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Powering Minnesota to prosperity through energy leadership

September 20th, 2017 · 2 Comments

A positive vision for the future is too rarely part of America’s political conversation at the moment. Today, Minnesota’s Rebecca Otto put out a serious marker to change that.  Otto’s Minnesota Powered Plan targets leveraging Minnesota’s envious position as a manufacturing state with excellent wind and (yes) solar resources to transform the state into a clean energy powerhouse, with serious economic benefits for all of the state’s citizens and a true leadership position in creating a prosperous, climate-friendly future.

Rebecca Otto knows clean energy … and knows its value for Minnesota

While Otto’s plan merits a read (in no small part for the substantive supporting material), it’s core is that it focuses on achieving desire results through reforming our energy system toward a basic sensible path: a well-regulated market economy that enables private business to flourish while recognizing our social contract.

The three key action points in the plan:

  • Price carbon
    • One of the worst elements of our energy system is all the damaging ‘externalities’ that are not in the economic equation. By pricing carbon, Minnesota Powered would correct that market distortion.
    • Incorporating key externalities into the economic decision making (by businesses, individuals, governments, …) would allow the efficiency of a ‘well-regulated market’ to find the best paths to reduce those costs, those externalities (e.g., pollution & associated costs to human health, productivity, and our future prospects).
  • Cash Dividends to Minnesotans
    • The plan dedicates 75 percent of the associated resources to quarterly dividends (estimated to be in the range of $50 every month, $150 per quarter) to every Minnesotan resident.
    • Such dividends would have significant benefits — not just political (people like cashing checks) but also social (a small path toward addressing economic inequality) and in rewarding those who are more diligent are reducing their fossil-foolish (carbon) footprints.
  • Clean Energy Refundable Tax Credits
    • The remaining resources would provide tax credits for things like efficient water heaters and HVACs, insulating homes, solar panel installations, and electric vehicles.
    • This would enable serious financial savings for those who leverage the tax credit. And, with the advances in financing, many of these projects could be executed with zero dollars down and thus save people money from day one.
    • This is a serious job creation measure along with helping people save money through reducing home energy costs. The campaign analysis is that “This will create tens of thousands of good-paying new private-sector jobs—often paying more than $80,000 per year—in every community across Minnesota.”

Otto — with over a decade as Minnesota’s State Auditor and time in the legislature — has the sort of serious credentials and knowledge of state government that voters should expect from a serious candidate for Governor.  With Minnesota-Powered, Otto shows that she has the sort of vision that voters should want from their political leaders.

While I will be returning for additional looks and commentary on the Minnesota Powered Plan, there is a simple truth: this is the sort of thinking and plan that every state in the Union (and, well, the Federal Government) should be pursuing.  I would hope that it is taken seriously and considered in State Houses across the land.

UPDATEs/NOTEs:

Should have included this in the original write-up but will perhaps do a separate one. Otto’s plan seems to fit directly with the concepts that I/others sought to promote with Energize America 2020 over a decade ago.   And, she seems to be well-positioned to give a 2017/2018 version of this speech concept that I drafted a decade ago: Energizing America: The E2 Solution Path — The energy speech for the next President …

Others’ commentaries

  • Greg Laden’s overview includes a detailed look at the economic benefits from the plan with an emphasis of something that is ‘implicit’ in comments above: this is a ‘revenue neutral’ carbon price.
  • Mary Ellen Hart “Some economic plans are win-wins, or even triple wins, but when was the last time you heard of a win-win-win-win-win-win plan?  … Being an auditor, she doesn’t shy away from taking a good hard look at how climate change – think ever more extreme floods, wildfires, droughts and storms – is costing communities bigtime, draining community budgets meant for boosting business and creating jobs. She’s also saying what few other politicians have the courage to say: “The impact of climate change is hitting far sooner and much closer to home than many of us ever imagined, and we have a moral obligation to protect our children.””
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