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Minnesota Power switching two coal units to natural gas, shutting third

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Minnesota Power has announced it's moving away from coal, converting two of its coal-burning units to natural gas and shuttering a third.

The company will spend $15 million to convert both generators at its 60-year-old Hoyt Lakes plant to natural gas by 2015. It will also close one of the units at its plant in Schroeder, rather than upgrading it to meet more stringent pollution control standards.

Duluth-based Minnesota Power will also spend $350 million on pollution control equipment at its plant in Cohasset to keep that facility compliant with the new standards.

Minnesota Power plans to rely more on wind and hydroelectric energy, as well as natural gas.

State regulators have been encouraging power companies to convert or retire older coal-burning plants. The Star Tribune reports half a dozen other coal plants in Minnesota are being phased out.

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