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Minnesota Power is continuing on its strategic path to ensure its power generation mix is affordable, reliable and cleaner to meet customer expectations and underpin a strong regional economy, according to Al Hodnik, chairman, president and CEO of parent company ALLETE.

"Our strategy is propelled forward by our significant progress to date," said Hodnik during the company's annual shareholder's meeting. "We have already moved from an energy supply that was five percent renewable in 2005 to one that is 20 percent renewable today. Our long-term goal is to produce electricity from a balance of one-third renewable energy, one-third natural gas and one-third coal."

Duluth, Minn.-based ALLETE’s energy businesses include Minnesota Power; Superior Water, Light & Power Co.; BNI Coal; and ALLETE Clean Energy.

As part of the regulatory framework, Hodnik explained, Minnesota Power is obligated to weigh all power generation and conservation options, respond to a rapidly changing policy landscape, and minimize environmental impacts while guaranteeing delivery of cost-effective power to every customer.

"First and foremost, we have a responsibility to make careful energy choices that protect affordability for our customers,” Hodnik said. “Our strategic direction is toward a more diverse energy supply, and it is realistic about the need to provide our industrial customers with base load energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Reinvestment includes a retrofit at Minnesota Power’s largest, newest and highly base load generating unit, Boswell 4. Minnesota Power indicates it has already committed to the conversion of two units at its Laskin Energy Center from coal to natural gas and the retirement of a coal-fired unit at Taconite Harbor.

These coal-fired unit reductions in combination with other resource actions, will result in Minnesota Power being 15 years ahead of meeting Minnesota’s policy goal of 30% carbon reduction by 2030, doing so in 2015, the utility notes.

Hodnik also pointed to the company’s completed Bison wind generation expansion and its plan to increase base load renewable power through a power purchase agreement with Manitoba Hydro.

Hodnik says Minnesota Power has begun stakeholder outreach and regulatory processes to build the transmission required to deliver this hydropower to the region.

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