Monthly Archives: March 2014

A view from above — Canada that is…


In the Brandon Sun:

Power line to U.S. ‘ill-advised’ for Manitoban rate-payers: Pallister

By: Staff Writer

Thursday, Mar. 13, 2014 at 2:08 PM

Opposition Leader Brian Pallister charged today the NDP is recklessly “Americanizing” Manitoba Hydro at the expense of Manitobans under its plan to build two new dams and a new transmission line to the United States.

“The fact is what we’re guaranteed with here under the NDP’s agenda is a power-aid program,” he said. “We get to do all the sweating up here and they get the juice down there.”

Pallister said an example of that is that the Crown utility wants approval to build and co-own a proposed transmission line that will run from Winnipeg to Duluth, MN. Under a proposal now being studied by the Public Utilities Board, Manitoba Hydro will own 49 per cent 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 would allow Hydro to ship more power into the Wisconsin market and import more power to Manitoba from U.S. utilities when needed.

Hydro’s involvement in the line has been described at the hearing as being “an owner of last resort” in order to see it upgraded.

“Who says Manitoba Hydro had to get it done?” Pallister said. “This government, obviously, is driving Manitoba Hydro’s agenda and pushing Manitoba Hydro to make deal that may well be ill-advised for Manitoba ratepayers.”

The PUB has heard this week that under a confidential deal with Minnesota Power to build the transmission line, Manitoba Hydro — at this stage — will be responsible for 66 per cent of the line’s construction and maintenance. That’s because Minnesota Power does not need the full capacity of the line so it only wants to pay for the portion it will use.

“So with regard to the question of who will pay, Minnesota Power intends to rate-base the cost of their 250-megawatt share of the large (750 MW) interconnection,” Hydro’s division manager of power sales, David Cormie, told the PUB on Monday. “That means their customers, through their rate-recovery mechanisms with their customers, will recover the cost of their investment.

“That leaves Manitoba Hydro with the obligation to pay for the balance of 66 per cent, including the cost of providing the transmission services to Wisconsin Public Service. However, as we intend to be an owner only of last resort, we are making provisions in these discussions on the business relationship so that a third party can step in and participate.”

Cormie also said despite Hydro’s 66 per cent involvement in the 850-kilometre line, it’s still a benefit to the utility because it provides it with an electricity pipeline into the American Midwest.

“Under the contracts dependent on the line, Manitoba Hydro’s energy gets shipped first,” he told the PUB. “Whether it’s dependable or surplus fixed-priced energy or additional energy that Manitoba Hydro intends for the spot market, we own the transmission rights in Canada. They may own the transmission rights on the U.S. side associated with their ownership position, but it’s always Manitoba Hydro’s energy that will flow on that — on — under those firm rights.”

He also said it makes sense to build a larger-capacity transmission line now, instead of a smaller one, because having to add another line to Minnesota in later years will be more expensive and more scrutinized by regulators.

Pallister asked if American investors didn’t want to get involved in the line in its earlier stages, why they would get involved after it’s built.

“The fact is Manitoba Hydro has entered into a commitment that obligates Manitoba Hydro ratepayers to subsidize U.S. purchasers of hydro,” he said.

Pallister also questioned Hydro’s expectations, and the government’s, that by building the proposed Keeyask and Conawapa generating stations the province will reap billions selling power to Americans as U.S. utilities close old, carbon-belching coal plants and add hydro power as part of state-mandated plans to use more renewable energy.

He said experts to testify at the ongoing PUB hearing will say Hydro’s expectations are overblown.

The PUB is examining whether there are alternatives to building the $6.5-billion Keeyask and $10.7-billion Conawapa generating stations, and if the line to Duluth is needed.

It’s to file its report to government June 20.

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Scoping Comments due Friday @ 4:30 p.m.


No, not that kind of scoping, for scoping of the Environmental Report, or is it THIS Environmental Report… whichever, it’s this kind of scoping:

Scope involves getting information required to start a project, and the features the product would have that would meet its stakeholders requirements.

In this case, it’s Environmental Report, or Environmental Report, and not Environmental Impact Statement (that is an issue that should be raised, see below, and the rules pertaining to an EIS in a Certificate of Need proceeding), and they’re looking for what all specifically should be included in this “Environmental Report.”

RRANT Scoping Comment

There’s a “Draft” scoping decision that has the rough outline:

DRAFT ER Scoping document

What to submit for comments?  Well, it’s got to be specific!  They have general categories, and if you have something specific for consideration within these categories, send it in!  And if there is an environmental consideration NOT addressed here, send it in!

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

Send to

Some ideas:

  • Cumulative impacts must be addressed.  I’ve heard of an instance where someone was hit with a pipeline and a transmission line recently, and now Minnesota Power is proposing getting hit AGAIN for the GNTL!  “You’ll get used to it?”  Nooooo, that’s not within the realm of rational response or probable outcomes.  How are the impacts of multiple projects balanced with Minnesota’s policy of “non-proliferation,” where transmission is to be run on “pre-existing” corridors?  Where transmission is routed on greenfield, and then followed by other infrastructure, over and over and over… how is this taken into account?
  • The full range of potential electric and magnetic fields must be addressed, not just a minimal number that’s a small percentage of potential capacity (as is usually done by Commerce’s EIS/ER — NOT acceptable).
  • Alternatives will be analyzed — but what alternatives — alternatives to what?  This is a project “needed” to transmit a nominal amount of electricity under a PPA between Minnesota Power and Manitoba Hydro, and the rest is for export.  So given that “need” claim, what alternatives are there?  This is transmission for profit.  Is the search on for another revenue stream for them?  Are there alternatives to satisfy this “want” that pretends to be a need?  How will the state handle this?
  • Because of the magnitude of this line, so many miles long and such high capacity, an Environmental Impact Statement should be completed, not just this Environmental Report (p.s., there’s no provision under MEPA, 116D, for “Environmental Report” as an environmental document).

And if you’re interested in the Canadian “Independent Expert” report on environmental considerations, and remember, this is for the WHOLE Canadian project:


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Canadian NFAT Hearing has begun


Half of the Great Northern Transmission Project is in Canada, where the transmission line is part of the much larger Manitoba Hydro’s proposed preferred development plan for the Keeyask and Conawapa Generating Stations, their associated domestic AC transmission facilities and a new Canada-USA transmission interconnection.

Manitoba Public Utilities Board NFAT site for this project

Manitoba Hydro is seeking government approval for its proposed Preferred Development Plan, which requires the following commitments in June 2014:

In addition, the plan would include Conawapa G.S., 1,485 MW, with an earliest ISD of 2026, although decisions on whether to construct Conawapa and its timing are not required now and would be made over the next few years.

Intervenors: CLICK HERE for identification and information about their cases

They are going through a similar but MUCH more rigorous process, and the NFAT hearing has just begun, scheduled to extend from Monday’s beginning through May 13, 2014, with “Closing Submissions” following until May 26, and maybe longer than that.

NFAT Hearing Schedule

Also, if you go to the HEARING tab, then click on Exhibit Lists, each intervenor’s exhibits are linked, from the initial Intervenor Application to everything they plan to enter during the hearing, and… like… WOW!  Lots of good info there, including:

LaCapra – Appendix 8  Transmission (MAJORLY redacted)

LaCapra – Appendix 6  Export Markets (also MAJORLY redacted)

Spend some time on the NFAT site and check out how they conduct hearings up there, what type of evidence and reports they’re entering, the length of the hearings, and check the intervenors’ work plans and the amounts the Manitoba PUB is dishing out for intervenor expenses!  Granted the subject of this Canadian hearing is much broader than “just” a transmission line, but what a difference it would make of hearings here were more like hearings there!


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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