Category Archives: Presidential Permit

Oxymoronic Manitoba Hydro!!

CanadaDry

RECEIVED!!!  Damaged in transit, one can blew up, and I’d guess caused much consternation and intrigue at the Post Office.  Package ripped up, stuck half in a bag, or half in the bag put in the bag by someone on overtime.

OH MY…  A BRIBE!!!  A CapX 2020 La Crosse hat, and now this!!!  In a plain brown wrapper, but we know where this came from (ginger pale ale next time?!?!) (and about that little retirement tico in Costa Rico?!?).  To be clear, it’s not Manitoba Hydro because that would indeed be contrary to Canada Dry!

Here’s a toast to Minnesota Power, and their attorney ERK too, and to another year of being a royal Pain In The Patoot to them.  We’re not done with the Not-so-Great Northern Transmission Line, and we’re not done with the Menahga Transmission Project yet (though on Menahga, we’re making progress, EH?).

p.s. I don’t know where I put my coal supply, it’s gonna be late this year…

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Filed under Canada permitting, Presidential Permit, Routing Docket

Federal Court says NO to appeal of a Presidential Permit

AC-SL-Projects-Map

No, it’s the Enbridge Line 67 Expansion and not the Great Northern Transmission Line, but it’s relevant because the court says that because it’s a Presidential Permit, based on an Executive Order, it’s not an agency action, and it cannot be appealed.  Really:

Line 67 ruling Dec 2015

Here’s the full lineup from the Great Northern Transmission Line site (they’ve done a good job of thorough posting of documents under the “Resources” tab):

Presidential Permit 

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Filed under DOE (Dept of Energy), Presidential Permit

Concerns about hydro? Really, Fresh Energy?

conawapa

In today’s STrib, there’s a piece written by Ron Way about hydro power, with a familiar scenario presenting about how then Northern States Power did a deal with Sen. Gaylord Nelson to get its Allen S. King coal plant built, there’s a book there waiting to be written.  But what’s disturbing is the commentary from Fresh Energy’s Micheal Noble with “concerns” about hydro.  Concerns?  And what exactly have you done about those concerns?  I have no time for this “concern” first, because ME3, Fresh Energy’s prior identity, had an active hydro program, and that was disappeared, and second, that the Great Northern Transmission Project has been going on for more than three years and Fresh Energy was absent.

Yet this OpEd today had this to say:

Such projects are still being built, and the social disorder they cause has a connection to the Twin Cities, because here’s where the electricity is consumed. This is a very large concern of Michael Nobel at the nonprofit Fresh Energy in St. Paul.

Here’s why:

Manitoba Hydro of Winnipeg operates a giant system of hydropower dams and reservoirs on the Nelson River that flows north to Hudson Bay. A raging controversy concerns the Cree Nation, which is seeing its pastoral culture shredded and livelihoods shattered by sprawling reservoirs in that system.

Xcel Energy has a long-term power-supply contract with Manitoba Hydro. So in a very real sense, the electricity used here is contributing directly to Cree suffering.

What especially worries Nobel is that Manitoba Hydro plans to aggressively expand its network of dams and reservoirs, further devastating the Cree. Some suspect that Xcel will seek much of the future supply from Manitoba as its aging baseload plants in Minnesota are retired within the next 20 years.

Assessing whether hydropower can be classed with solar and wind as “clean and green renewable energy” is, Nobel said, complicated at best.

Overland’s comment about that “concern” about hydro:

This is nothing new.  Of course Xcel will get more power from Manitoba Hydro now.  So will Minnesota Power.  IF anyone is so concerned about the new dam going up in Manitoba, why is it that that NO ONE intervened in MP’s hydro transmission case, where Minnesota Power and Manitoba Hydro are building the largest capacity transmission project (500 kV triple bundled) in Minnesota in decades (it matches the Forbes-Chisago line).  The Certificate of Need is long done (PUC Docket 12-1163).  That routing docket (14-21) is also now complete, waiting only for the judge’s recommendation and Public Utilities Commission decision.  Not one funded group intervened, Fresh Energy was no where to be seen.  Without transmission, that hydro power wouldn’t be coming into Minnesota.  No that they’ll have that transmission line built, it’s going to be marketed and imported, nothing will stop it.  Fresh Energy’s hydro program disappeared about the same time ME3 did.  This concern about Xcel’s increased use of hydro is more than three years too late — the largest transmission line in Minnesota is about to be routed.  “Concern” doesn’t cut it.  You have to show up.

What are some Fresh Energy’s concerns that play out in its spending?

$460k for being the RE-AMP Media Center

$67k for being the RE-AMP Host

$159,915 to Michael Noble (salary & benefits)

RE-AMP was a major promoter of coal gasification back in 2005 when Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project was getting going (as a result of the 2003 Prairie Island nuclear deal).  Then RE-AMP became a major promoter of transmission.  Good choices, folks…

And $159k is just too much to be paid in a “non-profit” because to sustain that level of pay, well, it takes a lot of hustling.  We see what advocacy activities are taken on, and what advocacy activities are avoided.  The “mission” of Fresh Energy is to “Shape and drive realistic, visionary policies that benefit all,” but I’ve seen advocacy of policies that presume the public interest but in fact work against it — coal gasification and transmission are two that come to mind.

Oh, and now Jeff Broberg is on the board!!!  Remember his antics for Oronoco Twp. on the CapX 2020 Hampton – La Crosse transmission line?  There’s Oronoco Twp’s Exhibit 89 and Oronoco Township – Testimony of Broberg and Exhibits – see Exhibit 7!  And Oronoco squeals about “new testimony?!?”  Someone of his claimed experience should know better…  His spot on the Board of Fresh Energy makes me wonder what they’ll do next!

And hydro?  Fresh Energy used to have a hydro program specifically about the dams about Manitoba.  What happened to it?  Here’s the ME3 Hydro page back when they had a real website.

From Ron Way in today’s STrib, the full piece:

Is hydropower green? Not really

‘Nothing alters a river as totally as a dam.’ 

Harnessing energy from flowing water has helped advance societies since the days of the Roman Empire. “Hydropower” launched the Industrial Revolution, shaped modern Europe and fueled an emerging America.

Hydropower’s attractions surged in the mid-19th century, when dams were first fitted with turbines to produce electricity, setting off a building frenzy that filled American rivers and streams with thousands of dams.

Water energy at St. Anthony Falls made early Minneapolis a thriving center for mills to saw timber floated in from northern forests, and later to grind wheat into flour, making the city’s milling district world-famous.

It all makes sense. Hydropower’s fuel — water, moved by gravity — just keeps rolling along. No need for an expensive mine or long coal hauls. Amid present-day worries over climate change, emission-free hydroelectricity is seen by some as “clean, green and renewable” — unlike gas-fired and especially coal-fired plants that spew greenhouse gases by the millions of tons.

But is hydropower, in the larger sense, “green”?

Far from it, as more and more are coming to realize.

Hydropower relies on dams that impound water and create vertical pressure to spin turbines. Dams and reservoirs have profound environmental effects that are coming under intense scrutiny, with one prominent national group, American Rivers, pushing hard — and successfully — for dam removal.

“Nothing alters a river as totally as a dam,” writes author and river advocate Patrick McCully.

Minnesota native Denny Caneff at the Wisconsin River Alliance in Madison adds that the relatively small amount of power generated from hydro is “disproportionate [to] the environmental harm that it causes.”

A dam, in essence, is a curtain of concrete that severs a river. The reservoir it creates is wholly unlike the river it replaces, and the change is certainly not for the better.

University of Minnesota biosystems researcher Chris Lenhert’s recent report for the McKnight Foundation on effects of the Ford Dam reads like a rap sheet on how the dam’s reservoir has radically altered the Mississippi Gorge through Minneapolis.

“The dam submerged one of the Mississippi’s largest high-gradient, boulder-and-cobble streambeds and almost entirely blocked upstream movement of fish and mussels,” Lenhert said, adding that many mid-channel islands in the Gorge were destroyed — and, with them, prime eagle habitat.

The idea was to promote barge navigation, a plan that went bust. Some now say the dam, which annually costs taxpayers more than $1 million to maintain, should go. The only remaining commerce at the Ford Dam is a privately owned hydro plant that produces a piddling amount of electricity (less than a tenth of a percent of all power generated in the state).

Caneff said the downside effects listed in Lenhert’s report apply to most every dam.

Here’s how:

As they impound water, dam reservoirs slow a river’s flow. Its sediment load is dropped, creating a silted bottom that chokes out aquatic vegetation. Reservoirs trap toxics like PCBs and heavy metals along with nutrients that grow algae in water that’s warmer than the river it covered up.

Dams are mostly built at river constrictions where gradients and rocky bottoms create riffles and rapids that oxygenate and clean the water. Gravel in pooled eddies is ideal fish spawning habitat.

Impermeable dams block fish movement, so species in the pool are far fewer than in the larger river. Mussels and clams, whose filtering is a vital for water quality, disappear, as they have in the Mississippi Gorge.

All of these effects are present at nearby River Falls, Wis., where critics have stalled the city’s application to relicense its two power dams on the Kinnickinnic River.

Friends of the Kinni and a local chapter of Trout Unlimited cite another casualty of the dams: The falls that is River Falls’ namesake has been submerged under the languid reservoir. That’s similar to Ford Dam’s reservoir, which covered a 5-mile stretch of world-class rapids through the Mississippi Gorge. Removing the dams would restore free-flowing rivers and natural features.

It’s the same at Taylors Falls, Minn., and neighboring St. Croix Falls, Wis. Both were named for a falls that’s under the reservoir of Xcel Energy’s hydroelectric dam, which flooded one of the most scenic and environmentally valuable places on the entire St. Croix.

It was the St. Croix, by the way, that was central in a curious tale of intrigue about replacing hydropower with coal. You see, it’s usually the other way around.

In the 1950s, Xcel’s predecessor, Northern States Power Co. (NSP), was pivoting from hydro to coal and nuclear baseload generators. NSP had gone through a bruising battle over its St. Croix Falls hydro plant and wanted to avoid a similar public maelstrom over another hydro project planned for farther up the river. This one would flood a huge area all the way to Danbury, Wis.

NSP was eyeing a large coal-fired plant at Stillwater, but an upstart politician, Gaylord Nelson of nearby Clear Lake, Wis., wouldn’t hear of it. Nelson, who later served two terms as Wisconsin’s governor and three terms as a U.S. senator, was also eyeing the St. Croix. But his vision was some kind of set-aside protection. He didn’t want a tall, carbon-spewing stack piercing the St. Croix’s skyline.

NSP dispatched emissaries to a remote cabin near Mellen, Wis., with a deal: Nelson would drop his objection to the coal plant, and NSP would donate 30,000 acres it owned for the planned second reservoir on the St. Croix.

Nelson “cut a deal with the devil and accepted,” said one who attended the meeting. The Allen S. King Plant today still sends smoke up its very tall stack at Stillwater, and a legacy achievement of the late Sen. Nelson is a St. Croix that’s a federally protected Wild and Scenic River.

Another downside to hydropower is the social disruption of the reservoirs.

Near Hayward, Wis., the 15,300-acre Chippewa Flowage, renowned for trophy muskies, was built in 1925 to stabilize flow on the Chippewa River for downstream hydropower plants. The project proceeded over strong but futile objections of the Lac Courte Oreilles band of Chippewa, whose lands were flooded.

Construction in 1933 of the massive dams and reservoirs of the Tennessee Valley Authority meant relocating 15,000 families and destruction of whole towns.

North Dakota’s Garrison Dam displaced Mandan and other bands on the Fort Berthold Reservation and South Dakota’s Oahe took thousands of prime farmland acres from the Cheyenne. All the tribes strongly opposed the projects and refused to sell land, but it didn’t matter because the builders had eminent domain on their side.

Same for the colossal Columbia River hydro projects — some 125 hydro plants in all — in the Pacific Northwest that displaced scores of American Indian tribes in four states. Worse, operating the system profoundly altered a salmon-based Indian culture whose history spans 3,500 years.

Such projects are still being built, and the social disorder they cause has a connection to the Twin Cities, because here’s where the electricity is consumed. This is a very large concern of Michael Nobel at the nonprofit Fresh Energy in St. Paul.

Here’s why:

Manitoba Hydro of Winnipeg operates a giant system of hydropower dams and reservoirs on the Nelson River that flows north to Hudson Bay. A raging controversy concerns the Cree Nation, which is seeing its pastoral culture shredded and livelihoods shattered by sprawling reservoirs in that system.

Xcel Energy has a long-term power-supply contract with Manitoba Hydro. So in a very real sense, the electricity used here is contributing directly to Cree suffering.

What especially worries Nobel is that Manitoba Hydro plans to aggressively expand its network of dams and reservoirs, further devastating the Cree. Some suspect that Xcel will seek much of the future supply from Manitoba as its aging baseload plants in Minnesota are retired within the next 20 years.

Assessing whether hydropower can be classed with solar and wind as “clean and green renewable energy” is, Nobel said, complicated at best.

 

Ron Way is a former official with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the U.S. Department of the Interior. He lives in Edina.

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Filed under Canada permitting, Certificate of Need, Condemnation, Media, Presidential Permit, Routing Docket

Coming up W & Th — DOE holds public hearings

Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement are due Monday, August 10, 2015.  

This week the DOE’s Public Hearings (and Commerce “Meetings”) begin on the DEIS for the Presidential Permit and route for the Great Northern Transmission Project.

Here’s the schedule:

DEIS Public Hearings

And here’s the DEIS that we’re supposed to read up on and comment about — from the DOE’s site:

Comments are due Monday, August 10, 2015.  

Send comments to Comments on the Draft EIS to Julie Smith at the address or email above or by fax to (202) 586–8008, or to William Storm at the address or email below.  Be sure to write the PUC docket number TL-14-21 and the DOE number EIS-0499 on all comments.

Julie Ann Smith, PhD, Electricity Policy Analyst
DOE NEPA Document Manager
National Electricity Delivery Division (OE-20)
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20585

JulieA.Smith@hq.doe.gov

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

William Cole Storm, Environmental Review Manager
Energy Environmental Review and Analysis
85 7th Place East, Suite 500
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101

bill.storm@state.mn.us

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Filed under DOE (Dept of Energy), Environmental Review, Presidential Permit, Routing Docket

GNTL Draft Environmental Impact Statement released!!!

DSC01053

Lukewarm off the press from Minnesota Power’s David Moeller (apologies for taking a couple days to get this posted, connection has been a problem lately):

FYI, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Minnesota Power’s Great Northern Transmission Line was issued today by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Energy.  The full 700 page document plus appendices and maps can be found on the DOC’s website at: http://mn.gov/commerce/energyfacilities//resource.html?Id=34161

The most interesting thing in this is that the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability handling this GNTL Presidential Permit is the same DOE office handling the Plains & Eastern Clean Line Section 1222 (Third-Party Financing) review, different staff, but same office.  Small world…

So check out this DEIS and get your comments ready — the comment period is open through Monday, August 10, 2015. . Send comments to Comments on the Draft EIS to Julie Smith at the address or email above or by fax to (202) 586–8008, or to William Storm at the address or email below.  Be sure to write the PUC docket number TL-14-21 and the DOE number EIS-0499 on all comments.

U.S. Department of Energy
Julie Ann Smith, PhD, Electricity Policy Analyst
DOE NEPA Document Manager
202-586-7668
JulieA.Smith@hq.doe.gov
National Electricity Delivery Division (OE-20)
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20585

William Cole Storm, Environmental Review Manager
Energy Environmental Review and Analysis
85 7th Place East, Suite 500
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101
(651) 539-1844
bill.storm@state.mn.us

Comments may also be made verbally or in writing at a public hearing — but wait, notice that in the notice they’re calling them public MEETINGS and not public HEARINGS:

Notice of Availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Public DEIS Meetings for the Great Northern Transmission LineViewing/downloading notes

This public “meeting” v. public “hearing” is a problem, so let’s see what they have to say about it:

Letter to_DOE-Commerce_June 23, 2015

The public “meeting” schedule:

DEIS Public Hearings

Here are the sections from the DOE’s site:

Here are the different sections from their DEIS page from the Minnesota Dept. of Commerce site (note so many more?!?!):

Volume 1 Cover Sheet, Table of Contents, and Summary

Volume 1 Chapter 1 Regulatory Framework

Volume 1 Chapter 2 Proposed Project

Volume 1 Chapter 3 No Action Alternative

Volume 1 Chapter 4 Route and Alignment Alternatives Part 1

Volume 1 Chapter 4 Route and Alignment Alternatives Part 2

Volume 1 Chapter 4 Route and Alignment Alternatives Part 3

Volume 1 Chapter 5 Affected Environment and Potential Impacts Part 1

Volume 1 Chapter 5 Affected Environment and Potential Impacts Part 2

Volume 1 Chapter 5 Affected Environment and Potential Impacts Part 3

Volume 1 Chapter 5 Affected Environment and Potential Impacts Part 4

Volume 1 Chapter 6 Comparative Environmental Consequences Part 1

Volume 1 Chapter 6 Comparative Environmental Consequences Part 2

Volume 1 Chapter 6 Comparative Environmental Consequences Part 3

Volume 1 Chapter 6 Comparative Environmental Consequences Part 4

Volume 1 Chapter 6 Comparative Environmental Consequences Part 5

Volume 1 Chapter 6 Comparative Environmental Consequences Part 6

Volume 1 Chapter 6 Comparative Environmental Consequences Part 7

Volume 1 Chapter 6 Comparative Environmental Consequences Part 8

Volume 1 Chapter 6 Comparative Environmental Consequences Part 9

Volume 1 Chapter 7 Cumulative and Other Impacts

Volume 1 Chapter 8 List of Preparers

Volume 1 Chapter 9 References

Volume 1 Chapter 10 Acronyms

Volume 1 Chapter 11 Index

Volume 2 Appendix A Tribal Consultation

Volume 2 Appendix B Route Permit Template and Example

Volume 2 Appendix C Narrative of Scoping Summary Report

Volume 2 Appendix D DOC Scoping Decision

Volume 2 Appendix E Route Analysis Data Tables

Volume 2 Appendix F Rare Species Data Tables

Volume 2 Appendix G Rare Communities Data Table

Volume 2 Appendix H Noise Supplement

Volume 2 Appendix I Applicant’s Audible Noise and EMF Calculations

Volume 2 Appendix J Property Values Supplement

Volume 2 Appendix K EMF Supplement

Volume 2 Appendix L Stray Voltage Supplement Part 1

Volume 2 Appendix L Stray Voltage Supplement Part 2

Volume 2 Appendix L Stray Voltage Supplement Part 3

Volume 2 Appendix L Stray Voltage Supplement Part 4

Volume 2 Appendix M MPCA What’s in My Neighborhood Sites

Volume 2 Appendix N Photo Simulations Part 1

Volume 2 Appendix N Photo Simulations Part 2

Volume 2 Appendix N Photo Simulations Part 3

Volume 2 Appendix N Photo Simulations Part 4

Volume 2 Appendix N Photo Simulations Part 5

Volume 2 Appendix N Photo Simulations Part 6

Volume 2 Appendix N Photo Simulations Part 7

Volume 2 Appendix N Photo Simulations Part 8

Volume 2 Appendix N Photo Simulations Part 9

Volume 2 Appendix N Photo Simulations Part 10

Volume 2 Appendix O Agricultural Impact Mitigation Plan Example

Volume 2 Appendix P Section 106

Volume 2 Appendix Q USFWS and DOE Section 7 Consultation

Volume 2 Appendix R Biological Assessment

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 1 West Section

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 2 West Section

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 3 West Section

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 4 Central Section

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 5 Central Section

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 6 Central Section

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 7 Central Section

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 8 Central Section

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 9 Central Section

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 10 Central Section

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 11 Central Section

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 12 East Section

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 13 East Section

Volume 2 Appendix S Detailed Map Book Part 14 East Section

Volume 2 Appendix T NEPA Disclosure Statement

 

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Filed under 7850, DOE (Dept of Energy), Presidential Permit, Routing Docket

Toots about Minnesota Power on process

Scarlet Tanager

A little birdie let me know that … IT’S SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE!!!!

That’s SNL Financial, LLC

OH… nevermind…

nevermind

So, from SNL Financial, LLC:

Transmission line developer, DOE pilot more open siting strategy

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 1:45 PM ET

By Esther Whieldon

The Department of Energy and the developer of the 500-kV Great Northern Transmission Line from Minnesota to Canada are piloting a potential new federal process for siting grid projects that they believe is key to preventing the kinds of delays that have plagued some other projects. Their plan: work out most of the kinks through stakeholder meetings and joint agency discussions before the developer files an application.

A pre-application process is not a new concept. Hydropower project and natural gas pipeline developers go through a pre-application process at FERC, for example. However, there is no formal pre-application process at the federal level for high-voltage transmission projects.

Large, multistate transmission lines, particularly those that require approvals from more than one federal agency, often take between five and 10 years to complete. Construction can take as little as two years, but getting all the necessary permits and approvals from the federal government, state regulators and local permitting authorities can take five years or more. President Barack Obama and the DOE have tried to accelerate these timelines but with minimal success.

The DOE in 2013 sought public input on whether a voluntary transmission project pre-application process would be useful. Electricity trade groups and some others gave the idea a thumbs down, arguing the process would be fraught with timing and redundancy issues that would deter developers from using it.

One developer, however, ALLETE Inc. subsidiary Minnesota Power Inc., has adopted the general concept of a pre-application process for its Great Northern Transmission line and officials from the utility and the DOE are now touting the effort as a success, thus far.

About two years before Minnesota Power filed applications for the project, the utility reached out to the department and other agencies and started holding public stakeholder meetings to narrow down the scope of its proposal and avoid areas that are likely to draw local opposition. The utility started with a study area covering about a quarter of Minnesota and, through consultation with stakeholders in more than 70 public meetings, narrowed the project route down to about 220 miles, said Minnesota Power senior attorney David Moeller. Also, the DOE in late 2012 arranged a multi-agency meeting with Minnesota Power on the project. It is “really kind of unheard of to have that type of engagement before we even filed a permit application,” Moeller said in an interview.

Early stakeholder engagement has become even more valuable following the advent of social media, which project opponents have wielded to coordinate their efforts. “People have a lot of different platforms to communicate their support or opposition,” said Amy Rutledge, spokeswoman for ALLETE.

“Traditionally you can draw a line and say that looks like a good area but, until you talk to people and agencies, you don’t know what’s happening on the ground and what the best opportunities and constraints are for developing large transmission projects,” Moeller said.

To avoid duplication, the DOE and the Minnesota Department of Commerce also agreed to prepare a joint environmental impact statement on the project, according to the energy department’s website for the project. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission uses the commerce department’s analysis in reviewing the project.

Projects of a size similar to the Great Northern line typically take about three to four years to get through the federal process, Moeller said. And while the total time Minnesota Power will have dedicated to the project is expected to fall within that range, the application process itself should take only about a year and a half, Moeller said.

The Minnesota PUC on May 14 approved a certificate of need for the Great Northern Project, which is expected to cost up to $710 million in 2013 dollars, according to a Minnesota Power press release. Hearings on Minnesota Power’s pending route permit application at the PUC are scheduled for July and August. Also pending is the DOE’s decision on a presidential permit for the project, which is required for projects that cross into another country.

The DOE and the White House have at least twice in the last year pointed to the Great Northern Project as the poster child for improving the transmission siting process. In its quadrennial energy review in April, the department noted it is piloting its idea for a pre-application process through the proposed Great Northern Transmission Line.

Among other things, the DOE initiated monthly meetings with other federal agencies, the project developer and other non-federal entities to “ensure early coordination,” the White House said in a May 2014 infrastructure siting fact sheet. For its part, Minnesota Power held more than 70 public meetings, according to Rutledge and Moeller.

“Through these early coordination meetings, the company was able to narrow down potential corridors to two routes in their application which address agency concerns and will facilitate a more efficient review process,” the White House said.

The DOE declined to comment.

About the Great Northern Transmission Line

The Great Northern Transmission Line is planned to span from the U.S.-Canada border to Minnesota Power’s Blackberry Substation near Grand Rapids, Minn. North of the U.S. border, provincial government-owned utility Manitoba Hydro plans to build its portion, called the Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project, from a major converter station near Winnipeg to the border.

Initially, Minnesota Power and Manitoba Hydro will split ownership of the U.S. portion of the line, with Minnesota Power owning 51%. Manitoba Hydro will have sole ownership of the Canadian portion of the line. In addition to Minnesota Power buying hydropower from Manitoba Hydro, the two utilities have reached a deal under which Minnesota Power can use Manitoba Hydro’s system to store some excess wind energy.

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Filed under DOE (Dept of Energy), Presidential Permit

Invitation to Consult on GNTL

DOE_Logo

Interesting letter arrived today:

GNTL_Invitation to Consult

It says that “DOE is contacting you because you submitted comment(s) related to cultural resources during the open NEPA public scoping period for the proposed GNTL project.”

RRANT Scoping Comment

???

So what does that mean? What’s involved?  Sending info to them?  Sending more Comments?  Attending meetings? A free trip to D.C?  A self-funded trip to International Falls in February?

“Consultation” is a term of art in federal permitting, and is required with all Indian tribes, of which there are several in the area of the project.  In this case, they also specify “the State Historic Preservation Officer” and “the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation,” and also “certain individuals and organizations…”

Here’s the  National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA)

Working with Section 106

Energy Development, Transmission and Historic Preservation

Are “historical resources” all that they’re concerned about, is there a special category for “cultural resources?”  Or are different people invited to consult on different categories?

And if this is something I want to do, and it is, I have to “include information about your demonstrated legal or economic relation to the undertaking” … (odd word, that)… ” or to properties potentially affected by the proposed GNTL project…”

UntitledGuess I’d better figure out what I said in those comments first!

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Filed under DOE (Dept of Energy), Presidential Permit

Useful information? Please donate!

Cash-Register

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

Wednesday & Thursday – DOE Scoping Hearings

Yes, it never ends.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday, we’re having scoping hearings before the U.S. DOE (and also Commerce).  Yes, we’ve been through it before, but this is a MUCH more intense review of environmental impacts, and most importantly, ALTERNATIVES!  Please come to the meetings and let them know what SPECIFICALLY should be covered in the environmental review.

These meetings are in an open house format, and after that, a formal comment period where your comments will be taken down by a court reporter.  It’s important to give your comments to the court reporter because otherwise it won’t be part of the record and won’t be taken into consideration.  You can also send comments in to the DOE:

Comments are due by August 11, 2014.  Send comments to:

Julie Ann Smith                                                                  
Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE-20)
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue SW.
Washington, DC 20585
 
Via email: Juliea.Smith@hq.doe.gov

COME ON OUT TO THE MEETINGS!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014:

Kelliher, MN: Kelliher Public School, 345 4th Street NW., Kelliher, MN, 56650; Wednesday, July 23, 2014, at 11:00 a.m.

Bigfork, MN: Bigfork School, 100 Huskie Boulevard, Bigfork, MN, 56628; Wednesday, July 23, 2014, at 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, July 24, 2014:

Grand Rapids, MN: Sawmill Inn, 2301 South Hwy 169, Grand Rapids, MN, 55744; Thursday, July 24, 2014, at 11:00 a.m.

Grand Rapids, MN: Sawmill Inn, 2301 South Hwy 169, Grand Rapids, MN, 55744; Thursday, July 24, 2014, at 6:00 p.m.

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Filed under Environmental Review, Hearings, Meetings, Open Houses, Presidential Permit

July 23 & 24 — DOE & MN Dept. of Commerce Scoping

Scoping meetings — again — but this time it’s the DOE!  And Minnesota Dept. of Commerce for the Routing Permit.  You may ask why so many scoping meetings, it does get confusing.  The Dept. of Energy has been asked to issue a Presidential Permit for the border crossing for this project between Manitoba and Minnesota.  So in addition to the TWO proceedings before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, there’s another federal docket for this Presidential Permit (scroll down to bottom of this post for that application).  The Environmental Impact Statement for the state Routing Permit and the federal Routing Permit will be done by Commerce, and it will be more intense than their “Environmental Report” for the state Certificate of Need.

scope

So here we go again, it’s time to show up/write comments for this much more thorough Environmental Impact Statement.

Comments are due by August 11, 2014.  Send comments to:

Julie Ann Smith                                                                  
Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE-20)
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue SW.
Washington, DC 20585
Via email: Juliea.Smith@hq.doe.gov

Wednesday, July 23, 2014:

Kelliher, MN: Kelliher Public School, 345 4th Street NW., Kelliher, MN, 56650; Wednesday, July 23, 2014, at 11:00 a.m.

Bigfork, MN: Bigfork School, 100 Huskie Boulevard, Bigfork, MN, 56628; Wednesday, July 23, 2014, at 6:00 p.m.

Thursday, July 24, 2014:

Grand Rapids, MN: Sawmill Inn, 2301 South Hwy 169, Grand Rapids, MN, 55744; Thursday, July 24, 2014, at 11:00 a.m.

Grand Rapids, MN: Sawmill Inn, 2301 South Hwy 169, Grand Rapids, MN, 55744; Thursday, July 24, 2014, at 6:00 p.m.

Here’s the Federal Register Notice:

Federal Register — Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and conduct Public Scoping Meetings, and Notice of Floodplains and Wetlands Involvement; Great Northern Transmission Line

What’s going to happen when?  So far we only have a Scheduling Order for the Certificate of Need Docket:

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Filed under Environmental Review, Presidential Permit, Routing Docket