President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan, announced in early June, allows states no shortage of flexibility in meeting new 2030 emission goals, according to a recent Star Tribune editorial.

There are plenty in the state that are paying attention. Gov, Mark Dayton and his administration will host a Minnesota Clean Energy Economic Summit next week at the University of Minnesota, a gathering that promises to be a key component of how the state ultimately decides to fulfill its end of Obama’s plan.

The Clean Power Plan is focused upon curbing carbon pollution, an issue that already has the eyes and ears of Minnesotans. One area in which the state has been progressive is wind energy, which has brought not only a clean energy alternative but economic benefits as well.

According to Fresh Energy, an St. Paul-based organization promoting clean energy policy, the wind industry has invested $5.6 billion in the Minnesota economy. As a result, 5.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions are avoided annually in Minnesota - the equivalent of taking more than 900,000 cars off state roads. Yet, the way we’re now harnessing our wind is like comparing a gentle breeze to a tornado.

Case in point: Fresh Energy reported last month that 3,035 megawatts in wind energy is developed and operating in Minnesota as of 2014’s first quarter. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates 489,271 megawatts as capable of being developed - an amount that would enable Minnesota to power half of the United States.

Wind is only a portion of the emissions solution of Minnesota, but there’s denying its potential to make a major impact.

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