Minnesota Senate lifts restrictions on new coal-fired power plants

By Dorothy Davis 

The Minnesota Senate has voted to approve a bill that repeals 4-year-old restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions from new coal-fired power plants.

The 42-18 decision strikes down key provisions of the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, which imposes strict environmental conditions on new coal generation plants or the importing of coal-fueled electricity from plants outside Minnesota.

Action on the Senate bill comes on the heels of a 73-59 approval of a provision added to an energy bill May 6, lifting a ban on new nuclear power plant developments that has been in place since 1994.

Supporters of the bills stressed the importance of giving power companies more options to meet growing consumer demand for reliable low cost electricity; contending the restrictions adopted in 2007 prevented new coal plants from being built in state and hindered economic growth.

Currently utilities in the Minnesota have not outlined plans for development of new coal or nuclear generation projects; however, the Great River Energy company does have plans to sell power generated by a new coal-fired plant under construction in North Dakota to Minnesota customers.

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