Or are they? And who cares? And why is anyone concerned? Apparently the realities of IGCC, the fantasy of coal gasification, the claims with out any factual basis whatsoever, well, it seems things are getting hot, cooling down, it’s all over the map and everyone’s in a snit. What’s … Dog, I need another word for “hilarious” … anyway, it’s funny, it seems NRG is getting pissy about their reputation! They’re worried as being perceived as backing AWAY from IGCC, but from here, in the middle of a coal gasification cost docket, it seems that getting as far away as possible is the best way to preserve credibility — in Minnesota, coal gasification and Excelsior’s Mesaba Project is political leprosy. Remember the Policy Statement of Ed Garvey ???? Backing away from IGCC is a good and credible thing to do!
Here’s the PRESS RELEASE that NRG sent out, copied by Power Engineering.

According to Power Engineering, here’s the TXU email comments that NRG was responding to:

Reality Check: Proposed IGCC Power Plants Face Cancellation, Cost Recovery Opposition and Delay

AEP: Billion-Dollar Plant’s Costs Are Escalating

“The company said earlier this year the plant would probably cost about $1 billion. It promised to provide a more detailed cost estimate by the end of this year. But in a letter hand- delivered on the day after Christmas to its regulator, the state Public Service Commission, the company’s lawyers said it wouldn’t be able to provide the estimate at this time.

“…What we’ve found out is, part of the higher cost is from the construction market — concrete, steel, labor — the regular things you have in construction,” Matheney said. “It’s also the first time a plant of this type has been built to commercial scale.”

…The company has repeatedly said it will only build such plants in states where regulators allow it to recover its costs. That means ratepayers would have to pay increased rates.”

…Morris [AEP Chairman and CEO Mike Morris] said the process of getting the regulatory and legal authority to build the integrated gasification plants “is taking longer than we’d like — at least longer than I’d like. And arguably longer than our customers can really afford and longer than the instate regulators can afford.”

– Charleston Daily Mail, 12/27/06

NRG: Company Shelves Plan For “Clean Coal” Power Plant

“…NRG officials said they decided to drop the coal technology (IGCC) because the company couldn’t build the planned 630-megawatt plant in time to receive state incentives….Environmental groups were already fighting the plant, saying the new coal technology still produces carbon dioxide, which, unless captured, contributes to global warming. The technology to capture the gas is still being developed.”
– Associated Press, 11/28/06

AEP: CEO Says Issues Could Delay Clean Coal Build

“…The company had been hoping to build an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) power plant in Ohio by 2010, “but it’s probably more like 2011 or 2012,” AEP CEO Michael Morris said….The process in Ohio has been slowed because of a lawsuit that alleges that the state public utility commission would overstep its authority by approving cost recovery for the coal plant. Morris said he expects a decision from the state’s Supreme Court early in 2007….”
– Reuters, 11/06/06

The Bottom Line: IGCC is still a developing technology that is not yet available at the scale, efficiencies and availabilities needed to meet Texas’ near-term power needs.

Cost Recovery Is Not an Option in Texas: Electric utilities developing IGCC plants in other states depend on limiting their technology and operational risk with regulatory cost recovery — that’s not an option in Texas.

IGCC Technology Not Guaranteed for Texas Fuels. No IGCC technology suppliers are currently providing guarantees for IGCC plants using the coals available in Texas.

AEP’s billion dollar plant’s costs escalating? Well, DUH! Remember this? Excelsior’s DOE Financial Assistance Agreement

Does that seem like anything to get pissy about? So will someone explain to me how TXU’s “bottom line” assessment is off? AEP is hopefully going back to the drawing board, reassessing their costs for their project, which are likely something like Excelsior’s $2,155,680,783 for 600MW, or $3,593/kW. NOT INCLUDING CARBON CAPTURE OR SEQUESTRATION — another DUH! Obviously a hundred or so coal plants in Texas is not a good idea, and if you want to be appalled, check out their PLANS. But IGCC is not the answer, not here, not there…

The situation here in Minnesota with Excelsior Energy is anything but normal, what with deals for nuclear waste, deals for wind, I think my clients and moi are the only ones not part of a deal on this, and with that backdrop of wheeling and dealing, then we toss on top all the known problems of coal gasification, all the bait and switch of this particular proposal, all the risk shifting and cost shifting, and there’s no way that anyone with a modicum of consciousness could think that Excelsior’s Mesaba Project is a good idea and that it’s even remotely regarded as likely to be least cost. There is no way that anyone who has read even part of the testimony could support it. For example, the Department of Commerce brief is pretty direct – check it out HERE.
For those of you not acquainted with NRG, where Excelsior Energy’s Tom Micheletti and Julie Jorgensen are from, and also everyone else on their team, if you don’t know what NRG’s about, here s a must read docket. CLICK HERE – Go to the PUC’s SEARCH screen and search for docket: 02-1346. Read all about it! NRG is the company that went down and almost took Xcel out, Meyer Shark’s been on Xcel for decades and is the only one really paying attention to this. Slowly, NRG is turning around, but not without casualties.

NRG – this looks like a good time to reassess your lust for IGCC. Take a good look at the Excelsior record to gain some perspective on how you may fare in a regulatory proceeding. IGCC is a house of cards — and it’s not in the public interest. But more on point, it’s not in NRG’s interest. IGCC is not in AEP’s interest. IGCC is not in TXU’s interest. And afterall, your corporate interest — that’s literally your bottom line. IGCC ain’t a happen’ thang…




Color me pissy, but you’d think that after TEN (&(*$*(*@$(*% YEARS of dealing with this Chisago Transmission Project in one capacity or incapacity or another that Xcel might notice when they’re sending out its reapplication (for what, the third time now?) that they’d notice that they neglected to send one to me! You’d think that they’d notice that the local citizens group Intervenor in all the previous Chisago Project incarnations, the ever-so-effective Concerned River Valley Citizens, was NOT served with an application, nothing sent to Bill Neuman or Shellene Johnson! But NOOOOOOOO…

Here’s Xcel’s site for the Chisago Transmission Project, now called, I kid you not:

The Chisago County Reliability Improvement Project

Here’s the service list from PUC as of October 31, 2006:

I’m on the list.. well DUH, I’d better be, not just because of 10 years of work on this, but there’s also those formal Comments I’d filed on the Notice Plan in July. On the October 31 service list, Shellene Johnson, Pres. of CRVC was inexplicably removed.

So the recap:

Xcel screws up by not serving moi.

PUC/Commerce or whatever screws up by removing Shellene Johnson.

The Agency Formerly Known As The EQB screws up because they don’t take that EQB list over to the new office at 85 – 7th Place E. and make that existing list the service list in the dockets.

When I emailed Robin Benson, keeper of the PUC’s lists, she said I was on it, and that Shellene Johnson had been removed and Bill Neuman was MIA.

When I called Bret Eknes of the PUC, he said that the Comment Period on Completeness wouldn’t be reopened, and that they don’t have to solicit comments. Objection, non-responsive! Reopening because of a screw up is different than soliciting comments.

When I called Bob Cupit, of The Agency Formerly Known As The EQB, he rolls his eyeballs, does his “Oh, give me a break” Overland impression, and says things that he says I cannot quote or he will shoot me!

When I called Xcel, Mary Martinka, as Jimbo Alders says, was on it, and yesterday they shipped off copies to me, to Bill Neuman, and to Shellene Johnson.

Jimbo Alders, of Xcel, emails and says his staff people were right on it when I called. Yup, they were! Didn’t notice I wasn’t on the list? Come on, Jimbo, you knew I’d moved to Red Wing even before my neighbors did!

Oh, give me a break… as I told Jimbo, you’d think after all this time that Xcel would have a big envelope with my name in it to serve me with everything that goes out the door — except nuclear waste, I’ll pass on that. I mean really, you’d think they’d know I’m gonna find out about the Chisago Application, just like I find out about everything else!
Well, as my ex-husband used to say, “Goes to show you don’t think!” Yup, uh-huh…

OK, fine, if that’s how it’s going to be, I’ll just pack up all my IGCC files and move to Colorado!

And on that happy note, here’s the Xcel bird cam – nope, no bird cam, they’re sensible and are gone for the winter… at least staying away from Xcel power plants. Oh, that reminds me, and I failed to get a photo of it, but there was this great sign, an Xcel billboard, on the Lafayette Bridge, yes, an XCEL sign that said “Beware! Powerlines Kill!” or some such. Whatever were they thinking?


Yes, Drazkowski and Rowley — they’re trying to outdo each other in gaffs and insensitivity to audience and just plain blowing it. There are times when politics is so damn disgusting and I’m so contorted by cringes at the bizarre statements and antics, and there are other times when it’s a real rip-snorting laugh. Last night was both. Packed house at the Zumbrota VFW for their seasonal candidate forum. Ranging from CD2 to County Commissioner, it was a stage full.


From left to right, it was Steve Betcher for Goodhue Co. Attornty (unopposed); Dean Albers and Doug Klatt for Goodhue Co. Sheriff; Richard Samuelson for County Commissioner District 2; Jim Bryan for County Commissioner District 4 (on far right); Paul Hardt, House 36B – running against no-show Pat Garafolo (Welch and Warsaw Twp. in Goodhue Co.); Mike Osskopp for Kline and Colleen Rowley for CD2; Carolyn Sampson, Senate 36 – running against no-show Pat Pariseau (Welch and Warsaw Twp. in Goodhue Co.); Steve Murphy and Steve Drazkowski for SD28; Gary Iocco and Sandy Wollschlager for House 28A; Steve Sviggum and Jeff Flaten for House 28B. It was a free for all, not enough time for questions though, and what time there was, it wasn’t questions, it was primarily attack on those wedgie issues.

To wit, or to be witless… I swear this is true. Someone asked about immigration and Osskopp and Rowley answered sort of, and then Steve Drazkowski jumps in and says that an answer to the immigration is that we already have a group, the Minute Men, patrolling our borders, and that’s what we need. Really. Even the woman next to me had her face scrunched up in “I can’t believe he really said that” disbelief. Yes, it was one of those days…

There was also the obvious plant question about gay marraige, demanding to know why Murphy wouldn’t allow Minnesotans to vote on an amendment prohibiting gay marriage, Murphy did a good job in clearly stating “We don’t need an amendment” and then pointed out the laws already there, and then Drazkowski jumped in and went wacko. Um, earth to Draz, if you’re so interested in preserving marriage, why did you get divorced????? Maybe try preserving your own, and then stick your nose in others business? We could have interesting campaigns with dueling divorce files! And most of that is public information.

Rowley was an embarassment, in pissy attack mode rather than address issues, offer something for people to vote FOR. It’s a sad day when Osskopp looks good in comparison — I had years of gorounds with Mike in “Nuclear Waste Daze” when he was the Rep. for Florence Twp. area, when he was in AM Radio Talk Show Host mode, and yes, he is presenting better after some experience, but still, it’s the comparison that’s troubling…
It was packed when I got there 15 minutes before showtime, by far the best attended campaign forum I’ve been to this season. They were setting up another row of tables in the back so I did get a seat, and settling in, see none other than my arch-nemesis Steve Sviggum at the table in front of me. As Rowley was going around introducing herself to the folks, Terry Rogers trailing behind, she got to Sviggum’s table and was going across and she didn’t recognize him! Um, one would think… at the table, they were pretty suprised, I was thinking of interjecting with, “Hey, Colleen, you’ve got to meet Steve here, he’s got political aspirations of his own!” but I was good and sat there quietly emitting a couple of unrestrainable snorts as the folks gave each other “Oh My Dog” raised eyebrows.

We’ve been on a first name basis for a while now, I lived in Kenyon after my escape from Prestigious East Phillips in ’92… ’93? I’m sure our names for each other aren’t always printable, but we always manage to talk wtihout bodily harm. His demeanor went ugly last campaign season with this letter (sent just after he also sent one to Jean Poppe about her “Popsicles with Poppe”):


And my response — the guys at 1500AM were snorting and hooting, without a doubt the most hilarious radio interview I’ve ever done, and all at Steve’s expense:


Yup, he should have known better. This campaign, he’s been on his best behavior, he’s not been an intrusive jerk, and I should have thanked him for that — but I was on a mission, intent on getting his take on personal property taxes — more on that in a seprate post. And again a disturbing comparison, but compared to Drazkowski, Sviggum is the essence of moderation.

Sandy Wollschlager did very well in that free for all, she was tied with Sviggum in solid engaging presentation (maybe everyone’s getting tired, but the just seemed either really boring or utterly off the wall), and responded ON POINT! So rare last night. She got extra credit for explaining how personal property tax negotiations had worked out well for the Cannon Falls School District, no other candidate was willing to say they’d stand up and fight for our tax base. In this community, that’s a huge issue, and she has experience in holding the utility’s feet to the fire, saying that “it’s on the gable… it’s worth it to fight for some of these issues,” noting that her school district went from potentially receiving a nominal “gift” to a $6.2 million contract. That’s the kind of response we need to utilities’ dream of eliminating utility personal property tax. I’d talked to all the other candidates about this and handed them my question at the St. James forum so there’s no reason they couldn’t have had a coherent answer, it’s the most important economic issue facing this area now, but noooooo… they don’t have a clue. Sandy had the right answer, showing by example how to reserve this revenue for local government.

Here’s Sandy with supporter Tina Tunevin, and that’s not Dag Knutsen, though he was there somewhere…


Only a few more days…


Color me pissy, but will someone please explain Rowley’s position on… oh, say… energy… or education… or environment… or EVERYTHING? That is, anything but the war, we’ve got that one figured out. Look at the Colleen Rowley website. There are no position papers posted, no issues statements. It’s even worse than before when there were lame statements and she was doing things like conflating “decreasing dependence on foreign oil” with “wind generation” and some such. Back then, of course, I went straight to the horse’s mouth, we had a few go rounds, I spoke with her in person too, I spent quite a bit of time sending off basic information on electrical generation and transmission == hey, 2nd Congressional District is home to a nuclear plant up for relicensing. NADA! I heard from an FBI buddy of hers who was working on position papers, and now that they’ve had a lot of time to deal with it, to do something, nada. I’m getting a lot of email on Rowley doorknocks, lit drops, events, but

Madison Capitol.JPG

The Mississippi River doesn’t stop the infestation of pissy deer disease (or is it chronically wasted deer?) and I doubt it contains political corruption. Today’s paper is full of whining politicans caught taking money from utilities, and caucus employees doing campaign work on caucus/taxpayer time. They got caught in Wisconsin, and are pleading guilty faster than court reporters can type! Former goobernatorial candidate Chuck Chvala has plead and they’re arguing about restitution, and current Gov. Doyle is under investigation. But not to worry, a handful of Repugs have been caught too! In Wisconsin, they’re equal opportunity prosecutors.

Former WI State Senator Chuck Chvala

In the St.PPP today is Chvala’s whining about nominal restitution: Prosecutors propose Chvala pay $2,044 in restitution

Prosecutors want former Senate Majority Leader Chuck Chvala to pay $2,044.96 in restitution for having state workers campaign on state time.

The Madison Democrat’s attorney has filed an objection to that amount.

“There isn’t even any basis for the $2,044,” James Olson said.

Three other convicted former legislators face restitution of $3,500 to $300,000 as part of a Capitol corruption investigation.

Again, St.PPP: Former staffer pleads not guilty of fraud

Looks like the judge thought she might take an early retirement to some warm clime:

A former state employee accused of illegally steering a state contract to a firm whose executives donated money to Gov. Jim Doyle’s campaign pleaded not guilty in federal court on Friday.

Georgia Thompson, 55, was released on her own recognizance following the hearing on two federal fraud charges. Thompson’s attorney, Stephen P. Hurley, entered the plea for the former state purchasing official.

Thompson didn’t speak to the judge or her lawyer during the five-minute proceeding except to acknowledge she had her passport with her.

Magistrate Judge William E. Callahan ordered her to surrender it and stay in Wisconsin throughout the duration of the case.

With Democrats Chvala and Burke going down in flames, you’d think that the Repugs would back off on their claims of persecution! But noooooooooooooo… Check this, also in the St.PPP today: Judge won’t dismiss charges against Jensen

Attorneys for Jensen, R-Waukesha, and former GOP aide Sherry Schultz argued they were victims of selective prosecution. Dane County District Attorney Brian Blanchard, a Democrat, ignored Democrats in the Assembly and went after only Republicans in a probe into illegal campaigning at the State Capitol, they claimed.

But Judge Steven Ebert wouldn’t have it, pointing out that Blanchard prosecuted former state Sen. Brian Burke, a Milwaukee Democrat, in the same investigation and district attorneys have broad discretion in choosing who to charge.

“Democrats were prosecuted as well for the same offenses,” Ebert said.

The probe into Capitol corruption resulted in charges in 2002 against three Republican lawmakers â?? Jensen and former Reps. Steve Foti of Oconomowoc and Bonnie Ladwig of Racine. Also charged were two Democrats â?? Burke and former Sen. Chuck Chvala of Madison.

The charges came after Blanchard and other investigators spent months looking into reports of state workers illegally running lawmakers’ campaigns.

The investigation was sparked by Wisconsin State Journal reports that found state employees illegally campaign for legislative candidates on taxpayers’ time and the legislative caucuses â?? one for each party in each house â?? intended for research operate as secret campaign machines. The reports quoted a former Republican Assembly Caucus aide.

Burke, Chvala, Foti and Ladwig all have been convicted of reduced charges in plea deals.

Jensen faces three felony misconduct in office charges stemming from his supervision of the Assembly Republican Caucus, hiring Schultz to work as a full-time fundraiser on state time and using his legislative staff to work on his political campaigns. He also faces a misdemeanor for using his public position to obtain financial gain for the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee.

Schultz faces one count of felony misconduct in office stemming from her alleged work as a full-time fundraiser.

They face a joint trial set to begin Feb. 21.

And this — are you seeing a trend? Doyle returns $10,000 from two execs

Gov. Jim Doyle has returned $10,000 in campaign donations that came from executives of a Manitowoc company two days before a state panel recommended the firm for a $1.1 million grant.

Doyle last month returned $5,000 donations from Burger Boat Co. president David Ross and vice president James Ruffolo the two made in November, according to a campaign finance report filed Tuesday.

Two days after they made the donations, a Department of Transportation advisory committee accepted the company’s $1.1 million grant proposal for a boat ramp. If Doyle approves the grant, the company would become the first private firm to receive a harbor assistance grant.

Doyle said Wednesday the contributions had nothing to do with the committee’s action but acknowledged the close timing.

“I just thought it was better to give the money back so there wouldn’t be a suggestion” of wrongdoing, he said.

The timing has nothing to do with it… uh-huh…

If you want to have some fun, go to the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access Site and plug in their names. That’s Charles Chvala (there are two, don’t get him confused with the sex offender), Georgia Thompson, Scott R. Jensen, Sherry Schultz, Brian Burke, Steven M. Foti, Bonnie Ladwig. And if you plug in my name, well, remember, as a truck driver I had a perfect record, but give me a break, coming home from Madison after a long week, wagging German Shepherds and the Capitol in the mirror, the Nevilles on and a Diamante that loves to run… whaddya think Dog gave me a speedo that goes to 150 for?

(Just celebrated a 32,000 mile year with my new one with no repairs, let’s hear it for quality. Thanks to Kevin Huntington for finding it for me!)

The internet never fails to amuse me — while looking for photos of the Capitol building in Madison, I found The Urinals of Wisconsin State Capitol Building. Really…