On Monday, February the 2nd, CURE members and staff joined a group of over 400 other concerned citizens from across the state at the Capitol to show their support in advancing energy efficiency, clean energy and jobs within the renewable energy sector. Early monday morning vans packed full of community members from Marshall to Moorhead, each with a hot cup of coffee, began their drive to the Minnesota State Capitol as the sun began to peak over the horizon. After a long drive, western MN residents met with; Lyle Koenen, Tim Miller, Jeff Backer, Chris Swedzinski, Torrey Westrom, Gary Dahms, Kent Eken and others.
“Renewable energy is not the future, its the present,” said Clarkfield farmer Glenn Gelhar. “I came to the capitol today to let my legislators hear my renewable energy success story. This year I put up a solar installation on my farm and it has been one of the wisest investments of my life.” Gelhar and other attendees met with their legislators in meetings where they expressed their support for the Minnesota’s Clean Energy and Jobs Campaign.
The campaign supports improving the state’s Renewable Energy Standard (RES), from 25 by 2025 to 40 percent by 2030 and the yearly energy savings goal for utilities from 1.5 percent to 2 percent. A recent study by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that improving the RES would drive more than $6 billion in additional private capital to develop more than 3,100 megawatts of renewable energy capacity in the state.
Clean energy has been a success for Minnesota. Clean energy employment in Minnesota surged 78 percent between January 2000 and the first quarter of 2014, growing steadily through the recession while the state’s total employment only grew by 11 percent over the same period.
Over 15,000 workers in the state have jobs in the clean energy economy, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
“I’m here because I want Minnesota to continue to be a leader in the renewable energy economy,” said Jordan Wente, a senior studying Economics and Renewable Energy at the University of Minnesota, Morris. “I see a bright future for west central Minnesota. We have the strongest wind and most solar potential in the state. I want to eventually settle in west central Minnesota and work in renewable energy development.”