Governor Dayton would sign Senate bill for new Xcel power plant

Published February 9, 2017

According to a statement issued today, Governor Dayton expects to sign HF 113/SF 85 as amended in the Senate last week. The bill allows Xcel Energy to build a new power plant in Becker, without going through the normal certificate of need review by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). CUB initially opposed the bill, and was able to win provisions that will help to protect consumers.

CUB appreciates Governor Dayton’s strong statement that the PUC is essential to protecting Minnesota ratepayers. We look forward to working together with the Governor and legislators to maintain the PUC’s essential role.

We also appreciate the Governor directing DEED and his administration to work with the Becker area and other communities that are home to aging power plants. Areas around the state will be facing similar transitions in the next 15 years and should be prepared to address the transitions head on.

Here is the Governor’s statement:

I have very serious concerns about other proposals in the Legislature to weaken the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). However, in this instance, I believe that the critical importance of this project for Becker, the surrounding area, and our entire state, requires certainty that the protracted PUC review process cannot provide. Thus, I expect to sign this bill as amended by the Senate last week, when it reaches me.

I have directed the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to study how the state can partner with the Becker area, as their local economy and job market absorb the impacts of the Sherco plant closures. Good jobs, healthy local economies, and cleaner energy should not be at odds in Minnesota. My Administration will do all it can to assist Becker and other communities across the state undergoing similar transitions.

The PUC plays an essential role in Minnesota, safeguarding the interests of Minnesota utility customers now and in the future. As Legislators consider additional proposals regarding the PUC this session, they should know that I will not accept any bill that limits or weakens the Commission’s authority to protect the interests of Minnesota’s energy consumers. I will, however, consider any serious proposal to improve the functioning of this essential public body.

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Author: Annie Levenson-Falk

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