The Minnesota Court of Appeals concluded Monday that state regulators rightly determined that a proposed $700 million natural gas plant in Superior, Wisconsin, is required and “serves the public interest better than a renewable-resource option.” Minnesota Power, based in Duluth, received authority from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to supply power from the plant in 2018. Still, environmental groups have appealed the ruling and warned Monday that they would continue to fight the project’s development.
The Nemadji Trail Energy Center (NTEC), a joint venture between Minnesota Power and Wisconsin’s Dairyland Power Cooperative, would generate at least 525 megawatts. In April, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the plant does not require additional environmental study but asked the appeals court to determine whether the commission’s decision to allow the utility’s interest in the project was based on significant evidence.
In its judgment on Monday, the appeals court determined that considerable evidence supports the commission’s determination that NTEC best serves the public interest and is a more reliable and cost-effective electricity source than renewable renewables. The plant emits less carbon than coal and is needed to replace coal and keep the lights on when the sun isn’t shining. Unfortunately, the wind isn’t blowing, which is shutting or converting its last remaining coal plants by 2035 and currently receives half of its energy from renewable sources.
According to the judgment, if the plant were not built, the utility would be forced to acquire power from the market, raising customer bills. In the face of climate change, environmentalists and other opponents argue that no new fossil fuel plants should be built and that the project could raise electric bills. Several legal issues remain in Wisconsin and at the federal level for the project.ral level for the project.