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Minnesota Coalition Joins Debate
A broad coalition of Minnesota electric cooperatives, municipal utilities, consumer advocates, and environmentalists has joined the debate over the restructuring of the state's electric industry. The seven groups, often at odds with each other over industry issues, have prepared a filing for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that lists their criteria for restructuring:
s Wholesale competition first, with full evaluation of its consequences before retail competition is considered
s Recovery of stranded costs from departing customers
s Integrated resource planning
s Siting review of power plants and transmission lines
s Protection against shutoffs for low-income consumers.
Mark Glaess, general manager of the Minnesota Rural Electric Association (MREA), noted the low rates and financial health of Minnesota electric utilities: "The proposals by some large utilities and large industrial customers to move toward retail competition and deregulation should not be allowed to jeopardize this position or to place residential and small business customers at risk of paying more and having fewer choices." Besides MREA, the coalition
includes Clean Water Action, Cooperative Power,
Energy/CENTS Coalition, Izaak Walton League of America, Minnesotans for an Energy-Efficient Economy, and Minnesota Municipal Utility Association.
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