Candidates Respond to Energy Questions
With the election fast approaching, Renville-Sibley and our power supply cooperatives, East River Electric and Basin Electric were interested in learning the position of our local candidates on energy related issues. Candidates vying for the position of State Representative serving Renville-Sibley members (District 16B, 17A and 18B) were contacted to see if they would give their position on 5 energy related questions. Candidates contacted are as follows:
District 16B: (map)
Representative Paul Torkelson
District 17A: (map)
Representative Andrew Falk
District 18B: (map)
Representative Glenn Gruenhagen
Each candidate's response is listed below. To date, we have not received a response from Representative Paul Torkelson. We will post his response when received. Renville-Sibley thanks each of the candidates for taking time out of their busy schedule to answer these questions for our members.
All of the answers to the questions are un-edited candidate responses. These responses are meant to give our members the answers directly from each candidate's perspective and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Renville-Sibley Board or Management team. One of the candidates refers to the PURPA Act of 1978. For more information, please select the following links:
Regardless of the outcome of the election, we look forward to working with the representatives selected by their constituents. Working together we can make a difference.
1. Minnesota’s current net metering laws allow co-op members who install solar and small wind on their property to avoid paying their fair share for the infrastructure required to provide them with electricity when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Those costs are then shifted onto their neighbors. As more rural electric cooperative members add solar and small wind there is cost-shifting onto others. What do you think about Minnesota’s current net metering laws? What role should the state play in deciding how electric co-ops address these members’ desire to add renewable energy?
2. Co-ops exist because people in rural areas worked together to form non-profit organizations to serve rural Minnesotans. Now, third party companies have become more active in trying to operate within cooperative territories. These third party companies are looking to take the most profitable customers and leave the cost of maintaining the grid in the rural areas of Minnesota to fewer and fewer rural residents. How do you believe situations with third party companies should be handled?
3. The Minnesota Legislature has implemented or increased mandates of certain renewable generation sources while electric cooperatives have continued to integrate and increasing amount of renewable energy into our generation mix. We have also helped consumers save money by teaching them ways to lower their individual demand for electricity. Do you support state mandates on renewable energy and conservation? What role do you think the state should play in determining the mix of energy used by electric co-ops?
4. Minnesota leads the country in the number of stray voltage cases landing in courts. Minnesota has seen an increasing number of questionable cases brought to court due to the increase in consultants looking to benefit financially from a lawsuit. How do you believe these issues should be addressed in Minnesota? What qualifications should people who testify on stray voltage cases have?
5. In the case of natural disasters, municipal utilities are entitled to a state match during FEMA-declared disaster to help repair damage to electric lines and infrastructure. Co-ops have access to state funds, but only through an application process with their county office that is not guaranteed. What role should the state play in helping rural electric co-ops turn the lights back on after natural disasters?
If you would like to see each candidate's response to all the questions, click on the candidates name below.
Representative Paul Torkelson