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Renewable energy proving importance in rural America

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 7:44 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2021 at 7:55 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Renewable energy is one of the main sources of power for the Midwest.

From solar to wind to geothermal, it has the power to create jobs.

“Renewable energy is rural energy and Minnesota has great strengths certainly in wind and solar,” Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) said.

“Of course southern Minnesota, northern Iowa is really kind of the heart or epicenter of biofuel production, especially ethanol production. There are very few places you can go across the viewing area where you aren’t within 30 miles of a ethanol plant,” explained Kent Thiesse, farm management analyst at MinnStar Bank.

Smith, who chairs the Senate Rural Development and Energy Panel, says she supports renewable energy initiatives in the next farm bill in 2023.

“But what we don’t always understand is that it is a source of revenue for our farmers and it is also a source of revenue for counties and school districts and local communities,” Smith said.

Sen. Smith supports President Biden’s infrastructure bill which calls for greener technology made right here.

“So that can mean investments in blender pumps so that there are more market options for consumers that want to buy gasoline blended with ethanol,” Smith said.

“It is clean-burning fuel, it helps the energy supply in the United States for fuel use, but it is also environmentally friendly, obviously clean-burning,” Thiesse said.

Fueling environmental protections and the economy.

“Starting at the production level from farmers. We utilize probably 35 to 40 percent of the corn in our region goes to ethanol plants. Certainly, without that, we would have a big surplus of corn,” Thiesse said.

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