Description: Challenge to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approval of a Minnesota utility's 50% stake in a new gas-fired power plant in Wisconsin.
In re Minnesota Power’s Petition for Approval of the EnergyForward Resource Package
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 03/17/2020 Order Download Petition of Minnesota Power for further review granted. Minnesota High Court Will Review Determination that MEPA Applied to Agreements Regarding Out-of-State Power Plant. The Minnesota Supreme Court granted a petition to review a Minnesota Court of Appeals decision that found that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission should have complied with the Minnesota Environmental Protection Act (MEPA) when it approved agreements associated with construction of a new natural gas power plant in Wisconsin.
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy v. Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 12/23/2019 Opinion Download Reversing the denial of the relators' petition for an environmental assessment worksheet and approval of the affiliated-interest agreements and remanding to the Public Utilities Commission. Minnesota Court Said Minnesota Environmental Protection Act Applied to Agreements for Construction of Power Plant in Wisconsin. The Minnesota Court of Appeals found that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission had erred by approving “affiliated-interest agreements” associated with construction and operation of the Nemadji Trail Energy Center (NTEC)—a proposed 525 megawatt natural gas power plant in Wisconsin—without complying with the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act (MEPA). The court concluded that MEPA applied to affiliated-interest agreements and that the Commission had jurisdiction to order the preparation of an environmental assessment worksheet (EAW) under MEPA for a project in another state to determine whether an environmental impact statement should be prepared. The court noted that the affiliated-interest agreements contemplated a utility’s undertaking of the physical activities of constructing and operating NTEC, which the court described as “definite, site-specific actions that will affect not only the plant’s immediate location but also its surrounding environment, most notably through the large quantities of carbon dioxide that the plant will emit.” The court said “[t]he impact of such emissions on air quality is precisely the type of environmental effect that MEPA addresses.” The court directed the Commission to determine whether NTEC might have significant environmental effects, and if so, to prepare an EAW before reassessing whether to approve the agreements. 05/01/2019 Petition for Review Download Petition for writ of certiorari filed. Environmental Groups Sought Review of Approval of Minnesota Utility’s Stake in New Gas-Fired Power Plant in Wisconsin. Environmental groups petitioned the Minnesota Court of Appeals for review of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (MPUC’s) approval of agreements that gave a utility a 50% stake in a new gas-fired power plant (the Nemadji Trail Energy Center) to be constructed in Wisconsin. The environmental groups asserted that the MPUC had made its decision without satisfying the requirements of the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act and that the MPUC had ignored an administrative law judge’s conclusion that the utility agreements would not be in the public interest.