It hasn't even gone on line yet nor seen "shovels in the ground" and the ownership stakes in the proposed natural gas generation plant in Superior is changing. Allete, Inc. has announced its plans to sell a 30% share of its ownership in the planned Nemadji Trail Energy Center,  The $20 million dollar sale will happen with Basin Electric Power Cooperative, based out of North Dakota. After the sale is finished, Allete, Inc. will maintain a 20% ownership in the power plant.

Interested parties involved with the sale transfer and the construction of the project suggest that nothing else is changing with the power plant; the size, scope, and eventual end-product will remain the same - matching the original design projections.

While ownership transfers are a natural part of the business world, the move does come as slight surprise.  The power plant came to fruition based off a design and effort spearheaded by Allete, Inc. - parent company of Minnesota Power and Superior Water Light and Power and Dairyland Power Cooperative.  According to an article in the Superior Telegram, the company still "expects to invest a total of $140 million" in the eventual Nemedji Trail Energy Center project.

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

In addition to the sale of more than half of its ownership stakes, Allete, Inc. also intends to use less of the end-product derived from the plant.  That article in the Superior Telegram shares that "Minnesota Power is now expected to contract for a lower amount of [Nemadji Trail Energy Center's] energy, but will continue as constructor and operator of the plant".

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As for Allete, Inc.'s partner in the project - Dairyland Power Cooperative, based out of LaCrosse Wisconsin - nothing will change.  The utility company will still "remain a 50% owner of the planned facility". Minnesota Power Chief Operating Officer Josh Skelton offered that the plan remains solidly within the focus of the utility companies vision for energy in the future:

"Natural gas remains an important part of Minnesota Power's EnergyForward strategy to achieve coal-free generation by 2035 and reach a 100 percent carbon-free electricity supply by 2050.  Renewable sources such as wind and solar are not able to fulfill all of our customers' energy needs on demand around the clock.  We need reliable, modern energy sources such as [those proposed from the Nemadji Trail Energy Center] to provide sustainable energy for our region and economy."

The proposed Nemadji Trail Energy Center in Superior will "be the largest private investment in Douglas County history, proposed at $700 million".   The power plant proposal was approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in October 2018.  Meanwhile, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin gave their approval in January 2020.  That approval from Wisconsin Regulators came with a full Environmental Impact Statement.

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

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