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Sen. Klobuchar to tour energy projects

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's tour this week of state and northwest Minnesota energy-efficient projects includes a Park Rapids french fry factory.

She's using the tour to highlight the job creation potential of energy efficiency and homegrown energy, especially with small businesses.

Klobuchar, DFL-Minn., will visit businesses and hold events in Cohasset, Cloquet, Detroit Lakes, Duluth, Moorhead, Park Rapids, Rochester and St. Paul.

At 4 p.m. Tuesday, she will tour the Lamb Weston/RDO Frozen Food plant in Park Rapids to review new energy efficiency features.

Klobuchar is co-author of the American Renewable Energy Act, which would establish a national renewable energy standard (modeled after Minnesota's "25 by 25" law) to stimulate innovation and investment in homegrown energy. The law mandates that 25 percent of the state's power come from renewable sources by 2025.

She also serves as chairwoman of the Senate Subcommittee on Competitiveness, Innovation and Export Promotion.

For the kick-off of her tour on Monday morning, Klobuchar will a visit Innovative Power Systems, a licensed general contractor in St. Paul that installs renewable energy systems for homes and businesses. The company has 18 employees.

Klobuchar's statewide tour will conclude with an Energy Efficiency and Innovation Summit she is convening at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management in Minneapolis. The summit will bring together Minnesota policymakers and businesses. The featured speaker is Cathy Zoi, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy, U.S. Department of Energy.

"Our best opportunities for creating jobs and growing our economy over the long term will be through innovation and the development of clean energy technologies," said Klobuchar. "This includes not only technologies to produce energy like wind, solar, biofuels and nuclear. It also includes technologies to save energy through greater efficiency with our vehicles, our homes, our buildings and our factories. The bottom line is that saving energy means saving money."

Klobuchar noted that a recent national economic analysis showed that Minnesota's annual job growth during the past decade was less than 2 percent. But jobs related to the new energy economy grew by nearly 12 percent each year.

"In the current economic downturn, clean energy industries have been one of the few sectors that's actually creating rather than cutting jobs," said Klobuchar. "Small businesses are the source of much of this innovation and job creation, and we need to encourage more of it."