Donate!!! Yes, you!! See that “PayPal” button up to the right? Join the challenge to transmission that they don’t need and we don’t want! Residents and Ratepayers Against Not-so-Great-Northern Transmission, an ad hoc advocacy association, has Intervened in the Certificate of Need, a public interest intervention focused on showing up to weigh in on the big picture issues (Important note, we’re aiding public participation, but not taking a position on route.).
The Great Northern Transmission Line has been energized, and RRANTing is over. Right on schedule, as above, Minnesota Power’s Great Northern Transmission Line is up and running, bringing Manitoba Hydro generated electricity to Minnesota, and likely beyond.
Here’s their press release, hot off the press from Minnesota Power, but I got sidetracked:
In Minnesota as proposed:
And in the air:
And the press lapped it up:
Minnesota Power energizes Great Northern Transmission Line, bringing 250 MW delivery capabilities online
And it looks like a cut and paste of the MP press release in the Grand Rapids paper:
Minnesota Power energizes Great Northern Transmission Line to move company closer to 50 percent renewable energy by 2021
This was a LONG project, starting at the PUC in 2012, EIGHT YEARS AGO, with Minnesota Power’s planning starting long before that.
There was also a DOE Presidential Permit, that’s where the DOE’s Environmental Impact Statement came in, a limited scope:
There were also three FERC dockets regarding Zonal Agreements, ER16-1107, ER16-110, an ER16-1116.
And then there’s Canada!
Suffice it to say, this was a long and complicated haul. As well it should be, two countries involved, and multiple agencies here in the U.S. and Minnesota. So many road shows, and I sure couldn’t go on all of them.
There were some really cold meetings, I remember one in the ambulance hall, because I was handing out flyers, freezing… Here’s what I’d been handing out in attempt to let people know how to weigh in. They’re affected, they’re right there, and they know the situation on the ground.
I usually did that outside, but whew, but sometimes it was TOO COLD:
That’s the meeting where MP folks were not too happy that I brought up my Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line details of the capacity for that initially quad-bundled 500 kV line, MVA over 4,000. This line is pretty much the same, though now I can’t remember if this is quad or “just” tri-bundled. It’s absurd design for “250 MW” load, so we know there’s going to be more. Though with the energy market as it is, can’t see a need for more anytime soon, and with COVID shutdown, Minnesota Power demand is down 40% or so.
It was so cold that first year. Minnesota Power held its own PR meetings before it even formally applied, in International Falls circa 2012:
In Grand Rapids at the Sawmill:
Formal meetings were held later, also in Grand Rapids. And Burl Ives (yes, that’s his name, and he’s a County Commissioner, District 4, now) wasn’t thrilled that I was handing out flyers at his hotel, but we had a good chat and he got it, he saw that I was graciously greeting people and handing out info, not making them run the gauntlet:
And 2013, another cold winter road show, THE COLDEST, this was in the ambulance garage, and I really did not have fun on this road show:
In 2014, we had meetings in warmth, all over, another road show, well attended, with good treats:
Note the Executive Order, E.O. 12038:
And some not so well attended…
And came 2015, the DOE’s EIS meetings, unbearably hot, unfunded so couldn’t get hotel, and we stayed in site 12 in Big Bog State Park in our “new” pop-up, the site had a dock, and was swarming with bugs, the worst I’ve ever experienced. NEVER AGAIN! We were picking out bug carcasses for years afterward (there were still bugs embedded in the screens when we sold it last fall!).
And then the rain, the Rainy River was overflowing the banks, one city’s municipal campground was flooded, standing water everywhere through torrential rainfall and super high winds:
Who knew there were honey bee colonies all over along Hwy 11??
And PUC hearings the following month, another series of road shows:
Then the PUC’s permit:
And now it’s up and running… sigh…
From the “Learn Something Every Day” category, and timely, it’s about corona!
Close, but no… here are corona rings on transmission lines at insulators:
Today a Minnesota Power Compliance Filing came over the wire:
And a part of that was a cool photo, above, of the corona rings installed at the “Iron Range Substation.” Corona Rings — rather relevant today! Ahem… but this was new to me, so the Wiki. I have not seen this before, haven’t noticed it in filings, so I’ve got some homework to do. But as corona was raised as an issue in at least one docket that I can think of, this way to limit corona and corona impacts should have come up. Did I miss it? Gotta take a look!
Digging in my files from way back, I have some studies about corona, the link between corona and childhood leukemia, and limitation of corona/prevention:
And this one, with the quote below, does indicate that corona rings are a “new” thing, so maybe I didn’t miss anything back then:
Corona rings – On certain new 345 kV structures, we are now installing corona rings. These rings have smooth round surfaces which are designed to distribute charge across a wider area, thereby reducing the electric field and the resulting corona discharges.
And this, near and dear to my heart, LINE LOSSES:
What I’m taking from this is that utilities are getting more serious about limiting line losses, and to do so, limiting corona! That’s a good thing, and I’d like to know the particulars!
And who cares? Well, an instance where it mattered, well, two cases, and what was learned:
1. The two cases described clearly demonstrate that it is important to install corona rings at the energized end of polymeric insulators used on 400 kV overhead lines. This is true for both suspension and tension towers since corona can reduce the effective service life of such insulators to less than 14 years. It is also important to take into account whether the route of a line passes areas with agricultural, maritime or industrial pollution as this will accelerate irreversible structural damage to such insulators. The outcomes described here were not due to manufacturing defects but rather to the absence a corona ring. This resulted in a high concentration of electric field, producing corona effects that permanently destroyed the silicone rubber housing and left the core rod exposed to the environment.
2. Corona rings designed and supplied by their manufacturer must be installed on polymeric insulators used at transmission voltages. Some manufacturers recommend grading rings at both ends of the insulator at higher transmission line voltages.
4. Visual inspection with binoculars and evaluation of corona activity using high sensitivity UV cameras can help detect problems affecting polymeric insulators. Both should therefore be part of routine annual or bi-annual inspections to prevent insulator failures on overhead transmission lines.
5. Suitable inspection procedures should be developed by utility maintenance departments to establish proper methodologies for visual inspection and detection of corona activity on polymeric insulators at close distance. Work methods must address such inspection with the line energized or de-energized and the main objective is to evaluate the physical operating condition of polymeric insulators and identify any units with higher risk of failure. Depending on maintenance resources, the inspection methodology should be performed tower by tower, climbing each structure and avoiding stepping on insulators. It can also performed using trucks with aerial work platforms or insulated ladders.
Minnesota Power has filed its “Update” and the update is that the clearing, soil boring, and foundations are 100% complete. They’re working now on putting up the structures, and look at them, they’re those bizarre ones standing on a point with guy wires. You’d think they could just drop them from the helicopter and they’d implant themselves… naaah, nevermind…
Here’s the update:
The project was approved, based on “benefits” and “costs” (arguably) and now they pull the rug out AGAIN?
The funding would have been earmarked for community enhancement projects, including projects that promote environment sustainability or provide training, employment, economic development or develop community infrastructure, Owen wrote.
The RM of La Broquerie was among the vocal critics who chastised Manitoba Hydro for not choosing a more easterly route for the Manitoba-Minnesota line. They held community meetings in opposition to the transmission line.
This, hot off the press in an email update — it’s not over, but it’s getting closer, the final decision is yet to be made by the Governor in Council – press is below:
[emphasis added] Here’s their “Document Library” page.
And in the news, note both these headlines say “approves” but that’s not correct, it should be “recommends” and should note it takes further action:
So the government rejects the “deal,” and I’ll bet their idea is to just go ahead and build it and screw over the Metis. ??? We shall see…
And getting interesting in Minnesota too:
Some columns with background on the mess on the other side of the border:
RRANT, Residents and Ratepayers Against Not-so-Great-Northern Transmission have filed to be a “Commenter” in Canada’s National Energy Board proceeding for the “Manitoba-Minnesota” transmission line, the Canada portion of Great Northern Transmission Line. It’ll address both need and route, but particularly need.
This transmission project is HUGE, it’s a bundled 500 kV line with the capacity of Susquehanna-Roseland, over 4,000 MVA! And it is yet another transmission project that isn’t needed, and is designed 8+ times too large for the stated/claimed need and the Presidential Permit, particularly because one dam was admittedly not needed.
And in Minnesota, it was weird… for routing, people did not get proper notice, and agency comments were being hidden off in the EIS and not incorporated into the hearing record, comments that were oh-so-relevant in routing, so I did have to raise a stink about that:
So on to Ccanada… Oh, Canadda!!! How will this go in Canada? Why the NEB process?
Here’s the HEARING ORDER: A88851-1 NEB – Letter – Manitoba Hydro – MMTP – Hearing Order EH-001-2017 – A5Y6X8
How to participate? GUIDANCE HERE!
Much is already online, and they have the filings up and will utilize what’s been filed thus far, and those intervenors in the earlier Canadian process are intervenors in this one.
The Minnesota part of this project required a lot of travel, and testing out the “new” camper in Big Bog State Park (never again, way too hot and humid, what a mosquito and fly hell hole!). The rain was so intense that the Rainy River was over its banks, water in all the ditches, covering roads. That was July 2014, and I’m still brushing and vacuuming fly carcases out of the recesses of screens!
We’ll see what Canada has to say about this! No, not high hopes…
Got this in the inbox yesterday, and this Canadian process WILL address “need” for this transmission line — in Canada it’s called the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project (MMTP):
Intervention deadline: February 7, 2018
From the NEB site:
17 January 2018 – NEB Hearing for Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project
Support for participants
Participant funding is available. Refer to the Participant Funding Program page for information on deadlines, eligibility, how to apply for funding, and how to submit claims.
The Process Advisor’s role is to support the public (e.g., landowners, concerned citizens, environmental non-governmental organizations) and Aboriginal groups if they have questions about the NEB’s assessment of the project.
National Energy Board
Telephone (toll free): 1-800-899-1265
Facsimile (toll free): 1-877-288-8803
TTY (Teletype): 1-800-632-1663
Public participation, getting the lay of the land — it’s messy, it’s time consuming, and it’s where it’s at in transmission siting proceeding, it is the essential guts of transmission line siting. Get ready for another round of meetings some time after January 17, 2018 up in Canada!
Last report was that Canada;s National Energy Board had suddenly decided that there was a need for a public hearing process that had somehow been left out of the mix! WHAT? More pubic process is always better, but a series of public hearings for this huge transmission project, both in length and capacity, isn’t too much to ask of Canada. It’s expected!
Well, Manitoba Hydro is now agreeing to the public hearings… mighty nice of them. Something tells me they had no choice. It’s still up in the air how soon that will happen, but mark you calendars, because on January 17, Manitoba Hydor will make the announcement of the hearing dates and locations!
Published in CBC news:
The province-owned utility was told in December that Ottawa officials had accepted a National Energy Board recommendation that the $453-million Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project go through a certificate process, which means it will be subject to more public hearings.
Hydro had instead sought a process in which the energy board would do a technical assessment and issue a permit to build the 213-kilometre transmission line without more public hearings. Hydro officials said a public hearing process involving all stakeholders, including Indigenous groups, had already been done by the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission.
“We respect Ottawa’s decision to adopt the National Energy Board’s recommendation regarding a certificate process for the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project,” said Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen.
Owen also said Hydro officials are happy the energy board has “expeditiously issued a directive regarding commencement of the federal proceedings” and committed to a Hydro request to try to avoid duplication of other measures that were completed by the province and the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission.
Last year, the Crown corporation expressed concern that the National Energy Board certificate process would delay the project, but Manitoba Hydro still hopes to complete the project by 2020, said Owen.
And an earlier article:
Really! And here’s the info straight from the National Energy Board’s “Manitoba-Minnesota” page:
31 October 2017: Recommendation to the Minister regarding Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project [Filing A87404]
- The recommendation to elevate the regulatory process to a certificate was made following careful analysis of recent Supreme Court rulings and the Manitoba Clean Environment Commission recommendation report for the project.
- A certificate process will ensure that Indigenous considerations are fully taken into account as part of the Board’s assessment.
- The process will provide greater regulatory certainty to Manitoba Hydro as it imposes a legislated time limit on the assessment.
- Wherever possible, the NEB will seek to minimize duplication between the provincial and federal processes.
- The NEB is committed to carrying out a regulatory assessment of the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project that is open, fair, timely and accessible.
Therefore the Board is recommending to the Minister, pursuant to subsection 58.14 (1) of the NEB Act that the Project be designated by order of the Governor in Council under section 58.15 of the NEB Act as an IPL that is to be constructed and operated in accordance with a certificate issued under section 58.16.
There will be an Order, either following through on this recommendation, or denying it and proceeding. But this is an interesting twist, focused on First Nation rights.
Here’s where you can get more information from the Canadian side of the border: