MPUC Bows to Activists in Delaying Vote on Natural Gas Plant

State regulators have once again empowered environmental hardliners by postponing a decision on a natural-gas power plant proposed by Minnesota Power. While the plant will be built in Superior, the utility still needs the approval of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Yet instead of voting on the $700 million plant on Thursday, the MPUC put off a final decision at the request of a far-leftist group, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

Although the PUC was expected to make a decision Thursday, a last-minute filing by the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board on Tuesday asked the PUC to consider an additional environmental review after Honor the Earth, a Native-American-led environmental group, called for the review in an Oct. 8 petition.

PUC commissioners spent Thursday’s hearing examining the data used to determine the plant’s need, but are expected to consider the environmental review at an Oct. 28 meeting.

The main reason the utility needs the plant in the first place is to make sure the lights and heat stay on in northern Minnesota due to the unreliability of green energy sources mandated by Minnesota.

Minnesota Power argues the natural-gas plant would help supplement its push to more renewable energy as it could provide energy when demand is high but energy generated by solar and wind is low.

“If NTEC is approved by the commission and moves forward, Minnesota Power would have 7 percent of its system as gas and we would add a true dispatchable resource to our mix,” David Moeller, senior attorney at Allete, Minnesota Power’s parent company, said in his opening statements Thursday morning.

When paired with the company’s growing solar and wind electricity sources, the company maintains the plant would help provide energy “when the wind isn’t blowing and sun isn’t shining.”

Yet even natural gas isn’t green enough for the far-leftist activists pushing state regulators to effectively ban our most reliable and economical energy sources.

“That sound byte is not supported by the record,” Leigh Currie, an attorney with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, said during her opening statement.

Opponents of the project argue that while natural-gas burns cleaner than other fossil fuels like coal, it is not a clean alternative, especially when considering all the methane released in the extraction process.

An administrative law judge recently recommended against approval of the proposed plant because the utility failed to show a need for it. Unfortunately, wind and solar power projects get a pass on that requirement, leading to billions of dollars in wasteful spending on green energy that continues to drive up the cost of electricity statewide.