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Minn. Power Plans to Close 1 of 3 Taconite Harbor Units

Posted at: 01/30/2013 1:44 PM
Updated at: 01/30/2013 10:11 PM
By: Alan Hoglund
ahoglund@wdio.com

Minnesota Power announced big changes to facilities in Hoyt Lakes and Schroeder Wednesday, as part of its plan to meet the energy needs of customers, while providing reliability, protecting affordability and further improving environmental performance.

The company outlined its "EnergyForward" resource strategy Wednesday, saying "it is a road map to a cleaner energy future."

Minnesota Power's Amy Rutledge said "this is really a long term outlook. Ultimately we will have an energy mix of one-third renewable, one-third natural gas and one-third coal."

One change Rutledge said will take effect by 2015 include retiring a one of three coal-fired units at the company's Taconite Harbor facility in Schroeder, while maintaining the other units which both comply with current and pending environmental regulations.

Also by 2015, Rutledge said the company will investing $15 million to convert the 110-megawatt Laskin Energy Center in Hoyt Lakes to an all-natural gas-fueled facility. She said no jobs will be immediately impacted. However, she said only one-third of the 40-plus employees there will be needed to run the facility once the conversion is made.

According to Al Rudeck, Minnesota Power's Vice President of Strategy and Planning, "re-fueling Laskin and retiring one generating unit at our Taconite Harbor facility are the most cost effective solutions for our small coal units to comply with state and federal regulations."

Minnesota Power supplies electric service to 144,000 residents, 16 municipalities and some of the largest industrial customers in the country.

A spokesperson with the local chapter of the Sierra Club, an environmental group, said the announcement is a sign that Minnesota Power is beyond a reliance on a fuel from the past.