Support builds for Minnesota Power’s proposed EITE rate

Posted September 14, 2016

Support builds for Minnesota Power’s proposed EITE rate

released by the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota

Dozens of communities, businesses, and residents have thrown their support behind a proposal to reduce energy costs for the iron ore mining industry in Northeastern Minnesota and protect local jobs.

The Laurentian Chamber of Commerce (Eveleth, Gilbert, Mt. Iron, Virginia, and surrounding areas), East Range Joint Powers Board (Aurora, Biwabik, Hoyt Lakes, and the Town of White), Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (Cook County School, Greenway, Nashwauk/Keewatin, Lake Superior, Chisholm, Ely, Hibbing, Virginia, Mt. Iron/Buhl, St. Louis County, Eveleth/Gilbert, and Mesabi East School Districts), the Hibbing Chamber of Commerce, and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce all recently signed resolutions supporting Minnesota Power’s proposed Energy Intensive Trade Exposed (EITE) rate.

Laurentian Chamber of Commerce President Jaimie Niska said her board supported the resolution because it “considers the EITE rate an important component to balancing power costs and keeping local mines globally competitive so that they can continue to provide good paying jobs and contribute to the economy of northeastern Minnesota.”

Additionally, more than 175 Minnesota residents have signed a petition in support of the rate filing.

“These folks want to protect jobs in the region,” said Kelsey Johnson, President of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota (IMA). “They know that global market conditions will shape the environment in which Minnesota’s iron ore industry will operate well into the future. Approval of this EITE proposal is an important step to help the industry implement efficiencies and remain competitive in the face of global economic forces.”

The Iron Range has not experienced a full economic recovery since the 2015 downturn, during which half of the region’s iron ore mines were idled. Today, more than 1,000 steelworkers remain laid off. Under normal operating conditions, the iron ore mines support 13,000 jobs and contribute roughly one-third of the region’s economy.

Community leaders hope that implementation of the EITE rate will help preserve the economic benefits the iron ore mines contribute across Northeastern Minnesota.

“The iron ore mines provide a significant economic benefit to our region’s communities and school districts, said Steve Giorgi, RAMS president. “We support the EITE rate proposal because it will help this critical industry remain successful.”

One of the highest costs in producing iron ore pellets is energy, and for the past decade, the industry’s electric rates have continued to increase, according to the IMA.

“The mines have done the best they can to mitigate energy costs through investments in energy efficiency projects,” Johnson said. “Nevertheless, the proposed EITE rate is necessary to protect jobs in our community and keep this vital industry competitive.”

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will hold a hearing on the petition on Thursday, September 15.