February 21, 2018 /
Fox21 online (Duluth)
By Andrew Kirov
DULUTH, Minn. – A new natural gas power plant is coming to Superior.
According to a statewide group, most Minnesota Power customers oppose the new plant because of its cost.
But Minnesota Power officials tell us their proposed rate increase is not because of the plant.
The Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota surveyed more than five-hundred Minnesota Power Customers. They say their results indicate 77% of those customers don’t support the construction of a new natural gas power plant in Superior because customers would have to pay off the plant for decades to come.
There is a proposed 3.5% rate increase for Minnesota Power customers expected to take effect by the end of the year. That’s less than the 5% interim rate hike in effect since last January.
Minnesota Power says the proposed increase does not have to do with the new power plant and is based on investments they made to their system in 2016.
“The bulk of our rate increase is really tied to our energy forward strategy in making sure that we’re delivering safe, reliable, and cleaner energy to our customers, and we think we’re providing a great value when we’re doing that,” said Amy Rutledge, Minnesota Power’s Manager of Corporate Communications.
As for that new power plant, Minnesota Power says it will help them transition to cleaner energy sources and will employ twenty-two to twenty-five people when it’s finished.
But the Citizens Utility Board wants customers to voice their opinions about other cost-effective energy options to the state’s Public Utilities Commission.
“Unfortunately there’s an idea that these are complicated issues and so what could I add that the experts haven’t already added, but you as a customer have your own expertise that the so-called experts don’t have,” said Annie Levenson-Falk of the Citizens Utility Board. “You know how it affects your family, your bill, your own goals for your community.”
A judge will listen to comments about the gas plant on February 28th at Duluth’s Inn on Lake Superior. Written comments will be accepted until March 23rd. The judge will make a recommendation about the plant in July.