Benson sends PUC letter favoring Brightmark project

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By Reed Anfinson
Swift County Monitor-News


Benson Mayor Terri Collins has sent a letter to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) restating the city’s support for Brightmark Energy’s proposed biogas facility at the former Benson Power biomass electric generation site.

The letter was sent to counter BioPro Power’s (BPP) requesting that the PUC slow the process down through which Brightmark will be purchasing the site from Xcel Energy. It wants time for a proposed project of its own, which would create steam from corn stove to be considered. However, it has come to the process very late.

Xcel Energy, which owns the Benson Power site and buildings, took bids Oct. 4 from Brightmark (BME) and BPP. Brightmark was interested in the fuel hall building, the administration building, the truck washing facilities, scale and road infrastructure.

Xcel would demolish the other buildings to four feet below grade, and then restore the land to grass.

BPP is interested in the Foster Wheeler combustor and other assets of the plant that would help it produce steam that could be used by the Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC) for future expansion of its facility.

Representatives of BPP and CVEC met with the city council last month to plead their case for access to the site and its buildings. They were seeking to jointly use the site with Brightmark. However, Brightmark has rejected that option and wants the entire site once Xcel removes the buildings it doesn’t intend to use.

While Xcel has approved Brightmark’s bid for the site, earlier agreements with the City of Benson on eventual ownership of the site were placed under city authority. However, Benson as ceded its interests in favor of Brightmark proceeding with a project....


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