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Big Stone II project killed as 4 remaining participants fail to find partner

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - After almost five years of planning and permitting efforts, the participating utilities in the proposed Big Stone II Project announced today that they will end their quest to build the project's large coal-fired power plant and associated transmission facilities.

The power plant, which regional utilities planned to build adjacent to the existing Big Stone Plant in northeastern South Dakota, would have provided 500-600 megawatts of power for customers of the participating utilities.

Participants are Missouri River Energy Services, Montana-Dakota Utilities, Central Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, and Heartland Consumers Power District.

"On Sept. 11, Otter Tail Power Co., announced that it was withdrawing from the project," said Missouri River Energy Services CEO Tom Heller. "At the same time, the remaining participants announced that they would need to get commitments from at least one additional utility or it was unlikely the project could proceed. No other utility was able to make that commitment within the established timeframe, so we have elected to wind down the project."

Even with the likely possibility of federal legislation regarding carbon emissions, the participants' analysis showed Big Stone II to be their least-cost option for providing base-load power to their customers.

"We are disappointed that Big Stone II will not be constructed after having received all its permits. After almost five years of work on the project, we were still unable to move forward, so it is time to move on," Heller said. "Each participant will address its future needs in a way that it deems most appropriate. MRES is exploring several options to meet the need that would have been filled by Big Stone II."