ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A federal judge is weighing the constitutionality of a Minnesota law that North Dakota says unfairly blocks its utilities from exporting electricity from coal-fired power plants.
The 2007 Next Generation Energy Act, to promote renewable energy use, effectively bars utilities in Minnesota from importing coal-generated electricity from new plants or from building coal plants to serve customers in that state.
Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Gary Cunningham told the U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson during a hearing Thursday that the law is a wise policy because it promotes renewable energy and protects Minnesota customers from the risks of higher future costs from regulations to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
But Thomas Boyd, an attorney representing North Dakota, said the law violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by attempting to regulate interstate commerce. He said only the federal government has the authority to regulate the wholesale energy market. He also said it discriminates against North Dakota's utilities and its coal industry.