Minnesota Power energy resource plan will cut coal, increase renewables

In its 2013 Resource Plan, Minnesota Power, a division of ALLETE (ALE), outlined its commitment to meeting the needs of customers with a reliable, affordable and sustainable power supply now and into the future.

Minnesota Power’s Resource Plan recommends specific action on its coal fleet to comply with state and federal environmental regulations, and the addition of new wind energy resources in the short term and natural gas in the long term to further diversify its power supply.

The comprehensive resource plan, which is required to be submitted by utilities in Minnesota to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) about every two years, spans a 15-year planning period from 2013 to 2027.

It assesses environmental and economic futures affecting energy supply and demand while weighing the benefits and risks of various resource supply options. Minnesota Power’s planning position differs from most other utilities because it forecasts load growth largely associated with the ferrous and non-ferrous mining sector of Northeast Minnesota.

Under the 2013 Resource Plan the company will:

·      Request proposals for up to 200 MW of additional wind energy following the extension of the federal production tax Ccedit to be brought online in 2014-2015.

·      Continue and enhance its leading-edge Power of One conservation program to meet or exceed state conservation goals of 1.5 percent.

·      Invest $350 million in additional environmental control technology at Boswell Unit 4, the company’s newest, largest and most efficient generating unit, to retain reliability and reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent. The upgrades will comply with the Minnesota Mercury Emission Reduction Act and the EPA Mercury Air Toxics Standard (MATS).

·      Reduce coal-fired generation on its fleet by 185 MW through the conversion of Laskin Energy Center in Hoyt Lakes to a natural gas peaking station and the retirement of one of three units at Taconite Harbor Energy Center in Schroeder.

·      Further transition the company’s energy supply mix toward one-third natural gas and other market resources, one-third coal, and one-third renewable energy in the long term through hydro and wind energy additions and a post-2020 natural gas generation resource.

·      Leverage surplus energy market conditions to maintain competitive electric service rates.

·      Deliver 250 MW of hydropower under contract from Manitoba Hydro by 2020 through a proposed 500-kV transmission line — the Great Northern Transmission Line.

Minnesota Power’s Resource Plan is subject to review and approval by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The commission is anticipated to take action on the Plan by the end of 2013. The Plan can be found on Minnesota Power’s website at mnpower.com

Minnesota Power provides retail electric service within a 26,000-square-mile area in northeastern Minnesota to 144,000 customers and wholesale electric service to 16 municipalities.

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