“Don’t forget, some projects die nine times before they go.”

No problem.  I’ve been working on killing this one since December, 2001, and as the STrib quoted me, it’s “dead, dead, dead.  It was on life support, we’ve pulled the plug, and are waiting for the inevitable.”

But from the promoters and their promoters, the spin is dizzying, sore losers who can’t accept well documented reality.  The Mesaba Project has been outed and the record is there for the world to see.  It’s going down.  Finally.
Bill Hanna, Editor of the Mesabi Daily News, is spinning his web of PR deception — there he goes again, claiming a “$1.5 billion” cost — when we’ve provided him with the DOE primary documentation of the $2,155,680,783 cost HOW MANY TIMES???

DOE Financial Assistance Cover Sheet

Micheletti’s spinning — claiming “they only referenced what we had to say one or two times.”   Oh, bull-shit… read the decision.   In the 75 page ALJ recommendation of denial, there are 184 footnotes, and 95 references to Excelsior exhibits and arguments.



Micheletti has whined to at least one reporter that the ALJs didn’t take their Fluor Report into consideration, but hey, look at the FIRST, SECOND AND THIRD footnotes!  “EE1016 at 11 (Fluor Report).”   The Fluor Report is cited many times.  And if its “TOP SECRET” parts were made public, exactly what would the public know that it doesn’t know now, eh?  The project would look even worse.

Here’s Bill Hanna’s spin — put on your seatbelt and get ready for a wild ride — he claims that the “Minnesota Pollution Control Agency” is the decision maker!  Give me a break!

Micheletti looks to PUC for final decision on Excelsior Energy project
Range lawmakers supportive

Bill Hanna

ST. PAUL — On the night of April 12, Iron Ranger Tom Micheletti didn’t sleep well, especially knowing those who want to see a proposed clean-coal project for the region fail were likely having sweet dreams.

It was revealed that evening that an administrative law judge had issued a ruling recommending the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency deny approval of a power purchase agreement with Xcel Energy — an agreement authorized by the Legislature; and an agreement that is crucial to moving the energy project along.

“They said it was not innovative energy because of coal. What do they think we’ve been talking about for five years?

“We had 17 witnesses testify including world-class experts and yet they only referenced what we had to say one or two times. They didn’t say one good thing about the project … economically, they had nothing good to say. To me, this should have been a slam-dunk, a no-brainer. The bias in the ruling against us was obvious,” said Micheletti, co-president and co-CEO, along with his wife Julie Jorgensen, of Excelsior Energy.

The $1.5 billion project envisions several power plant units across the Range, with the first one slated for the Bovey/Taconite area of Itasca County. It would produce hundreds of new jobs and each unit would require about 1 million man hours of construction work.

The law judge’s ruling is not a killer for the project. It is but a recommendation to the MPUC, which will likely decide the issue some time in June.

But it is a recommendation that found a lot of favor with groups that have been opposed to the project, including the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Fresh Energy and the Izaak Walton League of America-Midwest Office. Representatives of those three groups made the environmental arguments against the project.

“We agree wholeheartedly with the recommendations. These two judges are taking seriously the consequences of building a new coal-fired power plant and their recommendation makes it clear that the Public Utilities Commission has to take the pollution problems seriously as well,” said Kevin Reuther, a lawyer for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. “The judges essentially found this is just another coal plant, but an expensive one.”

But Micheletti said he “expects a better response from the PUC because, based on the clear testimony and evidence this is a good project in all areas, including the environment.”

That’s also the hope of Iron Range lawmakers who have been on board for the project since it was hatched more than five years ago. And Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who has also been a supporter, remains so.

“We’re taking a close look at the ALJ’s report and looking for opportunities within the report to keep the project alive,” said Alex Carey, Pawlenty’s press secretary speaking on behalf of the governor.

“I’m very disappointed in the judge’s conclusions but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. It’s still up to the PUC to make the final determination, so I think there’s a long road to go yet,” said state Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm. “The project still has a good shot of happening. So I’m disappointed but I’m not totally discouraged and we’ll keep plugging away.”

“I’m frankly pretty disappointed for all the time they took. It didn’t seem they had a good grasp for the needs of power in Minnesota and the difference between pulverized coal and coal gasification,” said Sen. Tom Saxhaug, DFL-Grand Rapids. “I have a little more faith in the Public Utilities Commission. They know the needs of Minnesota and our additional baseline energy needs.”

“That’s the process. The state has a strong review process and that’s fine. They’ve made a recommendation to the PUC. I’m sure it’s a strong recommendation,” said Rep. Loren Solberg, DFL-Grand Rapids.

But Micheletti said a friend of his with Conoco-Phillips talked to him the day after the ruling the night before — a night when he “couldn’t sleep a wink” — and told him to remember: “Don’t forget, some projects die nine times before they go.”

“It’s a body blow. But we’re Rangers … we’re tough. We’ll bounce back,” Micheletti said.


Bill Hanna can be reached at To read this story online and comment on it go to

Let Bill Hanna know what you think of his spin.

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