Mesaba Energy's plans for a 600 MW IGCC plant in northeastern Minnesota remain on hold. The plant, which would cost $2 billion to build, became stalled in August when the Public Utilities Commission delayed a purchase agreement between Excelsior Energy and Minneapolis-based Xcel. The projected cost of electricity and potential carbon legislation were the two main concerns surrounding the plant. Alex Klein, a Senior Analyst with Emerging Energy Research, said, regulation of carbon emissions “is a big concern for developers of IGCC projects, because there is a very real possibility that they could begin to build a project - invest several hundreds of millions of dollars in a project to get the steel in the ground, and just when they're ready to start up, carbon legislation could come down the road - and suggest that they are required to immediately capture and sequester a significant portion of the CO2." The present plan for the plant does not include capturing carbon.
The PUC will take up Excelsior's case on Thursday and could pursue the idea an independent evaluation or it could schedule a hearing.