Monthly Archives: July 2014

Demand down, “It’s a new world for us” utilities!

I love it when this happens — when the truth is so obvious that they can no longer deny it:

Energy Lag

This decreased demand is the reason they want us to pay for transmission lines across the U.S. so they can market all this surplus power in locations where prices are higher.  DOH!

Electricity Sales Anemic for Seventh Year in a Row – WSJ July 28 2014

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Filed under Certificate of Need, MISO, Need, Uncategorized

DOE Scoping Hearings last week

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How can this be, it was “last week” already?  Anyway, yes, meetings were had, comments were made, and now we’ve got to put it all in writing and send to the federal Dept. of Energy to be tossed into the hopper for consideration of the scope of their Environmental Impact Statement.

Send your comments, by August 14 (changed to 15?) 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

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The things that I’m particularly concerned be addressed are:

  • Alternatives to WHAT?  This is a purely economic project, there’s a 250 MW Power Purchase Agreement and a contractual obligation, but that doesn’t translate into “need” for a mega-huge High Voltage Transmission Line.
  • Segmentation — this is part of a much larger project, and the full package must be considered.   Untitled
  • The full capacity of this project must be considered and a range of capacity for calculation of the potential EMF levels.  Thus is a tri-bundled 500 kV line.  For the NEPA review, look at the line specifications, configuration, and address a range of capacity from the claimed 750 MW to the emergency rating of the line, likely 5,000+ MVA.
  • Does this require an eagle take permit?  Consider potential for bird deaths, and the Migratory Bird Protection Act.
  • Address system alternatives, particularly options for electricity at the receiving ends (looks like Michigan any way you get there!).
  • Consider current corridors, and include map of all transmission lines in study area 69 kV and above.
  • Consider corridor and project fatigue, particularly how many corridors can a person stand!  Very important because in this area many have multiple corridors on their land, and many have had other projects hanging over their heads for years.
  • Consider impact on real estate values, and consider impacts such as loss of marketability, because the minute a project like this is noticed, the property is impossible to market.  Any opportunity to sell is lost when the potential project is disclosed, as it MUST be, to potential buyers.
  • Consider the range of affected parties.  It looks like notice is being provided to only those directly affected or directly adjacent, and not close residents and landowners, who should be getting notice.
  • The FEIS must be filed in the state’s record prior to the public hearing and evidentiary hearing.

Again, write up your comments and send, prominently noting the DOE Docket Number, PP-398 and DOE/EIS 0499, and Minnesota PUC Dockets 14-21 (Routing docket) or 12-1163 (Certificate of Need) and send 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

 

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Not-so-Great Transmission in the news

In at least a couple of Forum newspapers:

Landowners riled up by Minnesota power line

Moving into the last leg of the planning process, Minnesota Power is hoping the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will approve the proposed route for its Great Northern Transmission Line, which would run from the northwest corner of the state near Roseau to Hermantown. The line would carry power generated by hydroelectric plants in Manitoba.

Wednesday’s meeting in Roseau, which drew a crowd of about 45, and others like it will allow the commission to gather public input about two proposed routes. The input will be taken into consideration when an environmental impact survey is released later this year, which ultimately determines which route Minnesota Power will have to pursue when it constructs the transmission line in 2017.

“It was helpful, but it appears they only say so much and it’s hard to get real answers,” said Rice, who attended the meeting.

As it stands, the proposed route would force Rice to sell 48 acres of farmland — farmland that has been in his family for four generations.

“There are lots of issues they don’t really think about,” he said. “I won’t be able to do any aerial application — to fly around (the 150-foot poles); they just aren’t going to do it.”

Uncertainty

While no specific design for the transmission line has been selected, the 750-megawatt line is expected to be fully operational by 2020 with a lifespan of nearly 120 years.

A 3,000-foot corridor will mark out where the line will run from Canada into the Iron Range, but the actual line can be constructed anywhere within the corridor, which has landowner Darin Heller concerned.

“I don’t know where it will actually go compared to where they say it would go along the road,” he said. “My concern is they will use that discretion to put it in the easiest route for them, not the least intrusive.”

Heller said about 90 percent of his property in Dieter Township falls within the corridor.

Despite his concerns, Minnesota Power said it has proposed the least intrusive route options based on more than 75 stakeholder meetings it has organized throughout the last two years.

“We want to make sure we are siting this line with the least possible disruption to people and the environment,” said Amy Rutledge, a spokeswoman for Minnesota Power. “It’s a very thoughtful, lengthy process.”

Airport impact

One of the latest concerns to arise is the line’s proximity to the Piney-Pinecreek Border Airport located along the U.S.-Canada border in Dieter Township.

The proposed power line would fall within the right-of-way for a planned 1,500-foot expansion of the north-south runway, and also hinder plans for a crosswind landing strip heading east-west. The Minnesota Department of Transportation, which owns the airport, is not currently working on the project but has it on file for the future.

Marlin Elton, chairman of the Piney-Pinecreek Airport Commission, is pressuring Minnesota Power and Manitoba Hydro to shift the entire power line route farther east to avoid the aviation complications.

“When you’re dealing with organizations like this, they are standing to make lots of money, but they are losing sight of what they are trampling over,” Elton said.

He said he is initiating conversation with the Federal Aviation Administration to see what more can be done to push for the route to be moved east toward Department of Natural Resources land — an area Elton, Heller and Rice said would be less intrusive because it is state land.

Like Rice, Elton also would have to forfeit about 48 acres of farmland he uses to grow certified seed grass to make way for the proposed transmission line.

“We’ve spent a lot of time and money to maintain certification status, and this is a step backwards,” he said. “Once (Minnesota Power) is approved by the environmentalists, eminent domain kicks in, and that’s a whole different ballgame.”

Area meetings

The U.S. Department of Energy is holding more public input meetings on the Great Northern Transmission Line at the following times:

Kelliher

Wednesday: 11 a.m. at Kelliher Public School, 345 Fourth St. N.W.

Bigfork

Wednesday: 6 p.m. at Bigfork School, 100 Huskie Boulevard.

Grand Rapids

Thursday: 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. at the Sawmill Inn, S. U.S. Highway 169, Grand Rapids, Minn.

More info: 1.usa.gov/1mX00NR.

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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

Hold yer horses, Conawapa…

conawapa

The recommendations of the Public Utilities Board of Manitoba, in short:

The Panel recommends to the Government of Manitoba that:

THE FULL REPORT.

So if Canada’s Public Utilities Board says, “Manitoba Hydro had not made a strong enough business case for building the Conawapa dam,” why would there be any question that the Not-so-Great Northern Transmission line is not needed?

What does this mean?  The DOE is starting their scoping hearings for the federal environmental review next week:

1. Roseau, MN: Roseau Civic Center, 121 Center Street East, Roseau, MN, 56751; Wednesday. July 16, 2014, at 11:00 a.m.

2. Baudette, MN: Lake of the Woods School, 236 15th Ave. SW., Baudette, MN, 56623; Wednesday, July 16, 2014, at 6:00 p.m.

3. Littlefork, MN: Littlefork Community Center, 220 Main Street, Littlefork, MN, 56653; Thursday, July 17, 2014, at 11:00 a.m.

4. International Falls, MN: AmericInn, 1500 Highway 71, International Falls, MN, 56649; Thursday, July 17, 2014, 6:00 p.m.

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

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

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

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

More on this in the news:

NEB has final say over Hydro mega-projects

PUB had no choice in approving dam

Manitoba grants licence for Keeyask dam, puts Conawapa on hold

 

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