Public Utilities Commission rejects Great River Energy plan

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Minnesota's Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday rejected a business plan by Great River Energy by a vote of 3-2, an action that the Star Tribune characterizes as unprecedented.

The newspaper said that the PUC agreed with environmental groups and some major customers who accused the state's second largest power company of bad business decisions that contributed to rates jumping 58 percent over seven years.

Maple Grove-based Great River serves 645,000 customers in 28 local co-ops. Cooperative utilities are not regulated as closely as traditional power companies, with board members setting rates rather than state regulators. But every two years, co-ops are required to show regulators their 15-year business plans that contain forecasts, projections and environmental information that affect rates.

In rejecting Great River's resource plan, the PUC ordered the cooperative to report next year on environmental costs and to analyze economic benefits of conservation.

Laureen Ross McCalib, resource planning manager for Great River, said she was disappointed, but added that the utility would “.. take the commission’s concerns very deeply to heart.”

A PUC official said that, to the best of staff knowledge, the commission has never rejected a utility's resource plan.

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