An administrative law judge is recommending the state Public Utilities Commission approve the preferred location for an Iron Range coal-gasification power plant.
Judge Steve Mihalchick issued a decision on Monday recommending that Excelsior Energy be allowed to proceed with permitting and construction of its electric plant near the town of Taconite.
Excelsior Energy's Tom Micheletti said the ruling is significant.
"It's a very big milestone, and it's been a long time in the making," Micheletti said. "This is a very important development for our project."
The judge found no significant environmental or social issues to block the project, but opponents disagree.
Attorney Carol Overland said the PUC already rejected the project because it was not a "least cost" option and was not in the public interest. Charlotte Neigh, with the group "CAMP", said the project still lacks a customer for its power.
The Public Utilities Commission is expected to take up the judge's recommendation in the coming months.