…but energy policy is interested in you.

Regional energy regulators are meeting in Minneapolis to make your life “better.” An organization you’ve never heard of is meeting in Minneapolis this week and why should you care? I’ll get to that later in the piece.

To paraphrase the ancient Greek philosopher, “You may not be interested in ________ , but ________ is interested in you.”

That’s certainly true of energy policy. You take it for granted that when you flip the switch, the lights come on. You don’t give the matter a second thought until the lights go dark or a utility bill arrives that you can’t afford to pay.

But trying to follow the events that lead to the blackouts and the unaffordable bills is fiendishly difficult for the average energy consumer.

The group meeting this week downtown is called the Mid-America Regulatory Conference (MARC) and includes utility regulars from states ranging from Arkansas and Texas in the south, to the Dakotas in the west, Michigan in the east and every place in between.

The conference this week is hosted by our own Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC). As reported by the Star Tribune, the keynote speaker was a Commissioner, Allison Clements, from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The current priorities of those in charge of state and national energy policy is to expand the role of renewable energy (wind and solar power). To accomplish that, many, many more high-voltage electric transmission lines will need to be built to move renewable energy from the mostly rural areas where it will be produced to the mostly urbanized areas where the consumers live. And paving over everything in between.

From the Star Tribune‘s interview with Commissioner Clements,

Everyday citizens don’t think about transmission lines and the process involved when they flip their switch or plug in their iPad. But it turns out big infrastructure is hard to build and it takes a long time. And so you have to start planning for the future now. 

In Minnesota, the future is now. The MPUC is currently holding public hearings on a new transmission project that would connect Big Stone, SD, to Alexandria, MN.

Beginning Thursday, June 13, the MPUC is holding a series of public hearings out in the field on the project. The schedule has them in Ortonville and Benson on Thursday, in Alexandria and Monticello on Monday, June 17, and in St. Joseph on Tuesday, June 18.

I understand that citizens don’t want to devote three hours of their busy days or evenings to sitting through a meeting on power lines, but this is a rare chance for a regular person to be heard.