Public Utilities Commission meeting to decide whether to refer to OAH for a contested case hearing:Thursday, December 19, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Agenda item 3 Minnesota Public Utilities Commission 121 – 7th Place East, 3rd Floor, Large Hearing Room St. Paul, MN
The most important thing for the public to be aware of at this stage is that this is a NEED proceeding, not about routing. This docket will determine whether the project is NEEDED, and after that, a separate application will be made for a route. Comments regarding route are NOT relevant here. Comments about NEED are NEEDED! Minnesota Power doesn’t have a compelling need case, much less a sufficient need case, and that’s what’s at issue.
Here are the PUC’s Staff Briefing Papers:
The project description is off where it says:
The project would join with a new 90-130 mile transmission line in Canada to form a new international transmission interconnection to provide approximately 750 megawatts (MW) of transfer capability.
Not quite. This is a 325-400 mile long transmission line, with 90-130 miles in Canada and 235-270 in the US. The correct way to state this is “The project is a 325-400 mile line with approximately 1/3 in Canada and 2/3 in the US.” There’s no substation at the border, it’s not two separate lines or two separate projects, just two jurisdictionally separate proceedings.
And they’re accepting two things that should be questioned. First problem is staff’s acceptance of Minnesota Power’s claim of 750MW transfer capacity increase. Second is acceptance of elimination of the Blackberry – Arrowhead leg of the project without any analysis/question about why, and what that means for the project, which is just one leg from Manitoba Hydro off to Michigan. A radial 500 kV line? One that requires a Presidential Permit? Going into the Blackberry substation? Why? Whatever for? It’s good to let people along the Blackberry-Arrowhead stretch know that this project does not included that part, but it’s equally important not to give them false hopes that it’s out completely, because it will come back.
Commission Decision Alternative B3 should be crossed off, deleted, eliminated.
PUC Staff view of issues:
Staff identified two areas where the process could be improved. First, staff recommends that those members of the public who were initially included in the notice plan for the southernmost portion of the project should receive supplemental notice that their community is not under consideration for the current project. Secondly, staff recommends that because the public comments received during consideration of the certificate of need application primarily spoke to routing matters, these comments should be filed to that docket once a route permit application is open for comment.
It’s good that they’re directing the public advisor to file the routing related public comments in the routing docket when filed, but look how they’re discounting the public. Please DON’T presume that all public comments are about routing because they’re not. Those regarding NEED should be considered in this NEED docket, and only those about route should be sent to the routing docket.
It’s good that they’re directing Minnesota Power to send materials to a library in each affected county, GOOD!!!
Now, on to the meeting next week. See you there!