February 21, 2018 /
WDIO online (Duluth)
By Baihly Warfield
Several citizens’ groups say that a majority of Minnesota Power customers oppose building a new natural gas plant in Superior.
They said they conducted a phone poll of 552 Minnesota Power customers. Of those, 77 percent told them they were “not inclined to support the plant,” the press release said.
“People are really worried about the proposed new gas plant and the impact that that might have on their bills in the future,” Annie Levenson-Falk with the Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota said.
Twin Cities-based CUB partnered with the Minnesota Citizens Federal Northeast and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light on the poll.
Minnesota Power would buy a 48 percent share of the Nemadji Trail Energy Center for $350 million. A spokesperson said they intend to use natural gas to supplement other renewable energy sources.
“Natural gas … enables us to add additional renewable energy by providing that backup to renewable energy, which is more of an intermittent resource,” Amy Rutledge, corporate communications manager for Minnesota Power, said.
According to the CUB poll, 92 percent of respondents want Minnesota Power to do a full analysis of energy options.
“(Minnesota Power) didn’t look at energy alternatives. They just proposed a gas plant,” Levenson-Falk said. “So what we found is that almost every customer wants to see that analysis before the plant is approved.”
Rutledge said that is not accurate.
“As part of any regulated utility, our plans need to be shared with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission,” she said. “Anytime we do resource planning, when we’re looking at how can we meet … the energy needs of our customers and doing it in the most economical manner, we need to study a wide array of options.”
The Nemadji Trail Energy Center would be built in partnership with Wisconsin’s Dairyland Power Cooperative.
There is a public comment meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 28 from 4-6 p.m. at the Inn on Lake Superior.
You can also submit written comments by email, online or through the mail through March 23.