Category Archives: Meetings

Watch the GNTL Commission deliberation NOW!

BogLine

The Great Northern Transmission Routing Permit is now up at the Public Utilities Commission.

LISTEN HERE, NOW!

Just click on the link, and you’re there!  Live!

PUC STAFF BRIEFING PAPERS – AMENDED

New Commissioner Matt Schuerger does understand transmission, and has exposed their nonsense of this being a “reliability risk” issue.  Will they care?

Libschultz: It’s a continuum, not a precipice?

And MP is hiding their theory under “Trade Secret” evidence that was withdrawn from the record.

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Filed under Meetings, MISO, Routing Docket

ALJ Order filed, no RRANT intervention

Homer_Rant

ALJ O’Reilly has issued her Order, and each of RRANT’s Motions were denied.  Here’s the Order:

Order-20159-113734-01

It seems that it’s not a problem if landowners potentially affected don’t get notice, landowners who could have transmission over their land.  A point raised was that none of these landowners have tried to intervene… well… do they even know???

… sigh…

Well, the RRANT public comment is in, and we’ll see what happens.

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Filed under 7850, Condemnation, Easements, Hearings, Meetings, PUC Filings, Routing Docket

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

Open houses beginning in Canada for GNTL

As reported in the Winnipeg Free Press, a series of open houses has begun this week, TODAY, and continue through the first week of May in Canada regarding the Canadian part of the “Great Northern Transmission Line.”

Hydro hosts open houses on U.S. transmission line

04/9/2014

Manitoba Hydro wants public feedback as it puts the final touches on its proposed transmission line to the United States.

The line is to run from Rosser (https://www.hydro.mb.ca/projects/mb_mn_transmission/description.shtml) north-west of Winnipeg south to the Minnesota border where it will hook up with a second line to Duluth.

Under a proposal now being studied by the Public Utilities Board, Manitoba Hydro will own 49 per cent of the U.S. side of the 500 KV transmission line, with Minnesota Power owning the rest.

The PUB has heard that Hydro’s stake in the line was needed so that it would be upgraded, at Hydro’s request, from the originally-proposed 230 kilovolts to 500. The larger line (http://www.greatnortherntransmissionline.com/) would allow Hydro to ship more power into the Wisconsin market and import more power to Manitoba from U.S. utilities when needed.

Hydro says it also wants input from First Nations, the Manitoba Metis Federation, local municipalities, government departments, local landowners and the public during the final route selection and environmental assessment process.

Open houses will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Ste. Anne — Tuesday, April 15, Seine River Banquet Centre, 80A Arena Road.
Richer — Wednesday, April 16, Richer Young at Heart Community Club, Dawson Road at Highway 302.
Vita — Tuesday, April 22, Vita Community Hall, 209 Main Street North.
Piney — Wednesday, April 23, Piney Community Centre, Highway No. 89 (Main Street).
La Broquerie — Thursday, April 24, La Broquerie Arena, 35 Normandeau Bay.
Marchand — Wednesday, April 30, Marchand Community Club, Dobson Avenue.
Dugald — Tuesday, April 29, Dugald Community Club, 554 Holland Street.
Lorette –Tuesday, May 6, Lorette Community Complex ,1420 Dawson Road.
Headingley — Wednesday, May 7, Headingley Community Centre, 5353 Portage Avenue.
Winnipeg –Thursday, May 8, Holiday Inn Winnipeg South, 1330 Pembina Highway.

Hydro has also posted an online survey (http://sm.upaknee.com/surveys/101378/manitoba-minnesota-transmission-project-round-2/) on its website for the project.

 

 

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Filed under Canada permitting, Hearings, Meetings

Scoping Meetings Tonight & Tomorrow

InternationalFalls

This week is the last round of environmental review scoping meetings for the Great Northern Transmission Line.

And here’s the view last week the morning before the scoping meeting in International Falls after 5-6 inches of snow.  It wasn’t horrible, but coming back was a bit rough, roads were greasy and on Hwy. 53 where it’s 2 lane, I was stuck behind someone who kept hitting the binders in the middle of a curve, over and over and over, I had to back way way off so I wouldn’t have to hit the brakes too.  GRRRRRRR.  Anyway, I’d planed to go to the Grand Rapids meeting tomorrow, but we’ve got a “blizzard warning” here in Red Wing, and Duluth area looks pretty bad, and Hwy. 73 would be pretty grim between I-35 and Hwy. 2, so I think I’m opting out.  Not sure, but probably.  Double GRRRRRR!

The Scoping Meetings are:

Tonight beginning at 6 p.m.
The Sanford Center
1111 Event Center Drive NE
Bemidji, MN
 
Tomorrow beginning at 6 p.m.
Sawmill Inn
2301 S Highway 169
Grand Rapids, MN

If I don’t go, I’ll be spending the day with the Great Northern Transmission Line application (linked here), and writing a few Letters to the Editor.

The categories expected to be covered are broad, and “scoping” is letting them know what you think should be specifically included regarding these categories, or what specifically should be covered in broad categories that they forgot to list!  The more specific your comments, the better.

Comments due by 4:30 p.m. March 14, 2014

Send to:

bill.storm@state.mn.us

Here are those broad categories for the environmental report — what about these needs to be considered:

1.0 INTRODUCTION
1.1 Purpose and Need
1.2 Regulatory requirements

2.0 PROJECT DESCRIPTION
2.1 General
2.2 Design
2.3 Right-of-Way Requirements and Acquisition
2.4 Construction
2.5 Operation and Maintenance
2.6 Permits

3.0 ALTERNATIVES TO THE PROPOSED HVTL
3.1 No-build Alternative
3.2 Demand Side Management
3.3 Purchase Power
3.3.1 Long term Purchase Power
3.3.2 Short term Purchase Power
3.5 Up-grading Existing Facilities
3.6 Facilities of a Different Size
3.7 New Generation

4.0 ENVIRONMENTAL AFFECTS
4.1 Air Quality
4.2 Biological Resources
4.3 Culture Resources
4.4 Geology and Soils
4.5 Health and Safety
4.6 Land Use
4.7 Noise
4.8 Socioeconomics
4.9 Transportation
4.10 Visual Impacts and Aesthetics
4.11 Water Resources (surface, groundwater, wetlands)
4.12 Waste Management and Disposal

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Filed under Information Requests, Meetings

Tonight, Wednesday night, in Baudette

Live from Baudette — we’ve got internet access in the building!  Can you tell I’m trying to get today’s work done as we go?

We’re in the Ambulance Garage to talk about the “scope” of the Environmental Review, this isn’t posted on the PUC docket yet:

DRAFT ER Scoping document

Comments due by 4:30 p.m. March 14, 2014

Send to:

bill.storm@state.mn.us

DSC01911

Tracey Smetana, the Public Advisor, is presenting now:

DSC01907

Tonight we don’t have as many people as last night, but it’s a good crowd and we’re moving along through the presentation.

Now for Minnesota Power:

DSC01912

The PPA they now have is 250 MW and they’re looking at another for 133 MW.   250 + 133 = 383!  MP claims there’s an increase in demand.  They serve the Iron Range and are seeing substantial load growth and are projecting that into the future.

Now it’s Bill Storm, Dept. of Commerce:

DSC01913

One thing they’re doing a good job of is explaining the difference between Certificate of Need and Routing, and that this is all about “need.”  Each one of them raises this, and it seems people are getting the difference, but I think discounting this proceeding when/because they’re really concerned with the routing.  So if you look on p. 6 of the DRAFT ER Scoping document, now’s the time to, as Bill Storm says, to “fill in the details.”  Here’s the Draft Scope:

The environmental report will address/discuss the following matters:

1.0 INTRODUCTION
1.1 Purpose and Need
1.2 Regulatory requirements

2.0 PROJECT DESCRIPTION
2.1 General
2.2 Design
2.3 Right-of-Way Requirements and Acquisition
2.4 Construction
2.5 Operation and Maintenance
2.6 Permits

3.0 ALTERNATIVES TO THE PROPOSED HVTL
3.1 No-build Alternative
3.2 Demand Side Management
3.3 Purchase Power
3.3.1 Long term Purchase Power
3.3.2 Short term Purchase Power
3.5 Up-grading Existing Facilities
3.6 Facilities of a Different Size
3.7 New Generation

4.0 ENVIRONMENTAL AFFECTS
4.1 Air Quality
4.2 Biological Resources
4.3 Culture Resources
4.4 Geology and Soils
4.5 Health and Safety
4.6 Land Use
4.7 Noise
4.8 Socioeconomics
4.9 Transportation
4.10 Visual Impacts and Aesthetics
4.11 Water Resources (surface, groundwater, wetlands)
4.12 Waste Management and Disposal

For example, “3.5 Up-grading Existing Facilities” is one to think about, there are lines from Manitoba Hydro down to Minnesota Power territory, so why couldn’t they build those larger?  Reconductor, or raise the existing line voltage to 765 kV and that would increase the capacity.

Now David Leonhardt, and he’s the Chair of the Friends of the Big Bog State Recreation Area, which has the longest Bogwalk in the world!!  Concerned about impact of the line on the unspoiled view at the terminus of the bogwalk. He also suggests to follow the existing line that is there, but that’s in a SNAP area where they’re not allowed to put a line alongside the existing one.

John Paulsen – why can’t we follow one of the existing lines?  Bill Storm said that it’s a routing question, MP says that the routing through SNAP areas takes it off the table.  We’re following the existing as much as possible, and what we’re proposing is a much larger scale.

Charles Bruer – can you define Scientific and Natural Areas?  MP & B.S.: They’re designated tracts of lands due to characteristics, not altered by human activity.

Wendy Rogers – question about electro-magnetic force, how far does that go out from the line?  B.S.: This is one of the things I always must address in an Environmental Report.  What can we expect EMF for a 500 kV line and what do we know about it.  B.S.:  I get the normal levels from the Applicant, and then push it to failure, and report both.

Steve Weymore – wondering why the terminus east of Grand Rapids is need if it is needed for mining, I don’t see that as the terminus.  MP: Mining and expansion of load is the reason, and the number of lines going into Blackberry.

B.S.: Remember, this is need, and we’ll be getting into this again in the Routing, I expect it will probably be in May, and we’ll do a more detailed environmental review at that time.

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Filed under Certificate of Need, Environmental Review, Meetings, Open Houses

Last night, Roseau, tonight Baudette!

If you have questions, or would like to receive alerts and notices, please contact me through the “About” page linked above!  (Don’t use “Comments” below because I’m being spammed to death and they all go into the trash!)

PublicMeetingSched

Here’s the PUC’s Presentation that they’re giving at the meetings.

Comments are due by 4:30 p.m. March 14, 2014

Send to:

bill.storm@state.mn.us

Here’s Minnesota Power’s Great Northern Transmission Line announcement of the meetings with their explanation of what this is about.

DSC01896

It was a standing room only crowd.  Maybe two chairs open, but a few of us were standing up, so… 60+, though not many speakers.  The most important part of the message: THIS IS ABOUT NEED.  This is where it’s determined whether the project is needed or not, and this is where you can have the most influence, but on those issues.  This is where you can raise enough questions about need that the Public Utilities Commission just might agree that this project is not needed, and if so, it won’t be built on ANYONE’S land.  No one wants transmission, unless they’re looking to “Buy the Farm” under Minn. Stat. 216B.12, Subd. 4, and sell their property to the utility and get out, but let’s get real, no one wants to be forced to leave their home.  So now is the time to challenge them, in the Certificate of Need docket, before it gets to “get it off my land” or worse, “stick it THERE!”

What’s to challenge?

First, the concept that they need this big 500 kV line with emergency rating of 1572 MVA (essentially MW) when all they’ve got going is a 250 MW Power Purchase Agreement.

Second, this need is not reflected in their forecasts, call up Minnesota Power and request a hard copy of the application, and appendices, and you’ll see!

Third, this project hasn’t even made the “A list” of MTEP, meaning it’s not in Appendix A of those deemed “needed” by MISO.  Not that that has anything to do with “need,” because that’s a market based premise, and also is becoming a circumvention of a state’s regulatory authority, a complicated but oh-so-relevant notion.

What’s happening now is a determination of the “scope” of the environmental review.  It’s a “high level” review, meaning the generic impacts of this project and alternatives, and this need docket is the only place where “alternatives” will be considered.

They’ve included some information in their application under Minn. R. 7849.0250 and Minn. R. 7849.0260 .  This Certificate of Need proceeding is the only time the “No Build Alternative” is considered, once need is determined and it moves into routing, “no build” is not regarded as an option.  The application is online, at the PUC docket site — go HERE and plug in docket 12-1163 — 12 (year) and 1163 (docket number).  If you want a hard copy, contact Minnesota Power and they’ll send you one.

Here’s the quote from the DRAFT ER Scoping document:

The environmental report will address/discuss the following matters:

1.0 INTRODUCTION
1.1 Purpose and Need
1.2 Regulatory requirements

2.0 PROJECT DESCRIPTION
2.1 General
2.2 Design
2.3 Right-of-Way Requirements and Acquisition
2.4 Construction
2.5 Operation and Maintenance
2.6 Permits

3.0 ALTERNATIVES TO THE PROPOSED HVTL
3.1 No-build Alternative
3.2 Demand Side Management
3.3 Purchase Power
3.3.1 Long term Purchase Power
3.3.2 Short term Purchase Power
3.5 Up-grading Existing Facilities
3.6 Facilities of a Different Size
3.7 New Generation

4.0 ENVIRONMENTAL AFFECTS
4.1 Air Quality
4.2 Biological Resources
4.3 Culture Resources
4.4 Geology and Soils
4.5 Health and Safety
4.6 Land Use
4.7 Noise
4.8 Socioeconomics
4.9 Transportation
4.10 Visual Impacts and Aesthetics
4.11 Water Resources (surface, groundwater, wetlands)
4.12 Waste Management and Disposal

So to make a relevant comment on “scope” you need to let them know what specific things in the above categories should be included in the Environmental Report.  This means telling them not “EMF” in that broad stroke, but to say, “When you consider EMF, consider the range of levels, from the low statement of Minnesota Power, 750 MW, to the higher emergency rating of 1572 MVA.”  That means that you’d get the numbers for the highest potential EMF of the project.

Another thing is to request that they look at the size and timing of this project.  MP says that they have a 250 MW PPA, and maybe another PPA in the future, so is that any reason to build a 1572MVA emergency rating 500 kV line?  Seems like it’s too early to “need” something this large, and it’s way too big for their claimed need.

And as in the post below, I’m concerned about this “system alternative” that Xcel Energy, et al., are promoting (So what is Xcel, et al., up to?).  They’ve not intervened, and they must put their cards on the table.  It feels like a threat, that Xcel is throwing its weight around, and it really screws up any notion of what’s at issue.  They put it out there, but don’t follow through and we don’t know whether to take them seriously.

DSC01904

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Filed under Environmental Review, Meetings, PUC Filings

Scheduling Order for GNTL need docket

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

PublicMeetingSched

Scoping Comments are due by 4:30 p.m. on March 14, 2014.  Send to bill.storm@state.mn.us

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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Meetings next week — Scope of Environmental Review

It’s that time — the PUC and Dept. of Commerce are holding meetings next week to get public input on the scope of the Environmental Review, which means what all will be covered in the “Environmental Report” (which is not as beefy as an Environmental Impact Statement, and no options for Comments except in Public Comments later on), so NOW, get your thoughts on what all should be covered:

Notice_Scoping Meetings_20141-95492-01

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

Send to bill.storm@state.mn.us

Here’s the bottom line — next week Roseau, Baudette and International Falls and the week after, Thief River Falls, Bemidji, and Grand Rapids:

PublicMeetingSchedWhat’s interesting in this case is that the “Regional Utilities” which is Xcel, Otter Tail Power, MRES have filed a Notice of Appearance, showed up at the Prehearing Conference, said they would be intervening, but they have not yet intervened as promised/threatened:

Notice Of Appearance_20141-95546-01

??? EH?  What’s up with that?  So I just gave Christi Brusven a call (I think I’ve not ever called her before, despite all that time in Goodhue, must have been dealing with Todd), and she says that they’re planning to intervene, but haven’t yet, and nope, no info on timeline, so here we are, waiting… waiting…

Here’s what they had to say in their comments about the “Western Option” that they’re planning on inserting:

As noted by Minnesota Power, a western 500 kV alternative to the Fargo area has been explored in the MISO process (the “Western Option”).  The Western Option provides a reasonable alternative to meet Minnesota Power’s current needs, facilitates use of the Commission-authorized, double-circuit-ready 345 kV line from Fargo to Monticello to address the potential need for future transmission capacity expansion, and collectively offers a cost effective solution at higher power transfer levels that may be required in the future.  We believe the Western Option can be developed in time to meet the needs presented and are willing to do so if called upon by the Commission.

At the Prehearing Conference Brusven made quite the statement, reiterating their position that “The Western Option provides a reasonable alternative,” and that they plan to intervene because they are wanting to introduce the “system alternative” of running pretty much straight south and connecting in to the CapX 2020 Fargo-Monticello line at Barnesville.  Regional Utilities_Comments  So we’ve got to make sure that this “system alternative” is in the environmental review — or make sure it’s NOT there so that it can’t be selected.  Hmmmmm… now what… what does this mean?  What do we do in the meantime?  I guess figure out the impact of this in case they really do try to push for it (and given Xcel’s little powerplay on the Badger Coulee transmission line with ATC, I expect that they will go forward and throw their weight around!).

Dorsey_CapX_System_AlternativeI believe they’re already planning on running a transmission line essentially parallel with Interstate 29, but what’s that in relation to this?

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Notice of Public Info & ER Meetings

It’s official — the PUC and Dept. of Commerce have issued Notice of the meetings in February:

Notice_ScopingMeetings_20141-95492-01

Scoping Comments are due by 4:30 p.m. on March 14, 2014.  Send to bill.storm@state.mn.us

And here’s the schedule of the meetings — I think I’m going to opt out of Thief River Falls and Bemidji given the corridor options now:

PublicMeetingSched

EnvRev

But something on the maps bears a second look — the western route headed south from the border crossing down around Red Lake seems to have disappeared.  Is that correct?  I’m waiting to hear… and the verdict is, straight from the horse’s mouth:

This is the map we recently sent out to LGUs 90 days in advance of filing the route permit as required by Minn. Stat. 216E.03, subd. 3a as well as landowners.  Those are the routes we are going to put in the route permit application.  On the CoN scoping meetings we started with a larger study area and Notice Plan area so our thought was we still need to have coverage in that area and MPUC Staff agreed, though I’m not sure how many folks will attend in Bemidji or Thief River Falls. 

RouteCorridors

 

 

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Filed under Meetings, Need