Resource Council calls for energy efficiency standardsArea residents and members of a grassroots organization gathered Thursday evening in Dickinson to talk energy and proposed calling on Legislature to impose an efficiency standard.
Area residents and members of a grassroots organization gathered Thursday evening in Dickinson to talk energy and proposed calling on Legislature to impose an efficiency standard.
Terrence Kardong, a member of the Dakota Resource Council Board of Directors, said North Dakota ranks 49th on an energy efficiency score card, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
“There’s good reasons and there’s bad reasons for why we’re at the bottom of the pile,” Kardong said.
Scott Skokos, a Bismarck-based DRC clean energy organizer, presented a graph representing energy consumption intensity from 1997 through 2006 and the state again ranked high.
“Based on your per capita income and how much energy you’re using ... per person we’re spending more money than any other state in the country on our energy bills,” Skokos said.
Kardong said it could be attributed to cold climates and sparse populations.
“We lack a public policy, that’s the part that sticks out like a sore thumb,” Kardong said.
Some statewide power companies such as Otter Tail Power Co. and Northern Plains Electric Cooperative offer rebate and loan programs for energy efficiency, but Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. does not outside of federally subsidized offers, Skokos said.
In lieu of MDU likely receiving a 7.9 percent rate increase this week, according to The Associated Press, Kardong said the Public Service Commission continually denies rate increases requested by investor-owned utilities for energy-efficient programs.
In 1990, the state mandated a percentage of oil extraction tax be placed into the Resources Trust Fund to be used to fund energy conservation and water-related projects, according to a DRC pamphlet.
“The fund has generated over $80 million in 15 years, yet not a penny has gone to energy projects,” according to the pamphlet.
Coal has become a hot topic in southwest North Dakota and is often used as an energy source.
However, renewable energy is something the DRC feels needs to be pushed throughout the state.
“North Dakota lignite is about one grade above dirt,” Kardong said.
The DRC also pointed out that state building codes contain no energy efficiency requirements.
“The point is, though, that North Dakota does not have an energy efficiency standard and at this point, there’s not much interest in it in our Legislature,” Kardong said. “I have to say, quite frankly our Legislature is heavily influenced by our power companies and our coal companies.”
DRC plans to send their renewable energy support to Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.
The board met at the community room of Gate City Bank in downtown Dickinson.