By STEVE KARNOWSKI
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday ordered state regulators to reconsider whether an environmental review is necessary for a proposed natural gas-fired power plant that would be built by Minnesota and Wisconsin utilities.
Minnesota Power and Dairyland Power Cooperative are seeking regulatory approval in both states for the proposed $700 million Nemadji Trail Energy Center in the city of Superior. The two utilities would share power generated by the 525 megawatt plant.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals sent the case back to the state Public Utilities Commission to decide whether the proposal has the “potential for significant environmental effects” warranting a formal study. It said the commission erred by approving the project without adequately ascertaining the need for the review.
Environmental groups opposed to the project say it’s unnecessary and would contribute to climate change. But the commission rejected their petitions for an environmental review, saying that the project isn’t subject to Minnesota environmental law and that the commission lacks jurisdiction to order a review for a power plant in Wisconsin.
The proposal is also making its way through the regulatory process at the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin, which held a public comment period on its own environmental review earlier this year.