Last night in Blooming Grove Township, Waseca County, the Town Board voted unanimously for a resolution to negotiate a Host Fee Agreement with Simon Industries for their support of a personal property tax exemption for the plant, similar to the one negotiated between Xcel and Scott County and Shakopee. HERE IT IS! Download file

Simon Industries received a personal property tax exemption from the legislature in 2002 for its 46MW plant, but that plant was not built.

The proposed plant site is on a hill on the east side of Hwy. 13 just after you enter into Waseca county, at the first bend in the highway, which is on top of a very large underground natural gas storage facility.


This is looking from the Prehn’s homestead over the site, which will be on the left edge of the photo. The site is next to the pumping station for the 7 billion, yes, that’s 7 BILLION, cubic foot underground gas storage facility. Since it was opened, there have been pumping stations, purpose unclear, that look like little outhouses. The landscape is dotted with them, and it lends an eerie feeling because it’s impossible to forget all that gas below.


These are two of the pumping stations on my client’s land. Years ago, they would open valves and polluted water would spew over the land nearby. The groundwater became polluted enough that in 1998, Centerpoint, then Minnegasco, was required to build a water treatment facility and installed underground tanks at each of these pumping stations to collect that polluted water. My client filed a Petition for an Environmental Assessment Worksheet regarding the polluted water at the time, but it was dismissed without any inquiry. The gas company periodically sends “the gator” to go from station to station and collect the water to bring to the treatment facility at the main pumping station on the hill. It’s a very noisy process, particularly in the winter.

The site where they want to build the plant is shown on the photo below, taken from the farmyard of the nearest home, maybe 1,500 feet away. It will be on the hill in the middle, and the underground storage pumping station is on the hill to the right.


You can find maps of the site in the Environmental Assessment Worksheet from their 2002 application.

So who cares about utility personal property tax exemptions? Taxpayers do! Utilities are taxed differently than most other entities. Those of us in Red Wing care very much when the majority of our county, city and school district tax revenues come from utility personal property tax. That revenue dropped dramatically when the legislature, at the behest of NSP/Xcel and Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, successfully lobbied to drop the rate from 4.6% to 1.5-2.0%. For the last few years, any new power plant construction has been exempt, completely exempt from personal property tax. The reason that this is important to local government is that when local governments support these exemptions, they must be mindful that when an entity is exempted, the tax burden is shifted over to the other property owners in that jurisdiction. Kevin Greene of the Dept. of Revenue laid this out in detail — he’s the one who handles all of the state’s utility personal property tax exemptions. This shift to the taxpayers was confirmed by Brad Johnson, Goodhue County Auditor. In this case, it means that the $2.4 million estimated exemption is paid by the property taxpayers of the county. The taxpayers in Blooming Grove Township were not pleased.

At the township meeting, Rick Free presented the case for Simon Industries ? he also presented at the County meeting that morning.


Free is a consultant, and was with Xcel for 25 years in Operations and Power Marketing. Simon Industries lists him as the one working on Transmission and MISO Interconnection. With that experience, he should know better than to say that we ?need? power! We?re not going to freeze in the dark in an incubator without a job. He probably expected a slam-dunk as with the County, but the Township was looking out for its own, and heard the citizens who were concerned about the impact of this plant on the environment, their enjoyment of their lives and homes, and on this evening, their property taxes.

The Blooming Grove town board voted to require Simon Industries to negotiate a Host Fee Agreement. They can get assistance from the Minnesota Association of Townships in this process.

Rep. Connie Ruth told Nancy Prehn that she wanted a ?win-win? situation. This is a “Win-Win” to be sure! Simon Industries got the support for exemption they wanted, and the Township was included as a stakeholder and can now negotiate a Host Fee Agreement.

Congratulations to the Blooming Grove Town Board for standing up for its citizens and the public interest.

Leave a Reply