State regulators on Thursday set a new submission date for Minnesota Power’s

Integrated Resource Plan.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted to approve Minnesota Power’s request for an extension of the filing of its IRP. Originally due on Oct. 1, the IRP will now be due Feb. 1, 2021, with interim reports due this fall. The Commission also approved a four-month extension for the filing of a baseload retirement study and a securitization plan.

Minnesota Power requested an extension in May citing the economic uncertainty and challenges to the community engagement process created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The IRP is required of all investor-owned utilities, generation-and-transmission cooperatives and municipal power agencies.

An IRP outlines how the company will meet over the next 15 years the expected energy needs of its customers with a safe, reliable and cost-effective supply of energy and is an important tool for regulators who implement Minnesota’s energy policy.

“We’re pleased that the commission agreed that our request for an extension was reasonable and for the support from regional community stakeholders most directly impacted by potential outcomes of the IRP,” said Julie Pierce, Minnesota Power vice president of Strategy and Planning. “For the

past few months, Minnesota Power has been focused on the safety and health of employees and the communities we serve as we all work to slow the spread of COVID-19. The extension will allow for additional discussions with communities and other interested parties and provide more insight into the pandemic’s effect on our customers’ energy needs and the region’s economy.”

Producing an IRP involves extensive analysis of customer demand, available energy technology and access to transmission systems. The economic uncertainty resulting from the pandemic has made forecasting energy needs more difficult, and the extension will provide some additional time to assess the implications of COVID-19 on customer energy needs.

Representatives from IBEW Local 31, RAMS (Range Area Municipalities and Schools), Itasca Economic Development Corp., LiUNA (Laborers’ International Union of North America), the City of Cohasset and the Minnesota Department of Commerce spoke at the hearing in support of granting an extension.