It was 20 years ago today…

October 22nd, 2022



Well, a bit more than 20 years ago… January 15, 2002, just after the start of the legislative session, I was at an energy committee meeting, Senate? House? I think Senate was first, then heard again at House, and the following year they got their legislation through as a part of the 2003 Prairie Island bill.

Anyway, there was a presentation back in 2002 about the greatest thing since sliced bread (NOT!), a coal gasification project proposed for “somewhere” on the Range. Here’s what they presented:

Note the parts about “brownfield” and “existing infrastructure.” LIES, it’s that simple. Here’s what their site looked like, this was at the DOE and locals site visit in 2005:

Marching through the woods, a tour of the brownfield site with infrastructure
Another site tour, Itasca County officials on site!
And another time, in November, 2006, the project developer was trespassing on land owned by one of our members during hunting season. There was no access to the proposed project site!

Starting in 2005, I was representing “mncoalgasplant,” landowners and residents near the proposed project, joined in tandem by Citizens Against the Mesaba Project (CAMP) (site circa 2013 with live links, thanks waybackmachine!). We had such active folks, every hearing was PACKED, and eventually the project faded, never formally declared dead, but piece by piece, it went away.

HOWEVER, Excelsior Energy did manage to get an save passed by the legislature for a natural gas plant:

Week before last, I picked up files from a cohort who shall remain unnamed, and am scanning in boxes of files, to post here, and recycle hard copies for biomass (UGH, but that’s what Red Wing does. Thanks, Xcel Energy!). I’ll be posting them, some interesting stuff if you’re into energy and political and capital intrigue, some purely inside baseball that no one will care about.

MONEY TRACKING – Spreadsheets and invoices to IRRB for reimbursement

Various Contractor Invoices (some redacted)

What a pain in the patoot that was — TWO ENTIRE WASTEBASKET OF SCANNING!


As inevitable as the tide, the Minnesota winter snows, mosquitos, death and taxes…  This is way too predictable!  Charlotte Neigh, of Citizens Against the Mesaba Project, is dead on again with her trajectory of Excelsior Energy’s weaseling out of their financial responsibilities in this Mesaba Project boondoggle.  A deadline is approaching where Excelsior Energy has to make a payment on its financing from the Iron Range Resources Board:

MCGP Exhibit 5023 – IRR & Excelsior Convertible Debenture Agreement


A little birdie just sent this, literally hours after Charlotte had mentioned that the next payment was coming due and wondering what they were going to pull this time to get out of it (it’s ALWAYS something):

Published August 18 2010

Excelsior asks for more time to repay Iron Range loans

Excelsior Energy’s plans to build a coal gasification power plant known as the Mesaba Energy project on the Iron Range have suffered numerous delays.

By: Steve Kuchera, Duluth News Tribune

The Iron Range Resources Board will consider a request Thursday to give Excelsior Energy more time to pay back nearly $9.5 million in loans.

Excelsior’s plans to build a coal gasification power plant known as the Mesaba Energy project on the Iron Range have suffered numerous delays.

“Development plans originally contemplated that the project would have been under construction prior to 2010 and repayment would have begun,” IRR Commissioner Sandy Layman wrote in a memo to board members requesting the extension of the loan and delay in interest payments. “Sufficient funds are not available to meet repayment requirements under the existing loan terms at this time.”

The IRR has two outstanding loans with Excelsior: one for $1.5 million approved in December 2001 and one for $8 million approved in June 2004. Excelsior has paid back $45,038 of the loans’ principal.

If approved, the new loan agreement will require annual principal payments of $100,000 due Dec. 31 beginning this year and running through 2017. Interest on timely payments will be figured at 5 percent for the preceding 12 months. With IRR approval, Excelsior can repay all outstanding principal before Dec. 31, 2017, at a reduced interest rate.

In exchange, Excelsior would agree to pay the IRR 5 percent of the proceeds from any sale of equity in the Mesaba Energy project in excess of Excelsior’s liabilities from the project.