Breaking News: New Ulm Says No to Coal


Photo in front of City Hall Building: Jessica Tatro, Mary Polta, Sue Kimmel, Hank Campbell, Bernice Schmitz, Dick Kimmel, Duane Ninneman
New Ulm Says No to Coal

Facing pressure from community members and updated economic analysis, New Ulm Public Utilities Commission votes to suspend coal conversion project

On Tuesday, the New Ulm Public Utilities Commission (NUPUC) voted to suspend project activities for a proposed conversion of Boiler #4 at its steam plant to coal. Concerned citizens cheered as commissioners voted not to move forward with a plan that would have increased air pollution and cost the city over $23 million. 

Sue Kimmel of New Ulm Citizens for Clean Energy was very pleased with the decision. “Coal is our dirtiest form of energy; burning coal is a leading trigger of asthma attacks and the biggest source of mercury pollution. We thank the New Ulm Public Utilities Commission for today’s decision to keep New Ulm coal free.” 

The NUPUC plan to convert Boiler #4 to burn coal was part of the long term energy plan developed in 2006. New Ulm Citizens for Clean Energy has been working with the Sierra Club and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) to stop the project from moving forward since NUPUC applied for an air permit for the project from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in 2009.

Said Kimmel “Investing in coal would have reduced our capacity to invest in long-term clean energy solutions that could benefit New Ulm’s environment and economy. We look forward to working with the NUPUC to identify opportunities to move towards a clean energy future.”

At the July NUPUC meeting, the NUPUC’s consultants Sargent & Lundy presented an updated economic analysis of the project that concluded coal was no longer the most economic option for New Ulm, but recommended the NUPUC move forward with the air permit application to keep its options open. After revisiting the report and acquiring additional information on natural gas and coal pricing, the NUPUC staff recommended suspending work on the project, writing in the recommendation that the “project has lost its economic benefit to the City of New Ulm.”

“Today, New Ulm was faced with a decision: choose yesterday’s dirty coal energy or move towards a cleaner energy future. They chose a clean energy future,” said Jessica Tatro with the Sierra Club. “This is a major victory for the people of Minnesota and part of a national movement of communities moving beyond coal.”


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