MN Power Announces $365 M Energy Forward Plan

By KBJR News 1

MN Power Announces $365 M Energy Forward Plan

January 30, 2013 Updated Jan 30, 2013 at 7:27 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The $365 million Energy Forward plan is one officials say is based on some projects already in place, and their successes.

For example, because of what Minnesota Power calls the successes with the Thomson and Fond du Lac hydroelectric stations, Minnesota Power says they'll be upgrading those locations as part of the Energy Forward plan.

But arguably the biggest investments include the conversion of the Laskin Energy Center in Hoyt Lakes to natural gas by 2015, which officials say would be a $15 million investment.

$350 million will go toward environmental upgrades at the Boswell Energy Center Unit 4 to comply with EPA Mercury Air Toxic Standards. When coupled with other reductions, MN Power says it would result in system–wide emission reductions of 85 percent by 2016.

Along with that, Taconite Harbor will retire 1 of 3 coal–fired units, while maintaining units 1 and 2, which officials say already meet current and pending EPA standards.

MN Power says it's unclear at this time just how many permanent jobs would also come about from the projects, but say certain jobs will become obsolete with the transition of Laskin Energy and Taconite Harbor.

However, Minnesota Power's Manager for Corporate Communications Amy Rutledge says the company is ready for that.

"We certainly think and hope, through natural attrition and through new opportunities at Minnesota Power, that we'll be able to re–deploy those very talented employees within our system," said Rutledge.

But, one thing is for certain.

Projects of this magnitude mean major construction and renovations, which is good news for the construction sector.

Currently, planning is also underway for the Great Northern Transmission Line, which would deliver 250 megawatts of carbon–free hydroelectric power from northern Manitoba to MN by 2020.

MN Power says all of these when combined put to action the company's vision for a cleaner energy future while preserving reliability, protecting affordability and improving environmental performance.