Energy groups, area leaders talk clean & affordable energy expansion

(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota is getting $2-billion to help expand the state electrical grid, and Tuesday energy groups, along with state and local leaders gathered in Rochester to explain how this will provide better access to clean and affordable energy.

"How do we get the generation to the people who need it so your air conditioning can run without you needing to think about it," asked Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold.

The $2-billion investment is only the beginning, the next step is figuring out where in the state more energy power plants are needed.

"It’s also designed to get a lot of public input and make sure that that input is complete and that the state energy infrastructure reflects public input and needs," said Arnold.

The project will include three new interconnection transmission lines that will not only help provide more power, but they’ll help create clean energy.

"Rochester has aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals related to its energy supply and these transmission projects are critical for us to achieve those goals we have outlined for the community," said Rochester Public Utilities General Manager Mark Kotschevar.

Right now, when the transmission grids get too overwhelmed clean energy sources like solar and wind farms come to a halt, but these new lines will be able to support renewable energy.

There’s also a more direct benefit to the public.

"This investment in transmission is that it will unleash an incredible amount of good, family sustaining job opportunities for our members and our other building trades," said Kevin Pranis with Laborers’ International Union of North America.

The project will take about 5-6 years before it will be ready for use.