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Ethanol industry growing in Minnesota

BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Talk of renewable energy sources has been much abuzz over the production of ethanol, first from corn, and a new excitement now in northern Minnesota into research to produce cellulostic ethanol from switchgrass and wood wastes. ...

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BEMIDJI, Minn. -- Talk of renewable energy sources has been much abuzz over the production of ethanol, first from corn, and a new excitement now in northern Minnesota into research to produce cellulostic ethanol from switchgrass and wood wastes. While that continues to hold promise as a great new industry for northern Minnesota, we must not forget about another renewable energy source.

It seems that almost everywhere you turn in Minnesota, the wind blows.

Moving up

That fact was born out by the American Wind Energy Association, which released its latest rankings of the states in power produced by wind. Minnesota has moved up the list, blowing past Iowa, into third place behind two huge states -- Texas and California.

Minnesota's movement up shows lots of potential for wind energy production and should garner a high spot on anyone's list of renewable energy sources to develop in Minnesota. And those who remain optimistic about growing wind energy maintain that Minnesota also should be the place where wind turbine parts are manufactured -- creating a new industry.

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But while hopes ring high for wind energy in Minnesota, we still must rely on traditional sources -- such as coal-fired electric generation -- to supply the baseline power to ensure capacity. For while wind energy is growing, it remains only a minuscule part of the total energy production in Minnesota.

Moving Minnesota's percentage up becomes key as legislation passed last year set a target of generating 25 percent of the state's energy from renewable sources such as wind by 2025.

The figures do show wind generation of power is viable and is something we should seek investment and develop across the state.

-- Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer

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