Decision on Benson Power future delayed until June 27

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A decision by the North Dakota Public Service Commission Xcel Energy (Northern States Power) ending its power purchase agreements with Benson Power, LLC, and Laurentian Energy Association (LEA) is on hold until June 27.

The commission met last week but was not prepared to address ruling against appeals from truckers and loggers seeking to delay the termination of agreements. Benson Power and LEA, which serves the cities of Hibbing and Virginia, use wood chips for a power source. Benson Power also uses turkey litter.

Benson City Manager Rob Wolfington told the city council Monday night that the North Dakota PSC would decide if the truckers and loggers have standing to bring a case to stop Xcel’s plans to buy Benson Power and shut it down. A decision is now expected at the commissions June 27 meeting.

If it finds in favor of the truckers and loggers, Wolfington said the process of issuing notices, conducting hearings, making a decision, taking appeals, and then deciding on those appeals could delay a decision three to six months.

North Dakota’s PSC is involved in the decision despite having no plant in its state affected by the closures because of Xcel’s (NSP) ties to doing business in the state.

Benson has a significant stake in that decision coming sooner rather than later.

If its rules in favor of Xcel, the company can proceed with the purchase of Benson Power from its East Coast investors. Already an agreement for that purchase has passed its original June 1 deadline for being completed. After June 1, the East Coast insurance companies that own Benson Power have the right to end the purchase agreement. However, Wolfington said that the two parties are continuing to work toward finalizing the purchase.

Once that purchase is complete, Xcel Energy plans to move forward with closing Benson Power....


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