Legislature approves exemptions for Mesabi power plant project

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The Minnesota House and Senate passed a bill Sunday night to extend exemptions to Excelsior Energy for an Iron Range power plant project that’s been in development for over a decade.

Various exemptions and millions of public dollars have been spent on the $2.1 billion project that has yet to produce a watt of energy for Minnesota consumers. The vote extends the initial assistance given to the project in 2003, according to the Pioneer Press.

Lawmakers that year made the company eligible for $10 million of development money in a state account and granted it exemptions from state laws that govern power-plant and transmission-line siting. It also was given the power of eminent domain.

Lawmaker Tep Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, puts public contribution to the project at $41 million. Before casting his vote on the bill he pleaded with colleges in the House saying that the project leaders “haven’t produced one full-time job for anybody other than a lawyer, a lobbyist, a consultant or maybe professional meeting attenders. … Please put an end to this project, which is almost like the ‘Bridge to Nowhere.”’

Republicans and a small group of Democrats defended the extension, saying that without the additional support the project would never get off the ground.

“In order for us to get the money back, there has to be a project going forward,” said Rep. David Dill, DFL-Crane Lake, “Why would we just flush all those millions down the drain?”

Iron Range blogger Aaron Brown previously described a loan to the project “the biggest mistake ever made by Iron Range Resources” and wrote the power plant project is a “boondoggle.”

Excelsior Energy counters claims like these by saying the project is a major economic opportunity for the range.

Also clicking on MN Today

Tornado destroys farms in rural Iowa, rips across Southeastern Minnesota and into the Twin Cities

An entire rural community is left in shock Sunday after a tornado ripped through several farms and homes (KIMT).

There were reports of tornadic activity across the state. From the Twin Cities to southeast Minnesota and northern Iowa, destruction was everywhere.It was a relatively mild day for those living in Harmony but that all changed in an instant (KAAL).

A series of storm cells plowed their way across southeastern Minnesota on Sunday, leaving blankets of hail and felled trees in its path (Rochester Post-Bulletin).

Stories from the storm (Winona Daily News).

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