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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, March 1, 2007 
CONTACT: Leah Mohr, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201

Circuit court upholds PUC decision about Big Stone II

PIERRE, S.D. – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission's decision to allow for the construction of the Big Stone II power plant near Milbank was upheld by the South Dakota 6th Circuit Court on Monday, Feb. 26. Judge Lori S. Wilbur affirmed the PUC had made the appropriate decision in granting the permit in July 2006.

The Commission's order in favor of the Big Stone II plant was collectively appealed by the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Fresh Energy, Izaak Walton League of America-Midwest Office, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. The appellants claimed the permit should have been denied because carbon dioxide emissions from the plant would significantly contribute to global warming.

PUC General Counsel John Smith argued the Commission's case before the court.

"The court's decision validates the positive environmental position of this commission regarding Big Stone II," said PUC Chairman Dusty Johnson. "Our ruling outlined many environmental conditions. For example, the co-owners are required to comply with existing carbon dioxide regulations, impose mercury control efforts, and limit mercury emissions. Two of the plant's co-owners are required to submit periodic reports to the PUC about their demand-side management and renewable energy programs," he explained.

"One huge environmental advantage of Big Stone II is the state-of-the-art pollution control devices that will be installed at both the new facility and the existing plant," declared Gary Hanson, PUC vice chairman. "Actually, Big Stone I and II together are expected to produce 250 percent of the power of just Big Stone I and with efficiencies that will enable dramatic reduction in most pollutants below what is currently emitted from Big Stone I alone," he stated.

 "The PUC supports environment-friendly energy initiatives and recognizes that additional power generation is needed for our region. Big Stone II responsibly addresses both of these issues," said Commissioner Steve Kolbeck. "The transmission lines needed for Big Stone II are expected to have excess capacity that may carry wind power to market. The construction of the plant will have a direct influence on the potential for wind energy development within our state," he said.

Big Stone II co-owners include Otter Tail Power Company, Central Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, Great River Energy, Heartland Consumers Power District, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency and Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency.


MEDIA NOTE: Review PUC docket CIV06-399 for more information. To access the docket, go to and select "Commission Actions," then "Commission Dockets" and "2006 Civil Dockets."