In the face of considerable public opposition, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously in January to approve a certificate of need for two transmission lines running from the coal-fired Big Stone II power plant currently under development across the border in Milbank, S.D.
The plant itself is owned by a cooperative of five utilities and is not expected to be completed until 2015. But a lot has to happen before then to get the generated power to homes and businesses, and the PUC action allows these firms to construct and upgrade 112 miles of transmission lines in western Minnesota.
Environmental groups and citizens voiced strong concerns over the coal-fired plant and are expected to file lawsuits to stop the plant and transmission upgrade.
—Ronald A. Wirtz