(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 »


Really, this is their “site plan”

Remember LS Power’s proposal to build an 855MW gas plant by the Chisago County substation?  And Xcel’s Mikey Bull’s statement that Xcel isn’t going to be needing this power and isn’t going to be needing any power for a while?  There’s no Power Purchase Agreement in sight, no Certificate of Need application or Site Permit application to the PUC, but they do have a legislatively mandated utility personal property tax exemption thanks to Rep. Jeremy Kalin and Sen. Rick Olseen, and they do have a Development Agreement thanks to Lent Township and Chisago County, though they’ve yet to sign the Chisago County one…

And now they’ve got a lawsuit on their hands:

CRVC -Summons and Complaint

This was filed June 30 in Chisago County — Chisago County, Lent Townshiip and Sunrise River Energy, LLC have 20 days to file their Answer.


Oct 19 Chisago County meeting re: LS Power Sunrise River Energy Station

How odd… it’s in both STrib and StPPP today… so comment opportunities abound!

Here’s the story from Dennis Lien:

Skeptics question Chisago power plant

Residents fear water pollution, say plans are too vague

By Dennis Lien
Updated: 11/01/2009 11:22:19 PM CST

At first blush, a proposal for a large power plant in rural Chisago County would seem to have a lot going for it, including apparent need and general support from clean-energy interests.

But that doesn’t mean LS Power’s natural gas-fired project is racing along. Far from it. Many county residents, skeptical of the company’s assertions and irked by what they consider a secretive approach, don’t like it one bit.

“Whether they are for it or against it, people in this area have a right to know what this is about,” said Joyce Marienfeld, a member of an opposition group called Friends of the Sunrise River. “This has been real slippery — just not right.”

County residents have been on edge since earlier this year when the East Coast power plant builder offered what residents viewed as a vague proposal to build a 780-megawatt power plant on a 40-acre site northwest of Lindstrom, 30 miles north of St. Paul. The plant, expected to cost $300 million to $500 million, would use low-polluting natural gas to supplement the state’s growing wind industry by operating when wind power isn’t available or during periods of peak demand.

The Legislature quickly approved tax breaks similar to those given to other plants, provided local governments follow suit. If that happens, the project would be free to seek various air and water permits and Public Utilities Commission approval.

Critics soon objected, especially over plans to use 2 million gallons of groundwater a
day and to discharge that water into the nearby Sunrise River, which empties into the nationally protected St. Croix River.

Earlier this month, the company backed off that approach, opting instead to use treated water from two area wastewater treatment plants.

Opponents, however, continue to maintain the proposal is heavy on general concepts and light on specifics.

“It’s kind of common sense to judge what they are actually planning on doing, instead of vague things on paper,” said state Rep. Jeremy Kalin, DFL-Lindstrom. “We can’t do that.”

Blake Wheatley, LS Power’s assistant vice president, promised more detail will follow, once lingering property tax issues are addressed locally.

“In order for us to be comfortable spending many hundreds of thousands of dollars doing studies, we really need some level of comfort that we can put that economic albatross at bay,” he said.

But critics have other concerns about what could be the largest natural-gas plant in the state.

They say it doesn’t fit into the rural, agricultural landscape and is just a half-mile from the popular Carlos Avery State Wildlife Management Area. Moreover, they fear increased truck traffic, annoying plant lights and, despite company denials, new power lines. Pollution, they said, could filter through the sandy soil into the Mt. Simon-Hinckley aquifer or get to the Sunrise River.

Building in an already zoned industrial park would be more appropriate, according to Marienfeld, who lives three miles from the proposed site.

Wheatley said the company wants to build the plant to fill a demand for electrical power in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. He said a “great portion” of the power would be sold in Minnesota, with some going to other states.

LS Power has been talking to state utilities about buying the power but hasn’t reached any agreements, he said. “If we can’t identify markets, we are not going forward with it,” he said, adding that discussions with Minnesota utilities “have been very, very positive.”

Placing the plant near the existing Chisago County power substation eliminates the need for additional transmission lines, according to Wheatley. “That substation is one of the biggest, if not the largest, in the state of Minnesota,” he said.

The plant, he said, would not be as visually intrusive as many people fear. “The rural way of life they are used to will continue,” he said.

If everything goes according to plan, Wheatley said, construction would start in 2011, and the plant would open a couple of years later.

Without addressing the proposal’s specifics, St. Paul-based Fresh Energy said it likes the idea of natural gas being used to fill gaps in wind power.

“It’s important for Minnesota to add a modest amount of new high-efficiency, low-emission natural gas power stations to be available when renewable energy sources like solar and wind need a bit of help,” said Michael Noble, its executive director. “Remember that Minnesota is on course to add $10 billion in wind power this next decade.”

Earlier this month, the state Office of Energy Security released a study that said the state needs more natural gas-fired power plants over the next 15 years to provide intermittent and peak power upon demand.

Asked about the LS Power proposal, Energy Security director Bill Glahn said, “It would definitely be most welcome to help us meet our needs for power in the coming years.”

“That report is so far off it’s scary,” responded Carol Overland, an attorney for opposition group Concerned River Valley Citizens. “They are using outdated information.”

Before the Public Utilities Commission takes up the proposal, the Lent Township and Chisago County boards must approve development agreements. Kalin recently urged them to include six conditions, such as a ban on groundwater use and new transmission lines.

“None of them have flagged their intentions,” County Administrator John Moosey said of the five county commissioners. “This is just a great microcosm of local government. Both sides have very strong points, and there are benefits to each.”

And from the STrib’s Tom Meersman:

Protected aquifer feared at risk

By TOM MEERSMAN, Star Tribune

It’s about appropriate land use

Many of us who live near the proposed LS Power Plant are not against power plants in general or the jobs that building them create. We are … read more against a New Jersey-based private equity investment firm, taking our natural resources, spoiling our rural way of life, and getting a $8-9 Million/year tax break to boot. The power is not needed locally. This is not just a peaker plant to offset wind power, when the wind isn’t blowing. It’s a huge (855MW)albatross stuck in the middle of a residential, agricultural area – in direct opposition to the Township and County Comprehansive Land Use plans. Go to LS Power’s website and take a look at what an equivalent plnat looks like. Build the power plant where it belongs – in an industrial area

Pooling underneath the Twin Cities area is drinking water so old and pristine that it’s protected by state law.

It can’t be used for industrial purposes in the seven-county metro area.

But the rules that protect the 900-foot-deep Mount Simon-Hinckley aquifer in the metro don’t apply to Chisago County, where LS Power wants to build a $300 million to $500 million power plant.

The New Jersey-based company’s proposal to use groundwater from the aquifer has intensified opposition to the plant and has raised interest in changing the law to put the water off-limits.

“It is certainly a last-resort aquifer,” said Chris Elvrum, manager of water supply planning for the Metropolitan Council. “It is used by some municipalities when there’s no readily available other source, and only for potable use.”

Elvrum said age-dated samples show that the water ranges from 1,000 to 35,000 years old. Depending on where it is withdrawn, it can take hundreds of years to recharge.

Since the 1989 law forbidding its use for industrial purposes in the metro area, that region has expanded: the U.S. Census Bureau now defines the metropolitan statistical area as 13 counties, including Chisago and several others not part of the original seven-county list.

A change in plans

LS Power knew of Mount Simon’s importance, said D. Blake Wheatley, lead project developer for the company. But he said it proposed last summer to use the deeper water anyway, for fear of competing with any city and private wells that draw water from shallower aquifers. The proposal called for the plant to use water from one or two nearby sewage treatment plants and, if necessary, to supplement that with as much as 2 million gallons of groundwater per day, including some from Mount Simon.

However, the company recently abruptly changed direction; Wheatley said it will not use any groundwater.

“We’re going to make do with the water that we have” from the North Branch and Chisago Lakes joint sewage treatment plants, he said.

The company also abandoned plans to discharge 1 million gallons of water a day from the plant into a tributary of the Sunrise River, said Wheatley, and will develop a “zero-discharge liquid system.”

The decision stems from a change in the design of the natural-gas-fired plant, he said, not from citizen concerns.

Plant meeting draws 500

About 500 people attended a meeting last week to debate the proposal. Some said they supported the plant because it would generate tax revenue and construction jobs.

Others expressed doubts about the company’s change of mind on groundwater use.

Rob Kravitz lives about 2 miles from the site and opposes the plant, period.

“They’ve made concessions, at least on paper, regarding the water use issues,” he said. “My fear is that, after it’s built, they they’ll apply for groundwater permits anyway.”

Kravitz and others are also concerned that the 780-megawatt plant would require more high-voltage power lines in the area. The company denies that.

The proposed 40-acre site is less than a mile from a large electrical substation and within 5 miles of two interstate natural gas pipelines.

Friends of the Sunrise River, a citizens’ group opposed to the project, contends that it will lower property values, increase noise and traffic and conflict with the rural character of the county.

“If the truth were known, it would have more negatives than positives,” said Larry Baker, chairman of the group.

LS Power is only at the beginning of the project, Wheatley said, and hasn’t submitted a formal plan to regulators.

It is seeking a development agreement with the township board and Chisago County commissioners that pertains mainly to property tax exemptions that require local approval. Those decisions likely will be made in December, after which the company would begin pursuing required permits and approvals from state agencies.

Whatever happens next with the project, Rep. Jeremy Kalin, DFL-Lindstrom, said that he is determined to close the loophole that allows the Mount Simon aquifer to be tapped for multiple uses. Kalin said that he and Sen. Rick Olseen, DFL-Harris, who also represents the area, will introduce a bill next year to extend protection of the aquifer beyond the seven-county metro area.

“It takes dozens or hundreds of years for that water to filter down and to be pure and drinkable,” Kalin said. “We’re not going to just use it for cooling a power plant.”


Yes, and it’s about time — Concerned River Valley Citizens, who fought the Chisago Transmission Project for over a decade, have intervened in the Lent Township and Chisago County proceedings about this project.

Lent Township and Chisago County are negotiating a “development agreement” and as it comes together, WITHOUT PUBLIC INPUT, a lot of important issues are being decided that these local governments have no business or authority to decide without public input.  Lighting is within a township’s zoning jurisdiction, but light pollution, which will certainly be an issue, is also an issue for the PUC.   Noise is an issue for the ownship, but it is also under jurisdiction (with too loose standards) of the MPCA.  There will be an air permit, and I sure hope that puts limits on fuel oil use.  Any development agreement presumes that the plant will be built, and that’s not a presumption CRVC is comfortable with.

There are too many unanswered questions.  Where is the need for this plant?  Xcel’s not about to be buying any electricity from them anytime soon, and LS Power was shown the door.  What is proposed?  LS Power can’t/won’t even tell state regulators with any specificity, and they’ve been told go away until they’ve got something solid.

What are they proposing?  Hard to tell…  there’s no application to the PUC yet, which is another reason all this “pre-application” dealing with local governments is a problem.  They’re doing deals with local governments before it’s at all clear what’s proposed, and without knowing what’s proposed, so how can any agreements be made?  Who in the township or county has any experience with big natural gas plants and associated infrastructure like gas pipelines, water pipelines, transmission… well, some in Chisago County have a lot of transmission expertise!   We do know some things from public documents, i.e., the MISO interconnection queue documents say 855MW gas with fuel oil back up, the legislation passed, again, without public notice or input, specifies no more than 780MW Summer Capacity, and a recent LS Power presentation:

September 2009 – LS Power – Sunrise River Energy Station

The problem is that the local governments are making agreements, which include concessions and plans, without public input, and by making these agreements, they implicitly approve this project, with some conditions, which means that LS Power can move this project towards reality without the input necessary to thoroughly vet the application.  Who is Chisago County to make an agreement regarding water use when it’s also an issue within DNR jurisdiction?  They tried to pass the utility personal property tax exemption legislation without even letting local governments know the revenue impacts and how utility personal property tax Host Fee Agreements work, or that they even exist… so the question — who is protecting the public interest in all of these agreements?  Hence the CRVC intervention.

And just for the record, in one of the articles they quoted an LS Power rep as saying the only emission is steam.  WHAT??!!!???   Let’s see what your air permit application says… duh… let’s have a look at NOx… How stupid do they think we are?  STEAM?!?!?  Yeah, like the Prairie Island plant is a “steam plant.”

Here’s CRVC’s Lent Township Intervention:

Notice of Intervention – Cover

Intervention – Town of Lent

Exhibit A – MISO G135 Feasibility Study

Exhibit B – MISO Transition – Fasibility Analysis Posting G901-G999Exhibit C – June 16 Lent Township Board of Supervisors Meeting Minutes

Exhibit C – June 16 Lent Township Board of Supervisors Meeting Minutes

Exhibit D – July 30 – Hundreds attend meeting to learn about power plant

Exhibit E – February 17 Lent Township Board of Supervisors Meeting

Exhibit F – May 19 Lent Township Board of Supervisors Meeting

Exhibit G – April 21 Lent Township Board of Supervisors Meeting

Exhibit H – July 21 Lent Township Board of Supervisors Meeting

Exhibit I – August 18 Lent Township Board of Supervisors Meeting

And here’s CRVC’s Chisago County Intervention:

Intervention – Chisago County

Exhibit A – MISO G135 Feasibility Study

Exhibit B – MISO Transition – Feasibility Analysis Posting G901-999

Exhibit C – April 15 Official Proceedings

Exhibit D – County Attorney Correspondence

Exhibit E – Memo Chisago Co Environmental Services & Zoning

Exhibit F – Letter – Sunrise River June 30

Exhibit G – National Park Service Letter July 29

Exhibit H – Chisago Co Water Plan Policy Team Minutes August 10

Exhibit I – Technical Memo – Barr Engineering – Test Well 1 Geology and Well Summary

Exhibit J – Water Team Recommendation of EIS August 11

Exhibit K – Chisago Co Board Minutes August 19

Exhibit L – September 2 Official Proceedings

Exhibit M – Lent Land Use Regulation – Chapter 1

LS Power withdraws Texas plant

September 18th, 2009

Remember LS Power, the ones who have the harebrained idea of building an 855MW gas plant next to the Chisago substation?  They may think that calling it Sunrise River Energy makes it less odius!  Well, LS Power is starting to see the light, and let’s hope this idea of withdrawing the project spreads northward!

Power plant pulls plug on project

“Hell yeah, I’m happy,” Prater said, adding that it wasn’t just activism that stopped the plant. “Everything came into play — the economy, the Obama administration, the EPA’s attitude towards Texas, the TCEQ, everything came together at exactly the right time.”

And from LS Power, the LS Power spin:

“This was purely a business decision,” he said. “The economic downturn pushed out the need for this plant for at least a few more years. In addition to that, the PUC late last year approved a $5 million transmission line build-out from the Panhandle and West Texas to cities like D-FW, and our market analysis shows that’s decreasing power prices going forward.”

Well, DUH!

LS Power won’t build Navarro County Power Plant

LS Power cancels plans to build power plant in Navarro County