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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 2, 2008                   
CONTACT:  Leah Mohr, Communications Manager, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201

South Dakota PUC to address Minnesota PUC about proposed Big Stone II transmission lines

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota Public Utilities Commissioner Dusty Johnson will speak to members of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday, June 3, as they consider whether to approve proposed transmission facilities from the Big Stone II power plant near Milbank, S.D., into their state. Johnson will offer comments on behalf of himself and fellow commissioners Gary Hanson and Steve Kolbeck during a proceeding held in St. Paul, Minn. A proposed decision from an administrative law judge at the Minnesota commission recommended the transmission lines be denied.

"We want the Minnesota commission to understand the impact their decision will have on South Dakota," commented Hanson, who serves as the South Dakota PUC's chairman. "New technologies will enable the combined mercury emissions from both Big Stone I and II to be 90 percent less than today's emissions! Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions would also substantially decrease. There is an environmental benefit to this new generation," he concluded.

"The transmission lines are designed to carry power from the Big Stone II plant as well as hundreds of megawatts of wind power generated in this region. Without the lines, economic and energy development could be stalled," said Kolbeck, vice chair of the commission. "Wind power development, Big Stone II, and the related transmission line construction are common sense cornerstones of our energy future," he said.

"At the PUC, we want safe, reliable, and affordable power for ratepayers," said Johnson. "Experts agree that our region will soon be in desperate need for power, and resources like energy efficiency and wind power can't solve that problem alone. We need responsible baseload generation, and that's what Big Stone II would provide," he said.

The five-member Minnesota PUC will hear oral arguments from the owners of the Big Stone II Power Plant on their application to construct transmission lines from the new plant into Minnesota. Interveners and other formal parties will also present to the commission on Tuesday. The South Dakota PUC granted a permit to the plant's owners in July 2006 for construction of the plant to commence near Milbank, S.D. Opponents appealed the ruling and the South Dakota Supreme Court upheld the South Dakota PUC's decision in January 2008.