Xcel Energy has one reasonable rationale for their proposed high-voltage power line through South Minneapolis, specifically the Phillips neighborhood, near Lake Street, at first glance: there has been growth, especially in institutions such as hospitals that use large amounts of energy and indisputably require reliable energy. Blackouts in hospitals are obviously a bad thing.
However, is putting through a new power line that’s just a continuation of the current energy-production regime the only option to provide reliable energy? In the face of climate change and fossil fuel depletion and economic challenges, is that the best system to perpetuate? What about being able to use less energy through efficiency measures, many of which are relatively easy, inexpensive and can be done by the large organizations as well as by individual households all around the area? What if there were a few solar panels on homes and small businesses? These options aren’t impossible, are they?
This might not provide all of the community’s energy, but could it possibly be a method in which the energy demand gap could be made up – and provide a basis so that more of the community’s energy could be produced in such manners in the future? Could it engage the community in working individually and collectively on their own energy? Are families,panaderias, groceries, hospitals, banks, churches, mosques, YWCAs and Scandinavian gift shops limited to being consumers of energy, disconnected from its mysterious production? Or, could they be a part of taking ownership of even a small part of what daily powers their homes and places of business, recreation and worship?
More fundamentally, what are the details of the increase in energy usage? What do the various individuals and organizations in the community think about their energy usage? Are some of them already employing energy efficiency materials? Is there any hidden interest in more energy efficiency and renewables that just haven’t found the opportunity to manifest itself? Could this be that opportunity?
Essentially, do we really know if the new power line is necessary if all these questions haven’t been answered? Can we find answers to a lot of these questions? What might those answers tell us about the necessity of the transmission line?