Proposed Natural Gas Plant For Superior Doesn’t Need Review By Minnesota Regulators
A proposed natural gas power plant for Superior, Wisconsin can move forward without review by Minnesota regulators. The Minnesota Supreme Court voted to reverse a lower courts opinion - meaning that plans for the $700 million Nemadji Trail Energy Center can move forward.
At issue is a basic border-state problem. Minnesota Power (based in Minnesota) has made plans with La Crosse's Dairyland Power Cooperative to build a 525-625 megawatt power plant in Superior, Wisconsin. In earlier litigious actions, it was decided that Minnesota Power needed to have sign-off from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. That decision came from arguments instigated by numerous environmental groups. According to an article in the Superior Telegram:
"Environmental groups had argued the PUC should have ordered an environmental review for the project under the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act - or MEPA - because it would be built by a regulated Minnesota company for Minnesota customers and is so close to the state line."
The power company took the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court - arguing that it "overstated the PUC's regulatory role". Minnesota Power recognized the regulatory nature of the PUC in relation to their financial arrangements, it postulated that the commission "could not regulate the construction of a project on sites outside the state border".
Once built, the proposed Nemadji Trail Energy Center would be located near the site of the Husky refinery in Superior. Operated jointly by both Minnesota Power and Dairyland Power Cooperative, the natural gas-burning power plant would allow the utilities to keep up with demands. The plan is anticipated to be online by 2025.