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Minnesota rural electric cooperatives are leaving their customers behind

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The big question members of the Roseau Electric Cooperative should be asking themselves is:

“Why aren't we making any investments in what will very soon be the cheapest and cleanest source of energy on the planet -- solar energy?”

The cost of solar power is falling so rapidly it has energy and financial analysts worldwide using words like, “amazing,” and “astounding,” and “historic.”

Long-time financial analyst Michael Sankowski called the plunge in solar energy costs over the past four years “absolutely shocking.” In Monetary Realism, Sankowski wrote:

“We are seeing price drops closer to 20% per year after several decades at 6% price drops per year. 6% year is a fantastic rate of decreases, but 20% is simply astonishing. (Twenty percent) is an impressive number, but putting it into context will make your jaw drop with astonishment … if solar maintains 5 more years at current 23% rates per year price drops, solar power will be cheaper than using existing coal plants.” Source

An Internet search finds many locations across the United States that are no longer willing to tie their fates to sinking ship of coal, one of the dirtiest and polluting forms of energy on the planet. (Only tar sand crude is dirtier than coal).'

MINNESOTA FARMERS GOING SOLAR

That includes an increasing number of farmers here in Minnesota. Our cold and snowy state with long winterS is nevertheless proving to be an extremely solar-friendly environment.

Take Dennis Hamm of Chatfield, Minn., for example. He farms 650 acres, raises 130 head of cattle and also grows corn, soybeans, oats and hay. The Post-Bulletin of Rochester reports that Hamm's newly installed solar system consists of 150 solar panels and has generated a robust 4,491 kilowatt hours of electricity since October 3 of this year.

His solar setup cost $100,000 -- but with incentives from state and federal sources -- his system will pay for itself in five years. Even without incentives it would pay for itself in 10 years. After that, Hamm will not only enjoy free electricity for life -- but he will earn money by selling about 60 percent of his power back to the grid via net metering. Read full story here

Even better -- Mr. Hamm will no longer be contributing to the pollution caused by dirty coal, which includes global warming, acid rain, mercury accumulating in our Minnesota fish, air pollution, breathing problems for our children and elederly, and much more.

OTHER COMMUNITIES ARE NOT WAITING

While Roseau Electric Cooperative recently joined a lobbying effort to stop our local area from generating a mere 1.5% more solar energy as mandated by the Minnesota Legislature, thousands of other communities -- including rural co-ops -- are surging forward to add solar so that they can do the right thing -- drop dirty fossil fuels.

An excellent case in in point is Franklin County, Pennsylvania, which has recently contracted with none other than the notorious fossil fuel giant BP to build a $25 million solar installation that will generate 14 megawatts of clean energy.

The solar installation in Franklin County will be enough to power 2,000 to 2,500 homes. What is also fascinating about the Pennsylvania project is that demonstrates the rapidly falling cost of solar.In the end, the cost for generating a kilowatt hour will be about 7 cents, and that will drop to 5 cents with incentives.

Read more about the Franklin County project here: Solar Farm

SOLAR IS SURGING

Consider this lead-in to an article in Nov. 26 issue of the The Atlantic:

In October, power plants generating 530 megawatts of electricity came online in the United States. And every single electron put on the grid came from the sun.

At least for the previous month of October, solar trumped coal and natural gas. The article goes on to say that “solar is no longer a niche play.” Source

Despite the extraordinary evidence from local examples, and national and international examples, the management of Roseau Electric Cooperative and Minnesota Rural Electric continue to insist that “solar is not viable” -- and they also make the absurd claim that residents here in Roseau and Kittson counties who want to adopt solar and net meter are “cheating their neighbors.”

Member of Roseau Electric Cooperative must urge management of the company catch up with innovative Minnesota farmers like Dennis Hamm and other communities across America who are going solar -- which will soon be not only the cleanest way to generate power in the world -- but the cheapest.

For more energy stories by this author, go here: GO GREEN MINNESOTA

Send the author an email: ken.korczak@gmail.com

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