- Associated Press - Friday, March 10, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota legislators have backed a bill calling for a study of the state’s energy landscape amid complaints by some that it unfairly favors wind energy over coal.

The call for the study was attached to a bill proposed by Republican Sen. Dwight Cook that called for a moratorium of new wind energy projects in the state. The Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of the amended bill before the Legislature’s mid-session break, the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/2mJ6QNz ) reported.

“I think it’s time to level the playing field,” Republican Sen. Jessica Unruh said. She said discussion of the topic in the Legislature seemed to pit coal against wind, and that this isn’t the intention of the study.

Cook said that technology may catch up to allow storage of wind energy, but until then there needs to be a primary energy source available for freezing winter days that carry no wind.

“It’s more about reliability, and coal is the most reliable source of power we have,” he said.

Robert Harms, who lobbied at the Legislature on behalf of wind company Tradewind Energy, called the discussion about the state’s energy sources timely.

“I think this gives an opportunity … to look at how our energy sector is evolving,” Harms said. He had disagreed on the original bill Cook proposed, saying North Dakota would have had to compete with surrounding states on energy types regardless.

Cook said the study is an important first step in preparing for North Dakota’s future.

“We’ve just got to sit back … look at the big picture,” he said.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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