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Op-ed: Should public utility commissions regulate cooperatives?

Dan Nemes of MN350 (an organization addressing the global climate crisis), offers this op-ed in the 6 February issue of  Rochester, Minnesota’s Post-Bulletin, opposing the Minnesota Legislature’s recently proposed legislation that he believes will negatively impact the state’s renewable energy future. Senate File 141 (which passed last week in the Senate Energy Committee) will curtail solar and wind power generation in the state, especially power generated in small-town Minnesota, by stripping away the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s authority to review fees imposed by municipal and cooperative utilities on customers who invest in solar or wind systems. Senate File 214 proposes eliminating the Made-in-Minnesota solar program. Nemes calls the actions “a considerable step backward for Minnesota’s renewable energy future.”

Dan Nemes: Will legislators backtrack on energy?

A week later, the Post-Bulletin printed a response article from Elaine J. Garry, president and CEO of People’s Energy Cooperative, based in Oronoco. Her belief is that Nemes is misinterpreting the purpose of both pieces of legislation. She maintains that the legislation, particularly Senate File 141, clarifies that cooperative governance lies with the coop’s board of directors, who are elected by the coop members, and not the Public Utilities Commission. She also argues against Nemes’s belief that the legislation shows that coops are not supportive of renewable energy programs.

Guest column: Members should govern co-ops, not Public Utilities Commission