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Clean energy groups, industrials unite in opposition to Minnesota gas plant

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Energy News Network:In an unusual convergence of opinion, clean energy groups and large industrial companies are asking Minnesota regulators to block a utility’s investment in a new combined-cycle natural gas power plant. While the groups’ reasons for disapproving the project differ, both camps concluded that Minnesota Power hasn’t done enough to justify its stake in the proposed $700 million power plant, and an administrative law judge recently agreed.The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission holds a hearing Thursday in Duluth to determine whether to approve the utility’s plan to invest nearly $350 million in the Nemadji Trail Energy Center in Superior, Wisconsin. The plant’s cost and up to 550-megawatt output would be shared with Wisconsin’s Dairyland Power Cooperative. The proposal is also currently going through Wisconsin’s regulatory process.The gas plant has drawn criticism from the utility’s large business customers, environmentalists, clean energy organizations and residential ratepayers. More than 1,500 people submitted letters, most of them against it. A poll of 552 Minnesota Power customers by the Citizens Utility Board last year found 77 percent did not support the proposed plant and 92 percent called for a full analysis.Clean energy organizations say the utility’s generation projections drastically overestimate its need for electricity and that carbon emissions are too great. Other alternatives such as energy efficiency, load shifting, and renewables were not seriously considered, they argue.Less expected was the opposition from large power users, a group of mining companies, paper mills and other businesses that uses most of the utility’s generation. Their objections reflect an understanding that they will pay for much of the plant because of the utility’s unique customer makeup, unlike almost any other in the country. Minnesota Power’s industrial customers absorb 74 percent of its energy generation, compared to 28 percent on average nationally. Residents and small commercial businesses split the different at 13 percent each, roughly a third of the national average for those segments.The intervenors charge that the utility has not fully explored options for cutting energy demand and tapping other sources. “The Company has not demonstrated that its proposed purchase of 250 MW NTEC purchase is the best and lowest cost option to meet its projected energy and capacity needs due to deficiencies in its modeling and procurement process,” the Large Power Intervenors said in a PUC filing.More: Customers, clean energy groups unite against Minnesota natural gas plant Clean energy groups, industrials unite in opposition to Minnesota gas plantlast_img read more