9:30 a.m. Wednesday November 9, 2022

3rd Floor Large Meeting Room

Public Utilities Commission

121 – 7th Place East, St. Paul


Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project, the coal gasification plant that will not die, is returning to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on August 14, 2012.

Notice – August 14, 2012 PUC Meeting

At that time, they’ll address whether the original project’s permits apply to this project, and whether this one, under Minn. Stat. 216B. 1694, requires additional environmental review:

**6.     E6472/GS-06-668 Excelsior Energy, Inc.
In the Matter of the Joint LEPGP Site Permit, HVTL Route Permit and Pipeline (Partial
Exemption) Route Permit Application for the Mesaba Energy Project in Itasca County.
Should the Commission find, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 216B. 1694 subdivision 3, that the
site and route permits issued on March 12, 2010 for the Mesaba Energy Project are deemed valid
for a natural gas fired plant located at the same site and that no additional environmental review
is required under applicable state rules?

This docket has been one of the longest strangest trips ever, a coal gasification plant that wasn’t needed yet fed by state and federal money, using CO2 capture and storage that does not, can not, and will not exist.  Here’s some history:

Health Benefits of Coal (ya gotta read this one, HILARIOUS!)

Mesaba – Extend the Hearing! (the hearing was a farce)

And why are we here on the 14th?  The PUC granted a Site Permit to the project f/k/a Mesaba Project, the coal gasification plant:

ALJ Recommendation – Mesaba Site Permit

PUC Order and Site Permit – March 2010

Then it starts getting complicated, Excelsior sends PUC letter saying it wants confirmation that the permits issued for the Mesaba Project coal gasification plant are valid for a natural gas plant, and that it would require no further environmental review:

Excelsior Energy Request – May 31, 2012

Notice of Comment Period

Comment –

Commerce CommentsSierra Club Comment

And then Excelsior chimes again disclosing not much of anything about their “plan” for this gas plant:

Excelsior’s Response to Commerce IRs June 26, 2012

And then the Comment period is extended and we get another bite:

MCGP Reply Comment

And now we’re off to the races…

In the Duluth News Tribune:

Feds say no more money for Iron Range Excelsior Power Plant



(really, that’s their “site plan” — how informative!!)

It’s in the news, Concerned River Valley Citizens’ suit against LS Power, Lent Township and Chisago County had a hearing last week.   Short version:

Judge Hoffman said he wanted to be armed with sufficient information to make a decision. He asked for just one thing – a written transcript of the legislative discussion that preceded the adoption of the legislation regarding the tax exemption in 2009, specifically subdivision 92 pertaining to the obtaining of the development agreement.

He asked the attorneys to write a letter to the court when it is provided and then he will make his decision.

The judge believed this information is important and he can’t be obligated to make a decision until he knows what the legislation said about approval of a development agreement “before” the start of construction.

Most committee meetings now are available online, and the legislative library provides tapes.  One problem is that the legislative intent is rarely conveyed in the committee meetings, and all the behind the scenes doings aren’t going to see the light of day.

The statutory section at issue – Minn. Stat. 272.02, Subd. 92.

Here’s the Summons and Complaint from last June:

CRVC -Summons and Complaint

For more info, go to

From ECM Post Review:

Judge asks for one thing in power plant civil case

Wednesday, 06 October 2010

By MaryHelen Swanson

In courtroom 202, Tenth Judicial District Judge John C. Hoffman heard from attorney Douglas Sauter of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd., representing the CRVC and Carlson, and three attorneys representing Chisago County, Lent Township and LS Power (Sunrise River Energy) respectively.

The CRVC and Carlson have filed a civil lawsuit against the three entities named above in connection with the siting of an electric generating power plant in Lent Township.

The attorney for Chisago County, separately retained, explained to the judge the proposal by LS Power and the coalition’s argument that there is no pre-emption to county zoning ordinance. The county’s attorney says there is pre-emption.

The attorney showed the judge the legislation enacted in 2009 that required a development agreement and host agreement before tax exempt status is granted.

The attorney said in his opinion, the county, as well as Lent Township, did nothing wrong, it was what they needed to do.

The CRVC and attorney believe that the cart has been put before the horse and argues that the sequence of events is wrong.

Attorney Sauter provided Judge Hoffman with background on the proposal, which has LS Power constructing a 780 MW natural gas-fired electric generating plant on 40 acres in Lent Township, property adjacent to the substation off County Road 14.

Giving details of the LS Power proposed project, Sauter told the judge the presence of such a large plant would destroy the nature of the community and Carlson’s ability to sell high end lots in his nearby development.

The process, he stressed, is important.

Read the rest of this entry »


That was the most important thing to come out of last night’s meeting.  Mikey Bull was clear, stating in a most Norwegian way that “despite what Carol thinks, our load is growing,” and that they “won’t have a need… until 2016 or 2017.”   I hope that people LISTENED CAREFULLY and were thinking critically.


Shellene Johnson, CRVC, walked Bob Cupit through the siting review and permitting options:




Bob was thrilled, I’m sure, he thought I’d put her up to it, but hey, I’m innocent — this is info that needs to be public, so that people understand all the options.  Shellene had questions, particularly where this was an issue that had come up way back when we worked on the County Essential Services ordinance, and wanted to beef up the county’s ordinance to give them some options if a project went through local review.  Local review is NOT a new issue for Chisago County, and if you recall, the SE Metro line went through the local review process.

Alan Muller was his usual delightful self, leading Blake Wheatley through a list of questions that demonstrated the “vaporware” nature of this project — he couldn’t or wouldn’t give us any information at all about the project.  He knew NOTINK!

What would be the output of this plant? Answer:
780 MW summer rating.  Over 800 winter rating.  [Gas turbines
make more power when the air is colder and more dense.]

How many generating units would there
Answer: Don’t
know/haven’t decided.

Who would be the manufacturer of the combustion
turbines?       Answer:
Don’t know/haven’t decided.

Who would be the manufacturer of the steam
turbines?    Answer: Don’t
know/haven’t decided.

How many smokestacks would the plant have?
Answer: Don’t know/haven’t

How gallons or barrels of oil would be stored on the
Answer: Don’t know/haven’t decided.

How much oil would be burned in a
Answer: Don’t
know/haven’t decided.

In your air permit application, how many pounds per year of regulated air
pollutants would you be asking permission to put up your
smokestacks?          Answer:  Don’t know/haven’t

And so on …..

…he knew nothing at all about this, and that’s because there’s nothing to know.  There’s no project plan, no Power Purchase Agreement, no state permit applications, nada…  This isn’t a project, it’s a farce… Tom Micheletti could take lessons from Blake Wheatley.  Here’s the site plan, from the Oct 15 2009 Revised Draft Development Agreement:


WOW, that says a lot…

Take the time to read these:

Oct 15 2009 Revised Draft Development Agreement

Draft Host Fee Agreement

I promised to post a few things so people can learn about prior proposals to get an idea what this one means, so let’s do that.  Bear with me, this is interesting stuff!

MISO Queue #G-135

This MISO Interconnection study says that for 660MW of generation at the Chisago sub, lots of  transmission would need to be added.  Here’s what one of the two similar options looks like (it’s better in print than here, looks hard to read):

Option 2

Next is an answer to “what exactly are they proposing” with a couple of prior applications for gas plants as examples of what to expect, what to look for:

Faribault Energy Park – Application

Blue Lake – Application

These two applications are important to see what gas plants are all about.  For example, the Faribault Energy Park is a 250MW plant, and here are some fun facts from the application:


A 250MW plant is 68 dB(A) 400 feet from the plant… what will a plant three+ times that be?



Here’s a closer side view:


Here’s an emissions chart, and remember, the LS Power proposal is 3+ times this, so expect over three times the emissions:


And here’s a fun fact, from the 2004 Blue Lake application, showing their projected “need” back in 2004 that’s WAY overestimated:


From Xcel’s 2008 10-k, p. 10:

Capacity and Demand

Uninterrupted system peak demand for the NSP System’s electric utility for each of the last three years and the forecast for 2009, assuming normal weather, is listed below.

System Peak Demand (in MW)
2006         2007         2008         2009 Forecast
9,859        9,427         8,697             9,662

The peak demand for the NSP System typically occurs in the summer. The 2008 system peak demand for the NSP System occurred on July 29, 2008.

And now we know that instead of inexplicably going up in 2009, it’s going down.  DOWN, further down.  But note that in their 2008 10-k, Xcel admits that system peak was 8.697, lower than 2004.  That pushes out any need until when?  And the longer this drop continues, the further out and less probably any increased need is!  And remember, Blue Lake was added to address the 11,000MW need claimed in the application.  To get beyond that, how long will it take?  With conservation, probably forever, we’ll never need more!

So, folks, as you can see, this isn’t rocket science, and they have no plan, no Power Purchase Agreement, it isn’t needed, it isn’t wanted.  LS Power, go away.


LS Power is proposing to put a massive 800+ MW gas peaking plant in Chisago County, right by the Chisago County substation.  This isn’t news for regular Legalectric readers, but the community is just starting to wake up.

This plant was the subject of a utility personal property tax exemption bill introduced by area legislators, Rep. Jeremy Kalin and Sen. Rick Olseen, and they introduced it without notifying local governments that they were pulling out a lot of much needed funding by exempting the plant from taxes (if local residents have to pay taxes, shouldn’t they?  How is LS Power special?).  THIS SAYS THE GOVERNOR VETOED IT.

When it came up at the county, and a Commissioner wanted to send a thank you to Kalin and Olseen, things got a little hot:

Robinson questioned a request from Commissioner Walker if there was consensus to send a thank you letter to state lawmakers for their efforts on the LS Power taxation exemption bill.

Robinson asked who on the County Board supports the electric station project? He wanted a vote that moment on the project.

Chairman Montzka pointed out that all Walker wanted was to let Rick Olseen and Jeremy Kalin know their work at the capitol was appreciated. The LS Power project is under Lent Township zoning authority and while there will be county involvement in wetland issues, etc. the permitting of the facility is not a county matter.

Walker said she’d be happy to just send a personal note if the Board couldn’t unanimously support official correspondence.

That’s encouraging, not everyone is toadying…

There have been meetings this week about the LS Power proposal, one on Monday for “stakeholders” it seems, and another on Tuesday for the public.   The one on Monday, well, we need more information… like, who’s a “stakeholder,” and who decides?

As for Tuesday, here’s a link:

July 23rd Meeting page

And will you look at who was there?!?!?!

Blake Wheatly – LS Power – PowerPoint Presentation

Bob Cupit – Public Utilities Commission 6-23-09

And I hear they’ll be holding another next Monday, so you should go if you’re interested:



I’m struck by how the statutory reference on the “Friends” site is only to Chapter 216E, the siting and routing process, and worse, it focuses on the the shortened “Ram it Through” alternate review... if they’ve got that up their sleeves, they’ll need a whack upside da head on that one.  And if it’s shortened review, they have the option of “local review.” Is that the plan?  FOR AN 855MW PLANT???  GUESS AGAIN, CUPCAKE!!!

And so, welcome to the Certificate of Need concept.

Minn. Stat. 216.243, Certificate of Need

It seems to me that they had at least one similar meeting over a year ago, in April, 2008, looking at a snippet from Larry Baker’s page — who was regarded as a “stakeholder” then??

Citizen’s Stakeholder Workshop for the Sunrise River Water Quality Study (co-organized as President of Friends of the Sunrise River, with Jerry Spetzman, from Chisago Co. Environmental Services

LS Power’s proposal is moving along in the MISO queue:

Transition Feasibility Analysis — scroll down for G975

As you can see from the G975 chart in the study above, G975 has a few problems:

Transition Feasibility Analysis G975

Here’s an earlier report from one of the three prior MISO queue’d projects for this location:

MISO Feasibility Study – G135

… and what’s interesting about is, first, they eliminated a reconductoring option because it was deemed too costly, not feasible, and here are the other options, starting with Option 2, p. 7 in the study above:

G135 - Option 2

See that big honkin’ 345kV line that would have to be built?!?!

And for Option 3, p. 8:

G135 - Option 3 (p.8)

More transmission lines to be built…

Either way you look at it, we’re talking lots of big transmission in Chisago land.

Whatever are they thinking?