Several high school and college students have joined appeals against Minnesota Power’s proposed $700 million natural gas plant in Superior.
The group, Friends of the Climate, said in a news release that a judge is allowing the group to file a brief in the Court of Appeals case challenging Minnesota Power’s proposed Nemadji Trail Energy Center natural gas plant.
The amicus curiae brief allows the group, which isn't a direct party to the case, to file a brief.
The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Sierra Club and Union of Concerned Scientists filed its appeal last month arguing the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission was wrong in its October 2018 approval of Duluth-based Minnesota Power's proposed Nemadji Trail Energy Center because the agency denied an environmental review of the project, the state should give preference to emission-free power plants and the company did not show the plant was needed.
Friends of the Climate said the group backed the non-binding recommendation made by an administrative law judge in July 2018 that said the PUC should reject the plant because it was not needed or in the public interest.
“We need to prepare and mitigate now, and adding new fossil fuel infrastructure would be the opposite of that. With this plan, we would be paying with both our finances and our future,” the group said in a statement. “Why would we commit this amount of resources to anything but renewables?”
Friends of the Climate is made up of Claire Anderson, Helen Clanaugh, Izzy Laderman, Bella Maki, and Anna Mayou.
Minnesota Power maintains that the natural gas facility is necessary to support its wind and solar energy production “when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.”
“As we continue to transform our fleet by adding more renewable energy, we must also maintain the delivery of safe and reliable power to our customers to power homes, businesses and large industry in our region,” Minnesota Power spokesperson Amy Rutledge said Friday.
Minnesota Power is planning to build the 550-megawatt plant with La Crosse-based Dairyland Power Cooperative between Enbridge Energy's Superior Terminal and the Nemadji River.
The plant proposal is currently being weighed by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
“We believe stakeholder input is important to our regulatory process and it’s encouraging to see young people engaging in the process,” Rutledge said.