Hot off the press, Bill Gates, a/k/a Cascade Investment, LLC, is digging in his pockets to the tune of $50 million to hand over to Otter Tail Power — for Big Stone II, I’d guess, what else would they want this kind of $$$ for?  I’d say he’s in the running for “The Enabler of the Year” award.

Here’s straight from their February 23, 2007 SEC filing:

3203 32

$50,000,000 5.778% Senior Note due November 30, 2017

Dated as of
February 23, 2007

Cascade Investment L.L.C.


Ladies and Gentlemen:


     OTTER TAIL CORPORATION, a Minnesota corporation (the “Company”), agrees with CASCADE INVESTMENT L.L.C., a Washington limited liability company (the “Purchaser”) as follows:




   Section 1.1 Authorization of Note. The Company will authorize the issue and sale of its 5.778% Senior Note due November 30, 2017 in the aggregate principal amount of $50,000,000 (the “Note,” such term to include any note or notes issued in substitution therefor pursuant to Article XIII of this Agreement). The Note sh all be substantially in the form set out in Exhibit 1 with such changes therefrom, if any, as may be approved by the Purchaser and the Company. Certain capitalized terms used in this Agreement are defined in Annex A; references to a “Schedule” or an “Exhibit” are, unless otherwise specified, to a Schedule or an Exhibit attached to this Agreement.


     Section 1.2 Interest Rate; Adjustment to Interest Rate.

     (a) The Note shall bear interest at a rate of 5.778% per annum (the “Interest Rate”); provided, however, that if, after the date hereof but on or prior to the Closing, a rating assigned by either Moody’s or S&P to the long-term senior unsecured indebtedness of the Company is downgraded below “Baa3” or “BBB-,” respectively, then the Interest Rate will increase by 0.50% for each rating notch downgrade below “Baa3” by Moody’s, and 0.50% for each rating notch downgrade below “BBB-” by S&P. For illustration purposes only, if each of Moody’s and S&P downgrades its rating of the Company’s long-term senior unsecured indebtedness by one rating notch, the Interest Rate will be increased by 1.0%.

     (b) If, after a downgrade as described in the first sentence of Section 1.2(a) but on or prior to the Closing, a rating assigned by either Moody’s or S&P to the long-term senior unsecured indebtedness of the Company is upgraded, then the Interest Rate will decrease by 0.50% for each rating notch upgrade by each of Moody’s and S&P. For illustration purposes only, if, Moody’s and S&P each downgrade their respective ratings assigned to the Company’s long-term senior unsecured indebtednes s by one rating notch after the date hereof but on or prior to the Closing (resulting in a 1.0% increase in the Interest Rate pursuant to Section 1.2(a)), but then, on or prior to the Closing upgrade their respective ratings of such indebtedness by one rating notch each, the Interest Rate, as previously increased, will be decreased by 1.0%.

     (c) Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 1.2(a) and (b), in no event shall the Interest Rate be (i) less than 5.778% or (ii) adjusted following the Closing.


     Section 1.3 Subsidiary Guarantors. The payment by the Company of all amounts due with respect to the Note and the performance by the Company of its obligations under this Agreement described in Article II below will be unconditionally guaranteed by all Subsidiaries designated on Schedule 5.4 as Guarantors (the “Subsidiary Guarantors”) under the Guaranty Agreement dated as of December 3, 2007 (the “Guaranty Agreement”) from such Subsidiary Guarantors, which Guaranty Agreement shall be in the form attached hereto as Exhibit 2.


… blah blah blah… Are there enough lumps of cheap, plentiful and available coal for Mr. Gates this coming Xmas???   Whatever is he thinking.


It seems that Murphy is doing something that might stabilize the crashing utility personal property tax rates — he’s authored a bill to set the rate at 2.5%, which over the last decade has been cut from 4.6% down to 2.1% and is now being again slashed by the Dept. of Revenue.  Xcel just takes and takes and takes, proffering the most lame excuse for its desire to be free of taxes: “We need to be competitive.”  Ummmm, folks, last I saw, we were one of the lower cost utility rate states, so if they want a level playing field, SHOULDN’T THESE TAXES BE RAISED????  SIGNIFICANTLY????

 Murphy’s S.F. 724

What does it all mean?  From House Research: Primer on Minnesota’s Property Taxation of Electric Utilities


So let’s see how far Xcel lets this bill go!


 Utility tax battle heats up

By Mike Longaecker, Capitol Bureau Staff Writer
The Republican Eagle – 02/22/2007

ST. PAUL — Minnesota communities facing sharp declines in their tax base found a sympathetic ear from Senate Taxes Committee members.

Communities that host the state’s largest electricity generating plants — Red Wing, Monticello and Becker — anticipate significant losses in property tax revenue from an impending Revenue Department rule change.

Last week, a state judge ruled in favor of a change in valuation rules that will reduce the amount of property taxes utility companies must pay to local taxing districts.

“Meanwhile,” Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing, told committee members Wednesday, “our residential homeowners are going to get stuck footing the bill.”

While observers expect the rule change to take hold in coming months, that didn’t stop leaders from some of the affected communities from urging lawmakers to fight back through legislation that aims to recoup much of the tax base expected to be swept away by the rule change.

A bill sponsored by Murphy would increase tax rates for utility companies.

“We took the risks. We entered into the agreements. We need some benefit,” Red Wing City Council President Carol Duff said at Wednesday’s committee hearing.

Red Wing and Goodhue County are host to Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island nuclear plant, which is among the companies poised to receive the tax breaks.

The city has seen a gradual decline in tax revenue from the utility. When the plant opened in the 1970s, officials agreed to pay great sums in property taxes since Red Wing leaders agreed to accept the risk of nuclear power.

Under the Revenue Department rule change, Red Wing’s residential property taxes would have gone up almost 7 percent without a stabilization agreement signed between the city and the utility.

The agreement calls for Xcel to reimburse Red Wing and Goodhue County for 10 years with the revenue lost had the rule change not gone into effect.

Results just in on the District 3 race in Itasca County where the newly elected Ken Fideldy couldn’t hack it and quit after less than a month in office.  The primary results in a croweded field:

Dimich 431

Burthwick 292

Mattfield 115

Aitken 110

Fall 98

Hietala 92

Hess 17

724 voters did not vote for Dimich in this Primary Election.

Now on to the General!!!

Chisago Transmission Redux

February 27th, 2007


Once more with feeling, folks, here we go again. It’s the Chisago Transmission Project, and tonight we had the first public meeting in a long while. Why? I don’t know, maybe Xcel thinks we all just need a reunion to remember what a strong community can do!

This time around, I’m representing the City of Lindstrom, and the meeting was a bit of “old home week.” And each time we’ve gone through this, we learn more, so let’s see if we can get it right this time! Our goal is clear, so let’s get to work!

Here’s the Certificate of Need Scheduling Order that came out yesterday:

First Prehearing Order – CoN

Purpose of tonight’s meeting? To receive comments on the scope of the Environmental Assessment. Comments on the EA scope were open until 3/13, but now that’s been extended to 3/30/07!!! Why? Haven’t a clue.

Here’s the meeting notice:

Public Meeting Notice Feb 27 2007

An Environmental Assessment (EA) is from the short, abbreviated and too “streamlined” “Alternative Process” that wasn’t designed for a hotly contested project like this. And it’s confusing just how it works (or doesn’t).



So does that make sense? They did a full-blown EIS last time (where’s that ME3 site when we need it?). Now they’re only doing a nominal inquiry.



For Certificate of Need application, go to www. and then to eDockets and then to “Search Documents” and then to 04-1176.

OK, now that you’ve got all that down, here’s the form to let them know what the EA should include, “Scoping Comments” as we say in the biz:

Comment Form – Scope of EA

It’s easy, just download the form and comment on the areas you think should be included in the Environmental Assesment, bringing up any specific information that you may have. Then end it in to Sharon Ferguson of Dept. of Commerce, her mail and email addresses are on the form. It’s that simple, really!!!!

More soon!

Red Wing Communications!!!!

February 26th, 2007

Remember the downtown Red Wing “Hager” and “Cannon” and _____ (I think there was another name once too)???? That place on Main St. next to InstyPrints? Home of the devoted, competent and loyal workers?? Oh, and did I mention hilarious? Dawn kept the Charter Commission meetings lively (and she’s rotated off, now what!!!), and John is a fan of the malts at Randy’s. Yeah, the one with Dawn and John hanging out all day putting up with the likes of this technodolt… But wait… something’s changed, they’ve taken over:

Dawn Courtier and John Jacobs are now:

Red Wing Communications

1000 Main Street

Red Wing, MN 55066


651-385- 0877

Cellular and Wireless phones, equipment and service

Computer service

And yup, this is an endorsement — they were on my “naked DSL” and got it going, and went the extra mile, all the way to my dining room, to get it running, at a time when I really really had to have internet!!!

Dawn Courtier and John Jacobs