Minnesota Power has taken significant action to improve the environmental performance of its fleet; keeping pace with the nation’s rapidly transforming energy landscape. The company’s generation fleet was 95 percent coal-based in 2005, but by next year the ratio will drop to 74 percent coal and 26 percent non-coal, with a greater non-coal percentage projected to come. Transitioning from fossil-fuel based energy to renewable energy is a capital intensive endeavor. In recent years Minnesota Power has invested about $500 million in wind energy, biomass and hydropower improvements.
The company also noted its cost-competitive actions to reduce carbon and other emissions, including the purchase of a 465-mile direct current transmission line to move about 400 megawatts of wind energy to its customers, and projects that have reduced emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulates, at all of its coal-fired generating stations. These environmental investments have resulted in a 70 percent reduction in generation fleet emissions since 2005. Another major retrofit at the company’s Boswell Unit 4 – a project unveiled since the completion of the BDS – will bring the system wide emission reductions to an estimated 85 percent. Minnesota Power has developed award winning programs to partner with customers to conserve energy, delivering 2.1 percent conservation this past year, well ahead of the 1.5 percent state requirement.
“Meeting the energy needs of our customers now and in the future is far more complex than simply closing a facility and walking away,” Rudeck said. “For decades coal has provided the most reliable, safe and affordable electric power to our customers and it will continue to be an important part of our energy mix, just as electric power will continue to be one of the most important services for our residential customers, for businesses and industry, and for the quality of life of this region. There are no shortcuts in making the best decisions in the best interest of our customers.”