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Statements from Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith on Becker Power Plant Bill

2/9/2017 3:03:16 PM

ST. PAUL, MN – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill concerning power plants in Becker. Governor Dayton today indicated that he expects to sign the Senate version of this bill, as it was amended last week.
 
The following is a statement from Governor Mark Dayton.
 
“I have very serious concerns about other proposals in the Legislature to weaken the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). However, in this instance, I believe that the critical importance of this project for Becker, the surrounding area, and our entire state, requires certainty that the protracted PUC review process cannot provide. Thus, I expect to sign this bill as amended by the Senate last week, when it reaches me. 
 
“I have directed the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to study how the state can partner with the Becker area, as their local economy and job market absorb the impacts of the Sherco plant closures. Good jobs, healthy local economies, and cleaner energy should not be at odds in Minnesota.  My Administration will do all it can to assist Becker and other communities across the state undergoing similar transitions.  
 
“The PUC plays an essential role in Minnesota, safeguarding the interests of Minnesota utility customers now and in the future. As Legislators consider additional proposals regarding the PUC this session, they should know that I will not accept any bill that limits or weakens the Commission’s authority to protect the interests of Minnesota's energy consumers. I will, however, consider any serious proposal to improve the functioning of this essential public body.

“For over 42 years, the PUC has effectively regulated our state’s utilities and safeguarded the public interest. For those four decades, the PUC has been insulated from the political influence of governors, legislatures, and powerful economic interests, which has been absolutely essential to the integrity of its procedures and its decisions. I will strongly oppose any attempts to weaken, bypass, or influence the PUC.”
 
The following is a statement from Lt. Governor Tina Smith.
 
“As Xcel Energy transitions to the next generation of energy production at its Becker facilities, I strongly support the Senate Bill, which allows construction of a natural gas plant to replace the old coal plants. The Senate proposal provides certainty for the Becker community and protects important, well-paying jobs. Converting from coal to natural gas will improve air quality and improve health, as well as reduce carbon emissions.

“Since the bipartisan Next Generation Energy Act became law ten years ago, Minnesota has proven that transitioning to a clean energy economy creates jobs and produces clean, reliable, affordable energy. Minnesota has a long way to go to achieve our renewable energy and carbon reduction goals, and failure is not an option. 

“Together with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the utilities, and our communities, the decisions we make today will shape our state’s future for decades. We need to transition away from carbon, and keep energy reliable and affordable, and create jobs, and make Minnesota more competitive.”
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