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As others see it: Wind power moves ahead in Minnesota

File Photo: A turbine stands tall against a fall blue sky at the Fenton Wind Farm near Chandler. (Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

By now it may be becoming apparent to most Americans that no single energy technology comes without its faults. Midwestern farmers still see ethanol as a viable tool in the arsenal, but the shine has rubbed off somewhat. Oil? Not working out too well in the Gulf right now.

Not everyone loves wind power, either, but a growing number of Minnesotans are embracing the wind turbine technology, and not just in the windiest section of the state that sweeps through the southwest corner. This, despite the fact that an early 2010 report showed Minnesota falling from fourth to fifth place in national wind rankings.

New reports reveal a more promising outlook as the state works toward its goal of having 25 percent of its energy produced through renewable sources by 2025. Sen. Ellen Anderson, chair of the Senate's environment and energy committee, calls Minnesota's renewable energy standard "aggressive" and on track. To be sure, wind farms are being started and proposed in rural areas all across Minnesota, and in some urban areas, too. State officials are considering turbines for state-owned lands, and a few school districts continue contemplating them as a new source of income.

Before wind takes over the state, however, there are controversies to deal with. Various groups have popped up to question how close is too close for turbines to be located near people. About 750-1,000 feet from homes is considered proper for noise standards, but some dispute the distance. Also disputed is how human health is affected, if at all. Some have complained of headaches and sleepless nights, though others living close by say turbines are quieter than highway traffic.

Eyesores? To some, not to others.

Assuming wind energy is the wave of the future (and it seems to be in this state), Minnesota must continue to work toward efficient energy transmission -- ensuring all the electricity that will be produced in the future will find its way onto the grid. ...

Proponents of wind energy need to work with patience and understanding to meet everyone's interests. ...