Sales of coal-based generation into a regional market cannot be prohibited by the law of one state. That’s the conclusion of a federal appeals court that found in favor of electric cooperatives, North Dakota, and other challengers to Minnesota’s restriction of imported power from fossil fuels.
“Overall, we’re very pleased with this decision,” said Paul Sukut, CEO and general manager of Basin Electric Power Cooperative  in Bismarck, N.D. “This law, which prohibited the interstate movement of electricity from new coal-based facilities outside of Minnesota, had detrimental impacts on power generators across the Midwest.
“To single out and ignore a reliable and increasingly clean source of energy based on individual state preferences was unlawful. This decision confirms that.”
Basin Electric and Minnkota Power Cooperative  joined litigation against the 2007 Minnesota law that banned sales of coal-based power generated outside its borders as a means to reduce statewide carbon dioxide emissions.
A district court rejected the law in 2014. On June 15, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision. 
The three federal judges agreed that the Minnesota law violated federal statutes and interfered with interstate commerce when utilities transmit power and enter into purchase power agreements.
NRECA filed briefs on behalf of co-ops in both the district court and appeals court.
Basin Electric sells power from its generation facilities to 138 distribution co-ops and G&Ts across nine states. Minnkota, in Grand Forks, N.D., is a G&T with members in Minnesota.
Two retail distribution utilities in Minnesota declined to enter long-term power purchase agreements with Minnkota, part-owner of a coal plant in North Dakota, over fear that would trigger penalties under the state law.
“Minnkota participated in this lawsuit because we were concerned about the ability of Minnesota to put provisions in place that would harm and or restrict the ability to serve its members in Minnesota,” said Mac McLennan, president and CEO of Minnkota. “This ruling preserves the right for us to serve our members with cost effective and reliable resources as we see necessary.”
Article printed from Electric Co-op Today: http://www.ect.coop
URL to article: http://www.ect.coop/industry/on-the-docket/co-ops-prevail-in-interstate-coal-power-case/92913