Published September 1, 2001 | September 2001 issue
I am not the person with all the details, but in reading recent articles about alternative energy activities, which range from micro power to burning buffalo chips, an idea comes to mind. Otter Tail Power Co., for one, has been very creative about augmenting coal-fired generation with the addition of burning alternative fuels in the same plants. I know we have burned refuse-derived waste, shredded tires, waste corn, old transformer oil and more at our Big Stone plant in South Dakota.
It makes little sense to give special, legislatively approved tax incentives to groups that want to build a small power plant, which is optimized for only burning trees or corn or pelletized horse manure, and not offer the same tax incentives to burn the same fuels in an existing facility with no additional cost in water, waste, land, financial risk and more. Generally, the limitation is the availability of the fuels themselves, and it is risky business to invest in new facilities that would be "make or break" for that reason.
I would invite you to explore with our power and environmental folks the efforts that we have undertaken to also benefit from the alternative fuels within the existing infrastructure for the benefit of our customers. It would also reveal the tax and regulatory inequities that distort this market for fuel.
Senior Forecast Analyst, Business Development
Otter Tail Power Co.
Fergus Falls, Minn.
I found your article on feedlots interesting and well written. I appreciate the fact you covered a broad spectrum of viewpoints.
I would like to point out one piece of inaccurate information. You stated that Margaret Zimmerman is Paul Zimmerman's aunt. That is false. I assume Mr. Zimmerman told you that because I know Margaret Zimmerman would not make that statement. She is my mother.
Mr. Zimmerman made that same statement as he addressed the MPCA board last spring. My mother promptly clarified for Mr. Zimmerman that she is not his aunt. Margaret Zimmerman is not a blood relative at all. Her late husband, David F. Zimmerman, was a first cousin of Mr. Zimmerman's father, Jim Zimmerman.
The Zimmerman brothers have pressed hard to define this feedlot disagreement as a family feud. Citizens Concerned for Waseca County have stated to the Zimmermans numerous times that the common name has no relevance. The issues are the neighbors' clean air, water and property values.
Alice Zimmerman Oden