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United States

NSP MERGER QUESTIONED

Environmental groups are calling for a review of the proposed utility merger between Northern States Power (NSP) and Wisconsin Energy (WE). The groups concerned, Minnesotan for an Energy Efficient Economy (ME3), Izaak Walton League of America and the Environmental Law and Policy Centre of the Midwest, say the proposed merger raises vital environmental issues and warrants a formal environmental impact statement. They also say the merger might mean that the under-used coal-fired plants in Minnesota are more fully operated, saddling local citizens with more pollution while consumers elsewhere benefit from NSP and WE's lower-than-average rates. There is also a significant risk that Minnesota's relatively strong laws requiring more renewables-such as wind -- and energy conservation -- might be undermined by the merger, says Michael Noble of ME3. "We're concerned with a loss of regulatory control, " he says. Without the merger, the burden of proof is on a utility to prove that renewables are not in the public interest, but the merger could change that, he says.

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