Guest commentary: Time to close the chapter on power plant

It’s been an open secret amongst our local politicians for over a year that the Sunrise River Power Station will not be built.  LS Power’s actions since March of 2010 have led the utility company down other paths that do not include a Power Plant in Chisago County.

In the past year-and-a-half LS Power has removed this project from consideration by the organization (MISO) which regulates connection of any power plant to the electric power grid (Jan 2011), taken the project off their website as a proposed/pending project (Spring 2012), shut down the website for Sunrise River Energy, LLC (Spring 2012), failed to exercise its option to actually purchase the parcel of land originally intended for locating the power plant, and never did secure the additional resources (Water and Natural gas) necessary to move the project forward.

There has been a strong push back against a power plant and there have been court battles.  Court battles have the potential to continue until the enabling Development Agreement is dissolved.

Yet the general public has heard nothing of all this and the “Stop the Power Plant” signs still decorate many yards.

The Development Agreement remains in effect and the Development Agreement is still a recorded document affecting all of the landowners in the vicinity of the defunct power plant.

Even though there is no way the Legislative deadline that once enabled a power plant to be built can be met, the fact that the Development Agreement continues to exist is a liability for private property owners and puts ongoing downward pressure on property values.

So, what happens now?  Local Realtors and families have lost sales because of this Development Agreement and our county will be subject to uncertainty in our real estate market into the future if it remains in effect.

Our current economy has already burdened our real estate values and we don’t need to continue to add the additional burden of the Development Agreement any longer.

You still see “Stop the Power Plant” signs all throughout our county. Why is this? Because the signs are a reminder that with the Development Agreement still in place, property values continue to be suppressed, below what they would otherwise be even in a bad economy.

The signs have been left up to remind us that, unless the Development Agreement is rescinded, citizens in Lent Township and Chisago County will continue to be harmed, unnecessarily.

The Coalition fighting the power plant would eagerly remove the signs… if the Development Agreement would be vacated by the parties that signed it.

While all of this is happening, the three parties to the Development Agreement (Sunrise River Energy, LLC, Chisago County and Lent Township) seem unable, or in the case of one party, reluctant to cancel this agreement.  Do each fear the others might sue them?  That scenario is no longer plausible… and they all know it.

In fact, it appears two of the three parties have expressed a willingness to nullify the Development Agreement.  Only one party has not stepped forward to work with the others to release our County and Township from this excessive burden.

Yes, the Lent Township supervisors, having initially taken the lead on this project and now knowing this Power Plant will never be built, are still reluctant to take any action to nullify the Development Agreement, which would greatly help their own residents’ property values. Do they like lower property values? Do they care about those they represent?

Why won’t this group of elected officials act to put this matter to rest?  There is no disgrace in accepting that LS Power couldn’t proceed with their project.  There is no shame in realizing that the need for such a project no longer exists.

There is no dishonor in showing common sense by acting to dissolve the now useless (but still harmful) Development Agreement.  There is absolutely no rational reason to perpetuate political and economic discord within our community.

Now is the time to help heal community divisiveness and close this chapter in Chisago County history.

Mark Koran

Resident of  Lent Township

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