State agencies challenge utility’s plan to purchase gas-fired power plant in Minnesota FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Minneapolis Star Tribune:Xcel Energy’s proposed $650 million purchase of a gas-fired power plant in Mankato has run into strong opposition from two state agencies concerned about its potential impact on ratepayers.Minneapolis-based Xcel in November announced its intent to buy the large power plant from Atlanta-based Southern Power. Xcel currently buys electricity from the Mankato plant on a long-term contract. The company says owning the facility would entail significant savings for ratepayers and would help preserve electric grid reliability.But the Minnesota Department of Commerce concluded that Xcel’s proposed ownership of the Mankato plant “is unlikely to create substantial savings,” according to a recent regulatory filing. “Overall, Xcel has not shown need or any net benefits to ratepayers for Xcel’s proposed (gas plant) purchase.” Meanwhile, the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office slammed the deal in a recent regulatory filing, saying Xcel “structured the proposed acquisition in an opaque backroom deal and in the absence of any competition, transparency or meaningful need for alternative analysis.”The two state offices represent the public before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), which is likely to decide next month on the Mankato deal.Xcel, Minnesota’s largest electric utility, rejects criticisms from both agencies, noting in a statement to the Star Tribune that it has followed the “appropriate process” with its acquisition proposal. Xcel said the Mankato deal is vital for system stability as the company adds variable solar and wind energy while closing its coal-fired power plants, a primary source of constant power. “The purchase of the Mankato Energy Center will help pave the way to exit the use of coal in the Upper Midwest a decade earlier than planned,” Xcel said in the statement. The company declined to make an executive available for comment.In a PUC filing, the Commerce Department questioned whether the Mankato purchase is needed to facilitate Xcel’s early exit from coal.More: Regulators rip Xcel’s proposed $650 million deal for Mankato power plant
Martinez said the 28-year-old was the “complete package” after seeing his impressive display in the midweek 2-0 World Cup qualifier win over Poland. But the Spaniard said it was the sort of form Baines had been displaying for his club for a long time. Everton defender Leighton Baines’ performances for England have not surprised manager Roberto Martinez but merely proved he is one of the best left-backs in the world. Press Association “You don’t see a lot of players who can give you that quality in the final third and, in the same manner, assurance and decision-making in his defensive duties. “It is very difficult to find another left-back around the world (like that). “But it was just a natural performance from Leighton, if you are following him and you are an Evertonian you know what he is capable of doing.” Everton’s job of holding on to Baines in the summer was made easier by United’s woeful evaluation of a player who has been the Toffees’ most consistent performer for two years. But Martinez knows the player offers such quality that it would be near-impossible to replace him. “You have positions all over the park where you can use different players depending on how you want to approach a game,” he added. “I think left-back and goalkeeper are as specific as you are going to get in the modern game. “For me when I see Leighton performing on the pitch it is a combination of someone who brings a complete package.” Martinez was also delighted to see club captain Phil Jagielka’s growing improvement on the international stage. “I thought Phil performed with real confidence and his performance was a little but under the headlights because Robert Lewandowski was probably the biggest threat and him and Gary Cahill did a terrific job. “What I have seen is that he is in the peak of his career and when you have players doing that it is not just what he brings in his game but the influence he has around him. “Straightaway he develops partnerships. He has a telepathic way of playing with Sylvain (Distin) which is really important for us and it creates that relationship with Tim (Howard) behind him. “With England I have seen those consistent ways of performing. He is in the best moment of his career and the maturity he brings to the game and the understanding he has is a big asset and something we want to see continue.” Everton’s third England player Ross Barkley was an unused substitute in the last two matches but after an impressive start to the season remains a contender for a place in Roy Hodgson’s final World Cup squad. Martinez, however, was keen to remind the 19-year-old of his priorities. “Ross needs to concentrate on his chances at Everton at the moment,” he said. “Ross has an incredible talent but you need to start to walk before you can run. Ross will be enjoying his challenge at Everton first.” Ironically, the defender may not have even made England’s starting line-up had it not been for Ashley Cole’s injury but the game against Poland merely highlighted just how far off Manchester United were in their valuation of him in the summer. United had a joint bid of £36million rejected for Baines and Marouane Fellaini which, with the latter having had a buy-out clause of £23.5million, effectively valued the former at £12.5million. They eventually went on to capture Fellaini for £27.5million but could not prise Baines away. “I look at the outstanding contribution he had over the two games,” said Martinez. “Against Poland he was really influential, I thought he enjoyed his football and was himself and showed where he is in his career really. “Obviously from our point of view Leighton’s performance is something we see week in, week out. “It is great when you see a player take that into his international duty, it shows you the maturity and how ready he is to perform at that level. “There are not many left-backs in world football that can produce what Leighton Baines produced and that is very pleasing.