MARSHALL - There's a lot at stake for Minnesota in this year's national elections, Matt Entenza said. Some of the biggest examples will be the setting of federal policies that affect the state's economy.
Entenza, the senior adviser to Gov. Mark Dayton on alternative energies, stopped in Marshall on Monday on the way to a press conference at Juhl Wind, Inc., in Woodstock. He said the extension of the federal Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit, as well as President Obama's support of renewable energy, would be crucial to the continued success of wind energy in Minnesota.
The Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit, which reduces taxes on electricity produced by wind and other renewable energy sources, is set to expire this year. Entenza said it was important that the credit be renewed. Not to do so, he said, "Would kill wind energy" in the Midwest, including Minnesota. He said it would also be an historic change, as wind energy has been a bipartisan issue in the past.
Wind energy has been a growing industry in Minnesota, keeping valuable jobs and dollars in the state's economy, Entenza said. Wind energy is also economically competitive. Entenza said Minnesota was the number one state in the U.S. for wind energy in the 1990s, although its rank as fallen as other states like Texas have become more aggressive in implementing wind energy projects. In the years that the Production Tax Credit has been in place, it's helped encourage that growth, he said.
With federal support, Entenza said, "We hope for more community-based wind energy."
Entenza said agriculture, another key industry for Minnesota, may also be affected by November's federal elections. The current Farm Bill has expired, and a new bill passed by the U.S. Senate was not acted on by the House of Representatives. Entenza said progress on the new bill would most likely wait until after the elections. The longer the bill waits, he said, the harder it will be for Minnesota farmers to plan for next year's crops.