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Minnesota Power to meet renewable quota 10 years early

Xcel vs. Minneapolis; Ellison channels Woody Guthrie; tougher debt-collection law; new advocacy group for Greater Minnesota; Peavey Plaza settlement likely; and more.

Duluth-based Minnesota Power has cut a deal that’ll mean it hit its 25 percent renewable quota 10 years early. Dave Shaffer of the Strib says: “Minnesota Power, the Duluth-based utility that serves 143,000 customers including iron mining companies, said Thursday that it plans to build a $345 million expansion of its Bison wind farm in North Dakota. The 200-megawatt project will increase the utility’s wind power capacity by 50 percent. The additional capacity means the utility will meet the Minnesota mandate to supply 25 percent of power from renewable sources in 2015, or 10 years ahead of the 2025 deadline, the company said.”

Related … Curtis Gilbert of MPR files another story on the Xcel v. City of Minneapolis fight: “Under pressure from environmentalists who say Xcel Energy isn’t doing enough to combat global warming, several city council members want to put a question on the November ballot that would let voters decide if the city should pursue forming a public utility for electrical service. The city already has a public water utility. … ‘We’ve door-knocked 55,000 doors in the city of Minneapolis’, campaign manager Dylan Kesti said. ‘The campaign is growing and it’s moving and it’s on track to win in November.’ Kesti said the campaign aims to help Minneapolis reach its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent over the next 12 years.”                                            

Not bad, but keep your day job … . Congressman Keith Ellison sings Woody Guthrie. Dave Edwards at The Raw Story writes: “Ellison (D-MN) was beaming from ear to ear on Thursday as he played the guitar and sang in his Capitol Hill office to promote a new law legalizing same sex marriage in Minnesota. ‘This land is your land, this land is my land / From California to the New York island’, Ellison sang. ‘From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters / This land was made for you and me’.” “Freeeebird, man …”

Esme Murphy at WCCO-TV has a story on the state’s new debt collector law: “Many debt buyers have come under fire for their aggressive and at times illegal debt collection practices. This week in Minnesota a new law goes into effect designed to protect consumers. … A new law passed by the Minnesota legislature that goes into effect this week is designed to put limits on debt buyers’ ability to pursue and win judgments against Minnesota consumers. Tom Gavinski, who represents the Minnesota Association of Debt Collectors, said his is an important but difficult job. He said in 2010 debt collectors recovered $2 billion in unpaid debts for Minnesota businesses. Gavinski said consumers should try to negotiate with debt collectors, especially when it comes to medical debts. ‘There is quite a bit of room to negotiate,’ he said. ‘Payment plans are very, very common and medical providers in some cases are willing to discount that bill.’ ”

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More organization for outstate cities … Dan Linehan at the Mankato Free Press writes: “[A] coalition of cities has formed a new advocacy group to lobby for economic development subsidies from the Legislature. The Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities has launched the Greater Minnesota Economic Development Partnership, it announced in late July. It will be led by Dan Dorman, a former Republican legislator who lives in Albert Lea. … He was frustrated that, when the state offered $348 million for a new Vikings stadium, Greater Minnesota legislators did not make their support contingent on similar spending outside the metro area.” Yeah, but the funding for that $348 million is locked down, guaranteed, 100 percent.

Speaking of outstate. At MPR, Nicole Oran offers a list of “Five Things to Do in Montevideo”: “Montevideo could serve as a fine base-camp to explore the remaining patches of prairie in far western Minnesota. …
2. Wander the river The calming waters of the Minnesota River make for a languid canoe or kayak outing, but the Chippewa River is considered by some locals to be more adventurous. …
5. Enjoy local eats For a cup of joe, a pastry and friendly service, Java River Café is a cozy spot with shaded courtyard seating and a fireside room. The café is also a hub for local artists and musicians and holds weekly cultural and music events.” Also mentioned is the statue of sister city Montevideo, Uruguay’s national hero, Jose Artigas, which many years ago was regularly adorned with women’s undergarments by disrespectful youth.

The GleanCops in Willmar have two teenagers under arrest in connection with the killing of that 79-year-old woman. David Little of the West Central Tribune reports: “An autopsy performed by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office showed that murder victim Lila Warwick, 79, of Willmar died of multiple stab wounds and injuries to the neck consistent with strangulation, Kandiyohi County Sheriff Dan Hartog said today. Hartog said two male individuals were arrested late Wednesday evening in connection with the death of Warwick. … Hartog said sheriff’s office investigators and agents of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested Brok Nathaniel Junkermeier, 19, of Willmar, and a 16-year-old juvenile from Willmar. Hartog said Junkermeier was taken into custody at the West Central Tribune where he was working in the mailroom Wednesday night and was brought in for questioning.”

Bad news for the Minneapolis City Council … it can’t demolish Peavey Plaza. Eric Roper of the Strib says: “[P]reservationists fought the plan, first at City Hall then in district court, arguing the 38-year-old plaza is historically significant. It appears their legal fight has paid off. Assistant City Attorney Erik Nilsson said Thursday that the demolition permit has expired and the two sides are trying to reach a settlement. … The settlement appears to be a setback for the City Council, which had high hopes for a $10 million redo — largely privately funded — to give the plaza new life. It was slated to coincide with a renovation of the adjoining Orchestra Hall, which is nearly complete.”

The Selby-Snelling intersection is getting steadily more upscale. Tom Webb of the PiPress says: “Whole Foods Market said Thursday it is relocating its existing St. Paul store to a new location at Snelling and Selby avenues. The current store, at 30 S. Fairview Ave., will remain open until the new Whole Foods site is finished, scheduled for 2016, the company said. Plans call for the new store to be about 38,000 square feet, or somewhat larger than the existing store. The company said it will employ more workers, too.” Next, perhaps a Tiffany’s or Coach store for Frogtown?