Minnesota Power, a division of ALLETE (NYSE: ALE), today filed a study with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that examines how pending EPA regulations, predicted regional energy growth and customer cost impacts will play key roles in how the company will provide reliable and affordable electric power in the future.
“The base load diversification report is another important step in our continuous long-range planning process,” said Allan Rudeck Jr., Vice President of Minnesota Power Strategy and Planning. “Over the next five to seven years, Minnesota Power will be making decisions that have long-term consequences for the supply and cost of electric power. Minnesota Power is committed to maintaining an ongoing dialogue with our stakeholders throughout all stages of resource planning.”
The study examines the cost and reliability impacts of retiring or continuing to operate Minnesota Power’s Laskin Energy Center, Taconite Harbor Energy Center and Boswell Energy Center (in Hoyt Lakes, Schroeder, and Cohasset, Minn., respectively) coal-fired facilities through 2034 amidst a range of proposed EPA regulations.
The study provides perspective on the impact that stricter EPA regulations would have on the future of some of the company’s base load generation. The intent of the study was to consider a range of planning scenarios and explore potential impacts, not to draw any hard conclusions on the future of the company’s plants. The information will be used to help shape Minnesota Power’s next round of long-term planning, which will be detailed in its next resource plan in the summer of 2013.
Among the study’s key findings:
- Minnesota Power’s environmental investments in recent years have resulted in significant benefits at reasonable cost. Costs of anticipated controls to meet new EPA requirements impact Minnesota Power’s smaller and oldest units the most.
- Investments at the company’s largest unit, Boswell 4, are showing environmental and economic benefits for customers for the long-term planning period.
- Coal based generation shutdowns would carry significant costs to customers, including those associated with transitioning to new energy supply options.
Rudeck noted that the timing of the study aligns with the company’s long term resource strategy of reliably and cost effectively meeting customer needs while reshaping its portfolio to reduce emissions. Minnesota Power is developing a more diverse, flexible and efficient energy supply through additional renewables, such as wind and hydropower, and is on course to achieve a more balanced coal, non-coal energy mix.