YEAAAAAAAA!  The East Coast Governors are mad as hell and letting the Senate know just what they think of this Midwest plan to build billions and billions of dollars of transmission from here to the East Coast and make them pay for it, oh yes, it’s about time the Midwest schemers start listening.

The Des Moines Register is paying attention — why not Minnesota papers?

Eastern governors protest Midwest wind transmission line

And here’s the letter itself, pretty much the same spirit as the last one, although I don’t see the directly stated link to coal in this one:

East Coast Governors’ Letter 7/10/2010

Here’s  a pithy snippet:

The build-out of the national transmission corridor implicit in S. 1462 is estimated to cost at least $160 billion, the majority of which would be paid for by East Coast states, costing our ratepayers hundreds of dollars per year. In its current form, this legislation would harm regional efforts to promote local renewable energy generation, require our ratepayers to bear an unfair economic burden, unnecessarily usurp states’ current authority on resource planning and transmission line certification and siting, and hamper efforts to create clean energy jobs in our states.

This comes not too far on the heels of some promotional announcements about those transmission plans, the “not so” SMARTransmission study — I though I’d posted this before, but don’t see it, so here it is:

SMARTransmission Phase I Study

How’s this for a vision/nightmare — it’s one of their chosen three:


CATF wants federal PPA?

July 12th, 2010

Oh, how bizarre can it get.  Sometimes, I’m left speechless in disbelief.   We all know about Clean Air Task Force’s toadying for coal, they’re the Clean Air Task FArce, but this?  It’s just going too far.


Really, here’s a quote from the Press Release:

Use an Executive Order or similar means to require the federal government to buy electricity from the proposed FutureGen plant in Mattoon, Illinois. This recommendation would provide the financial certainty needed for the project to break ground.

And I’m sure that Tom Micheletti, of Excelsior Energy/Mesaba Project infamy, is not happy about this, not happy about it because they’re proposing the FutureGen and not Mesaba:


IGCC plants have problems getting Power Purchase Agreements because they are NOT economical, even with all the federal and state subsidies, with all the perks, with all the circumvention of regulation, as the ALJ’s noted in their Recommendation to the PUC on the Mesaba Project PPA, it’s just TOO COSTLY!  And, plus, it’s NOT in the public interest!


But there goes Clean Air Task Farce saying the feds, US, we the taxpayers, should buy up the FutureGen electricity?  Give me a break!  Really, here it is from the horse’s mouth(the other end of the horse is further below) — this CATF press release just out:


Here’s the entire CATF report:

The Carbon Capture and Storage Imperative

Contact the White House, Executive Office of the President, and tell the staff what you think of CATF’s brilliant idea and what you think of CATF’s lobbying for coal:


And this article about it:

Expert: Feds should buy FutureGen’s power output

A respected environmental advocacy group has recommended the federal government alter the funding strategy for FutureGen.

John Thompson, director of the Coal Transition Project of the CATF, a non-profit organization based in Boston dedicated to reducing atmospheric pollution, believes the Obama administration should commit $1 billion in stimulus money to another carbon capture sequestration facility in Indiana with a 630 megawatt electrical capacity and commit instead to purchasing the electrical output over 20 or 30 years of the 250 megawatt FutureGen power plant proposed for a site west of Mattoon.

“FutureGen needs a commitment from the administration that is ironclad. This is a way to ultimately break the logjam on FutureGen funding. The stimulus money would be better spent at the Edwardsport IGCC project in Indiana that is more than 50 percent complete,” Thompson said in a phone interview Friday morning, referring to recommendations on coal energy solutions in a 70-page report send to President Barack Obama’s Carbon Capture and Sequestration Task Force.

The final decision by the Department of Energy on FutureGen funding has been postponed by at least six months. Last month, FutureGen Alliance CEO Mike Mudd said there is a gap between funding commitments by DOE and the alliance corporate partners of several hundred million dollars for the clean energy project with an estimated price tag of more than $2 billion.

Thompson, who lives in Southern Illinois, and his colleagues on the CATF believe federal support through a full-term energy purchase totaling several billion dollars would overcome concerns on cost overruns and other factors holding up a final agreement on FutureGen so far.

“We’re not trying to say FutureGen is a lower priority. But the facts are what they are,” Thompson explained. “The dangerous aspect of using stimulus money is what if there are cost overruns on FutureGen. It could come up short on construction or during the early stage of operations. We are worried it will become an orphan.”

Thompson said a federal electrical output purchase agreement from a FutureGen plan means the project really has a future. It can be a key part of the effort to institute carbon capture and sequestration in energy production.

He said CCS efforts in the United States have felt pressure from different sources, ranging from utilities reluctant to commit on a major scale to environmental groups wanting to phase out coal use as soon as possible.

“This has been delayed too long. The federal government needs to finally step up. With a stroke of the pen, the Obama administration can say the controversy is over,” Thompson said.

The CCS Task Force is expected to offer its recommendations in coming weeks, possibly in August. Thompson fears the political climate might cause more delays due to opposition to global warming warnings.

“The response in Washington is to rein in spending just at the time we need to complete these CCS projects. Almost of of them are in an advanced stage to break ground or fold up and blow away,” Thompson said. “The Republicans are saying global warming does not exist and many Democrats are saying we can solve our energy problems with wind power. This will require uncomfortable truths that won’t go away. And the public must realize coal won’t go away.”


Poop Power in the WSJ

July 12th, 2010


Fibrowatt in the Wall Street Journal?

I would think that Minnesota’s experience with burning chicken shit would wake up the world.  How is it that so many states had the sense to run Fibrowatt right out of town, Alan Muller & Green Delaware led the charge in Delaware, and just recently, Fibrowatt was run out of North Carolina.  He’s been digging into their file at the MPCA, it’s intense, he spent a LOT of time in the basement file room, got piles of papers and a disc or two, and he got a copy of the agreement after it came out:

MPCA-Fibrominn Stipulation Agreement

FYI, here’s the PPA from November 2000 – I believe it’s been ratcheted up since:

Fibrominn PPA- November 2000

To review the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission file on Fibrominn go to and “Search eDockets” and search for docket “00-1169.”   The compliance filings are redacted, so the comparisons between Fibrominn, Laurentian, and District Energy in the most recent filing that would be so enlightening,  isn’t… DRAT!

What’s Minnesota’s experience with Fibrowatt/Fibrominn:

Contact: Forrest Peterson, 320-441-6972 Willmar, Minn. — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Fibrominn of Benson reached an agreement recently resolving the company’s past failure to comply with state air-quality rules and permit conditions. Air emission violations occurring since 2007 resulted in a $65,000 penalty, and corrective actions including the installation of a new sulfur dioxide monitor at a minimum cost of $80,000. Fibrominn began operation in May 2007 burning primarily turkey litter to generate electricity. Since the start of operations, the facility has experienced numerous violations of its permit. The settlement addresses violations of late report submittals, failed performance test, and excess nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide emissions. The company also failed to self-report deviations that occurred during operation of the facility’s poultry litter-fired boiler. Fibrominn has since conducted the performance test and submitted a testing frequency plan, a continuous opacity monitor/continuous emissions monitor downtime elimination report, a pressure drop limit, a relative accuracy test audit test plan, a hydrochloric acid correlation curve and a permit compliance checklist. Minnesota law requires owners and operators of facilities with the potential to release air pollutants to have MPCA permits. Facilities must also carefully monitor and maintain equipment because emissions exceeding state standards can degrade air quality. The MPCA offers outreach and training to help facilities meet their permit requirements. For more information on air quality permits and emission standards, call Jennifer Lovett, MPCA air quality inspector, at 651-757-2538 or 1-800-657-3864. A stipulation agreement such as this is one of the tools used to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first-time or repeat violation and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner. For a comprehensive list of enforcement actions by the MPCA, go to the agency’s Web site at

Here’s a link to Jim Turner’s blog digging into it when confronted with a proposal nearby in Page County, VA:

A Summary of Fibrowatt Posts

Where they were run out again:

Board says “Thanks, but no thanks”

But then we have yahoos like Delaware’s Senator Carper who just can’t seem to bend over far enough despite so much evidence on what a piss-poor idea poop power is:

Carper waste-to-energy proposal wins key vote

So what’s Fibrowatt up to?

Back to the beginning, the article about Fibrowatt in today’s Wall Street Journal that means Fibrowatt is gearing up for another assault on some unsuspecting or uncaring state, with this about their plant here in Minnesota:

Fibrowatt’s vice president for public and environmental affairs, Terry Walmsley, says sound combustion practices and pollution-control systems keep carbon-monoxide and sulfur-dioxide emissions at safe levels. But in December, Minnesota’s environmental agency, citing “numerous” permit violations, fined Fibrowatt $65,000 and ordered it to upgrade the sulfur-dioxide monitor at its Minnesota plant. Mr. Walmsley says the plant’s recent report to state regulators showed pollutants in 2009 were well below allowable limits.

Here’s the full article:

JULY 11, 2010

Looking to Litter

Energy Company Sees a Future in Chicken Manure


Poultry farms in the U.S. generate roughly 17 million tons of chicken manure annually, creating a huge disposal problem. Some energy researchers believe they have a solution: use that manure to create electricity.

Many farmers use chicken litter—a mixture of manure and bedding—as a fertilizer, either spreading it on their own croplands or selling it to other growers. But the litter increasingly is being blamed for phosphorus-laden runoff that chokes waterways in heavy poultry-producing areas, and environmentalists are pushing the federal government to set limits on its use.
Read the rest of this entry »

There’s a piece in Finance & Commerce that should not go unnoticed:

Xcel study envisions $20B in electric lines by 2029

Oh how depressing, can it be? Things have been bubbling up, but I figured they’d get their corporate heads screwed on straight and figure out it’s not needed and it would go away.  Silly moi!

SMART Study Presentation – Final – 10-06-09

Here’s their site:

Geiger’s report puts Xcel Energy in the drivers’ seat, but what I see is a list of the biggest coal companies around:


I’ll update this some more tomorrow — this is making me nauseous…


I’ve just by utter accident discovered a few things…

We all remember Byron Starns, attorney for Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project, the coal gasification project from hell.  Check his bio – CLICK HERE – he’s done some amazing things, that Reserve Mining case in particular.

Now let’s take a walk back on memory lane, the 2003 Prairie Island bill, where the “Environmental Coalition”, i.e., Izaak Walton League, MCEA, ME3/Fresh Energy, and Xcel and Tom Micheletti did a deal that advance wind some, let Xcel continue using Prairie Island and increased cask storage, and opened the door for Micheletti’s Excelsior Energy and their IGCC plant that they’d been promoting since the 2002 session.  On one hand, the “Environmental Coalition” including MCEA, in the middle we have Xcel, and on the other we have Tom Micheletti and Excelsior Energy…

Here’s the 2003 Prairie Island bill:

Minnesota Session Laws 2003 – 1st Special Session, Chapter 11

Here’s what it did for Mesaba (as if calling burning garbage “renewable” wasn’t enough):

Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project related parts of 2003 Chapter 11

When the Power Purchase Agreements for Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project came up at the PUC,  MCEA intervened, both as a party and representing others:

Petition to Intervene – MCEA – Waltons – Fresh Energy

To look at the full docket, go to and “Search Dockets” and search for  PPA docket “05-1993” and Siting docket “06-668.”

And look who filed a Notice of Appearance for Excelsior Energy dated April 27, 2006:

Notice of Appearance – Byron Starns, et al – PPA Docket

And representing Excelsior Energy in the Siting Docket dated September 26, 2006:

Notice of Appearance – Byron Starns, et al – Siting Docket

And look who is noted in the MCEA Annual Reports as providing legal services to MCEA in 2005 and 2006, look in the fine print, why it’s Byron Starns!

MCEA Annual Report 2005

MCEA Annual Report 2006

Oh, but that’s not all, look who joins the Board of MCEA in 2007 … and remains through 2008… and 2009 according to his bio on the LSD site — why, it’s Byron Starns again!:

Board of Directors, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, 2007–2009 (linked)

2007 – MCEA’s IRS 990

2008 – MCEA’s IRS 990

His bio states he was on the MCEA board in 2009, but the 2009 IRS 990 does not list him as having been on it at reporting year end.

I just spoke with Byron Starns, who, with the forwarning to don his Kevlar vest, was kind enough to entertain a few questions, and said that (close to quotes but not quite):

MCEA has an ethical requirement, that everyone on the Board must make full disclosure of interests and conflicts, and that when issues do come up, anyone with a conflict has to leave the room.  He said he didn’t participate in any decisions related to energy matters for MCEA.  He does not recall if the fact that he was on MCEA’s board was disclosed in the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project PPA or Siting dockets.  Also, he noted he is no longer on the Board of MCEA.

I don’t recall any disclosure about this — do you?

Is it “not a conflict” because MCEA’s interests and the interests of their “clients” the Waltons and Fresh Energy are so closely aligned with those of Excelsior Energy because of that 2003 agreement?