Pickets both for and against NTEC in Superior

Divided Opinions in Superior on NTEC

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Two sides of a controversial issue clashing on the streets of Superior Tuesday night.

Those of us who call the northland our home are well aware of the delicate and sometimes difficult balance between ensuring a healthy environment and a healthy economy.

Those opposing ideologies came together in Superior Tuesday night at an organized rally before the Superior city council meeting.

A group called neighbors against NTEC are urging city leaders to vote against a $750-million dollar natural gas power plant proposed along the Nemadji river in Superior.

Rebecca Kelleher representing the grass roots citizens group told WDIO news they don’t want the gas plant built in Superior for several reasons. “We feel like our city already has enough industry in it and we shouldn’t be burdened with any more air pollution.”

Kelleher also talked about noise pollution that goes with this plant. And because of potential environmental issues it might pose. “We don’t want the threat to our river, the Nemadji river, which flows right into Lake Superior. We think it’s a terrible sight that they chose. It endangers the neighborhoods around it, the river, and the lake.”

However, folks on the other side of the debate were also out in force. Area residents like Eric Palmer who fully supports the project.

“I’m out here supporting NTEC because I think it’s an important part of the energy transition. You know, it’s here to support the energy grid when renewables aren’t available. So it’s an important part for us to get to a high renewable concentration.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service issued an opinion late last year on the 625-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas facility. It issued No Significant Impact opinion the Nemadji Trail Energy Center. Supporters say it is needed to provide power when solar and wind sources need backup.

After the pickets in front of city hall Tuesday night, marchers packed the Superior city council meeting, continuing to voice their opposition, or support of the project. Minnesota power, Dairyland power cooperative and Basin electric power cooperative are partnering on the natural gas-fired power plant project.

No vote was taken at the council meeting. Tuesday evening’s events were in anticipation of a vote Wednesday afternoon when the Superior city planning commission will vote on a critical zoning request the project needs to move forward. Watch WDIO news Wednesday night for the latest updates.