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Pressure mounts for Minnesota utility
1 January 1999
During unprecedented public hearings in Minnesota on Northern States Power's (NSP) resource plan, 200 or so customers in five cities overwhelmingly said the utility should add 400 MW of wind power. The public hearings were unusual in that they were called to gather input on a resource plan rather than to hear both sides of a contested case. "This was unprecedented and quite effective," says Bill Grant of the Izaac Walton League of America, which has long fought for the wind mandate. At issue is a 1994 state law that allows NSP to store nuclear waste near one of its nuclear power plants, but only if the utility commits to investing in other power plants fuelled by wind and biomass. Under the law, the utility is required to acquire 425 MW of wind power. If the Public Utilities Commission rules it is in the public interest, an additional 400 MW will be required by the law. The Minnesota Department of Public Service, a consumer advocate, has already told the PUC that adding the 400 MW was in the public interest. Last month Grant said he expected the PUC to take action by early January. "I think if they adopt the preponderance of evidence in the record as a guide, they will rule in favour of the 400 MW," he added.
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