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Hi, country cousin here- You know, the folks that grow your food and preserve our natural and cultural resources. We're a lot like you, believing in living wages, family farms, small business, equality, and stopping global warming. 'Cept we know how to drive tractors, etc...

Now we know you city cousins don't do it on purpose and don't mean to hurt us, but some of the stuff you do makes us wonder if we're on the same side. I know, things like municipal and co-op power companies and why tiny towns persist is a mystery to you, but before you legislate us out of existance, could you listen to us a bit?

For a start, here in Minnesota we have a program called LGA, and that stands for Local Government Aid, with the state sharing some of it's largesse with less fortunate towns that don't have a lot of tax base, have a lot of older infrastructure that's expensive to maintain, etc. The republicans have been shortin' us on LGA, but now that the democrats are back in control of the legislature LGA funding is going back up to what it should be, and the formula's gettin' revised.

That's where we got a problem, the proposed formula figurin' that a town of less than 100 like mine can get by on a budget of around $400 per person. But a town of over 100 is some how expected to need more like $600 a year to keep the lights on, fresh water flowin', the streets passable, and the city park neat. OK, we can take a hint- maybe that $200 a tiny town head penalty is to motivate us to disorganize our tiny town? If that's the intent, it's not workin'... We've now about a hundred towns of a hundred souls or less here in Minnesota, up about twenty since the 2000 census. And no, the co-op doesn't charge us a third less for fuel for our city's tractor because we've less than a hundred of us here. And our tiny towns provide a lot of services that we can't afford to provide without LGA help- Like the playground in our park that kids from the townships for miles around play in, because we've the only playground for over 5 miles in any direction.

Second, and I'll cut the laundry list there, could you remember us when you mandate wind and solar power percentages. Our (we own 'em) little municipal and rural co-op power services out here were making and distributing renewable power long before it became popular- for example, a lot of our power comes from East River Co-Op and has been 30% renewable from hydro for decades. We've got wind power aplenty out here too, and it's a lot cheaper than solar, so please don't force us to buy solar when we can get more bang for the buck with wind. And please remember that some of our municipal and co-op power services are tied into long term contracts to buy dirty power from coal- we don't like it either, but we're stuck with it. forcing us to buy solar generated power can thus make us pay twice for electricity, and worse yet a big solar producer that uses public subsidies to plop down in our town will bankrupt us if we're forced to buy power for them at artificially mandated high rates. The big boys like Xcel Energy can spread those costs over multiple states and millions of users, our small town municipal power services and county sized co-ops can't. And the big boys in the power biz would just love to see our little municipal and co-op power services forced to sell out for peanuts.

We'll get to why we need safe roads and rural transit just as much as you need new billion dollars light rail lines in another discussion...

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Comment Preferences

  •  I would be glad to give our "country cousins" a (7+ / 0-)

    break because we here in the cities and more populated areas of the nation know that there is a lot of stuff that you need.  But people in the rural areas of the nation make it so much harder by constantly election Senators and Congresspeople who vote against the interests of their constituents.  They vote to slash budgets, vote to kill infrastructure bills, vote to restrict government services, and vote against an entire host of things that will help them.

    That's what makes this so difficult.

    And it feels like I'm livin'in the wasteland of the free ~ Iris DeMent, 1996

    by MrJersey on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 07:38:02 PM PDT

  •  This is so perverse. The entire diary is written (0+ / 0-)

    in "utility speak". Just like it's being argued in front of a Public Serivce Comission for the purpose of preserving the status quo. Which, pretty much everywhere, means that the author is making an argument for preserving the ability of the local "Regulated Utility" to continue, basically, enslaving power consumers.

    Send the folks involved (ostensibly) a small subsidy for their life style (or, really, none, because they ain't leaving anyway), and get on with creating the modern future (energy requirements/sources included) that all of the rest of us need to sucessfully pass our planet on to our future generations.

    There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

    by oldpotsmuggler on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 07:58:51 PM PDT

    •  I think you're wrong about that. (0+ / 0-)
    •  Bankrupting a municipal or co-op utility... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, Creosote, Sunspots

      Does not reduce global warming. We need well written laws that reduce greenhouse gasses without forcing our municipal and co-op power providers to buy electricity they don't need at 40 cents a kilowatt-hour.

      •  Where I live, the municpals and co-ops are more (0+ / 0-)

        like 4 cents per kilowatt hour, purchase price. Price enforced by federal policy. And the dominant public utility is trying to force the utility base price constantly up, and on to everyone. They will do anything necessary to protect their 9% plus statutorially protected rate of return for share holders.

        What a fucking scam.

        There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

        by oldpotsmuggler on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 09:30:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  g, g, g, g, g, g, g (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fisheye

    I believe you lost these.

  •  Good diary (0+ / 0-)

    But I am not sure about this

    And the big boys in the power biz would just love to see our little municipal and co-op power services forced to sell out for peanuts.
    The big boys don't like you much cause they have to string up and maintain miles of cable for each goddamn customer, less cost efficient than selling power to the latest suburban gated community.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Wed Apr 03, 2013 at 09:08:55 PM PDT

  •  Consolidation would be a good start, or return. (0+ / 0-)

    The idea of towns <100 people is ridiculous and from the diary it sounds like you now have more of them rather than fewer.  You can't make bad decisions (referendum decisions, I assume?) and expect higher levels of government to cover the consequences.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 03:52:41 AM PDT

    •  Ridiculous? Do you have any sense of history (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sunspots

      whatsoever?

      As long as there are people, there are going to be people who cannot abide high density populations.

      If it is ridiculous to have a town of less than 100, maybe we should just eliminate low population towns and euthanize those people?

      I grew up in a city of more than a quarter million, lived for more than 5 years in the Greater LA area, lived for about 10 years in a rural town of about 250, and another town of about 2000.

      High population density causes more problems than anything else, from my perspective.

      •  You go, Daddy! And maybe if rural areas got more (0+ / 0-)

        of what they're entitled to as citizens, they'd be less likely to lose population AND less likely to be anti-government and vote GOP!

        I grew up across the river from Sacramento in a suburb, and at the edge of Yolo County farmland. I count myself very lucky that I could grow up appreciating the virtues and problems of all three levels of population and density. Drive down the River Road and stop at a place like Isleton if you want to see a tiny town! Many of my (very progressive Democrat) parents' friends were conservative but thoughtful farmers etc who may have voted Republican but were sensible folks. I wish you the best of luck with educating your legislature to give small towns the same breaks they give the big ones.

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