The Sierra Club, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Union of Concerned Scientists have appealed the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) approval to build the Nemadji Trail Energy Center gas power plant proposed for Superior. The Minnesota PUC voted 3-2 to disregard an administrative law judge’s recommendation that the commission rule against the proposed plant, and then rejected the clean energy groups’ request to reconsider the decision, the plaintiffs said in a news release.
In July 2018, administrative law judge Jeanne M. Cochrane recommended that the Minnesota PUC deny Minnesota Power’s request to build the gas power plant in Superior, finding that it was not “needed and reasonable.” In October 2018, the Minnesota PUC voted 3-2 to approve the proposal against Judge’s Cochran’s recommendation. Last month, the Minnesota PUC refused to reconsider the decision, triggering the appeal.
"At this critical moment for the climate, it doesn’t make sense to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new fossil fuel power plant,” said Kevin Lee, an attorney with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy representing the clean energy groups. “One judge already ruled that this is an unnecessary and unreasonable proposal, and we hope the Minnesota Court of Appeals agrees.”
Large industrial customers (including mines and paper mills) and consumer groups have also opposed the construction of the new $350 million gas fired power plant on the grounds that it is too expensive and will unnecessarily raise electrical rates for Minnesota Power customers.
Al Hodnik, Chairman of ALLETE Inc., has said the plant is needed to supplement clean energy power sources at times when there's insufficient wind or sun to generate electricity.