The developer behind a wood-burning power plant proposed for south Minneapolis has asked the city for more time to exercise its option to buy a city-owned site for the project.

The request by Midtown Eco Energy for five more months is likely to generate fierce opposition from neighborhood activists who oppose putting the plant in the East Phillips neighborhood. Their opposition has arisen since the city granted a previous extension a year ago.

The project also faces opposition from the area's City Council member, Gary Schiff. "Enough questions have been raised by the neighborhood about the cumulative health effects of pollution," Schiff said. "The city should not drag this out much longer. Enough time has been given for the project to meet its obligations."

Midtown faces a March 30 deadline on an option to buy a city-owned trash transfer station at 2850 20th Av. S. It would burn wood and other biomass to generate electricity, and produce steam to heat area buildings.

Midtown said in a letter to the city dated last week that it is still negotiating on one of the city's requirements, an agreement with Xcel Energy to buy the plant's electricity. Xcel told the Star Tribune Tuesday that the utility is evaluating a Midtown proposal.

Midtown has asked a council committee to consider its delay on Tuesday, but the full council ordinarily would not act on the matter until several days after the deadline.

Jullonne Glad, one of the neighbors organizing opposition to the plant on environmental grounds, said she expected the postponement request. She asked opponents to show up at Friday's council meeting in case a council member tries to grant the extension immediately.

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438