The controversial Big Stone II coal-fired power plant has suffered a major setback. Lead utility Otter Tail Power company has withdrawn from the project.
The $1.6 billion plant was to be built in South Dakota a few miles west of Ortonville, Minnesota.
Last month, the plant received the final government approval needed to begin construction, but the effort still faced opposition from environmental groups.
Otter Tail's withdrawal makes it less likely the plant will be built.
Otter Tail and four other utilities had worked to line up investors for the plant and had planned to decide this fall if they would move forward.
But the four other companies involved say the facility will go forward if they can find what they call "sufficient participants" to join the project. At the time, a spokesman said the partners involved would meet this month to say whether they'd been able to arrange financing.
An official with the partnership says Big Stone II is still the least-cost, environmentally sound option for the remaining project participants.
Big Stone II was to generate up to 580 megawatts of power serving more than a million customers in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana and Iowa.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)