Big Stone & Commerce do a deal

August 31st, 2007

More as it becomes available, but here’s the Agreement, just out today, and the Press Release from BS:

Nope, it’s too big to scan the whole thing in… grrrrrrr. So I’m scanning in the guts and not the exhibits for posting:

Settlement Agreement – Big Stone Partners and Minnesota Dept. of Commerce

And here’s the Big Stone Partners press release about it:

Settlement Agreement – Press Release

The big question now is what will the other Intervenors do? There’s the enviro Intervenors, MCEA, representing themselves, the Waltons, Fresh Energy and Union of Concerned Scientists. And then there’s lil’ ol’ moi, representing, an intervention limited by the ALJ to only those issues pertaining to Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project. Oh, this does get complicated, doesn’t it!

For the full Big Stone II docket, go to and then to “eDockets” and then to “Search Documents” and then search for 05-619.

Here’s the STrib article — will someone explain to me why Sen. Ellen Anderson is suprised about this?  Goodpaster “doesn’t understand?”  Give me a break…  Pawlenty’s supported it all along, and it was exempted from the “Global Warming” bill, DUH, wake up:

Minnesota has deal on coal power plant

A deal between utilities and the Minnesota Commerce Department swings support to building a $1.6 billion coal-fired power plant in South Dakota. Environmentalists say that’s the last thing Minnesota needs, and they’re accusing the governor of a flip-flop.

By Mike Meyers, Star Tribune

Last update: August 31, 2007 – 8:19 PM
The Minnesota Commerce Department Friday unveiled a pact with utilities that could smooth the way to build a $1.6 billion, coal-fired power plant in South Dakota, on the border 175 miles west of Minneapolis.

A top Minnesota official said the deal will reduce mercury pollution, find ways to offset greenhouse gas emissions and ensure that rural Minnesota gets the power it needs.

But foes of Big Stone II accused the Pawlenty administration of suddenly shifting course and supporting a plant that’ll release 4.7 million tons of carbon dioxide into the environment every year for the next half-century.

“I’m just spitting mad,” said state Sen. Ellen Anderson, DFL-St. Paul. Hours before, she had introduced Gov. Tim Pawlenty to a group of children at the State Fair, hailing him as an environmental champion. “I’m outraged the governor has turned around and flip-flopped on this coal plant and is supporting it now.”

But Pawlenty’s point man on the Big Stone II agreement said the governor’s environmentalist credentials are underscored in the deal.

The agreement with the utilities that want to build Big Stone II includes a requirement that they offset the emission of greenhouse gases, offering the utilities nine options for doing so, said Edward Garvey, deputy commissioner of energy and telecommunications at the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

“The agreement between the [Commerce Department] and the Big Stone II owners resolves issues related to project costs, mercury emissions, water use, energy conservation, renewable energy,” the agency said in a statement.

Pawlenty earlier this year championed and signed new laws setting strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions and mandating that utilities use more renewable energy. Garvey said the deal on Big Stone II advances those goals.

“This is the first and only carbon offset applied to a new facility that we know of in the country,” said Garvey, who in January wrote a letter outlining problems with Big Stone II — from carbon dioxide emissions to the source of water for cooling towers to electricity rates. The letter said the proposal at the time was unacceptable but left the door open to talks.

All of those objections, Garvey said, are answered in a 17-page agreement reached in talks between state commerce officials and a consortium that includes Otter Tail Power, Central Minnesota Power, Great River Energy and the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency. They already operate another coal plant, Big Stone I, next to the Big Stone II site.

Opponents skeptical

Opponents of Big Stone II were skeptical that the Pawlenty administration did anything but side with utility interests, however.

“This seems to be a political response when the governor’s own analysts found the plant should not go forward,” said William Grant, associate executive director of the Isaak Walton League, a national environmental group with an office in St. Paul.

“To me, this is a case where the higher-minded principles the governor announced a few months ago have now been trumped by realities of the economic interests that want this project to go forward,” Grant said.

Beth Goodpaster, lawyer for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, said Pawlenty is doing an about-face on fighting global warming in the Big Stone II deal.

“It’s the hypocrisy of the Pawlenty administration, talking about the new direction of creating jobs and economic vitality with clean energy,” she said. “To say you have to help the rural economy with a coal plant, I just don’t understand at all.”

Mike Meyers • 612-673-1746

Mike Meyers •

2 Responses to “Big Stone & Commerce do a deal”

  1. Sundog Says:

    Heck, it was the legislature that exempted Big Stone II from the global warming legislation offset requirements (big labor demanded the exemption). The Governor’s initial bill didn’t contain an exemption for Big Stone from its offset provisions. Even though the project isn’t subject to the offset requirements passed this year (and voted for by Senator Anderson), this settlement requires offsets at more than the $8 per carbon advocated for by the enviros. Once again, the Pawlenty Administration delivers where the Democrats and the enviros failed.

  2. Carol A. Overland Says:

    You know, we almost agree here, and agree fully that “the Democrats and the enviros failed.” My question as this farce of a “Global Warming” bill went forward was “Are you willing to pull it when it’s neutered,” and we can see they weren’t. They were more attached to passing something, ANYTHING, than they were committed to legislation with teeth and results. But the Gov. and his minions did indeed have an influence on this and promoted the “offset” concept, which is stalling and circumvention. But this BSII deal will be interesting, because the enviros are not about to challenge this in an effective manner, and their constraints will show. How will they explain it? Hilarious, they’ll be outed.

Leave a Reply