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Industry News

PUC Avoids Derailing Big Stone II Coal Project

LCG, October 12, 2007--The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) yesterday agreed to allow the application to construct two electric transmission lines from the planned coal-fired unit, Big Stone II, to Granite Falls, Minnesota to proceed. Two of the utilities supporting the new power plant, Great River Energy and Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, recently announced their decision to withdraw from the project, placing the future of the generation and transmission projects in doubt. The five co-owners of Big Stone II are now Otter Tail Power Co., Central Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, Heartland Consumers Power District, Missouri River Energy Services and Montana-Dakota Utilities.

As previously proposed, the transmission project was to extend between 140 and 160 miles and to cost $225 million to $275 million. With the withdrawal of the two utilities, the project partners informed the PUC that the Big Stone II power plant capacity may be reduced from a 630-MW to perhaps a 500-MW or 580-MW plant.

The proposed electric generating facility would be sited adjacent to the existing, 450-MW Big Stone facility located near the Minnesota-South Dakota border.

Opponents of the projects had hoped that, with uncertainty hanging over the power plant and its design capacity, the transmission line project would be sent back to square one to restart the approval process, which would have led to significant delays in the projects.

A final decision from the PUC is anticipated in 2008.
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