Fighting the Nemadji Trail Energy Center Gas Plant

Dairyland Power Cooperative, Minnesota Power and Basin Electric are proposing to build a 625-megawatt methane gas power plant in Superior, Wis., along the Nemadji River.

The $700 million Nemadji Trail Energy Center will come with an enormous environmental cost.

The plant would add 3-million tons of carbon pollution into the environment each year, pushing us even further from our climate goals and impacting the health of people who live nearby. Wisconsinites deserve real clean energy, not more massive fossil-fuel burning power plants.

Gas turbine electrical power plant. Energy for support factory in industrial estate. Natural gas tank. Small gas power plant. Power plant using natural gas for fuel. Green energy. Generate electricity

Lake Superior is the lifeblood of Northern Wisconsin.
But the largest Great Lake has a problem: climate change.

The Nemadji Trail Energy Center is a bad deal for Wisconsin

The Public Service Commission approved the construction permit for the gas plant by a 2-1 vote in 2019. While the Chair of the Commission had reservations about the environmental impacts of the project, it was approved anyway.

On February 28th, 2020, Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club first filed suit to stop construction, arguing the large gas plant would pose significant risks to the environment and that the PSC should not have issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to greenlight the project. Energy needs addressed by the plant could readily be met by higher priority alternatives under Wisconsin’s Energy Prioritization Law, including large-scale renewables paired with battery resources.

You can find the petition for review here.

On May 17, 2022, the Court upheld the PSC’s approval of the project. Though the judge acknowledged the “massive impacts a major project of this nature holds for the state,” he ultimately dismissed concerns Clean Wisconsin and partners raised with the PSC’s analysis of impacts to environmental conditions at the site and the project’s contributions to climate change.

With the plant expected to run for at least 30 years, we could see billions of tons more climate-changing CO2 pumped into our skies.

Climate scientists are clear: we need to significantly cut carbon emissions by 2030 to avoid the worst impacts from climate change. This plant would significantly hinder other efforts in Wisconsin to drastically cut carbon emissions.

Wetlands are an important resource for reducing the risk of flooding, as well as improving water quality and providing natural habitat.

Heavy rain events have caused major floods in the area in recent years. As these types of rain events are expected to become more prevalent with the rise in climate change, fewer wetlands could cause more damage to communities and Lake Superior’s shoreline.

The Fight Isn’t Over

The utilities still need a number of environmental permits–such as to pump water and fill wetlands from the Department of Natural Resources to construct this plant. Without these permits, the project could become dead in the water.

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