December 17th, 2009
From ECM article…
On Monday, citizens of Lent Township organized a Special Meeting, as allowed under statute, and told the Town Board what they thought of LS Power’s Sunrise River Energy Station. The hands raised you see in the photo is the vote telling the board that they should not approve a development agreement with LS Power.
The people say NO, but the township, the following day, went ahead and approved the Development Agreement:
And a view from the trenches:
And here’s the report from the Post Review:
It noted three things that were expected to happen that night:
• openly and publicly review and discuss the final draft of the development agreement by and among Lent Township and Sunrise River Energy, LLC (also known as LS Power) prior to any official vote of the Lent Township board to approve and/or sign the development agreement;
• to present and vote on a resolution requiring a public referendum on the question of approval or disapproval of any development agreement by the township and energy group prior to any official vote of the Lent township board to approve and/or sign the development agreement;
All of the above was accomplished Monday night.
But early on in the meeting, Milles noted that the attorney hired by Lent Township to represent them in this power plant issue, Troy Gilchrist, had posted a 5-page letter on the township’s Web site last Friday in which it was stated that “the electors do not have the authority to control the decision of whether to enter into the agreements or to direct the terms of the agreement. Nor do the electors have the authority to require the Town to hold an election on the issue of whether the Town Board should enter into these agreements.
Because the Town Board holds the exclusive power to enter into the agreements, any election on the issue would constitute an advisory election which is prohibited under Minnesota law. Again, the Town Board could not call an election on this issue even if it wanted to.”
Blake Wheatley was first, representing LS Power, giving a brief overview of the proposed project – the construction in Lent Township of a 726 MW electric generating plant, including recent changes, benefits and timelines.
He noted that his company is hoping for approval of the development agreement (between LS Power, Chisago County and Lent Township) and the host agreement (between Chisago County, Lent Township and the North Branch school district) within the next 60 days.
Briefly, he pointed out that the project is a heavy industry and doesn’t fit in the area, it doesn’t fit with Lent’s comp plan’s rural character, it would be visible to the public who don’t want the rural landscape disturbed, the plumes of exhaust from the stacks could cause problems, more transmission lines will be needed, there is no need for this power in Minnesota, as a mixed fuel plant, there are concerns about contamination of the sandy soils, no real benefit to the county, and potential increased health costs and decreased property values.
Immediately David Milles was given 5 minutes to speak as a citizen who had attended the Dec. 9 joint planning commission, town board meeting where a list of 9 recommendations were reviewed for possible inclusion in the development agreement.
Questions included such things as what percent of electricity is wasted in transmission, what companies has LS Power talked with in Minnesota about using the electricity, how many other sites were considered, and about additional power lines being needed.
Wheatley, responding to that particular issue, told the crowd that if additional power lines would be needed, LS Power would reduce the size of the plant. His contention has repeatedly been that there will be no new transmission lines.
One asked for clarification of the payment in lieu of property taxes, which had been capped by the state legislature at $600,000 ( to be split between the county, township and school district). Wheatley noted that “real” property taxes in the amount of about $1.6 million would be paid annually.
He also noted that there have been some additional funds negotiated with the local entities, including $100,000 to the county for an environmental improvement fund, $100,000 to the school district in a partners fund, and $25,000 to the township per year.
Other issues of concern were stray voltage, reduced property values around the plant, wastewater and gas pipeline access and construction of the County Road 17 extension, all of which would play a part in the coming of the plant.
“Shall the Lent Township Board of Supervisors approve and sign, or disapprove and not sign any Development Agreement by and among Lent Township and Sunrise River Energy, LLC for the purpose of securing a personal property tax exemption pursuant to Minnesota Statutes Section 272.02, Subd. 92, as enacted by Laws of Minnesota 2009, Chapter 88 Article 2, Section 9?”
Deadline for signatures is Jan. 31.