In response to state Rep. Pat Garofalo’s letter on community solar, it is disingenuous to claim that “every dollar of savings” to community solar subscribers comes in the form of higher rates to other Xcel customers (“Sounds appealing until you consider the fine print,” Readers Write, Nov. 22). There is well-documented analysis showing that the work of solar developers adds quite a high amount of value to the grid in the form of avoided costs of power plant construction, fuel costs and transmission lines — all investments that customers would otherwise have to pay to the utilities. The vast majority of the credits Community Solar subscribers receive are compensation for these direct benefits.

Community solar gardens enable residents to make their individual choices without as much government oversight, something that Republicans should love. Let’s not accept red-herring arguments to prevent people from having choices where energy and finance intersect.

Focusing everyone’s attention on the cost-shifting caused by solar might as well be the pot calling the kettle black. Rural Xcel customers with several miles of distribution line going to them get charged fairly at the same rate as urban customers, even though the infrastructure to serve them costs a lot more. Also, as the result of energy legislation this year, large energy users won the privilege to negotiate lower rates despite using the grid more strenuously.

It is also unfair to single out solar as costly without also acknowledging the climate and public-health externalities from coal and gas, which create far more major cost-shifts onto the public. People’s health and economic well-being depend on clean air and water and a stable climate.

The scenarios where community solar would result in cost-shifting are projects that don’t capture very much in avoided substation and transmission costs and when developers sell primarily to corporate consumers and wealthy residents rather than those in poverty who need stabilization of their electricity costs. However, there are people within the Just Community Solar coalition who are addressing that issue, as the article pointed out (“Solar gardens: A new choice for Xcel users,” Nov. 15).

Lee Samelson, Minneapolis


Cover crops can play a role in addressing climate change

The article “Farmers run for cover crops” (Business, Nov. 23) identified numerous benefits in planting cover crops. Carbon sequestration is another additional huge benefit that cover crops provide. Every plant takes in carbon from the air, and when that carbon is tilled back into the soil, it is sequestered, or essentially taken out of the air. The role that soil can play in carbon sequestration can be incentivized for all farmers to balance any costs that they must pay to plant the cover crop. Once cover-crop protocols are established for our northern climes, farmers will become real heroes in addressing climate change.

Kathryn Iverson, Edina



Consider these facts, too, before slamming U students

A Nov. 23 letter writer pleads for parents and grandparents to “intervene and guide” so as to provide the “insights and wisdom necessary so our youths graduate as proud, informed Americans” (“U student government looks like it needs parental guidance”). The writer wishes to keep “alive in our memories forever” the victims of 9/11. This is well and good.

I also sincerely hope that political correctness (PC), or “political coercion” as the writer calls it, will not prevent the possibility of Americans being encouraged to remember forever the tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children killed by Americans in the ill-conceived revenge war perpetrated upon the citizens of Iraq as a result of 9/11. (None of whom, as far as we know, was complicit in the 9/11 attacks.)

It might also, during our recent and ongoing times of appropriate shock and grief over terrorist killings around the globe, behoove us to remember that the shock and grief many of us feel are the same human emotions residents and citizens of sovereign nations far removed from our shores suffer far more frequently than we do as a result of the deaths of their innocent loved ones due to continuing American drone attacks, bombing attacks and other military activity.

However well-intentioned and/or necessary these activities may seem to some, collateral damage is still damage, the innocent remain innocent, and the dead are forever dead. If we are to be “proud, informed Americans,” we need to continually look at our faults and our mistakes as well as our merits and successes. And, as human beings, it is incumbent upon us to appropriately grieve for the dead wherever and whenever and however they die.

Mark Storry, Monticello

• • •

Enough with the negativity surrounding the Minnesota Student Association (MSA) vote regarding a 9/11 remembrance.

Let’s look at the facts. A poorly crafted, poorly researched resolution was presented to the MSA. The student who proposed the resolution was unable to satisfactorily answer the logistical questions raised by members of the MSA. Because the resolution, as it was presented, did not include information pertaining to the actual implementation of such a remembrance, some members of the MSA felt that it was not acceptable. It was voted down, and the student was encouraged to rewrite it and re-present it at the next MSA meeting. I know this because my son is on the MSA.

It’s time for those of you who have expressed disgust or hatred toward the students who voted “no” to take a moment yourselves. Take a moment to digest the entire story. Take a moment to consider whether it’s reasonable to think that the student association of one of the largest, most progressive universities in this country would casually vote to overlook the tragedy of 9/11. Take a moment to consider how much more honorable and meaningful a 9/11 remembrance at the U will be when the student body works together to create such a tribute. And then take another moment to be thankful that the students who are helping to shape policy at the University of Minnesota now, and the world eventually, are mature, thoughtful and empathetic.

Mary Hanley, Minneapolis



If you flunk GOP on climate, flunk Democrats on …

How long do we need to put up with the blatant liberal bias of the Star Tribune?

Another example: The Nov. 23 headline “Most Republican candidates flunk climate science.” The article’s first sentence: “When it comes to climate science, two of the three Democrat presidential candidates are A students, while most of the Republican contenders are flunking, according to a panel of scientists who reviewed candidates’ comments.”

My question: When will we see an article headlined “Most Democratic candidates flunk economics”?

Doug Daggett, Minneapolis