Judge delivers setback to Big Stone II project

Big Stone from Ortonville
Big Stone power plant located near Ortonville, Minn.
MPR Photo/Mark Steil

The proposed Big Stone II power plant today suffered a major setback.

Two administrative law judges in Minnesota are recommending against a transmission line project for the plant.

Big Stone II officials in the past have said that without the power line project through western Minnesota, they can't build the plant.

Michael Noble, Executive Director of Fresh Energy, a non-profit organization that works for clean and renewable energy, said he reads the opinion as saying the case was not only about environmental issues, but also economic issues.

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"It would be almost impossible now for the state public utilities commission to approve this new coal plant," Noble said. "There's been years and years of testimony and thousands of pages of evidence, and all of it gets summed up by saying that energy efficiency and renewable energy are better for consumers."

Noble says he expects the PUC will follow the judges' recommendation.

The administrative law judges recommendation goes now to the state Public Utilities Commission, which will make the final decision on the power line project.

The coal-burning power plant would be built in eastern South Dakota, a few miles west of Ortonville, Minn.