Minnesota Public Utilities Commission To Decide Fate of Proposed Gas Plant

This week the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will hold a hearing in Duluth where commissioners are expected to decide if Minnesota power will get permission to move forward with building the plant.

DULUTH, Minn. – Minnesota Power announced plans to build a $700 million natural gas plant in Superior just last year.

This week the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will hold a hearing in Duluth where commissioners are expected to decide if Minnesota power will get permission to move forward with building the plant.

But, not everyone is on board.

A lot is at stake here.

The main questions commissioners are considering include whether Minnesota Power has a need for the electricity this plant would generate, and whether building this plant is the best economic and environmental option.

Days before the public holds its meeting Duluth residents and several organizations were at the Ordean Building in Duluth.

The signs clearly state they are against the Nemadji Trail Energy Center.

“So, even if a new plant was needed this is not the right way to do it as well as giving some pollution and hurting climate change,” said Buddy Robinson of Minnesota Citizens Federation Northeast.

Many in attendance believe Minnesota Power simply wants to build the plant to increase profits for shareholders,¬†including Norm Herron who’s been a Minnesota Power customer for almost 50 years.

“People aren’t heard today. It’s the corporation, the big corporation with oil and gas making profits,” said Herron. “What about the people who are hurting from all this? That bothers me.”

Minnesota Power would be responsible for half of the $700 million bill for constructing the plant.

The costs would be shared with Wisconsin based Dairyland Cooperative.

“We’re at 33 percent renewable energy now and we’re not done yet,” said Minnesota Power Marketing Communications Manager Amy Rutledge. “We expect by 2025 we’ll have 44 percent renewable energy in our system, that’s far more than Minnesota’s own state’s goal.

The plant would create about 260 construction jobs and employ about 25 people when complete.

Minnesota Power leaders believe this would mean about a two percent increase on customer’s bills.

“We need to have an energy resource for when the wind’s not blowing and the sun’s not shining, and, that’s where natural gas really fits in,” said Rutledge. “It’s economical it’s flexible and it’s there when you need it.”

Herron says regardless of the outcome he’d remain a customer.

“I think they’re on their way,” said Herron. “I just want to see it go faster, more quicker to renewable source of energy.”

An administrative law judge recently made a recommendation to the PUC that the gas plant was not needed.

The PUC hearing will be this Thursday at 9:30 at Duluth City Hall.

The Nemadji Trail Energy Center would be located in Superior near Enbridge.

If approved, Minnesota Power officials expect the plant would be on line in 2026.

Categories: Community, Minnesota, News, News – Latest News