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Extra renewables funding in North Dakota

Two North Dakota power plant operators have agreed to fund $5 million in renewable energy projects in addition to installing $100 million worth of anti-pollution equipment at the Milton Young coal-fired power station in western North Dakota. The agreement is part of a settlement between the plant owners, Minnkota Power Cooperative and Square Butte Power Cooperative, and the US Department of Justice and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The settlement is the end of a case begun five years ago. It alleged that the plant had violated the EPA's 1977 "new source review" program, which requires operators who modify plants and significantly increase pollution to obtain federal permits and install state-of-the-art pollution reduction technology. "The renewable projects will be wind turbines in our service area," says Minnkota's John Graves. If Minnkota decides to own them, the construction deadline is December 31, 2012, he says. If the power company decides to buy in the wind power, the power purchase agreement will be for a period of no less than 15 years and the deadline is December 31, 2009. "We're leaning toward an agreement with a developer but the decision has not yet been finalized," says Graves. Minnkota and Square Butte are non-profit electric co-operatives that provide at-cost electricity to their member owners in Minnesota and North Dakota. The settlement represents the tenth judicial settlement under the power plants enforcement effort and is subject to approval by the US District Court for the District of North Dakota.

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