Category Archives: Uncategorized

ALLETE, GRE & MISO Joint Answer

FERClogo

ALLETE, Great River Energy and MISO have filed a response to the Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) and Residents and Ratepayers Against the Not-so-Great Northern Transmission Line (RRANT) comments filed earlier this month:

ALLETE GRE MISO_Reply to MRES and RRANT

Here are the previous filings in reverse chrono order:

Supplemental Protest_MRES_20160405-5187(31361348)

Comments_RRANT_ER16-1107_ER16-1108_ER16-1116

MP&GRE_JointAnswer2MRES_20160329-5071(31343963)-1

FERC_Notice_Extenstion_20160330-3021(31346379)

MRES_Intrervention&ExtensionRequest_20160324-5182(31336403)-1

Notice_CancellationServiceAgmt_MISO-ALLETE_20160308-5259(31297754)

(search FERC dockets ER16-1107; ER16-1108 and ER16-1116 for initial filings)

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Annual Hearing – Power Plant Siting Act 12/1

NSP_Stack

I’m having a difficult time getting worked up about the PPSA Annual Hearing this year.  It’s the time we have to tell the Commission what does and does not work with the Power Plant Siting Act.  I’ve been at this for 20 years now, and it never ends, doesn’t change, so many of the same problems, over and over.  It is SO hard for people to participate and while it got better for a while, when people stood up and leveled the playing field, and with Gov. Ventura’s active outreach to the public, well, can’t have that happen, so then NSP’s big buck lobbyists changed the laws to their advantage (2001) and then bought off the funded intervenors and they rewrote the laws together (2003 & 2005) and now the head of one of those funded intervenors, the Waltons, is at Commerce in charge of utility permitting (CoN and Route/Siting) and another on the Commission.

Oh well, it’s that time again… Let’s all put this on our calendar and once more, with feeling, tell them what we really think!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Notice of the Power Plant Siting and Transmission Line Routing Program Annual Hearing

Issued: November 6, 2015

In the Matter of the 2015 Power Plant Siting Act Annual Hearing

Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Docket Number: E999/M-15-785

Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) Docket Number: 60-2500-32901

Date: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Time: 9:30 a.m.

Location: Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Large Hearing Room, 121 7th Place East, Suite 350, Saint Paul, MN 55101

Bad weather? Find out if a meeting is canceled. Call (toll-free) 1-855-731-6208 or 651-201-2213 or visit mn.gov/puc

Hearing Description

The annual hearing is required by Minnesota Statute § 216E.07, which provides that:

Thecommission shall hold an annual public hearing at a time and place prescribed by rule in order to afford interested persons an opportunity to be heard regarding any matters relating to the siting of large electric generating power plants and routing of high-voltage transmission lines. At the meeting, the commission shall advise the public of the permits issued by the commission in the past year….

Note – No decisions about specific projects are made at the annual hearing.

Public Hearing Information

  • Public hearings start on time.
  • Arrive a few minutes early so you have time to sign in, pick up materials, and find a seat.
  • Administrative Law Judge James LaFave will preside over the hearing.
  • Public Utilities Commission and Department of Commerce staff members are available to answer questions about the Power Plant Siting Act processes and the projects.
  • You may add verbal comments, written comments, or both into the record.
  • Learn more about participating at a public hearing at http://mn.gov/puc/resources/meetings-and-hearings.jsp
  • Judge LaFave will use information gathered at the public hearing and during the comment period to write a summary report for the Commission

Submit Comments

Topics for Public Comment:

  • Any matters related to the site permit process for large electric generating power plants and routing of high-voltage transmission lines.

Comment Period: November 6, 2015 through January 5, 2016 at 4:30pm.

  • Comments must be received by 4:30pm on the close date
  • Comments received after comment period closes may not be considered

Online Visit mn.gov/puc, select Speak Up!, find this docket (15-785), and add your comments to the discussion.

If you wish to include an exhibit, map or other attachment, please send your comments via eFiling (see below) or U.S. Mail.

Please include the Commission’s docket number in all communications.

Filing Requirements: Utilities and state agencies are required to file documents using the Commission’s electronic filing system (eFiling). All parties, participants and interested persons are encouraged to use eFiling: mn.gov/puc, select eFiling, and follow the prompts.

Important Comments will be made available to the public via the Public Utilities Commission’s website, except in limited circumstances consistent with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. The Commission does not edit or delete personal identifying information from submissions.

Hearing Agenda

I. Introductions
II.Overview of Programs
A. Public Utilities Commission – Facilities Permitting and Public Advisor
B. Department of Commerce – Energy Facilities Permitting Unit
C. Role of Other Agencies
III. Projects Reviewed
A. Projects Permitted in 2015
B. Pending and Anticipated Projects
C. Electric Facilities Subject to Power Plant Siting Act
1. Generating Plants
2. Transmission Lines
IV. Public Questions and Testimony
V. Adjourn

How to Learn More

Subscribe to the Docket: Subscribe to receive email notifications when new documents are filed. Note – subscribing may result in a large number of emails.

  1. mn.gov/puc
  2. Select Subscribe to a Docket
  3. Type your email address
  4. For Type of Subscription, select Docket Number
  5. For Docket Number, select 15 in the first box, type 785 in the second box
  6. Select Add to List
  7. Select Save

Full Case Record: See all documents filed in this docket via the Commission’s website – mn.gov/puc, select Search eDockets, enter the year (15) and the docket number (785), select Search.

Project Mailing Lists: Sign up to receive notices and opportunities to participate in other dockets relating to specific projects in which you are interested (meetings, comment periods, etc.). Contact docketing.puc@state.mn.us or 651-201-2234 with the docket number, your name, mailing address and email address.

Minnesota Statutes and Rules: The hearing is being conducted according to Minnesota Statute 216E.07. Minnesota Statutes are available at www.revisor.mn.gov.

Project Contacts

Public Utilities Commission Public Advisor

Tracy Smetana – consumer.puc@state.mn.us, 651-296-0406 or 1-800-657-3782

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Deliberation and Decision on GNTL at PUC today!

Right here, right now:

PUC Webcast

ALJ’s Recommendation_20153-108286-01

Staff Briefing Papers_20155-110199-01

Amended Findings of Fact and Decision Options_20155-110407-01

John Tuma as a Commissioner is surprising me, seems he’s really been doing his homework.  And Lipschultz, as always, is raising the right questions and doing some serious thinking.  These last two appointments have been good ones, it seems!

WOW, they’re saying that the calculation has not been done as to whether in the long run it is cheaper to pay Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) or Allowance For Used During Construction (AFUDC).  Then Tuma is noting CWIP is legislation, but it is only an option, not a requirement.  And no-one is noting that the CWIP option came in as part of the 2005 Transmission Bill from Hell.  As LPI notes, CWIP is not a mandate, and the burden of proof is on the Applicants to demonstrate that it is just and reasonable.  Moeller/MP claims it will be an additional $55 million for AFUDC rather than CWIP (and whines about harm to the company).  Moeller DOES admit that the CWIP legislation incentives transmission, DOH!

Heydinger is wanting to modify the ALJ’s Recommendation, to take out some “editorial” comments.  Strike paragraph 316 regarding “rate shock” and alter first part of FOF 317 about whether requiring AFUDC would harm MP…

Commissioner Lange is talking about approving CoN, that Commerce confirmed the load forecast, and that the Commission has had to revise prior decisions and that she takes that to heart.  Also takes into account the question of Manitoba Hydro’s interest.

Tuma also raises the needs of MP and its customers, and noted legislature wants us to think regionally, and that we’re mandated to figure it out.

Commissioner Wergin is not all that concerned about regional, they’ve been a good neighbor, they’re part of MISO.  And later, I’m amazed at how smooth the end result has been… I think that the company has followed through with informing the public… that has a lot to do with how smooth this has gone.

… sigh…

Certificate of Need approved.

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URGENT – TOMORROW – HF 341 in Committee!

plant-blog480

Tomorrow the House Jobs Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee will take up HF 341, see also SF 237, to provide an exemption from Certificate of Need for natural gas plants that sell power into the MISO market.

SAY WHAT?!?!?!

The Power Plant Siting Act, specifically Minn. Stat. 216E.04, Subd. 2(2) already gives natural gas plants a free ride by allowing “alternate review,” which is “review lite.”  For example, the “Simon Says” 325 MW natural gas plant that had been planned for Waseca would have been built.  The 700-800 MW Sunrise River Station by the Chisago sub would have been built.  WHY?  Should a community be subject to living with a HUGE natural gas plant without regulation?  Nope, no way, no how.  Plus who will pay for the transmission interconnection, and how will that be regulated, both “need” and routing… and then there’s eminent domain!  What’s the impact on Minnesota utilities and their service territory?

Here are the Authors’ emails — contact them today:

rep.chris.swedzinski@house.mnrep.jason.metsa@house.mn, rep.dave.baker@house.mn, rep.marion.oneill@house.mn

Here are the Committee member emails — contact them today:

rep.pat.garofalo@house.mn, rep.dave.baker@house.mn, rep.karen.clark@house.mn, rep.dan.fabian@house.mn, rep.bob.gunther@house.mn, rep.melissa.hortman@house.mn, rep.jason.isaacson@house.mn, rep.sheldon.johnson@house.mn, rep.bob.loonan@house.mn, rep.jason.metsa@house.mn, rep.jim.newberger@house.mn, rep.marion.oneill@house.mn, rep.peggy.scott@house.mn, rep.erik.simonson@house.mn, rep.dennis.smith@house.mn, rep.chris.swedzinski@house.mn, rep.bob.vogel@house.mn, rep.jean.wagenius@house.mn, rep.jim.knoblach@house.mn

Please let them know how important it is that we continue to regulate natural gas plants.  A power plants is large, expensive infrastructure with large, costly impacts, and should only be built when and where needed, after a full Certificate of Need and Siting review.

Here’s an example of how it went in Waseca when they tried to bootstrap a larger plant onto an already approve very small plant — short version?  It didn’t go:

Blooming Grove Township — Sen. Dick Day shows his true colors

And in Chisago County where they tried to ram through a HUGE plant on the Sunrise River and pull out large amounts of water — short version?  It didn’t go:

LS Power’s Sunrise River plant voted DOWN!

Lent Twp voters say NO! to LS Power

LS Power’s Sunrise River Energy in the news

Report on Monday Chisago meeting

500+ give LS Power a piece of their mind

What about the Mesaba Project which has a site permit good until 2019, and which couldn’t demonstrate either “need” or that it would provide reasonably priced electricity — under this bill, a large natural gas plant could go up on that site without any further review!  More info HERE on Mesaba Project!

That’s what communities think of having a natural gas plant using their water, making noise, being lit up 24/7, and all for the profit of some absentee corporate owner:  Thanks, but NO THANKS!

Here’s the agenda for tomorrow:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

12:45 PM

Room: 10 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Pat Garofalo
Agenda:
Overview of natural gas issues in Minnesota.If you wish to testify on HF341, please contact Committee Legislative Assistant, Jonathan Fortner, at jonathan.fortner@house.mn.
Bills:
HF341 – (Swedzinski): Requirement to obtain certificate of need prior to construction of a natural gas plant generating electricity that is exported from the state eliminated.
Here’s the full text of HF 341:
HF341HF341_2

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Write your Comments today and send to PUC!

Letter_Repin_Cossacks_(1893_version)

It’s time to write your Comments about the Great Northern Transmission Line. This is in the Certificate of Need docket, so focus on whether this transmission project is needed or not, whether it’s for a private purpose or a public purpose and what that purpose is, and whether a megahuge 500 kV line is needed for the PPAs Minnesota Power claims to have lined up, i.e., 250 MW + 133 MW.

The deadline for public comments is this coming Wednesday, December 3, 2014.

Notice of Public Hearing & Comment

Here’s the part that relates to Public Comments – please note that comments should be sent to “RouteCommentsOAH@state.mn.us” or faxed or mailed.  In a recent proceeding the comments that were directly eFiled were not included, only those sent as requested were included. SO LISTEN UP!

Send your comments using this format, with docket numbers on them, by 4:30 p.m. to address as below:

12Once more with feeling — send your comments, clearly, largely, referencing docket numbers PUC-E-015/CN-12-1163 and OAH 65-2500-31196, by 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 3, to:

RouteCommentsOAH@state.mn.us

 

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Public Hearings for GNTL Certificate of Need

Apologies, I’ve been out of town and didn’t get last week’s hearings posted.  Here is the schedule for this next week, hearings next Tuesday and Wednesday on the Great Northern Transmission Line:

HearingSched_Oct14-15Now is the time to weigh in on need.  It’s now or never…

 

Below is the PUC’s abbreviated version of Certificate of Need process — we’re now at the “Public Hearing” stage, before the Evidentiary Hearing to be held next month.

PUC Process-Edited

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Today PUC approves “work group” but…

20140911_103358_resized

Today at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Item 5 on the agenda, before the Sandpiper Pipeline (busy day), was the Dept. of Commerce request for reconsideration of the Commission’s order authorizing 3 Advisory Task Forces for the scoping and routing of the Great Northern Transmission Project.

Again, here’s the background:

Original PUC Task Force Authorizaiton_20147-101165-01

Commerce Request to Reconsider Task Forces

Notice of Comment Period

Comments_CATF_20148-102578-01

Overland_CATF Comments (filed as individual, RRANT has intervened in only the Certificate of Need docket)

PUC Staff Briefing Papers_Citizens Advisory Task Force_20149-102831-01

Commerce CATF Comments_20149-102886-01

At today’s meeting, Bill Storm, Commerce (he was the one on the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project siting docket) spoke and explained his proposal, how he would organize a workgroup as proposed by Mike Kaluzniak, PUC staff:

  • 2 meetings!  He claimed no time for more because he has three weeks of hearings on the GNTL CoN 12-1053 — not true, there are 4 meetings, T & W, for two weeks, that’s 4 days, two weeks, not three weeks by any stretch, well, maybe if he rode up there on a horse, otherwise, nope.  See Public Hearings for GNTL in October
  • 1st meeting — 30 of September or 1st of October.  Draft Scoping out 9/30.
  • 2nd meeting — digest everything and address further issues and additional alternatives
  • 10/31 — Amend/Append the Scoping Summary
  • 11/20 — Scoping Record goes to Public Utilities Commission for review/approval.

I was given some time, and noted that I was making comments as an individual, and not in the course of representing any party, that RRANT had intervened only in the GNTL Certificate of Need docket (12-1053), and that Advisory Task Forces was a fundamental issue of mine, and that Minn. Stat. 216E.08 noted that public participation was the fundamental premise of the Power Plant Siting Act and that it was not to be limited to hearings and Advisory Task Forces.  In this case, when soliciting Task Force members, the public wasn’t even notified, because there were no published requests for applications, and letters went out only to local governments, and one NGO (local Izaak Walton League chapter) and the Minnesota Forest Resources Council.  That’s it.  Here are the results of those mailings and follow up calls:

Solicitations_TaskForce_20148-102144-01

So many were not reached, and how was it determined who to call?  Worse, look at how it was presented who could participate:

ATF_Qualifications

Sure, the 4th one makes sense, but the first one?  “The person cannot be a(sic) unaffiliated member of the public appointed by the LGU to serve on the task force.”  Says who?  NOT OK.  In my comments I stressed that Commerce has long been a problem when it comes to Task Forces, objection to Petitions for Task Forces, and when they’re authorized, Commerce and its “facilitator” try to focus on “Land Use” and in limiting issues and concerns rather than using it as a brainstorming session to assure all relevant issues are raised.  See I’m asking you to leave…

And I’d asked that the public be allowed a comment period at the end.  Storm objected, saying he didn’t want to delay the process and didn’t want to have to integrate the public into the workgroup.  Hello — a comment period at the end is not “integrating into the workgroup,” but then again, the public SHOULD be integrated into the workgroup.

I’d also noted that this is 2014, and that if all the local governments are being emailed a questionnaire regarding local issues, features, alternate routes, that it’d be very simple to provide notice that a meeting IS occurring on X date and to show up if you’re interested.  Nope, apparently that’s too much to ask.  So I guess I’ll have to do the advocate’s thing and spread the word about that upcoming meeting, which IS a public meeting.

So, these were the decision options for the Commission today:

9-11-2014 Decision Options

There were suggestions for 3c — change “once” to “before” and “proposed” with “possible” and those were accepted.  I asked that 3a be amended to add “and opportunity for public comment at meetings.”  Some agreement that that would be good, but it was dropped along the side of the road.

Motion by Comm. Wergin for A1, and 3 A-C with “possible” and “before” and limited to those local governmental units that had shown an interest.

But here’s the weird part.  At the end, Comm. Wergin made a rather long statement about her (but speaking in royal “we” language) confidence in Storm and his ability and willingness to be open to input, that if he’s in charge, all is well and good.

It’s unfortunate that the Advisory Task Force meetings for the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project weren’t recorded, particularly that last one where the Task Force was railroaded to a most unfortunate position.

Yup, need to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

 

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Thursday – PUC addresses Task Forces

Thursday, September 11, 2014, the Public Utilities Commission will take up the request from Commerce for reconsideration of its authorization of Advisory Task Forces. Here’s the Agenda-9-11-2014.  It will not be heard before 10:30 a.m., and will be webcast.

To watch online:  Live Webcast

Thursday’s meeting is located at:

Public Utilities Commission
121 – 7th Place East, 3rd Floor Large Hearing Room
St. Paul, MN

PUC staff is encouraging a hybrid workgroup to address both the lack of enough participants and the need for public input:

PUC Staff Briefing Papers_Citizens Advisory Task Force_20149-102831-01

And Commerce had some Comments (why do they get to file and we don’t have opportunity to respond?), and is also looking at a hybrid, by telephone:

CATF Comments_20149-102886-01

What bothers me about this is that Commerce is taking a very narrow view of who should participate, and has not made a public broad solicitation.  “The Public” is absent.  Their letter to local governments said only local government officials or local government employees were invited, and it couldn’t be appointed non-employees!  Why?  Where did they find that restriction?  And then the second thing, is it sufficient to be calling and accepting a “Not Interested” statement from whoever answers?

Going back, here are the public comments that were received:

Comments_CATF_20148-102578-01

Overland_CATF Comments (I filed as individual, RRANT has intervened in only the Certificate of Need docket, not routing.)

And Commerce’s initial request:

Commerce Request to Reconsider Task Forces

Thursday — not to be heard before 10:30!  Be there or be square — and remember, its webcast!

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Public Comments on CATF

crowd_cheering_sm

YEAAAAA!  Comments have been posted on Commerce’s request that the Commission reconsider whether to have a Citizens Advisory Task Force (though I do wish the actual comments had been posted, or with a summary chart, not just the summary chart):

Comments_CATF_20148-102578-01

Overland_CATF Comments (filed as individual, RRANT has intervened in only the Certificate of Need docket)

Take a look at the Commission’s authorization of a Task Force, it’s the most thorough I’ve ever seen, very encouraging:

PUC Task Force Authorizaiton_20147-101165-01

This will come up at a Commission Agenda meeting, and there’s nothing yet.  Ten (10) days notice is required, and I’ll post the Notice after it’s issued.

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Demand down, “It’s a new world for us” utilities!

I love it when this happens — when the truth is so obvious that they can no longer deny it:

Energy Lag

This decreased demand is the reason they want us to pay for transmission lines across the U.S. so they can market all this surplus power in locations where prices are higher.  DOH!

Electricity Sales Anemic for Seventh Year in a Row – WSJ July 28 2014

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