Coal

State orders Xcel to study alternatives to coal-fired plants near Becker

The Public Utilities Commission ordered Xcel Energy to study the cost of new pollution control equipment at two of its coal-burning units in Sherburne County and compare that with the cost of replacing them with a cleaner alternative. Environmental groups consider the order a victory, but Xcel says it was planning something similar. The study is due next summer.

Regulators decline to order shutdown of state's oldest coal-fired plants

The Commerce Department urged the Public Utilities Commission to order the three northern Minnesota plants closed by 2017 and replaced with energy from wind or natural gas. Instead, the commission ordered Minnesota Power, which owns the plants, to study the effects of closing them and report back next spring. The average age of the plants is more than 50 years.

Board moves to decommission Rochester power plant

The unanimous decision by the Rochester Public Utilities board to decommission Silver Lake Plant by Dec. 31, 2015, is part of a nationwide trend, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports. The decision puts the coal-fired plant in northeast Rochester in line with 114 coal plants across the country to either switch to burning natural gas or shut down.

Duluth-based utility not ready to shut down old coal plants

Minnesota Power says it wants to further study the environmental benefits and economic impacts. The Department of Commerce recommends closing at least three of utility's coal-burning plants by 2016. Each unit is more than 50 years old. Environmental groups have also urged closing the coal power plants, while industrial users want state regulators to disregard the advice.

State officials push to shutdown coal plants

Minnesota's Department of Commerce recommends closing Minnesota Power’s five oldest coal-fired power plants by 2020 to save consumers money. The Duluth News Tribune reports environmental groups have also sent letters urging the Public Utilities Commission to close the plants to reduce emissions.

Future of Rochester's power plant uncertain

The Post Bulletin reports Rochester Public Utilities officials could decide to shut down some or all of the generators. Another option is converting the generators from coal to natural gas. RPU just completed a nearly $40 million upgrade to keep its newest generator in compliance with new EPA regulations.

Bulldozer driver rescued from pile of coal

It took Superior emergency crews about a half-hour to free the worker trapped at Midwest Energy Resources. The man was operating a bulldozer Thursday morning when he backed into a hole. He was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

North Dakota leaders renew push against Minnesota coal regulations

Gov. Dalrymple says if Minnesota energy regulators require utilities to pay more to burn coal it will hamper North Dakota's growing lignite industry, which already provides a large share of Minnesota's electric power. Regulators here imposed higher costs on coal-burners as part of a plan to require utilities to generate a quarter of their energy from renewable sources by 2024.