Rapids Power LLC files for Certificate of Need for cogen project

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn., Sept. 11, 2001 – Rapids Power LLC, which proposes to construct and own an energy-efficient co-generation project adjacent to the Blandin Paper facility in Grand Rapids, Minn., has requested a Certificate of Need from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Rapids Power is a limited liability company owned by Minnesota Power subsidiary Rainy River Energy Corp. and Blandin Paper, a subsidiary of UPM-Kymmene of Helsinki, Finland.

In its application, Rapids Power said the project is needed for three primary purposes: to provide Blandin Paper with reliable, low-cost energy for present and future needs; to furnish an economical and commercially attractive supply of baseload energy to utilities in Minnesota and regional wholesale markets; and to allow Blandin and Rainy River to achieve synergies that will enhance productivity and lower costs for both enterprises.

The Certificate of Need is one of three major regulatory approvals required before construction can begin on the facility. It is anticipated that construction would begin in the fall of 2002 and be completed in 2005. Cost of the project is estimated at approximately $200 million.

In addition to announcing its filing for the certificate, Rapids Power named Warren Candy general manager for the project. Candy, 51, is a vice president of Minnesota Power who lives in Itasca County north of Cohasset, Minn. Candy said Rapids Power is in the process of finding office space in the Grand Rapids area.

If approved, the Rapids Power project will co-generate 225 megawatts of electricity and up to 84 megawatts of process heat for Blandin Paper using state-of-the-art circulating fluidized bed combustion technology.

Rapids Power intends to initially co-fire the project with 30 percent renewable biomass fuel, primarily wood waste from the Blandin Paper facility, and 70 percent low-sulfur coal from the Powder River Basin.

Rapids Power intends to increase the level of biomass fueling as biomass supply and economics allow.

SOURCE: Rapids Power LLC

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