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ALLETE unit, Dairyland ask Wis. regulators to approve 550-MW plant

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ALLETE unit, Dairyland ask Wis. regulators to approve 550-MW plant

Developers of a proposed 550-MW natural gas-fired power plant in northwestern Wisconsin have asked state regulators to approve the project.

ALLETE Inc. subsidiary South Shore Energy LLC and Dairyland Power Cooperative on Jan. 8 asked the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin to grant a certificate of public convenience and necessity to construct the Nemadji Trail Energy Center. The companies have said the plant will help enable the addition of more renewable energy and deliver affordable, reliable power to customers in the region.

South Shore Energy, formed to own ALLETE's share of the project, and Dairyland, which provides wholesale power requirements for 41 distribution cooperatives and municipal utilities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, will share ownership of the power plant, proposed to be built in Superior, Wis.

Minnesota regulators in October 2018 approved ALLETE subsidiary Minnesota Power Inc.'s investment in the plant , going against a recommendation from an administrative law judge to reject the plan. The judge said the company failed to show that taking part in the plant is "needed and reasonable." The majority of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, however, disagreed, with some saying the plant would help Minnesota Power move away from coal.

The companies on Jan. 8 also filed for approval of a 3.7-mile, 345-kV line to connect the plant to the American Transmission Co. LLC transmission system. (Wisconsin PSC Docket No. 9698-CE-101)

The application will now undergo a 30-day review for completeness. Once the application is deemed complete, the commission has 180 days to make a decision, although regulators do have the option to extend review for another 180 days. Additionally, the companies have proposed to the PSC relocating an existing natural gas pipeline and building a new, larger pipeline to supply the power plant. Both of those actions require commission approval as well.

If approved, the plant will begin operating in December 2024. (Wisconsin PSC Docket No. 9698-CE-100)