Letter: Is Austin taking the wrong road?

Published 7:32 am Thursday, June 6, 2019

I have completed my initial inquires into options that are available to the City of Austin concerning the climate crisis. The news is not particularly great mostly due to our own lack of insight. Sometime in the mid 1990s, Austin City Council signed a contract with SMMPA (Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency) to purchase electric energy for Austin through 2030. That agreement means we can not purchase or develop any other resource for our energy other than that provide by SMMPA.

SMMPA is our energy supplier, SMMPA is a group of 18 southern Minnesota utilities, including Austin, formed for the betterment of there member utilities and customers. In affect, our exclusive contract with them prevents the city of Austin from participating in all but the very smallest of solar and wind projects. SMMPA does advertise that it currently supplies 17 percent of its energy from renewable sources. SMMPA has also stated in writing that, “there is no need for new resources well into the future.” That statement by SMMPA is not in the public interest, and quit frankly is in direct opposition to the public interest. That statement means while the rest of the world moves towards 100 percent renewable energy, the City of Austin will not!

These factors leave Austin in the terrible position that participating in major renewable energy projects will be next to impossible. The humanitarian climate crisis that we currently face is no less critical than World War II; we need to respond with the same veracity as our ancestors did to that crisis. Austin’s commitment to the climate crisis matters every bit as much as our citizens involvement in World War II. However, it currently means that as a community we will have to standby and do little to nothing while the rest of the world deals with the most important issue of all time. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I do not want the community I was born into be remembered like this.

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Austin has had a task force assigned to help our cities sustainability and quality-of-life goals. These goals are important and Austin has become one of the leaders in accomplishing its sustainability goals; however, those goals pail in comparison to renewable energy projects that potentially could affect the entire communities future. Cities throughout the United States, and for that matter the world, are actively changing there use of fossil fuel to facilitate the Earth’s survival. If we do not get onboard soon, we will be relegated quite deservingly to a place in history alongside those who took the wrong road!

Wayne Goodnature

Austin, MN