Federal government cuts off Excelsior Energy

The beleaguered Excelsior Energy Mesaba Energy Project took another blow recently, as the federal government announced it is ending financial support for the proposal. The Duluth News Tribune‘s Peter Passi has the story.

This leaves the 11-year-old start-up company with the money it has collected so far, almost entirely from local, state or federal sources, to try to sell its proposed plant and/or energy to on the private market, something that even company admits is not immediately possible.

However, another of those sweetheart IRRRB clauses it won in recent years allows the company until 2019 to pay back its loans. This means they can wait and hope that better market conditions for a new natural gas concept allows them to build or sell the idea.

Waiting and hoping, the curse of 21st century Iron Range economic development philosophy.

But when the feds say its “not in the taxpayers’ interests” to continue, that says something. We can now declare the original Mesaba Energy Project dead and only a more recent, smaller natural gas concept still alive, but in the most theoretical of senses. Sen. David Tomassoni (DFL-Chisholm) is “cautiously optimistic.” I would argue that statement is neither cautious, nor sane.

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