When the Senate voted to not confirm Ellen Anderson as chair of the Public Utilities Commission, aka PUC, there was a good reason for it. Sen. Gimse explains it perfectly here:

Gimse said Anderson was an “activist for clean energy” and he was concerned her views on restricting nuclear energy and electricity generated from fossil fuels wouldn’t provide the “strong base load capacity for electricity” to keep utility rates competitive for consumers and create jobs.

Put differently, Anderson was a big green energy activist who consistently put ideology ahead of reality. Here’s what Mike Nobles, the executive director of Fresh Energy said in his official statement after the Senate rejected Sen. Anderson:

Fresh Energy deplores the decision by the Minnesota Senate majority to deny confirmation to former state senator Ellen Anderson as chair of the Public Utilities Commission. Chair Anderson has managed the commission’s business with professionalism and efficiency, and her long tenure on key legislative committees offers the state an unusually deep understanding of energy and consumer issues.

As a key legislative architect of the laws at the foundation of Minnesota’s forward-looking energy policy platform, Chair Anderson was well-suited to administer those laws in an impartial and statesmanlike way, keeping Minnesota’s business climate competitive and consumer energy bills affordable, while moving our state systematically forward to an energy-efficient, low carbon, clean energy future, as our state laws require.

Then-Sen. Anderson was a major advocate for the Next Generation Energy Act, a bill that won bipartisan support in the legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Pawlenty. Utility rates have climbed as a direct result of that legislation.

As a sidenote, Mike Noble should be remembered for his radicalism, which I wrote about in a post titled Attrition, not Litigation. The op-ed he co-authored with Paul Aasen highlighted the environmental community’s anti-fossil fuel rigidity:

Along with our allies at the Izaak Walton League of America, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Wind on the Wires, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Fresh Energy argued, first in South Dakota, then before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), that the new plant was a bad idea. Our message was simple: The utilities had not proven the need for the energy, and what energy they did need could be acquired less expensively through energy efficiency and wind.

We kept losing, but a funny thing happened. With each passing year, it became clearer that we were right. In 2007, two of the Minnesota utilities dropped out, citing some of the same points we had been making. The remaining utilities had to go through the process again with a scaled-down 580-megawatt plant.

This time around, the administrative law judge ruled in our favor, saying the utilities had proven the need for, at most, 160 megawatts and had failed to prove that coal would be the least expensive way of providing the electricity. The Minnesota PUC approved the transmission lines into Minnesota, and we filed an appeal that is pending with the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

In short, Fresh Energy and the MCEA sued Big Stone II investors into the ground. Ellen Anderson steadfastly supported that attrition litigation, starting with this op-ed:

Many of us at the state and federal levels of government are trying to do just that. Working with a broad coalition of environmental groups, we introduced legislation in 2007 to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming. The bill that finally passed will go a long way toward accomplishing those reductions.

My main focus has been on the way we generate electricity. In Minnesota, we are very heavily reliant on burning coal, which means we contribute more than an average share to the climate change crisis. Others are working on the transportation side, and of course I support those efforts as well.

Based on Sen. Anderson’s own words, does it sound like she’d be impartial? Let’s remember that Sen. Anderson was one of the green energy’s staunchest allies for over a decade. This isn’t just something she believes in; it’s part of who she is.

Was the Senate supposed to look past Sen. Anderson’s history of radical ideology and confirm her? I don’t think so. As for Gov. Dayton’s reaction, it’s a testimony to his childish temperament:

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday in blistering language blasted Senate Republicans after the Senate voted to reject the confirmation of his appointee, Ellen Anderson, as chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

“A very good person, a very dedicated public servant, and an excellent chair of the Public Utilities Commission was wrongly maligned and cruelly rejected today by Republican Senators, who showed once again that they are unfit to govern this state,” Dayton read from a statement.

“You would think after their leadership scandals, which caused them to replace all of their leaders last month, they would behave themselves for at least a little while. However, they seem incapable of doing so,” he said.

That’s the type of childish rant that Minnesotans have come to expect of Gov. Dayton. He’s ill-equipped, temperament-wise, to lead the state.

Finally, this is another troubling statement from then-Sen. Anderson:

Minnesota law says that if we can meet our need for power more cost effectively through the use of renewable energy, or through energy conservation, or through a combination of both, then a new coal plant cannot be built. In January 2007, the administration filed a brief, clearly stating that the proponents failed to show the plant was needed, and failed to show it was the most cost effective solution.

She’s talking about the Next Generation Energy Act. Clearly, NGEA was a mistake because it’s imposing a plethora of unreasonable regulations on power generators. That then-Sen. Anderson was a steadfast supporter of such counterproductive regulations is an indictment against her judgment.

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6 Responses to “Senate says no to Gov. Dayton’s anti-energy PUC Commissioner”

  • Rex Newman says:

    I like how Sen. Rosen put it, that Anderson was unwilling to set aside her personal views for the common good. It’s fun to use liberal phrases against a liberal.

  • Patrick says:

    Rex that is the best part of annoying a liberal with the truth.

  • eric z. says:

    Dayton’s “unfit to govern” description of the GOP Putsch nailed the truth about their chest-pounding outrage and obstructionism, against sane DFL policy.

  • Gary Gross says:

    Eric, here’s a hint. It isn’t sane policy. It’s what passes as sane DFL policy but it’s worthless policy. It’s provably terrible policy because a) it’s based on discredited reports & b) Sen. Anderson’s policies would shrink the amount of electricity generated while driving up costs. If that’s “sane DFL policy”, then it’s time the DFL actually stopped listening to their special interest groups.

  • Chad Q says:

    This woman used to be my state senator and is one of the dimmest bulbs on the planet when it comes to rational thinking. She spewed whatever garbage it was from whatever environmental group was giving her campaign the most money and to her it was gospel. Listening to her at town hall meetings babble on about things she knew nothing about was very frustrating. When confronted with an opposing view, she just sat there like a deer caught in the headlights because she didn’t have anything to back up her prior statements.
    Green energy is a waste of our personal (utility bills)and tax dollars (subsidies)as it is inefficient and expensive. Just look at all the green companies going broke even after millions and millions of state and federal tax dollars have been dumped on them. Oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear are PROVEN sources of energy and no matter how how money we dump into green energy, green energy will never be able to supply our ever growing needs.

  • Rex Newman says:

    Chad Q is more direct than perhaps necessary, but he’s right. Watching her on TV she appears intellectually vacant, which would explain her demonstrated gullibility.

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