Next-gen technologies race to dominate the big build.
Michael T. Burr is editor at large of Public Utilities Fortnightly. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When people in Northern Minnesota talk about Excelsior Energy’s planned coal-gasification power project, many speak in the past tense.
“There would have been a huge economic impact, with the influx of construction workers for a number of years,” said Peter McDermott, an economic development official in Grand Rapids, speaking to a Minnesota Public Radio reporter.
The 1,200-MW project encountered a major barrier in April 2007. An administrative law judge recommended the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) deny Excelsior Energy’s proposed power-purchase agreement (PPA) with Xcel Energy, saying it would pose “an unreasonable cost to Xcel and its ratepayers.”
For its part, Excelsior continues working toward a 2010 startup date, in hopes the PUC either will disregard the recommendation or suggest acceptable changes to the PPA. In the meantime, Excelsior’s opponents are planning the project’s funeral.
“It’s dead, dead, dead,” says Carol Overland, a regulatory lawyer in Red Wing, Minn. “The ALJ’s opinion pulled the plug, and we are waiting for the inevitable.”