Remember the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project (see Legalectric posts and Citizens Against the Mesaba Project’s “Camp Site”), the boondoggle coal gasification plant that almost was, the project that got every legislative perk possible, got financing and grants based on wishful thinking and that “something else” that we just can’t identify (without which, who would think this was a good idea?  That plant that was to be built, according to the special legislation for this project, on a site WITH INFRASTRUCTURE?  This site… dig the infrastructure!


Anyway, it wasn’t built here.  But a similar plant WAS built in Indiana, the Edwardsport plant owned by Duke Energy.  As with the Mesaba Project it was proposed at a reasonable price, legislators were first told $700 million, and then it went upwards of $2.11 billion.  For Edwardsport, same story, and that price kept going up, up, up, and in Indiana, it was so extreme that costs recoverable from ratepayers were capped by the Indiana Public Utility Commission at $2.9 BILLION.  It was allowed to be built, and it started operating, sort of…  Average output has been 41%, when an 80+% capacity factor was promised.  Repairs?  That’s putting it mildly.  Now they’re going to try to get cost recovery for that.

Problems pile up at Edwardsport 06-14-2015

Now, let’s not all forget all the money given by the Joyce Foundation to support this nonsense.


Here’s a specific and eloquent comment from Michael Mullet, very involved in opposition to the Edwardsport fiasco:

    You raise what is definitely the “bottom line” question for Edwardsport given the huge subsidy which almost 800,000 Indiana ratepayers have been paying and are continuing to pay to Duke Energy every month for Edwardsport generation.
    Based on what DEI customers had paid to the Company for Edwardsport and the plant’s net generation through March 2014, the cumulative cost since Edwardsport costs (including CWIP charges) began appearing in customer rates in 2009 was approximately 57 cents per kwh and the current cost for only the twelve month period under review in pending Cause No. 43114-IGCC-12&13 was approximately 33 cents per kwh.  See Direct Testimony of Ralph C. Smith, Joint Intervenors Exhibit A, IURC Causes Nos. 43114-IGCC-12&13, filed December 15, 2014, pp. 48-54.
    Complaints by Duke Energy and other Indiana IOUs that the costs of energy efficiency under Energizing Indiana were “excessive'” resulted in the Indiana General Assembly abruptly terminating that program in 2014 even though an impartial third party concluded that its costs were approximately 4 cents per kwh of electricity saved.    Complaints by Duke Energy and other Indiana IOUs that the costs of customer credits for rooftop solar power in the range of 9 to 13 cents per kwh represent an unfair and unaffordable subsidy to approximately 500 net metering customers statewide also resulted in serious legislative consideration of a bill (thankfully not resulting in any enacted legislation to date) to terminate that program as well.
    In this context of sustainable resources being “too costly” at a level of 4 to 13 cents per kwh, it would seem long overdue for Indiana’s regulators (or, alternatively, its legislators and its Governor) either to impose a reasonable “operating cost cap” on Edwardsport charges to customers or, failing that, to shut the plant down as grossly uneconomic and a monumental waste of scarce ratepayer resources in the face of Edwardsport costs for millions of mwh of coal gas generation with no carbon capture let alone sequestration which are multiple orders of magnitude greater than those for end-use efficiency under Energizing Indiana  or rooftop solar under Net Metering.
    This incredible “double standard” to subsidize Indiana’s favorite “crony capitalists” at Duke Energy and Peabody Coal (whose Bear Run mine in southwest Indiana supplies 100% of Ewardsport’s coal) in order to permit them to spew millions of tons of unregulated CO2 annually into the global atmosphere should end ASAP.
Michael A. Mullet


I love it when this happens, it’s almost as good as the results of a google image search for “Excelsior yahoos” this morning:

ER13-1049 Order on Filing


Big thanks to a little birdie who relayed the good news:

hee hee hee hee hee, I LOVE it when this happens…


Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project, the coal gasification plant that will not die, is returning to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on August 14, 2012.

Notice – August 14, 2012 PUC Meeting

At that time, they’ll address whether the original project’s permits apply to this project, and whether this one, under Minn. Stat. 216B. 1694, requires additional environmental review:

**6.     E6472/GS-06-668 Excelsior Energy, Inc.
In the Matter of the Joint LEPGP Site Permit, HVTL Route Permit and Pipeline (Partial
Exemption) Route Permit Application for the Mesaba Energy Project in Itasca County.
Should the Commission find, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 216B. 1694 subdivision 3, that the
site and route permits issued on March 12, 2010 for the Mesaba Energy Project are deemed valid
for a natural gas fired plant located at the same site and that no additional environmental review
is required under applicable state rules?

This docket has been one of the longest strangest trips ever, a coal gasification plant that wasn’t needed yet fed by state and federal money, using CO2 capture and storage that does not, can not, and will not exist.  Here’s some history:

Health Benefits of Coal (ya gotta read this one, HILARIOUS!)

Mesaba – Extend the Hearing! (the hearing was a farce)

And why are we here on the 14th?  The PUC granted a Site Permit to the project f/k/a Mesaba Project, the coal gasification plant:

ALJ Recommendation – Mesaba Site Permit

PUC Order and Site Permit – March 2010

Then it starts getting complicated, Excelsior sends PUC letter saying it wants confirmation that the permits issued for the Mesaba Project coal gasification plant are valid for a natural gas plant, and that it would require no further environmental review:

Excelsior Energy Request – May 31, 2012

Notice of Comment Period

Comment –

Commerce CommentsSierra Club Comment

And then Excelsior chimes again disclosing not much of anything about their “plan” for this gas plant:

Excelsior’s Response to Commerce IRs June 26, 2012

And then the Comment period is extended and we get another bite:

MCGP Reply Comment

And now we’re off to the races…

In the Duluth News Tribune:

Feds say no more money for Iron Range Excelsior Power Plant


Somebody kill this thing!!!  It just won’t die…


So here we go again — check out our exhibits:

Comment –

So what were we commenting on this time?  Excelsior Energy says it wants to build a gas plant, and use all the permits and perks it got as a “coal gasification” project.  Over my dead polar bear!

Initial Excelsior Request – May 31, 2012

Commerce Comments

Excelsior’s Response to Commerce IRs June 26, 2012

Can’t we just shut the door on this, lock it tight, and GO HOME?


The most bizarre bill has been introduced that seems to be trying to breathe life into the most unreal project that ever existed, and the project that refuses to die, have they no shame?


Here’s the poop:

SF 417 and HF 618

Senate authors are Tomassoni, Senjem, Michel and Saxhaug


Referred to Senate Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications


House authors are Beard, Dill and Fabian

Referred to House Environment, Energy and …


What on earth are they trying to do