Yesterday’s hearing in Bigfork was not well attended, but despite the poor turnout, those who did show up had a lot to say and asked many good questions.
What was odd about this is that Intervenors were not required to be there (I’d missed the hearings last week), and no witnesses. Dept. of Commerce DER had no one there either. Mike Kaluzniak stated that there was ONE intervenor, the Large Power Intervenors. EH? HELLO! Residents and Ratepayers Against Not-so-Great-Northern Transmission (RRANT) is an Intervenor with full party status.
There was also a question and some information presented about alternate routes — note the next/final workgroup meeting is October 29. These meetings are open to the public, so if you are interested in the where and when, contact Bill Storm of Commerce EERA: firstname.lastname@example.org
The comments were insightful, though many pertained to routing, not need.
Meloy Mattfield lives on the orange route, and he has a trail and spends a lot of time on that trail. He wanted to know what a safe distance from the power line would be, given that he’s in the area regularly, and has grandchildren who are often there too. He got the usual “causation has not been established” and was referred to the application section on EMF. Later I was able to interject info about the epidemiological association of EMF with childhood leukemia.
Here are some specifics from the routing application, and note there is no disclosure of the amps:
How to determine what’s safe? Buy a gauss meter (some are cheap, some are not) and measure powerlines starting at the centerline, and moving out (when they’re running, ramped up!). Keeping away from it until levels are under 2 mG would be a good bet.
Sally Sedgwick was concerned about the scenic wilderness southeast of Effie, and noted that even if the line creates a benefit for one area, is it acceptable to burden another with this line? She requested that the line be co-located with pre-existing transmission )PUC pay attention, because that’s the requirement of PEER too).
PEER – use existing corridor!
She also asked what percentage of the MP budget is devoted to getting this permit. It wasn’t clear to me whether this meant what % of MP’s budget is focused on getting this permit or what % of the line’s budget is permitting costs. The latter was answered, as 1% of project costs are permitting costs.
She was also concerned about reduction of jobs at Boswell. That seems inevitable, as it looks like they’ve retrofitted Boswell 4, are retrofitting 3, and are evaluating what to do about 1 & 2 (which are likely smaller and older units). Moeller noted that Hoyt Lakes will be converted from coal to gas.
Moeller also stated that increased transfer capability attributable to this project is 883 MW (if so, why build such a large project). I asked whether they’d be willing to limit it to that, as with the Arrowhead-Weston line with its 800 MW phase shifting transformer condition as part of the permit, and I got questioning looks and deferral to the evidentiary hearing.
Dean Sedgwick had a few interesting questions too!
How many lines would be reduced or eliminated with this? None.
NOx, look at it and do comparison of generation? None.
Line losses? Answered with information about comparative voltages for transmitting electricity, and that this was best (includes all of eastern interconnect!).
What is impact of becoming dependent on a single point source (Manitoba Hydro) for such a large component of generation? A: Not restrictive. Working to be less reliant on coal.
Back of envelope calculation, 625/kW, higher cost for this project. Is this the least cost option? Coal is a low cost energy generator, is this lower cost than coal? A: Wind and hydro are lowest cost, no fuel cost. Have had issues with coal transport, and looking at rule changes. They’re “not saying that adding this will offset coal, it might change dispatch” (which means to me that this project opens door to marketing their coal elsewhere, at the eastern end of the line).
He also had concerns about the change of rates through using a time of day supply, and the variability of those rates.
Is biomass part of the mix MP looks at? Yes, but supply is issue (Moeller mentioned “railroad ties,” oh great, let’s breathe some of that!!).
Richard Reinhart lives between the orange and the blue options, 4.5 miles west of Hwy. 65. Why no use the existing route? If they make a new corridor, they don’t have the way to repair line. Could build a larger line and remove the smaller one on that corridor. If you did that, you’d be saving ecology, saving forest, and saving yourself a lot of trouble. It’s claimed to be needed for more power, but Hibbing Taconite is likely to close, and Essar, most of us will be dead by the time that gets going, if ever.
Mattfield agreed, that these places will be closing down, the supply is limited, 30 years or so, and that’s about up.
Gail Blackmer also urged them to use the existing corridor close th Hwy. 65. She’s a resident on Deer Lake, and it would go between county and state camping areas. Utilize the existing line, realize this is not a route hearing, but this is important.