How killing Energy Star could benefit Trump financially

APRIL 25, 2017, 12:50 P.M.

How killing Energy Star could benefit Trump financially

President Trump’s plan to kill the Energy Star program could benefit his properties 

Among the more puzzling cuts in the Trump administration budget proposal is the one that eliminates all funding for the popular — and cost-effective — Energy Star program, which awards its vaunted label to products and properties that utilize the most energy-efficient technologies.

The voluntary program is credited with saving consumers billions of dollars on their electricity bills, curbing greenhouse gas emissions and encouraging companies to innovate. The plan to eliminate it reflects the substantial influence in the administration of a small group of advocates in free-market think tanks who argue that even the voluntary measure reflects too much government interference in industry.

But it turns out those think tanks are not the only organizations that have an interest in seeing the program disappear. Trump’s businesses do too. A report on CNN details how Trump’s buildings consistently receive low Energy Star ratings, which diminishes their value. If the program goes away, so does that business problem.

Conflict of interest? “You bet your life that it is,” Norman Ornstein, a political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute, told CNN. The Trump Organization and the White House did not respond to the network’s requests for comment.

MINN-City manager responds to smart meter comments

Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea City Manager Chad Adams said Monday that the city of Albert Lea has not found credible, sufficient, peer-reviewed scientific research that illustrates the health concerns of smart meters.

Adams gave a presentation to the Albert Lea City Council after community member Phil Mandsager expressed concern in a public forum during the council’s April 10 meeting about the installation of smart meters in Albert Lea by Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services.

According to meeting minutes, Mandsager said he has had ringing in his ears and has had trouble sleeping since the installation of the smart meters.

Mandsager, who has circulated information about smart meters across the city, claimed a resident told him she noticed an increase in her blood pressure after they were in place.

Adams said the city of Albert Lea typically does not have authority to regulate smart meters from a utility.

He said though there have been articles written and research conducted on smart meters, there has not been a large consensus of the health effects of them.

“Therefore, it really kind of falls back into the hands of the scientific community or some of the higher authorities to tell us whether we should or should not be regulating smart meters,” Adams said.

He presented a brief overview of the approach other government entities have taken on smart meters.

Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services is discussing an opt-out provision that would allow consumers to use an analog meter if they want to, Adams said.

According to meeting minutes, at the April 10 meeting Mandsager noted reservations about how Freeborn-Mower conducted research and collected data the organization presented publicly.

In a letter to the Tribune that published April 16, Jim Krueger, Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services president and CEO, said the radio frequency emitted by a smart meter is only a small fraction of the exposure established as safe by Federal Communications Commission guidelines. He spoke highly of data privacy and utility and consumer benefits to installing smart meters.

In other action, the council:

  • Awarded a contract for the 2017 neighborhood project in the central part of the city to Ulland Brothers Inc. for $1.05 million.
  • Received updates on the possible bathroom in downtown Albert Lea near the site of a planned splash pad by Adams. Park board members Vern Rasmussen Sr., Brian Hensley and Anne Sternhagen are gauging the feedback of local residents before next month’s board meeting.
  • Accepted a cash donation of $1,625 from Wanda Thomas toward a park bench at Edgewater Park in member of her brother, David Cornick. A donation of $345 from the Richard Knudson family was received for the Albert Lea Fire Department to purchase fitness equipment to assist with meeting fitness standards, and a $365 donation was received for Senior Center activities.
  • Was presented an update of the city’s 2017 first quarter budget report.
  • Heard an update on the progress of the Shell Rock River Watershed District by Administrator Brett Behnke. He discussed the progress of the district’s Fountain Lake dredging project and recent completion of the Pickerel Lake dam project.
  • Had a first reading on amending several sections of the city’s zoning and land use code.