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Business North - The Daily Briefing - Business Newspaper Online
State approves key Minnesota Power plan
Minnesota Power’s 2013 resource plan was approved Wednesday by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
The plan recommended specific actions for the utility’s coal generation fleet to comply with state and federal environmental regulations, the addition of new renewable resources in the short term and a significant natural gas addition early in the next decade to further diversify its power supply and reduce carbon emissions.
Minnesota Power, a division of ALLETE Inc., said its plan is based on its EnergyForward resource strategy, which transitions the company’s energy supply mix toward one-third
renewables, one-third coal and one-third natural gas and other market resources long term through hydro and wind energy additions, coal-fired energy reductions and a post-2020 natural gas generation resource.
“We’re pleased with the commission’s decision approving our plan for Minnesota Power to continue diversifying its energy mix in a balanced way that helps ensure reasonable cost and reliability along with increased environmental stewardship,” Alan R. Hodnik, president, chairman and CEO of ALLETE, said in a news release. “
The company filed its biennial comprehensive resource plan March 1, 2013. It assessed environmental and economic futures affecting energy supply and demand while weighing the benefits and risks of various options to serve customers. The commission-approved plan includes the following components.
• The addition of 200 megawatts of wind energy to Minnesota Power’s system, which the company is proposing to meet through its recently-announced Bison 4 project near New Salem, N.D.
• Delivery of 250 megawatts of hydropower under contract from Manitoba Hydro by 2020, with Minnesota Power planning to deliver this energy on its proposed 500-kilovolt Great Northern Transmission Line.
• Reduction of coal-fired generation on its fleet by 185 megawatts through the conversion of Laskin Energy Center in Hoyt Lakes to a natural gas peaking station and the retirement of one of three units at Taconite Harbor Energy Center in Schroeder.
• Environmental retrofit of the company’s newest and largest generating unit, Boswell Unit 4.
Separately, the commission also approved Minnesota Power’s proposal to invest $350 million in additional environmental control technology at Boswell Unit 4. The project will reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent, limit other emissions and is necessary to comply with the Minnesota Mercury Emission Reduction Act and the EPA Mercury Air Toxics Standard.
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