When it comes to energy policy in Minnesota, there may not be a more pivotal individual than Sen. Dave Senjem of Rochester.
Last week, Gov. Tim Walz said he’s ready to push again for a clean energy bill that will see the state’s electric power sector fueled entirely by renewable energy by the year 2050. The ambitious goal would require the state’s electric companies to switch to clean energy and would prevent them from setting up new generators powered by fossil fuel.
We have supported similar proposals in the past, and, without getting into the particulars, would look favorably on what Walz places before the Legislature for approval.
Some Republicans, however, aren’t waiting for the details. They’re already dead set against Walz’s plan. Sen. David Osmek, R-Mound, called it a “wish list fantasy dream that would leave us shivering in the winter and leave us sweating in the summer.”
That kind of hyperbole doesn’t exactly hint at a serious discussion.
But that’s where Senjem, also a Republican, comes in.
Last fall, Senjem brought to Rochester Harry Lehmann, general director of the Federal Environmental Agency in Germany. Senjem has participated in an exchange program with the German government to study how that country has moved to renewable, clean energy. Lehmann said renewables make both economic and environmental sense.
Senjem said he’s been converted to clean energy by what he saw in Germany.
“I’ve gone through a conversion on this,” he told the Post Bulletin editorial board. “I have evolved.”
If so, then perhaps Senjem can spread the gospel of clean energy to his fellow Senate Republicans, who have argued that renewables threaten the stability of the state’s power grid.
In reality, as Germany as shown, renewables are more reliable than fossil fuels.
“I’m willing to take the arrows on this” from other Republicans, Senjem told our editorial board.
He’ll likely have his chance in the next legislative session when Walz and fellow DFLers, as promised, file their major clean energy bill.
At that point, Senjem becomes an important bridge, not only between two political parties, but between two different visions for the state’s energy future.