It Ain't Easy Being Green

Xcel asks customers to pick up the tab for global warming

Feeling guilty after watching An Inconvenient Truth? Xcel Energy has got a solution: Donate cash to help the company—which took in $9.8 billion last year—fulfill its legal obligations, er, build a sustainable future!

In February, state lawmakers passed the Renewable Electricity Standard, requiring that 15 percent of the electricity Xcel sells come from renewable power by 2010.

It's an ambitious target, given that in 2005, Xcel only had to generate 1 percent of its electricity from renewables. Environmental groups, which helped push the law through, are cheering.

"We're happy that Xcel was willing to take this leap and make this commitment," says Cesia Kearns, of the Northstar chapter of the Sierra Club.

But Xcel won't be doing it alone. The company is passing the cost on to you, the consumer. Its Windsource program, which allows customers to voluntarily pay up to about $20 a month extra for wind energy, puts the surplus cash toward Xcel's legal requirement to build more wind farms in southern Minnesota.

With more than 20,000 customers signed up, Xcel's future looks green indeed. Jonathan Kaminsky

 

Black Eye

WCCO-TV, the local CBS affiliate, took a drubbing from the Minnesota News Council last week for mixing footage of two very different rallies into one video package.

On April 14, the station's website intercut footage of an anti-tax rally with a package about global warming protests.

The station says it was an innocent mistake.

"The CBS national web team in New York inadvertently had the wrong video in their story," explains WCCO spokeswoman Kiki Rosatti.

But CBS doesn't exactly have a good reputation for being fair and balanced—remember those bogus National Guard docs?—so conservatives aren't giving the eye network a pass.

"I think this proves that WCCO has a liberal bias," says Sue Derhaag, one of the protesters who was picketing higher taxes. "They ignored our rally and spliced footage to get their anti-global warming message across."

The news station has since changed the caption on the package to "Rally Protests Cross Paths Near Minn. Capitol," which rolls off the tongue slightly better than "Local CBS Affiliate Scrambles to Save Face." Matt Snyders

 

Radio Static

Score one for St. Olaf's alumni.

As we reported a couple of weeks ago ("A Trust Betrayed," 6/13/07), St. Olaf College recently went to court seeking permission to take money donated to its deceased radio station and put it in the school's general fund.

Michael McNabb, the lawyer for SaveWCAL, which fought the school's 2004 sale of the station to MPR, responded that the sale was rotten from the start. WCAL was a charitable trust, he argued, and the school never got the necessary permission to sell it.

Last week, Attorney General Lori Swanson weighed in, writing in a court brief that "St. Olaf's assets...are undoubtedly either charitable trusts or held in charitable trust, and thus subject to charitable trust principles."

McNabb says it's a vindication of what he's been saying all along. "This is a confirmation that the legal analysis that I submitted to the attorney general back in 2004 was correct," he says.

St. Olaf College, through spokeswoman Amy Gage, declines to comment. "The conversation is going on in the court," she says.

Both sides will file final written arguments on July 9, at which time it's in the judge's hands. As they say in the business, stay tuned. —Jonathan Kaminsky

 

Nanny State of Mind

In a bold first salvo in his "War on Fatigue," Mayor R.T. Rybak has launched a new initiative to cut down on curfew violations.

Rybak used the onset of summer to unveil his awkwardly titled "10 Home, Bed, Fed," awareness campaign, designed to remind parents that it's illegal for a child under 12 to be out past 9:00 p.m., and that anyone under 18 must be home before 11:00 p.m.

"Our goal is to prevent curfew violations by partnering with parents to keep kids safe," Mayor Rybak said in a press release. (We tried to reach him for further comment, but his press secretary was reluctant to wake him from his mid-afternoon nap.)

Good, we say. There are simply too many heinous things for 11-year-olds to do after 9:00 p.m. They might play hide-and-seek after dusk. Or run about catching fireflies at nightfall. Or embark on late-night exploratory bike rides.

City Hall is thankfully putting an end to this sundown tomfoolery. But we here at City Pages don't think the program goes nearly far enough. If officials wish to remove all danger, they must keep city youth holed-up indoors all day, except for the crucial hours between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., which gives neighborhood kids ample time to mow our lawns.

Unfortunately, officials remain unwilling to extend the curfew beyond nighttime hours. Which is why we've launched an online petition requesting the establishment of a legally binding City Bedtime. Please add your voice to the cause by visiting www.petitiononline.com/beddybye/petition.html. Remember: Only you can prevent drowsiness. —Matt Snyders

 
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