MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A public affairs group has concluded in a report that Minnesota is too dependent on coal for its electricity and urgently needs to change the way it generates and uses power.
The report by the Citizens' League energy committee concludes that 75 percent of Minnesota's electricity comes from coal-fired plants. That harms the environment and people's health, said Kenneth Keller, co-chairman of the committee.
Minnesota should encourage alternative-power producers to generate more electricity and offer it for sale on a more accessible power grid, the report suggested.
"Energy cannot be considered separately from the environment," said Keller, who is also professor of chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota. "We face a crisis because we're not making that connection."
The report comes as some Minnesota utilities and electric cooperatives are studying proposals to build power plants. The Legislature also faces decisions that could affect the future of nuclear power in the state.
A 34-member Citizens League committee began studying the electricity supply 18 months ago, concerned initially about whether Minnesota could be vulnerable to shortages such as those that plagued parts of California in 2000.
What the group learned, Keller said, is that Minnesota is expected to have enough electricity, but that the state will be in serious economic and environmental trouble if it doesn't diversify its sources of power and reduce its reliance on large coal plants.
Across the nation, 52 percent of electricity comes from coal.
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