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Obama's emissions plan tough on coal for Minnesota Power

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President Obama announced a sweeping climate change program Tuesday, presenting challenges for Minnesota Power to get in line with new coal regulations.

The Duluth News Tribune reports that the northern Minnesota utility and its customers will see effects of new regulations on existing coal-fired power plants, which is where most of Minnesota Power's electricity comes from.

A Minnesota Power official tells the Trib it’s too soon to determine what effect the new rules will have on the Duluth-based company. Dave MacMillan, executive vice president for Minnesota Power, tells the paper the utility already is bracing for the news rules regarding coal.

The paper and MacMillan speculate the EPA will somehow regulate carbon dioxide emissions by setting reduction limits and then charging a penalty on carbon emissions, MacMillan said.

As recently as a decade ago, Minnesota Power generated 95 percent of its electricity from coal, according to the Duluth News Tribune. That number has dropped to a little more than 80 percent coal now thanks to the addition of wind energy from North Dakota, where MacMillan says Minnesota Power is exploring for even further wind-power options.

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