IEDC gets carried away

February 15th, 2007

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More acts of desperation… a blatant attempt to promote Mesaba, to influence a decision headed south, a public flaunting of ex parte restrictions by promoting coal gasification and raising material issues in the Mesaba docket with PUC Chair present. How dense can they be? The Itasca Economic Development Corporation went overboard with promotion of coal gasification in its “Electricity 2020 Forum” yesterday at the Sawmill Inn in Grand Rapids. Peter McDermott really screwed up.

From the IDEC site, on Mesaba:

The IEDC board approved taking a public position in support of the Mesaba Energy project. The primary reason for taking the position in support of Mesaba Energy was due to the controversy surrounding the project and to emphasize the very significant positive economic impact of the project on the Itasca area.

IEDC has indeed been a vocal promoter of Excelsior’s Mesaba Project, going so far as to try to get help from the Minnesota Chamber in slapping down local opposition — ummmm… hello, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce is not supporting the project because of their valid concerns about the potential impact of Mesaba related rate increases on their members. It’s too bad that McDermott isn’t reading the pleadings that the Chamber has submitted in the Mesaba docket. It’s too bad that the Chamber didn’t send someone yesterday!
When I saw this “Electricity 2020 Forum” sponsored by IEDC, I expected more cheerleading for Mesaba, but was suprised to find that the Chair of the PUC was one of the featured speakers!!! The Mesaba Project is before the PUC right now, the ALJ decision is due on Monday, this docket is active — it’s not appropriate to bring in the Chair of the PUC to an area where this project would be located and where the project would obviously be discussed. I raised these ex parte concerns with the Asst. A.G. assigned to ex parte issues, with various staff and brought it to Mike Bull’s attention. Before the fact, that’s really all I can do. You’d think with that warning, they’d be on their best behavior, but NOOOOOOOOOO…

Mike Bull was first, and didn’t belabor IGCC. Bill Grant was next, and as the IGCC toady that he is (Bill Grant – October 24 2006 presentation “Transition to Sustainable¬† Energy…”), he did his job well, presenting on “Conservation” and spending half the time telling us how coal gasification works (missing the many ways it doesn’t work) and how we need it. He also said that demand is increasing by 2% annually. He knows better. One would think that someone charged with speaking on “Conservation” and coming into the Mesaba Project territory with Chair Koppendrayer present, he would have no need to bring up Mesaba, and would know better, but NOOOOOOOOO… he went on and on and on. Next was Mike Jones from EERC and PCOR at NDU, recipient of the $21 million from DOE via Excelsior grant for carbon capture and sequestration, and mid-presentation he said, “I’ve been asked to talk about coal gasification” and proceeded to spend the rest of his presentation giving a pitch for coal gasification!!!

During Question & Answer time, it got to be too much. We couldn’t ask questions directly, and had to submit them on cards, but Moderator Rick Lemonds brought Mesaba into a generic question, and the second time he did it, prefacing the question with “Here’s another one about Mesaba” and asking about comparison of emissions of IGCC and regular coal. I objected from the back of the room, saying it was ex parte contact because the issues being discussed were material issues in the Mesaba docket. Chair Koppendrayer agreed, he confirmed that it was a valid concern, and that he thought he should not be present — and he got up and left the room!! (he also did that later) I think he handled it well. IEDC, however, should have known better. In our chat a week or so before the presentation, the Asst. A.G. assured me that they knew of the ex parte limitations. And IEDC screwed up. Peter McDermott was joking in the buffet line about open meeting requirements and clearly doesn’t get it or doesn’t care and doesn’t appreciate what this violation does to his credibility. It’s one thing to be an obvious Excelsior toady, but to violate ex parte restrictions, he and Rick Lemonds showed poor judgment at best.

Here’s the PUC’s Ex Parte page.

Here’s the ex parte rules, Minn. R. ch 7845.

I’ve ordered the DVD of the presentations, and will post it ASAP.

One Response to “IEDC gets carried away”

  1. No CapX 2020 » Bill Grant - Deputy Commissioner of Energy? Says:

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