Minnesota Power proposes next step in EnergyForward plan

Minnesota Power, a utility division of ALLETE ,announced the next step in its EnergyForward strategy for ensuring a safe, reliable, and competitive energy supply for customers and the region.

Minnesota Power will request an additional 250 MW of wind capacity as part of its EnergyForward plan.

If approved by regulators, the resource package coupled with the company’s existing renewable resources will result in renewable resources providing 44% of the company’s energy supply by 2025, further reducing carbon emissions, while keeping rates affordable.

In an upcoming filing with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC), Minnesota Power will request the addition of 250 MW of wind-power capacity, an additional 10 MW of solar power, and 250 MW of combined-cycle natural gas generation to meet customer demand for power — which is projected to grow throughout the region.

The new resources will increase the company’s already robust wind portfolio of 620 MW.

“For the past four years, EnergyForward has been exceeding expectations for how an energy company can transform the way it produces and delivers energy,” said Brad Oachs, President of Regulated Operations. “We look forward to working with our customers and regulators to continue down the path toward a safe, reliable, cleaner and affordable energy future.”

With approval of the proposed resource package by the MPUC, renewable energy resources— including wind, Canadian hydro, solar and biomass—will account for 44% of the utility’s energy supply portfolio, exceeding the initial EnergyForward goal of one-third renewable power. Minnesota Power’s long-term goal is an energy mix of two-thirds renewable energy and flexible, renewable-enabling natural gas, and one-third environmentally compliant baseload coal.

Natural gas is an essential component of the resource package to be filed with regulators. Without this plant, Minnesota Power would be reliant on fluctuating wholesale market prices when sun and wind resources aren’t available, increasing overall costs over the long-run.

“Through a unique partnership with Dairyland Power Cooperative and access to a competitive natural gas supply, this approximately $350 million investment will further balance Minnesota Power’s energy mix while contributing meaningful growth for ALLETE’s shareholders,” said ALLETE Chairman, President and CEO Al Hodnik. “ The ALLETE of today is a stronger and much more balanced company, with each of its businesses providing attractive growth and diversity consistent with our overall growth thesis.”

Minnesota Power will file later this summer with the MPUC requesting approval of the resource package. After filing, state regulators will open a formal review process to consider Minnesota Power’s request. After input from stakeholders and the public, a final determination is expected in the latter half of 2018.

Minnesota Power already is meeting or exceeding state standards for renewable power, energy conservation and carbon emission reduction through fleet transition of smaller coal units and the addition of renewable energy. The company has already achieved a 25 percent renewable energy mix well ahead of Minnesota’s goal of 25% by 2025. Minnesota Power expects to reduce carbon emissions on its system by about 40% by 2030, compared with 2005 levels.

“We believe this resource package is the best way to meet changing customer expectations for clean energy while preserving safe, affordable and reliable supplies of energy for the customers who depend on us to power homes, schools, hospitals and the natural resource based industry that fuels our region’s economy,” Oachs said.

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