GRHR Letters to Editor

February 17th, 2007

Here are the latest LTE’s in the Grand Rapids Herald Review.

Project will be scenic blunder

Friday, February 16th, 2007 05:01:56 PM


Having read many of the previous letters regarding the proposed Mesaba Energy project, I will attempt to avoid re-hashing all the reasons that this project should never happen and there are many.

The schmoozing and back-scratching between company management and local and state politicians trying to get the Mesaba Energy project to become a reality has been both blatant and shameful. Does this lack of conscience just qualify as business as usual?

Pollution on the local level will be extremely harmful to our lakes and our lungs. The BWCA and Voyageurs National Park are national treasures that should not be compromised by air pollution and mercury contamination.

Hopefully this boondoggle of a project will collapse under its own weight. If not, the road leading to it will need to be renamed. How about the Un-Scenic Highway, the Not-So-Scenic Highway or my personal favorite, The Scenic Blunder in the Sky-Way.

Bob Erickson

The next is from Ron Dicklich, who in my book lost any semblence of credibility at the Hoyt Lake DOE Hearing, when he misrepresented Utility Personal Property Tax as having been repealed, DUH, it’s not been repealed, he set up Rukavina with bad information, and as lobbyist for Great River Energy he should know better. At that same meeting, he had no clue the origins of the Mesaba bill and couldn’t even remember when the Mesaba bill was passed, much less what was in it! But this is the guy who is supposed to be watching legislation for the County and didn’t bother to let them know that a bill had been introduced in March 2006 exempting Mesaba from Utility Personal Property Tax that would cost the county millions in tax revenues annually. According to Plants Sites & Parks, October/November 1999, Ron Dicklich was Minnesota Iron and Steel’s Director of Public and Governmental Affiars – I guess that’s something he would know something about! And it’s a matter of public record that there is a contract with the County where he’s been hired as a “project coordinator” for $5,000/mo., he even gets to office at the County! At what point is he an interested person who should not be paid for or be involved in any part of this? I think that line was crossed a long time back…

And about cost — Dicklich has obviously not read the record about the cost of electricity produced by Mesaba. Hey Ron, you can find that at Check out the Dept. of Commerce’s Elion Amit’s testimony.

Dr. Elion Amit Direct Testimony

Dr. Elion Amit Rebuttal Testimony

Dr. Elion Amit Surrebuttal Testimony

Time for you to do some homework… and about all of those searches from Pengilly for “Ron Dicklich” on my site this last week.. 13 was it?

CLICK HERE for Charlotte Neigh’s letter that he’s whining about.

Minnesota Steel could depend on Mesaba Energy

Monday, February 12th, 2007 08:18:21 AM


In my opinion, Charlotte Neigh’s letter of Jan. 31, 2007 was full of misleading information. I am compelled to set the record straight.

It is not true that I am paid $5,000 per month by Itasca County. RAMS has a contract with Itasca County to pay them up to $3,000 per month for project coordination services, and up to $2,000 per month for support services. I am compensated by RAMS as executive director and do not receive extra compensation for the services I provide. Rams has been eligible for up to $5,000 per month reimbursement since Aug. 28, 2006. To date, they have billed for just over $4,900 total.

Ms. Neigh’s suggestion about Commissioner Eichorn’s need for more accuracy is laughable as she left out major pieces of information concerning the Taconite hearing.

As a part of the hearing, Xcel Energy representatives testified they should not have to purchase the Mesaba Energy load was because there was no need in the market for additional electrical generation. The point I made in testifying was a letter I read from Xcel Energy to Howard Hilshorst. The letter stated Xcel was not able to make a proposal to MN Steel because they did not have enough resources. That means they did not have electricity to sell. Apparently they were not being honest about the supply issue.

The rule of supply and demand controls electricity just as it does other products and commodities. If you support MN Steel, you should be concerned about the largest electric company in the Midwest not having sufficient power to make a proposal to sell power for MN Steel. Electric companies say with Mesaba coming on line, costs of electricity will go up. I say that if it doesn’t come on line, our costs will go up. My point is that based on supply and demand MN Steel may need Mesaba to come on line just to keep electric costs competitive so that they can keep their costs down and compete in a steel market that will be competitive into the future.

It was also stated that the cost of building transmission would increase the cost of electricity. It could, but, it would make more sense to build eight miles of transmission than 200 miles.

What Commissioner Eichorn was saying, and that I testified to, was that MN Steel’s need for lower energy costs could depend on the future of Mesaba Energy. MN Steel will find electricity, but at what cost? MN Steel is our future. I am not willing to take any chances of it not being able to happen because of a lack of electricity or electricity that is too high cost. Xcel and others want to make sure that the supply levels assure them the profit their shareholders want. That is really what this is all about. I chaired the Minnesota Senate Committee on Energy and Public Utilities for four years and have a background on these issues.

Ron Dicklich
Executive Director

And this one… good DOG, he thinks that the Beulah, ND, plant is doing “just fine” environmentally? Not only did it go bankrupt in the 1980s, it’s a hazardous waste site and has contaiminated the water! Here’s the Report to Congress on Special Wastes from Processing, Chapter 5 – check out p. 9 about Uranium-238 and Thallium! Yup, just fine…

Excelsior Energy is needed

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007 10:35:21 AM


I believe we need the Excelsior Energy plant here. I think our county needs to look toward the future as well as look at the environmental impact. Itasca County needs this plant. It’s time we boost our economy and get good viable jobs to Itasca County. If this plant is so bad then why does the state of North Dakota have a coal gasification plant in Beulah N.D.? My brothers-in-law and father-in-law work there. According to them the plant is a success. The community thought the same as we did what about the environment’s impact. So far its doing just fine.

A bunch of panic talk always seems to destroy a good prospect of a big company looking to our area for building sites. I am a hunter and fisherman and believe in environment protection. If this is such unproven technology, why are we so afraid of it. The state of Minnesota would not grant permits to this company nor would the EPA on the federal level, if this was so bad. It’s time Itasca County residents look to the future.

Our tourism is not what it was years ago. I came here in 1979 with my family. I have seen a lot of development. A lot of people say we need different industry besides timber and iron. Now we have one and we are scared to death of it.

I think the fear of the unknown in this county is what suppresses it. We can no longer afford to worry about tourism or people not wanting to retire here if Excelsior builds this projected plant. MP&L has a great pollution control system at the Boswell Power station. Many times when I worked out there as a security guard the MP&L Company news letter would say how the Minnesota EPA awarded them or commended them on a job well done by using the system they have in place to keep our environment safe. There is air pollution any where in this world and many are taking action to safe guard against any permanent serious damage to the ecology. I believe Itasca County needs too look forward to the future to keep generations of children here giving them something besides box stores or driving 60 miles to a mine. Years of hearing, “We need more viable jobs” are coming back to haunt us. We have a great opportunity. Let’s not blow it this time.

Many studies have been conducted and panic talk is going to get us nowhere. However I don’t condemn anyone playing it safe either and watching out for the environment. That too is a great cause in itself. The mere mention of nuclear plants is outrageous. They are a lot more dangerous than a coal plant. Three Mile Island out East shouldn’t be forgotten. I believe this company has done and will do everything to keep our biggest resource and investment safe, the environment.

Dave Gunderson

Grand Rapids

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