Last week (Jan. 13), Becker City Administrator Greg Pruszinske was the keynote speaker at a kick-off meeting for the Midwestern Governor’s Association.
The meeting was entitled, “Preparing Midwestern Communities for Power Plant Closures” and Pruszinske gave a presentation on understanding the impact a power plant closure has on a community. Participants learned more about the impact of the Sherco Power Plant in Becker’s plant closure on the local community and how the city is planning to continue to thrive without this large employer and significant contributor to the tax base.
Other speakers and contributors to the meeting were Cindy Willand and Emily Phodes of Just Transition Fund who spoke on the company and how their collaboration could benefit communities losing power plants.
Panelists then met to have discussions on local impacts, economic development, workforce and education and energy and the environment. Moderator Winland listened to National NAACP Environmental Climate Justice Program (ECJP) Denise Abdul Rahman, Buckeye Hills Regional Council Executive Director Misty Crosby, Bismarck State College Polytechnic Program Outreach Director Alicia Uhde, IBEW Local 949 Business Representative Mark Kaufman and Consumers Energy Electric Supply Planning Director Jessica Woycehoski as they discussed perspectives for their subgroup and how they are supporting the transition in their community.
Discussion of next steps and how to participate in this yearlong effort were held by Midwestern Governors Association Executive Director Jesse Heier and Rhodes of Just Transition Fund before adjouring mid-morning.
The MGA, led by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, is an initiative to prepare Midwest communities for power plant closures. This issue is a focal point of Gov. Walz’s MGA Chair’s agenda – “Empowering Midwestern Communities” – which focuses on bringing Midwestern policy leaders together to create economic opportunities in the energy sector.