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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Minnesota sets tentative CO2 price

Minnesota sets tentative CO2 price
By Ben
Published December 7, 2007

A Minnesota agency set a non-binding price range on carbon dioxide emissions on Thursday, a move environmentalists say vindicates their past arguments against the proposed Big Stone II power plant in northeast South Dakota.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission told electricity providers to analyze emission prices between $4 and $30 a ton when planning how their systems will grow.

The change does not directly affect the Big Stone II proposal, which is awaiting approval of its power lines from the Minnesota commission next year.

But the St. Paul-based advocacy group Fresh Energy said the price range shows that the five utilities hoping to build Big Stone II were using an overly rosy analysis of the risk of future carbon regulation.

“Those few CEOs pushing new, dirty coal plants should level with their customers. They can’t say we didn’t know coal is a risky investment,” said Michael Noble, executive director of Fresh Energy.

Big Stone II spokesman Dan Sharp said the utilities used the price of $9 a ton because the Minnesota commission ordered them to. And the commission did not say on Thursday if the price was meant to be a carbon tax or part of a cap-and-trade system.

“It’s really hard to make any kind of comparison or any kind of judgement, because they weren’t specific,” Sharp said.