July 27th, 2016
7 P.M. TONIGHT IN RED WING
XCEL ENERGY RATE CASE PUBLIC HEARING
SE TECHNICAL COLLEGE
HWY. 58 & PIONEER ROAD
This is a transmission driven rate case, Xcel Energy claiming that the cost of the massive transmission build-out is reason to raise the rates. they also claim that sand mining has increased demand. But folks, the demand is down, down, down, and the transmission buildout is THROUGH Minnesota, bring Dakotas coal energy to points east, selling as much of their generation surplus on the market as they possibly can.
A couple of things you might find interesting, I did, are some of the Direct Testimony filings.
And the AG’s Office – RUD:
Here’s the AARP testimony, choosing narrow issues to challenge, particularly Xcel’s desire to raise the basic charge to have access to service, before one kWhr goes through your meter:
And look what the Dept. of Commerce has discovered and revealed in testimony — XCEL HASN’T PAID TAXES SINCE 2008!
Here’s the Exhibit she refers to, scroll down to “NAC-20” at the very end, where you’ll find Xcel’s answer to IR 1171:
Really! Xcel Energy has paid less than $1 million in federal income taxes in the 7 years from 2009 through 2015! Meanwhile, CEO Ben Fowkes was paid $9.2 million in 2015, v. $12.4 million in 2014! (does that include stock options, deferred compensation, etc?)
Center of the American Experiment has been weighing in, but not even bothering to let people know when and where the hearings are or how to file a comment!!
July 26th, 2016
It’s been a year now since this shooting, and still no Investigation Report:
Here is an anniversary article, and note that the “investigation” has not been completed — come on, it’s been a YEAR!
Here’s an article that they “shot wrong man” though I find it bizarre that tipping over tables and tearing maps is a justification for shooting someone:
And another about James McIntyre, the man who was shot, note from above article, police knew with certainty on Day 2 that McIntyre was not the one who “disrupted” the open house:
Here are previous posts on Legalectric:
And my Letter to the Editor was published shortly after the shooting:
A big part of my schtick is to stand at the door (not inside where I’d be “interfering”) and enthusiastically greet everyone, hand them a flyer about how to participate, and direct them to the meeting. Had I been at that open house, I’d be the one they found at the door. Had they told me to leave, I’d have argued and resisted, as always, ramping up if they pushed.
In my experience, utilities have now and then requested police presence, and when I see it, I let the organizers know it’s offensive and off putting, chilling public participation. People have a right to speak out against a project, and they have a right to be angry! I talk to the officers too, find out if I can who wanted them there, and let them know it’s inhibiting and threatening to the public. I figure they just add me to their list of people to watch. But this atmosphere of blind fear is not acceptable. Don’t Canadians have a right to free speech? Civil disobedience is an appropriate response. Civil disobedience is NOT a death sentence with law enforcement as judge, jury and executioner.
People are being steam-rolled by utility infrastructure projects such as dams, transmission lines, and pipelines, and no one wants to hear about it. They want opposition to just go away. People are losing their land, communities are deeply affected, and those affected are not compensated sufficiently to make it acceptable — and money is not the answer to everything!
July 24th, 2016
Wednesday, at 7 p.m. at SE Tech College in Red Wing, there’s a public hearing about the Xcel Energy rate case (PUC Docket 15-826 — to look at all the filings GO HERE TO PUC SEARCH PAGE and search for docket 15-826).
Here’s my LTE in the Red Wing Republican bEagle:
No one is excited about shelling out more money to Xcel, but the utility has requested an increase in rates, and it’s up to us to speak up. Xcel wants more money to cover the cost of transmission its been building and for upgrades to power plants. But there’s more to this story.
As Xcel’s Ben Fowkes notes, the industry has a “new normal.” Wholesale cost of electricity is down and holding. Fuel prices, the main variable cost, are low, whether coal or gas. Cost of energy via power purchase agreements is low. Cost of financing construction is also low. Xcel’s peak demand is down, 8,621 MW for 2015, from the 2006 all-time peak of 9,859. Xcel’s 2016 1Q energy sales are down 1.9 percent despite a 0.9 percent increase in customer growth.
Xcel’s rate case is transmission driven. Four CapX 2020 transmission lines in Minnesota cost $2+ billion. The MISO MVP 17 project portfolio of transmission across the Midwest will cost $5.24 billion-plus, of which we pay a share. This transmission moves electricity through Minnesota to points east, for the private purpose of market sales of electricity, from any point A to any point B in the eastern Interconnect.
Xcel worked hard to reach consensus with the usual rate case intervenors on its e21 Initiative, including a “Multi Year Rate Plan” based on its corporate business case rather than cost-based rates. Xcel worked hard to ram through e21’s legislation, with those usual suspects sitting quietly in committee as Senate and House toadies greased the skids. What’s in it for those who agreed? What about ratepayers?
Who is speaking for the ratepayers? The judge has rejected intervenors — some who would object to Xcel’s plans are shut out. AARP and the state’s Office of Attorney General-RUD are making a valiant effort, but your voice is needed. If you’re an Xcel ratepayer and are dubious of Xcel’s business plan, if you want Xcel to justify costs, if you want consideration of what costs are recoverable, if you want limitations on recovery for travel, lobbying expenses, or prohibition of market-based infrastructure and activities to sell electricity beyond Xcel’s service territory, here’s your chance.
I pushed for a hearing in Red Wing at the prehearing conference, and it’s next Wednesday: Xcel Rate Case Public Hearing, 7 p.m., Minnesota State College Southeast.
Carol A. Overland
July 23rd, 2016
Found some videos hiding of my dear departed Kenya and Krie, and I’ve posted here to archive:
July 22nd, 2016
Well, that was interesting… and it took all evening!
First a sidebar, but an important one. The Agenda CBS Public Meeting-Minneapolis caught my attention, seeing PUC Commissioner John Tuma named front and center. The PUC’s page on Commissioner ex parte, conflict, and basic decorum has disappeared — I called the PUC about Commissioner Tuma’s appearance (fair warning, prior to event), and noted that the page had disappeared. Here are the rules (the page was what stressed the importance of avoiding even the appearance of impropriety:
Subpart 1. General behavior.
A commissioner or employee shall respect and comply with the law and shall behave in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the commission’s decision making process.
Subp. 2. Actions prohibited.
Commissioners and employees shall avoid any action that might result in or create a conflict of interest or the appearance of impropriety, including:
A. using public office for private gain;
B. giving preferential treatment to an interested person or entity;
C. impeding the efficiency or economy of commission decision making;
D. losing independence or impartiality of action;
E. making a commission decision outside official channels; and
F. affecting adversely the confidence of the public in the integrity of the commission.
Subp. 4. Outside employment.
A commissioner or employee shall not negotiate for or accept outside employment or other involvement in a business or activity that will impair the person’s independence of judgment in the exercise of official duties.
I registered this in a Comment section, provided copies of the rules, and expected something similar to Commissioner Koppendrayer’s response in a similar situation years ago (see below). Commissioner Tuma is new, and being there was not the worst of possible activities, other past and present Commissioners have done much worse, but it’s not OK. His presence on the panel, on the stage, lends the impression of support of the DOE’s efforts, and nuclear waste, nuclear decommissioning funds, nuclear uprates and rehab, all are issues that have been and will be in front of the Commission in highly contested cases. It lends the appearance of losing independence, impartiality, and impairment of judgment in future exercise of official duties.
I’ve seen this a few times. One positive experience was at the Sawmill Inn when Commissioner Koppendrayer was named on a coal gasification love-fest panel when Excelsior’s Mesaba Project was before the PUC, and I’d called the Commission ahead of time and spoken to the then Asst. A.G. who said, not to worry, they knew ex parte and conflict of interest and rules of decorum. Yet at that meeting, which Koppendrayer DID attend despite advance warning, I jumped up and objected from the back of the room, noting the PUC’s focus on avoiding even the appearance of impropriety, and Koppendrayer said something like “Overland’s got a point, and I should leave” and he did! He earned quite a few “respect” points that day. IEDC gets carried away February 15, 2007.
On the other hand, I’m also remembering Commissioner Phyllis Reha’s coal gasification junket to Belgium via Great Plains Institute, a well-funded toady for coal gasification (and GPI was on panel last night, another cause for concern, how much were they paid!). How blatant can you get? MCGP Request for Recusal (Commission saw no problem!).
… and there’s her stumping for CapX 2020 transmission: PUC Commissioner Reha: Enhancing the Nation’s Electricity Delivery System. That was the basis of another Motion, but of course, Commissioner Reha and the Commission saw no problem with her actions! NoCapX Motion to Recuse Commissioner Reha & Exhibit A – Reha Power Point Presentation.
And then there’s Great Plains Institute’s involvement. After their intense and well funded toadying for coal gasification ($437,000 over 21 months), and transmission, and then Xcel Energy’s e21, Dog help us! Anything GPISD in involved with has got my attention, and not in a good way!
Last night’s agenda was packed, and we got a lot done. A guy name Scott Thomas (the NSP engineer perhaps?) was at my table and jumped up and objected when we had a bit of opposition theater, I jumped up to counter, DOH, every hear of freedom of speech. I mean really, it took all of 5 minutes, let people speak up!
Here’s my comment, in large part based on “consent” a la SNUY’s approach for sexual consent, substituting “nuclear” for sexual — if we’re going to get screwed, this is the best possible of consent definitions:
Here’s the DOE’s Consent-Based Siting page. Notice was in the Federal Register, who reads that? Invitation for Public Comment in the Federal Register. Comments are being taken through July 31 or email to them at email@example.com.
Here’s how they’re framing it, with questions to be answered:
- How can the Department ensure that the process for selecting a site is fair?
- What models and experience should the Department use in designing the process?
- Who should be involved in the process for selecting a site, and what is their role?
- What information and resources do you think would facilitate your participation?
- What else should be considered?
We broke into small groups and actually had a pretty good discussion. Peggy Rehder, Red Wing City Council, was also at “Table 2” and of course we’re disagreeing. She’s frustrated at having spent 6 years on this and getting nowhere, but in terms of nuclear waste, 6 years is but a second or two… I’ve got 22 years in, and some there had many more. A key point was that the DOE must restore trust if it wants to get anywhere, and how would that happen? Stopping production of more nuclear waste is a key step. Dream on… this process is a move to enable continued generation of nuclear waste, continued operation of nuclear plants, now being relicensed, uprated, nuclear waste expanded.
Prairie Island’s President Shelly Buck was on the panel, and that was good — PIIC is in such a mess, the plant and nuclear waste right next door, and they’ve been screwed over so many ways, so many times. Will they be regarded as a “stakeholder” this time around? They’ve intervened in so many nuclear matters, doing everything they can to protect the Community…
Parts of it were webcast. There will be a video of the evening’s festivities sometime, LINK HERE (when it’s posted, scroll down to “Minneapolis”) and there was a photographer snapping shots every few seconds (hmmmm, well, I guess that will be added to all our files!).
Karen Hadden, SEED Coalition (that SEED Coalition grew from Energy Foundation funding, same as MN’s defunct “SEED Coalition” which morphed into “RE-AMP” about 2005), was present, and vocal (YES!), regarding their concerns about nuclear waste siting in Texas and New Mexico, particularly about a recent application to NRC for a nuclear waste storage facility in western Texas, near the New Mexico border. See www.NoNuclearWasteAqui.org for more info.
Alan Muller, environmental consultant in Minnesota, and Exec. Dir. of Green Delaware, spoke of his having TWO Prairie Island reactors on the other side of town here in Red Wing, and the THREE Salem and Hope Creek reactors, visible from the office window in Port Penn, Delaware.
Here’s the Arizona meeting, CHECK OUT THE VIDEO HERE. Well worth the listen, the panel is much better qualified than the one in Minnesota (with the exception of Prairie Island’s Shelly Buck, and Canada’s Kathryn Shaver from their Adaptive Phases Management Engagement and Site Selection, Nuclear Waste Management Organization, listen up to them when Mpls. video is released).
I think it’s worth trotting out the EQB Citizens Advisory Task Force report on nuclear waste, from the Florence Township Nuclear Waste Daze:
And also thing about the many casks on Prairie Island — those TN-40s and TN-29 have aluminum seals that need to be replaced EVERY 20 YEARS, and to my knowledge they’ve not been replaced, and there are casks that have been loaded and sitting there for more than 20 years. What’s up with that? What’s the plan? Back when they were permitting that, there was no plan. So…
Consider this 3 Stooges approach to cask unloading — don’t know of any other attempt to unload casks, maybe that’s one of the lessons learned here:
Here’s an INEL report on a TN24 leak:
And an NRC report on unloading:
Here’s an EPRI report on (these technical reports are important!) Creep and Crud, which occurs with storage:
Here’s a report generated after the “ignition event” at Pt. Beach, where spent fuel was loaded in a cask, then set out of the pool, and let sit overnight, then they attempted to well it, well, welding cask full of bubbles of hydrogen from the interaction of zinc and the acidic solution the assemblies are sitting in, left overnight, BOOM!
Where are all the reports about the weld flaws on the VSC-24 casks? They’re in Pt. Beach, Palisades, and Arkansas One.
And here’s a report relevant to us here in Minnesota, given all our granite and our “2nd place” position in the federal site selection resulting in “choice” of Yucca Mountain: