State and utilities agree on Big Stone II environmental issues

Big Stone from Ortonville
The Big Stone power plant, seen from Ortonville. The utility companies hoping to build a second power plant on that site have reached agreement with Minnesota over pollution emissions.
MPR Photo/Mark Steil

(AP) - The state Commerce Department and the owners of a planned coal-fired power plant in South Dakota that will serve customers in western Minnesota say they have reached an agreement on environmental issues related to electric transmission.

The deal resolves concerns over mercury emissions, water use, renewable energy and other factors involved in the so-called Big Stone II project, a 630-megawatt power plant planned near the Minnesota-South Dakota border.

Earlier this month, two administrative law judges recommended that state regulators issue permits for the transmission lines that the plant needs. The power lines still need approval by Minnesota's Public Utilities Commission.

The plant is slated to begin operating in 2012.

Sierra Club representative Christopher Childs calls the agreement "a tremendous setback for Minnesota and clean air." The environmental group opposes the plant.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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