Klobuchar, Franken, Peterson Announce Over $6 Million to Improve Electric Service in Northern Minnesota

Sep 19, 2011 Issues: Energy

MINNESOTA [09/16/11]– Today, U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken  and Representative Collin Petersonannounced that power customers in Northern Minnesota will soon receive more reliable electric service due to a $6.1 million loanfrom the U.S. Department of Agriculture to North Star Electric Cooperative in Baudette.

"Every American should have access to reliable and affordable electrical service," said Sen. Klobuchar. "Support such as this will help North Star expand its operations and ensure that the lights will remain on in countless farms, households, and small businesses."

"All over Minnesota, electric cooperatives like North Star bring affordable service to people who would otherwise have little or no access to electricity," said Sen. Franken. "These federal funds will allow North Star Electric Co-op to expand its service and make it more reliable for the thousands of Minnesotans who depend on it."

"These upgrades to our rural electric infrastructure will have a positive impact on rural residents," said Rep. Peterson. "It’s important to make these critical improvements to rural infrastructure and technology to keep our rural areas competitive."

The resources will help build 46 miles of new electric distribution line and upgrade 62 miles of existing distribution line, as well as make other system improvements. North Star Electric Co-op serves thousands of members in Lake of the Woods, Roseau, Koochiching, and Saint Louis Counties and makes up a portion of the Touchstone Energy cooperative network, which serves over 40 million people in the United States.

Sen. Klobuchar has long supported efforts to help increase access to electricity in rural communities. This June, Sen. Klobuchar, along with Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.Dak.), introduced the Renewable Integration Credit to help promote wind and solar energy production in rural electric cooperatives and municipal utilities.

Sen. Franken was named to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in January and since then he and his staff haveconducted a Renewable Energy Listening Tour in communities across the state to learn from business leaders and industry advocates about how to harness thepotential renewable energy has for job creation across the state. This fall, Sen. Franken plans to hold an Energy Summit in Minnesota, which will include representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy and energy interests from across the state.

Peterson, who is Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, has been a leader on working to improve the quality of life in rural communities and supportive of the work of rural electric cooperatives to expand and improve their services.