First, what and where is Zumbrota? The only “Zumbrota” in the world is a community of about 3,000 souls located 20 miles north of Rochester Minnesota. It also happens to be my home town in which my father ran the local newspaper starting in 1946 and passed it on to one of his sons and then a grandson – so that I still get complementary issues of the paper every week.
During the past few years I read about the big windmill controversy of Zumbrota and its county of Goodhue. Because a major national power grid runs through that region and because that region has consistently strong winds, a windmill company tried to get local farmers to allow them to put some windmills in Goodhue County. After a few years of resistance to this idea by the good folks of the county, the windmill company gave up and dropped those plans. While the proposed windmills would have brought considerable wealth to the region and would have provided a major source of carbon-free power, it was not liked by many apparently for aesthetic reasons.
Then, in my last issue of Zumbrota’s News-Record it was reported that a similar proposal for a solar panel farm near Zumbrota was also turned down by the community’s city council. I am guessing that the reason was again claimed to be aestheric since I can think of no other.
As a result of these reports, I used my influence with Peter Grimsrud, my nephew and now publisher of Zumbrota’s News-Record, to run the letter to the editor shown below under the same title as used for this post.
“A 2014 poll (Washington Post, Nov. 19, 2014) found that 74% of Americans under the age of 30 support government policies to cut carbon pollution, as compared to just 58% of respondents over the age of 40, and 52% over the age of 65. The problem set in motion by this divide is that younger generations will have to live with the consequences of the decisions we make today for much longer than older generations. Older generations prospered as a result of the burning of fossil fuels for seemingly cheap energy and tend to look fondly on how things were done back in “the good old days” – while our youngsters will not appreciate how slowly their parents and grandparents came to understand what they were thereby doing to all future generations.
With the above trends in mind, I have observed the resistance in Zumbrota and Goodhue County, in general, to the installation of first windmills and now solar panels. While such installations seem to be “no brainers” to me – I have made extensive use of solar panels on my homes and windmills in my states of residence – I have been surprised at the resistance shown to them in the Zumbrota region where I grew up and still visit regularly. In pondering this, I suspect that the reason has a lot to do with the information provided in my opening paragraph. Moreover, I wonder if the average age of Zumbrotans has significantly increased over time. In any case, it appears to me that Zumbrota has become part of the intergenerational crime being committed almost everywhere in the USA by my own baby boomer generation on all future generations. The only argument against what I just said is that the science behind it is wrong – another unfortunate notion more commonly embraced by the more aged among us. Needless to say, I hope the Goodhue County Board shows more sense concerning its apparent “solar panel controversy” than did the Zumbrota Council.
Eric Grimsrud, Grand Rapids, MN”
While I hope that by this letter I have not worn out my welcome in my beloved home town, I hope it is also recognized that “what goes on in Zumbrota does NOT, in this case, stay in Zumbrota”. With respect to the global warming problem, Zumbrotans affect the future of the entire planet.