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House passes bill to allow coal-generated electricity purchases

Charley Shaw//May 11, 2011//

House passes bill to allow coal-generated electricity purchases

Charley Shaw//May 11, 2011//

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Peter Bartz-Gallgher)
Rep. Michael Beard (Staff photo: Peter Bartz-Gallgher)

The House has approved a bill that would remove the current ban on buying electricity generated from coal-fired power plants.

Legislators clashed during several hours of floor debate on issues of global warming and interstate commerce. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Michael Beard, R-Shakopee, stops short of lifting the moratorium on construction of new coal-fired power plants in the state. But the bill would allow electrical cooperates to buy power from out-of-state coal plants. The bill sets a limit of 2,500 megawatts.

“I would love to build power plants in this state. Think of the jobs and the tax base. But that seems to be a bridge too far for the governor. …2,500 megawatts seemed to be a number that would give people room to grow without having to come back here and beg for their lives every couple years,” Beard said.

Six DFLers voted with most Republicans to pass the bill 76-54. Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, was the lone Republican dissenter.

Environmental groups opposed the bill. Michael Noble, executive director of the St. Paul-based Fresh Energy, said the law is a step toward undoing the NextGeneration Energy Act that was signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty in 2007. The legislation established goals for reducing carbon-emissions in Minnesota.

“It’s now up to Governor Dayton to veto this bill and continue our transition away from expensive, dirty fuels of the past and toward cleaner energy for Minnesota families and businesses,” Noble said.

In April the Senate passed a stricter bill 44-18 with the support of five DFLers from greater Minnesota.

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