Category Archives: Need

And GNTL is energized…

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:

In Canada:

And in the air:

And the press lapped it up:

Minnesota Power to reach 50% renewables in 2021 with Canadian hydropower

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.

To look at the full Public Utilities Commission siting docket, go HERE and search for 14-21. The Certificate of Need docket is 12-1163.

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!

Open houses beginning in Canada for GNTL

January 17 – Canada will announce public hearings

Canada’s National Energy Board recommends “MMTP”

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.

Handout – November GNTL Meetings

Notice Plan Comment Form – click to download editable form

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 Taconite?

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…

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Filed under Canada permitting, Certificate of Need, DOE (Dept of Energy), Environmental Review, FERC Filings, Hearings, Media, Meetings, MP, Need, Open Houses, Presidential Permit, PUC Filings, Routing Docket

Notice of Hearing – Canada’s NEB

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):

National Energy Board Notice of Public Hearing

The National Energy Board (NEB) has issued a Notice of Public Hearing indicating they will hold a public hearing for the Manitoba–Minnesota Transmission Project (MMTP) and will conduct an environmental assessment pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.

Intervention deadline: February 7, 2018

From the NEB site:

Support for participants

Participant Funding

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.

Process Advisor

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.

Matt Groza
Process Advisor

National Energy Board
Telephone: 403-614-4952
Telephone (toll free): 1-800-899-1265
Facsimile: 403-292-5503
Facsimile (toll free): 1-877-288-8803
TTY (Teletype): 1-800-632-1663




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Filed under Canada permitting, Need

Initial Briefs filed


Initial Briefs filed thus far (they’re due by 4:30).

Minnesota Power – Initial Brief_201412-105592-02

       Minnesota Power – ProposedFindings_201412-105592-03

RRANT – Initial Brief

Commerce – Initial  Brief_201412-105596-02

I’ve not seen one yet from “Large Power Intervenors” — where arrrrrrrre you?!?!

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Filed under Certificate of Need, Need, PUC Filings

Useful information? Please donate!


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.).

Continue reading

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Filed under Certificate of Need, Environmental Review, Hearings, Information Requests, Need, Open Houses, Presidential Permit

Minnesota Power’s Direct Testimony Filed


Oh, it’s been a busy week, and it’s only Wednesday.  Buried alive in paper, as I frantically try to sort out the old files from my other office, get rid of the dusty, moldy things from over a decade ago, and what does Minnesota Power do but dump 20 pounds of Direct Testimony.  On the other hand, it does look like good stuff, a stimulating read, lots of fun to be had over the weekend!



MP_Testimony_Hobert_Direct_20148-102147-06 MP_Testimony_Hobert_Direct_Sched2_20148-102147-06-2 MP_Testimony_Hobert_Direct_Sched3_20148-102147-06 MP_Testimony_Hobert_Direct_Sched4_20148-102147-06-2




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Filed under Certificate of Need, Hearings, Need, PUC Filings

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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Filed under Certificate of Need, MISO, Need, Uncategorized

Will Braun’s OpEd in the Winnipeg Free Press

ConawapaBefore ConawapaAfter ConawapaBefore

Conawapa Dam — who needs it?  Who wants it?  Again, it’s that difference between need, and public purpose, and what it is that the utilities want.  WANT.  DESIRE.  It’s anything but need.

A deal was struck so this damn dam would be built, but things have changed, and the Wuskwatim dam is losing money.  Now Conawapa, to throw good money after bad?  Why?  So Manitoba Hydro can make even more electricity to export for profit?  Minnesota Power too?  Will this business plan be any better?

Dam deal loses shine

First Nations gambled on bold talk of prosperity

Premier Greg Selinger once said Manitoba Hydro’s partnerships with First Nations “yield phenomenal social licence.”

Indeed, the fact five hydro-affected First Nations have joined Hydro in development of new dams has lent moral clout to the utility’s ambitious plans.

That moral high ground is eroding. Hydro’s “new era” of northern dealings is in trouble as it sits on the brink of committing to the $6.5-billion Keeyask project.

Phase one of the new era was the Wuskwatim Dam, which went into operation in 2012. Hydro offered Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation the option to purchase a 33 per cent share in the dam.

Hydro, government and NCN said the partnership held great promise for the future. In 2011, a band councillor said Wuskwatim would earn up to $40 million a year, a third of it going to NCN.

It hasn’t worked out that way. According to Hydro, NCN’s share of Wuskwatim’s losses will total $24 million for the past fiscal year and a combined $134 million over the first decade of the dam’s operation.

That’s worth another take. The community of 4,800 people, 80 kilometres west of Thompson, has invested $108.4 million — most of it borrowed from Hydro — in a venture that is predicted to lose the community $134 million over 10 years.

Welcome to the new era.

Hydro has said NCN will not actually have to pay the utility for its share of annual losses, as the original agreement would have required. Hydro will cover those losses for now, incorporating them into its long-term financial agreement with NCN, essentially borrowing from NCN’s future profits to pay for present losses.

One way or another, NCN is stuck with the losses.

Hydro is also stuck with its share of losses, but that’s different. It simply passes them on to ratepayers. But NCN doesn’t have the option of raising anyone’s rates because its revenue stream is based on export prices, not domestic rates.

To be fair, NCN’s benefits from Wuskwatim also included a $5.7-million adverse-effects settlement as well as training and employment opportunities. Hydro and governments spent $60 million on a training program centred at NCN. About one-third of person-hours of employment during the construction of the dam went to NCN members. Less impressive were the turnover rate of 41 per cent and the average duration of employment: eight months.

That was the construction boom. At last report, only four NCN members work at long-term jobs at the dam.

Now four other First Nations — Tataskweyak, York Factory, Fox Lake and War Lake — are lined up for similar “new era” agreements on the proposed $6.5-billion Keeyask dam. They can purchase a combined stake of up to 25 per cent in the dam if they come up with about $375 million.

The “Keeyask Cree Nations” negotiated another option that would amount to a roughly two per cent stake in the dam, with a guaranteed minimum annual payment whether or not the dam makes money. Of course, the payments to the communities would be far less than the windfall once touted under the 25 per cent share.

The current assumption is the KCNs will choose this “preferred” option, providing the First Nations a combined $5 million annually in the early years of the dam.

These communities agreed to the dams based in part on the bold talk of hefty profits and a prosperous future. But the deals were negotiated before the recession and the spike in shale-gas production sank the export market, which is key to the profitability of the dams.

How would they vote today?

What happens if they toss their partnership agreements in the murky old-era waters of the Nelson River, either now or in a decade? Legally they can’t, but morally who could fault future generations for defying this form of partnership?

Hydro’s First Nations partners used to defend the new dams vehemently.

No one talks that way anymore. KCN leaders are contractually required to speak in favour of the dams, but the vigour is largely gone. And the behind-the-scenes grumbling is leaking out.

That’s not what Hydro and Selinger want to hear after paying northern First Nations $241 million for negotiation costs since 1999.

Selinger said last year Hydro’s “legacy of bitterness” in the north has been replaced by a spirit of partnership. Sadly, the new era of dams may exacerbate the bitterness rather than heal it.

Add that social risk to the massive financial risk of Keeyask, and Manitobans should ask whether Hydro has general societal approval to proceed with the dam.

By July, when Hydro wants to start building Keeyask, our utility is likely to have an Environment Act licence and a Water Power Act licence for the megaproject. But will it have a legitimate social licence?

 Will Braun works for the Interchurch Council on Hydropower.

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Filed under Canada permitting, Media, Need

Odd MISO filings at FERC


Today I received notice of some sort of odd filings at FERC by MISO… oh, not that type, THIS type, the Midcontinent Independent Service Operator, f/k/a Midwest Independent Transmission Service Operator, type:


Here is what they’ve filed:

2014-04-21 Docket No. ER14-1748-000_1 of 2

2014-04-21 Docket No. ER14-1749-000_2 of 2

First, these were both “initial” filings, with docket number blank, and it’s Part 1 of 2 and Part 2 of 2, so I think that the docket numbers may be combined, one or the other eliminated, soon.

What they’re doing is eliminating a trust provision in a Coordinated Agreement between MISO and Manitoba Hydro which contained a trust, and that part of the agreement is being eliminated because JP Morgan has pulled out of being the trustee and they can’t find another trustee.  ???

What’s that about?  I’m presuming there’s a backstory here.  Ideas, anyone?


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Filed under MISO, Need

Responses to initial Information Requests


Fresh from the Inbox, Minnesota Power has responded to RRANT’s initial Information Requests:
















Some will seem repetitive, but I’m just going around the same thing several ways…

The most interesting to me are the links in the response to IR 4 for MISO and other studies to justify or support building the GNTL project, THANK YOU Minnesota Power FOR SENDING WORKING LINKS:

System Impact Study (SIS) reports and meeting presentations

Draft SIS Report Prior Outage & Injection Analysis              7/9/2010

Draft SIS Report – TO Option                                                     4/26/2010

Additional Impact Analysis Draft Report                                 4/20/2010

Executive Summary (Final Report)                                           7/20/2009

Final SIS Report Summer Peak analysis                                   7/20/2009

Final SIS Report Winter Peak analysis                                      7/20/2009

Final SIS Report Stability analysis                                              7/20/2009

Updated Draft Stability SIS Report analysis                            6/29/2009

Updated Draft SIS Report- Winter Peak analysis                   6/29/2009

Updated Draft SIS Report- Summer Peak analysis               6/29/2009

Draft Stability analysis                                                                 4/30/2009

Draft SIS Report- Winter Peak analysis                                   3/20/2009

Draft SIS Report- Summer Peak analysis                                 3/11/2009

Draft SIS Report                                                                             1/13/2009

Preliminary Draft SIS Report                                                    12/16/2008

LT MH Study Screening results                                                  1/21/2009

MH_TSR_Group Study_Transmission Options                    1/21/2009

Facilities Study Reports and meeting presentations



MH-MP TSR meeting Feb 2013                                  3/6/2013

MH-MP TSR meeting Jan 2013_EPL                          1/8/2013

MH-MP AC Thermal Sensitivity Analysis – Draft Report – 01-03-2013      1/8/2013

Dorsey – Iron Range 500 kV Project Preliminary Stability Analysis – Draft Report – 12-5-2012    1/8/2013

MH Group Study Option 1 FS                                                      6/1/2010

MH Group Study CapX – TO presentation                              11/4/2009

CapX FS proposal presentation                                                  11/4/2009

Additional Analysis Scope document                                       11/4/2009

Final FS Report (GRE)                                                                1/19/2010


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Filed under Information Requests, Need, PUC Filings, Uncategorized

Scheduling Order for GNTL need docket

Remember, this upcoming week is the start of the Environmental Scoping meetings (not hearings):


Scoping Comments are due by 4:30 p.m. on March 14, 2014.  Send to

See you in Roseau at the Civic Center on Tuesday, but don’t expect green grass or baskets of flowers, but there will be a heat wave, with a high expected of +19 degrees:


As for the overall schedule, here it is, the 1st Prehearing Order was issued last week, and it’s pretty much the same as previously noted:

Scheduling Order_1 PHO_20141-95906-01

And here are the cut and paste charts:

And the OAH Hearing parts:

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Filed under Hearings, Meetings, Need