EARLY CHILDHOOD COMMITTEE
The Early Childhood Learning Finance Committee toured the New Horizons childcare center in St. Paul. You may have seen a story about in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. I chaired the committee for the first time on Thursday and we heard testimony on the MDE proposed preschool screenings. This is a somewhat controversial issue but the goal is to try to identify children who may need help getting ready for Kindergarten. There is much evidence that shows early intervention with children offers a big payoff later on down the road. But finding the children and families to offer the help is a challenge.
On Wednesday, the Energy Committee began hearings on HR 4, the Renewable Energy Standard Bill, authored by Rep. Aaron Peterson. Passage of a renewable energy standard is a DFL priority this session. The bill requires utilities to add renewable energy sources for their retail sales. In 2013, the target is 11 percent; in 2015, it is 15 percent; and in 2020, it is 25 percent.. Renewables include solar, wind, hydroelectric less than 100 megawatts, hydrogen and biomass. The current target is 10 percent of retail sales by 2015 and it's voluntary, except for Excel Energy. As of 2006, 23 states and the District of Columbia had established standards for development and purchase of renewable energy sources.
Points made by testifiers:
This is an aggressive target, but it's doable;
An energy standard will provide market stability for businesses investing in renewables and will encourage additional investment to meet increasing demand;
The stability provided by an energy standard reduces risk and so allows smaller businesses to plan for and participate in the market;
An energy standard shows that we are serious; and
Economic development related to renewables will provide needed economic diversity for the Iron Range. Mortenson has completed 41 projects for a total of 2400 MW, and plans to install a total of 5000 MW by the end of 2007.
The Senate version of the bill passed unanimously out of committee on Thursday.