Minnesota’s energy future

In response to Joel Helfrich’s Jan. 21 opinion piece, “What else is Xcel hiding?” I want to thank Helfrich for addressing such a serious issue facing Minnesota’s energy future.

In 1994, Xcel Energy – then called Northern States Power – started a large legislative battle in order to create space solutions for the increasing amount of nuclear waste. At the end of the conflict, NSP was allowed to build 17 large steel and cement storage containers with the hopes the federal government might finally build a national facility.

It also required significant investments in wind power and a phaseout of nuclear power. NSP promised Minnesotans not to seek more than 17 dry casks, but, with its current use, Prairie Island will run out of space by 2007. Despite public promises to the contrary, Xcel Energy announced in November that it will seek more storage.

It is important that the public be involved this legislative session to hold Xcel Energy accountable to its original agreement. In the early 1990s, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group played a key role in the original battle by collecting more than 8,000 petition signatures and mobilizing hundreds to attend public hearings.

Nuclear storage is a grave concern to University students. MPIRG began its petition drive today to oppose the expansion of nuclear storage on Prairie Island.

Student organizers collected more than 400 signatures in favor of moving Minnesota toward a clean energy future with renewable energy as an alternative to additional storage space for nuclear waste at Prairie Island.

Students will be taking a lead role this legislative session to hold Xcel Energy to its 1994 agreement not to expand nuclear storage. MPIRG will be training students to take part in its annual student action day on March 6, where students will lobby their representatives to oppose nuclear waste and for 20 percent renewable energy by 2020.

The student voice is strong at the University and will continue to have an impact on Minnesota’s energy future.

Megan Wolff, senior, College of Liberal Arts, MPIRG board chair