“WHAT?? YOU WANT WHAT?” I can just see it — Micheletti hands Beard the script… “JUMP??? You want me to say WHAT? But it’s campaign season!!! OK, OK, I’m jumping!”

Commentary like today’s makes my imagination run wild. It’s hard to imagine why an elected official would sign on to a statement like this, particularly one that contains parts so similar to others published recently:

Michael Beard: Hey, Xcel, clean-coal makes sense here, too

The company promotes a project in Colorado while foot-dragging on the Iron Range.

Michael Beard

On Aug. 15 Xcel Energy announced that it is investing in and promoting IGCC (clean-coal) technology in Colorado. While the company’s pride in and enthusiasm for the Colorado project is admirable, I am perplexed and somewhat irritated at Xcel’s rather dismissive attitude toward an identical project right here in its own back yard.

In 2003, I was a chief author of bipartisan legislation that promotes development of integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) plants in Minnesota. As a result, the Mesaba Energy Project, a 603 IGCC power plant, is in advanced stages of development on the Minnesota Iron Range on an industrial site near Bovey, Minn.

As Xcel notes in regard to its Colorado project, IGCC will bring significant economic development and environmental benefits while supplying critically needed new base-load power generating capacity. The question for my friends at Xcel: If it’s good for Colorado, why not for Minnesota?

Minnesota needs 3,000 to 6,000 megawatts of new base load power generation in the coming decade, even after all available conservation and renewable alternatives are implemented. If new coal facilities are not built, Xcel’s demand for natural gas will increase from 2 percent of statewide demand in 2004 to 20 percent of statewide demand in 2011. Massive increases in natural gas consumption for power generation will drive up the price and volatility of this commodity. This hurts consumers and drives out industry, especially in a cold-weather state such as ours.

Minnesota is one of the toughest places in the country to get anything built, and, as the development time frame for the Mesaba Project has shown, it takes 10 years to get a new base load power plant online.

Project managers have filed thousands of pages of environmental and scientific analysis, hundreds of pages of analysis of its public interest benefits to Minnesota, and they are in the midst of a yearlong Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) proceeding to gain approval of its power contract, another yearlong proceeding with the MPUC to get its proposed siting approved, and a federal environmental impact statement process that involves a host of federal regulators.

Minnesota’s legislators understand the grave importance of keeping our electric power industry strong, clean and competitive. That’s why my colleagues and I, over the last four years, obtained the tough votes to reauthorize operation of the big nuclear plants, create the Community Based Wind Tariff program, implement the 90 percent mercury reduction program, accelerate reconstruction of our transmission grid (the Capstone 2020 Project), and pass the enabling legislation for Clean Coal Technology.

The Mesaba Project has clear benefits to Minnesota. As a Minnesota policymaker, I’m flattered that Xcel Energy has introduced a bill in the Colorado Legislature very similar to the one I coauthored. I hope the utility will share its new-found enthusiasm for IGCC with the Mesaba Project on behalf of Minnesota customers.

Michael Beard, R-Shakopee, is a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and is vice chair of the Regulated Industries Committee.

©2006 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

Needless to say, I advised Mike to do his homework and sent a little light reading. From this Commentary, I can see he’s not paying attention, for sure hasn’t read the Excelsior application or any of the filings, and because he calls it “industrial,” he doesn’t know the character of the West site! Oh, I forgot, he’s hearing the Excelsior mantra: “Pine roots and granite = infrastructure. Woods and wetland = industrial.” And the Bushism: Say it enough times and it will be true. We need to get Beard up there to check it out! Remember the MPR story, Excelsior Debate Goes to the Public, and this MPR photo of Micheletti near the site?


Well, let’s get more specific. Here are photos from the DOE site visit in June 2005:


It’s accessible only by ATV over the transmission easement, no way to get through the woods. But they tried, here’s a photo of the walk towards the site:


Yup, here’s a typical “industrial worker” on the job. Mike, that doesn’t look like any “industrial site” that I’ve ever seen…

Here they are walking around in a clearing:


So Mike, where’s this “industrial site” you’re talking about?

If you’ve got some time, call Rep. Mike Beard and ask him if he’s seen this industrial site. His office phone is (651) 296-8872, email is rep.mike.beard@house.mn
Enough people know the truth about Mesaba to make this a direct hit to Beard’s foot. Are the voters paying attention? Is Doug Zila paying attention? We’ll see…

One Response to “For Excelsior, Rep. Mike Beard says “How high?””

  1. Legalectric » Blog Archive » Toadies toeing line for Excelsior Says:

    […] Here is Bakk’s letter in its entirety. Compare it with last week’s Mike Beard editorial which is LINKED HERE: Coal gasification provides a solution […]

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