Last fall, Minnesota Power proposed to own half of a new 250 MW gas power plant in Superior, Wisconsin. Because the plant would cost Minnesota Power ratepayers approximately $350 million, it needs approval from the Public Utilities Commission to move forward.
Experts have now submitted their initial testimony in the public review of the plant, and the analysis indicates that the gas plant would be an unwise use of customers’ money.
Minnesota Power does not need the electricity.
Expert witnesses for the Large Power Intervenors, an association representing large industry in northern Minnesota, and Clean Energy Organizations both independently concluded that Minnesota Power did not show a need for the new generation. On the contrary, one expert wrote, “acquiring 250 MW of capacity would put Minnesota Power in a position of extreme excess capacity.”
If it did need electricity, there could be less expensive alternatives.
Even if Minnesota Power did have a need for more electricity, experts for both groups found, the utility didn’t adequately consider alternatives to the gas plant. For example, Minnesota Power could rely more on demand response programs, which reward customers for using less power during high-demand times. In addition, it could be more cost-effective to use the regional electric grid, energy efficiency, low-cost renewable energy, energy storage, or other options.
You can read all of the submitted testimony here (select “17” in the “year” field, and enter “568” under “number”).
Submit a public comment
The Public Utilities Commission is now accepting public comments on the proposed gas plant, and they need to hear from you.
In writing: Use CUB’s online form, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail your comment to MN Public Utilities Commission, 121 7th Place East, Suite 350, St. Paul, MN 55101. Be sure to include your name and reference docket number 17-568. Written comments must be received by 4:30 pm on March 23.
In person: A public hearing will be held at 4:00 p.m. on February 28 at Duluth’s Inn on Lake Superior.
Please note that the comment and information you submit will be made public in the PUC docket.