, I looked up some of the content of the magazine Charlie Hebdo on the Internet. I was surprised and disappointed to see the tasteless, inappropriate and often repugnant content. As we discuss the importance of free speech, I hope we can differentiate between legitimate discourse and vulgar, insulting, inflammatory characterizations that are completely peripheral to appropriate discussion.

Fred Zimmerman, Minnetonka

Embrace inevitable: Legalize, tax pot

Gov. Mark Dayton's proposals this year include a half-cent metro-area sales tax increase to pay for transit. In my industry as a jeweler, our sales tax is already high enough to drive a very high percentage of diamond buyers online to avoid many hundreds of dollars in tax on their once-in-a-lifetime, expensive engagement ring purchase.

Instead of raising the sales tax, how about embracing the inevitable and legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana? New taxes collected could be designated for infrastructure renewal without raising sales taxes and driving more business out of state. This could be quite a boon to our economy, provided lawmakers strike a good tax rate balance to avoid driving pot sales underground.

James Roettger, Minneapolis

Look around the U.S. It could be worse.

If low compensation has become an impediment to recruitment of quality legislators in Minnesota at $31,140 per year ("A fix for the state's compensation gap," editorial, Jan. 14), consider New Hampshire and New Mexico. New Hampshire legislators receive $200 per two-year term with no per diem. New Mexico legislators make no salary and receive $159 per diem. A Google search reveals that Minnesotans rank near the upper part of the salary scale for part-time legislators.

Barry Wahlberg, Alexandria, Minn.

I'm happy to say that some boys embrace it

With regard to the Jan. 13 commentary by Richard Greelis ("Read this, young man. What are you — chicken?"), I would like to share my own experience. My holiday gift-giving included children ranging in age from 6 to 15; most are boys. Each of them included books on their wish list. They all read books every day. The gift of reading is not lost.

Mary Riley, Chaska

Reading the paper, I was gobsmacked

I really thought I was hallucinating as I read Sid Hartman's Jan. 12 column. I didn't know that Sid was aware we had women's sports teams in Minnesota, as I had never before read about a women's team in his column. He actually devoted a whole paragraph to women's basketball and hockey. Shocker! Not even when the Lynx won two titles did Sid have much to say in his column. Keep up the good work, Sid — we do have women's sports in Minnesota.

Kathy Thom, Apple Valley

Reading the paper, I was time-warped

Regarding "Easy tips for extending life of garden plants" (Jan. 14): That horse left the barn. Is it April 1?

Mary Axelrod, Bloomington