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Thursday, February 4, 2010

SB 58: SD Senate Supports Renewable Energy; Russell Olson Does Not

The South Dakota State Senate gave overwhelming support to one of the PUC's Small Renewable Energy Initiative Proposals yesterday. On a 26–7 vote, the Senate passed Senate Bill 58, which provides significant tax relief for all sorts of small renewable energy projects. This bill provides much needed support for local wind projects like the two turbines Madison's Don and Dick Amert would like to put up to supply clean power to the city.

Voting against this bill: Madison's Senator Russell Olson (R-8). Senator Olson has previously bragged about voting for fluff legislation as proof that he supports renewable energy. But when it comes to a truly substantial bill that involves a significant investment in clean, locally produced energy, Olson chickens out.

Perhaps he's still smarting from his failure to convince investors to jump in and save the Big Stone II coal-fired electrical generation project. Encouraging wind power now would just take away his conservative friends' preferred narrative that killing Big Stone II killed wind power, wouldn't it? Plus, Olson's employer, Heartland Consumer Power District, has invested a lot of time and Tweets in telling people that wind is a really a crappy power source compared to their preferred forms of centralized industrial power sources. (But then Heartland turns around and brags about its big Wessington Springs wind farm. What, don't they want us little guys building turbines, too?)

Oh well. Let Olson stay mired in the past as a legislator. As long as he stays in the minority on progressive energy policy, South Dakota can keep moving forward.

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