Excelsior dealt serious blow at PUC

Excelsior Energy’s boondoggle Mesaba Energy Project — a proposed coal gas power plant that exists solely through lobbyist will and legislative fiat — was dealt a serious blow today at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Commissioners shot down almost all of what Excelsior needed to move forward. The project’s backers will attempt a more positive spin in the media, but in essence the company got none of what it wanted, including no mandate of Xcel Energy to buy power from them should they manage to finance their project, which relies on experimental technology. The PUC set a deadline of May 2009 for the company to negotiate a power purchase agreement with Xcel or other companies, but (I say again) these companies don’t need the power, don’t want the power and — unless forced — won’t buy the power.

I’ll post additional information when I get more detailed notes from my sources at the meeting.

This is not a death blow. Excelsior will spend its state and federally backed reservoir of cash trying to stay alive and they have a whole legislative session in which to conduct God knows what kind of strategy. Additionally, another federal grant program for “clean coal” projects is collecting applications, which could conceivably put more federal loans and grants into the pockets of Excelsior. They will use this as their reason to demand support.

What might be MUCH more damaging to Excelsior is the impending release of the Office of the Legislative Auditor’s report on the spending and arbitrary deferment of the $9.5 million in Iron Range Resources loans issued back at the dawn of the project 4-5 years ago. If this report is really bad for Excelsior or Iron Range Resources, you might see a great unraveling happen sooner than later.

We were at the Itasca County Fair today and saw that Excelsior has paid for a fair booth again. Why does a pretend power company need a fair booth? To appear real, I guess.

Let me finish by saying that Excelsior may have been the loser today but there were no winners. There is no winning in a failed project like this, born of economic desperation and blind trust of developers. At best, millions of dollars will have been wasted. At worst, millions more. This is a hard lesson for us all.


  1. Yup — Blind trust of developers is a problem, and blind trust of those claiming to be acting in the Range’s best interest while advancing their own, against public interest.
    It was an interesting meeting (www.legalectric.org), the desperation in the room making it feel a little twitchy. They said no to all of Excelsior’s Motions, but they don’t seem to be able to say no, a final no, to this vaporware project.
    I’m waiting to see if they apply for the DOE’s Phase 3 $ for carbon capture and sequestration, despite a requirement that it capture 90% which we know they can’t do — they’re stretching the abilities of ConocoPhillips capture ability, it’s 30%, not 60% as reported in the Hibbing article. But what’s a little stretch, eh??? Especially if it’s a stretch to the public trough.
    Yes, we’re all sitting on the edge of our chairs waiting for the OLA report!

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.