State officials reject Big Stone transmission lines

Big Stone power plant
Ottertail Power Co. plans to build a second coal-fired power plant at its Big Stone site.
MPR Photo/Dan Gunderson

The transmission lines would carry electricity from the proposed Big Stone II coal-fired power plant in eastern South Dakota. The conditions include proposals that the power plant operators reduce pollution, develop more renewable energy and work to conserve electricity in their system.

Commerce Department Deputy Commissioner Ed Garvey says the recommendation is based on Gov. Tim Pawlenty's call to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

"We do believe that the carbon issues need to be addressed," says Garvey. "That's a very important issue to the governor, to the state of Minnesota and to future generations."

Garvey says he thinks the differences between the state and the Big Stone partners can be worked out.

"If they have the will and the interest, we have the will and the interest to work with them to figure out creative ways to address these concerns," says Garvey.

The Commerce Department recommendations go to an administrative law judge considering the issue and to the Public Utilities commission. The PUC ultimately will decide whether the transmission lines are built.

The power companies building the Big Stone II plant say the project cannot go forward if Minnesota rejects the transmission lines.