Monthly Archives: December 2013

PUC “Staff Briefing Papers” filed

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:

Staff Briefing Papers_201312-94525-01

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!

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Comments on Completeness


Is the application complete?  The Public Utilities Commission will consider whether it is complete at its meeting on December 19, and remember, you can catch the meeting online.  The webcast link is on the meeting agenda, and they’re changing around the website so I don’t have a link now to post (and you might need an app to view).

Here are the Comments filed thus far.  The comment deadline has passed, but Minnesota Power made a statement that I just couldn’t ignore!

Public Comments 201311-93786-01

Public Comments 201311-93612-01

Public Comments 201311-93253-01

Commerce DER Comments – 201311-93825-01

Commerce DER_Comments_ Nov21_201311-93930-01

Large Power Intervenors_InitialComment_201311-93819-01


The “Regional Utilities” Comment was interesting in that they’re saying that the Fargo CapX 2020 transmission line could do the job.  Granted the project is for export, which is the purpose of CapX 2020 too, but this one was designed to get over to Michigan.  What I like about it is that they’re showing that it is all about export, and I’d love to see them get into a pissing match about it.

And Minnesota Power had this to say:

Minnesota Power Reply Comments_201312-94238-01

And this part was more than a little odd:

Subject to Commission approval of the Certificate of Need for the GNTL Project, all of this upfront work will enable a June 1, 2020 in-service date as required under the PPA. At most it appears that the Regional Utilities have conducted additional transmission studies around the Concept. The Regional Utilities’ vague reference to these additional studies may be an attempt to position them for an intervention under Minn. Rules 7829.0800. However, at this time, the Regional Utilities do not appear to have a unique interest in the Project – a fully participant funded transmission line – particularly considering that the Department will represent the
interests of Minnesota ratepayers and the public.

As major transmission owners, suggesting an essentially competing transmission project as an alternative, yup, they’ve sure got an interest, and a unique one at that.

I fired off a Comment, just couldn’t let that slide:


Onward — the PUC meeting is on the 19th.

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PUC to address “completeness” and referral for hearing


Notice just issued — the Public Utilities Commission will decide a few issues regarding the Not-So-Great Northern Transmission Line at its meeting on Thursday, December 19, 2013.

December 19, 2013, 9:30 a.m. – ???

Public Utilities Commission

121 – 7th Place East, Large Hearing Room

St. Paul, MN

Here’s the meeting notice:


What’s at issue:

  • Should the Commission accept the certificate of need application as substantially complete?
  • Should the Commission refer the Matter to the Office of Administrative Hearings for acontested case proceeding?
  • What action should the Commission take regarding other procedural items?

There are no “Briefing Papers” posted yet, which will tell us what the Commission staff is recommending.  Stay tuned — when they post the briefing papers, I’ll put them up here!

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