It is kind of glaring … Stribber Dave Shaffer reports: “Utility regulators on Thursday pledged to investigate massive cost overruns at Xcel Energy’s Monticello nuclear plant and slashed the utility’s rate hike request for its 1.2 million Minnesota customers by more than half off its original request. The state Public Utilities Commission also allowed the company to charge its ratepayers only part of the $655 million expense for the five-year upgrade to the Monticello nuclear reactor. Xcel customers will end up paying roughly half the 9 percent interim increase that the electric utility began collecting on Jan. 1. … Cutting Xcel’s request means the permanent rates end up lower than the present interim rates, so overpayments since Jan. 1 will be credited to customers plus 7.45 percent annual interest.”
No charges in Green Bay on two of Minneapolis’s finest … Matt McKinney of the Strib says: “No charges will be filed in Green Bay, Wis., against two off-duty Minneapolis police officers who got into a street fight there earlier this summer and then used racial slurs while berating local police officers who showed up to investigate, according to the Green Bay Police Department. The white officers allegedly fought with a group of black men outside a bar June 29 in downtown Green Bay after words were exchanged, but the black men left the area and were not named in the Green Bay police report on the incident. Not knowing who the men were would make it difficult to file charges against the officers for assault, said Green Bay Assistant City Attorney Kail Decker. “We don’t know who the victim was,” he said.
By now you’ve seen and heard everything about Paul White, the Minnesota winner in this week’s Powerball lottery. The Los Angeles Times story, by Ben Mueller, says: “A Minnesota electrical engineer, whose devotion to the lottery had earned him his family’s taunting over the years, stepped forward Thursday to claim his share of a $448-million Powerball jackpot, one of the nation’s largest. … He recounted his family recently mocking that his financial plan consisted of winning the lottery. ‘They thought it was funny then,’ White laughed. ‘Who’s right now’? White’s immediate plans for his sudden wealth centered on cars — a 1963 Chevy Impala for his dad, a $30,000 Acura NSX off Craigslist for himself.”
We’re No. 7! In wind energy … The AP says: “The U.S. Department of Energy says Minnesota is near the top of the list of states in generating wind power. Nearly 17 percent of the state’s energy comes from wind. The department says there are only nine states in the country that have more than 12 percent of power generated by the wind. Jose Zayas is director of wind and water technology at the DOE. Zayas [says] that Minnesota is seventh in the nation for gross wind power generation and fourth in the percentage of energy used that comes from wind.”
At least one new tax will soon be in the dustbin. Rachel Stassen-Berger’s Strib story says: “Gov. Mark Dayton said he supports repealing a new farm equipment tax during a brief special session next month that he previously insisted would be limited to storm relief. ‘It was a very bad mistake,’ the DFL governor said during a visit to Farmfest. The sales tax would cost the state’s farmers a projected $14 million a year. Dayton said the tax was slipped into the massive tax bill at the end of the legislative session with little notice. ‘No one wants to take responsibility for it,’ said Dayton, who agreed to the tax as part of a much larger tax bill. ‘I was not aware of it, my staff was not aware of it until the next morning when the tax bill was already buttoned up.’ ” Is there even one person who actually reads these bills?
A Strib commentary by John Farrell of the Democratic Energy Institute for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance says: “Electricity service in Minneapolis is akin to living in a town where there’s only one restaurant and it’s the only place you’ve ever eaten. Mostly you are satisfied. Occasionally the food is lousy; sometimes the service is, too. But you’ve never eaten anywhere else. That’s Minneapolis. One hundred years of the same electric utility. In discussing this ballot measure, the City Council is exploring the only legal alternative to service from Xcel Energy. The city is not saying — contrary to Xcel’s letter to customers — that Minneapolis is going to buy the electric system tomorrow. Instead, the City Council is asking whether we could get cleaner, more affordable and more reliable local energy. There’s plenty of evidence that we can.”
It’ll be like the Croisette in Cannes, only with horizontal sleet. Dan Kraker of MPR reports: “Hoping to create a large waterfront pedestrian plaza, Duluth Mayor Don Ness unveiled plans on Thursday to build a walkway linking Bayfront Park, the Great Lakes Aquarium and a proposed hotel complex on the western side of the harbor, connected to the popular Canal Park tourist area. … To create needed parking, Ness would fill in a boat slip where the “William A. Irvin” ore ship and tourist attraction sits. That slip contains contaminated sediment that the state has estimated would cost five to seven million dollars to clean up. The Irvin would be moved down the harbor.”
Second District Congressman John Kline is dismayed that Democrats are already out campaigning against him. Brett Neely of MPR says: “Democrats are hoping to channel the tea party’s 2009 playbook by urging supporters to challenge Republican members of Congress on various policy issues during the five week summer recess. Among those members targeted by Democrats are Minnesota U.S. Reps. John Kline and Erik Paulsen according to a list obtained by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call. … Kline, who represents the 2nd District and was attending an Eagan Chamber of Commerce event Thursday, said his constituents were tired of endless campaigning. ‘It’s a little bit of a shame to get engaged in campaigning this far out,’ said Kline, who added, ‘I can’t control what [Democrats] do.’ ”
Are you ready for … more chicken? Tom Webb of the PiPress reports: “Fast-food chain Chick-fil-A said it plans to open its first stand-alone restaurants this fall in the Twin Cities. The Atlanta-based chain, known for breaded chicken sandwiches and being closed on Sundays, already has small licensed outlets at the University of Minnesota and at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. But now the chain is making its formal entry into this market with new stand-alone stores in Apple Valley, Bloomington, Coon Rapids and Maple Grove. … The chain is owned by founder Dan Cathy and his family, and in the past year has been in the news for Cathy’s opposition to same-sex marriage.” So probably not a lot of gay-wedding catering …