Coleman Visits Local Business
Norm Coleman, who helped create 18,000 new jobs as mayor of St. Paul, visited Hutchinson last week to learn how a cornburning stove might brighten the state's future.
"I think we are looking at the future for rural Minnesota," Coleman said to his host, Mike Haefner, owner and president of American Energy Systems.
The pair spent 45 minutes Thursday discussing ways that Haefner's corn-burning furnaces and stoves could become a larger part of the nation's energy policy. Coleman, a Republican who is vying for a U.S. Senate set against two term incumbent Paul Wellstone, also shook hands and posed for pictures with many of Haefner's 29 employees.
The company's typical stove runs about $2,350, so "the payback is about two to three years," Haefner said.
Renewable energy sources such as corn must get more attention, Coleman said. Currently, however, the nation's energy policy is at a standstill. "It's hung up in the United States Senate right now and that's not a good thing," he said.
He also supports more development of wind energy. But he doesn't agree with Wellstone's proposal to require states to generate 20 percent of their power from wind by 2020. "For the government to mandate these arbitrary mandatory policies is absurd," he said. "I think the senator is way off base with that kind of thinking." Coleman said American Energy Systems holds promise to help solve the nation's energy problems, and referred to the multi-fuel burning stoves as "creative value added." He said manufacturing pioneers such as Haefner are creating more jobs for rural Minnesota.
Coleman's campaign recently got a boost from a Twin Cities visit by President George bush. He said his goals have changed significantly since the late 1960's, when he worked as a roadie for the rock band Ten Years After.