ArjunMakhijani

After listening to his testimony today before Minnesota’s Senate Environment and Energy Committee…

Video (weird write up, omitted the most important witness!!!), see 10:06:

*Lifting Moratorium on New Nuclear Power Plants

Arjun Makhijani – Minnesota Senate E and E Committee 03-03-2015

… we got another dose when Dr. Makhijani graced us with his presence at Fiesta Mexicana, with tales of Nuclear Waste Confidence that lit up every burn-up and zircaloy cladding wonk around the tables!  It’s really depressing stuff, so it was better to discuss this dreadful and so unbelievable nuclear situation in a dedicated misery-loves-company group.

In his testimony, he’d brought up the dangers of moving forward with nuclear plans where there is “Construction Work in Progress” for utilities to recoup funds spent on construction long before it is in-service, if ever, as is happening with the Vogtle plant.  So I took a stroll through our statutes, long familiar with our 2005 Construction Work in Progress give-away to Xcel on transmission, and found that, sure enough, it is an option for Minnesota utilities:

Minn. Stat. 216B.16, Subd. 6a. Construction work in progress.

To the extent that construction work in progress is included in the rate base, the commission shall determine in its discretion whether and to what extent the income used in determining the actual return on the public utility property shall include an allowance for funds used during construction, considering the following factors:

(1) the magnitude of the construction work in progress as a percentage of the net investment rate base;

(2) the impact on cash flow and the utility’s capital costs;

(3) the effect on consumer rates;

(4) whether it confers a present benefit upon an identifiable class or classes of customers; and

(5) whether it is of a short-term nature or will be imminently useful in the provision of utility service.

Xcel did finally come out and admitted their support for removal of the nuclear moratorium.  When considered in light of their e21_Initiative_Phase_I_Report_2014, there’s a trajectory that I see, and wish I didn’t: Xcel could build a new nuclear plant on the ratepayers dime and sell it on the market using their new transmission that we’re paying for, making Minnesota an electricity exporter!

Tonight, we discussed the Nuclear Waste Confidence decision, which is a “No-Confidence” decision, the word “confidence” has been removed from NRC lexicon.  Well, there is that other meaning of “confidence” to consider…

So on that happy note, I’ll have mango margaroodie dreams about the Pt. Beach cask explosion and the current task of changing the seals on those 20 year old TN-40 casks!

PtBeach_FS122-Figure-3-pb-cask-02

Here’s Dr. Arjun Makhijani’s Powerpoint from this afternoon:

Arjun Makhijani draft slides for Minnesota Senate E and E Committee 03-03-2015

12 noon!  Nuclear Senate bills!  Tune in to the Senate Webcast – Environment and Energy Committee

Flash Media
Windows Media – Closed captioned 

12 p.m. – Live Senate Environment and Energy Committee

Agenda:
S.F. 306 (Kiffmeyer) Nuclear power plant certificate of need issuance prohibition elimination (for discussion only and consideration for possible inclusion in omnibus energy bill).
S.F. 536 (Anderson, B.) Monticello new nuclear-powered electric generating unit construction authorization (for discussion only and consideration for possible inclusion in omnibus energy bill).

Prairie Island nuclear plant

That’s “our” reactor, the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, here in Red Wing, it’s within the city limits (which were expanded to include the plant).  I represented Florence Township from 1995, when Xcel, f/k/a NSP, applied to put nuclear waste in Florence Township under the “alternate site mandate,” and that went on, and on, and on, until they finally withdrew their application at the NRC in … what, 1999?  2000?  That’s one I thought would never end.  But that’s the thing about nuclear, it’s never over.

QUICK — CONTACT THE LEGISLATORS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS MISSIVE.

There are two bills before the Senate Environment and Energy Committee TOMORROW:

  • SF306 is simply worded, deleting the Minn. Stat. 216.243, Subd. 3b prohibition of new construction of a nuclear plant and changes it to “Additional storage of spent nuclear fuel” and over the previous language that states: “Any certificate of need for additional storage of spent nuclear fuel for a facility seeking a license extension shall address the impacts of continued operations over the period for which approval is sought.”  It’s authored by Kiffmeyer, coauthored by Dahms and Anderson.

SF536So we have a blanket repeal of the nuclear construction prohibition, and a specific opening for a Certificate of Need for a nuclear generator at the Monticello site.

Authors contact info is linked above, and emails for Senate Energy committee members and the authors are also listed below.

Whether it’s targeted as a replacement for the Fukushima Daiichi style GE plant, or whether it’s to add and operate a second reactor, WHY?

First, there’s no need.  There is a glut of electricity, as our friend, Xcel’s Ben Fowkes said, when they could no longer keep up the GROW GROW GROW fiction.  Here’s the Seeking Alpha transcript of the XEL Earnings Call, January 31, 2013. 

So I think the economies are in decent shape across all our jurisdictions. Doesn’t necessarily mean it translates to high sales growth. And that’s consistent with our forecast. I mean, we’re not anticipating that we’re going to see a tremendous rebound in sales, even as the economies start to improve. I mean, I think, that’s our new normal, frankly.

For last year:

Finally, NSP-Minnesota sales increased six-tenths of a percent driven by growth in the number of residential and small C&I customers and usage increases in the small C&I class.

From Xcel’s IRP (Docket 15-21), p. 45 of 102:

Historic&ForecastPeakDemand_IRPp45And here’s what they had to say about that (note they do NOT go back further than 2011, so we don’t get to see the 2000-2010 numbers):

We forecast a period of relatively flat growth such that our median base peak will increase only 0.4 percent in each year of the planning period…

That chart is NOT consistent with the 2014 SEC 10K filing, which shows a 2014 peak demand of 8,848 MW (info below is linked, see p. 9 at 10-K link):

Capacity and Demand
 
Uninterrupted system peak demand for the NSP System’s electric utility for each of the last three years and the forecast for 2015, assuming normal weather, is listed below.
 
                       

That lower number is consistent with the downward trend of the 2014 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment, now showing growth rates at lowest levels on record (note that it has NEVER been close to the CapX 2020 “forecast” of 2.49% annually):

2014 NERC-Wide Demand

And here’s the picture for MISO from the 2014 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment:

MISO Peak Demand Reserve Margins

2014 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment, p. 38 (or p. 46 of 115 pdf).

Also from the 2014 SEC 10-K link:

Demand2

So we don’t “need” it, there’s no talk of a new nuclear plant in their recently filed IRP.  So why???

And the “WHY?” may be clearer when taken into context with last week’s hearing at House Energy, where the intent, in part, behind legislation there was to make Minnesota an exporter of energy.  Again, WHY?  Why make the state an exporter of energy?  And if we do what would that do for our rates here?  How does that fit with Xcel’s well funded plan to institute its e21 Initiative, and how does that fit with Xcel’s desire to use ratepayer money to find other market options?  The House bill would let natural gas plants be built without a Certificate of Need, whether by an IPP or regulated utility, with the key being that they are selling into the MISO grid, and not for Minnesota native load.

But nuclear is SO expensive!  First, there’s an immediate example of nuclear construction cost overruns right here in Minnesota, at the Monticello nuclear plant, where they went way beyond what was approved in the Certificate of Need:

Xcel management blamed for cost overruns at Monticello

So what was that about?  Costs more than doubled, increased by a factor of 2.33!!!  From the article:

The project to extend the plant’s life and increase power output ballooned from an estimated $320 million in 2008 to $665 million when it was completed last year. However, the final price tag likely will rise to $748 million, including construction-in-progress financial costs.

And let’s look at new construction, the first new nuclear plant in the US in 30 years:

C&U disputes Southern Co. claim for $247 million in penalties for cost overruns at Plant Vogtle

The cost punchline on the Vogtle plant?  Southern, Westinghouse and CB&I are already in court over previous cost overruns on the project, which is currently expected to cost $14.5 billion.

Here’s that other project:

Shaw Power Group, Westinghouse, face cost issues at S.C. project.

The cost punch line here?  The NRC is expected to act soon on the Summer license. Summer is projected to cost about $9 billion.

Building new plants?  Well, NEI has some info, BUT it’s outdated, nuclear has not caught up, and this is the most current I can find on the site (HERE’S THE WHOLE REPORT):

CapitalCosts2013So please explain — why would anyone want to build a new nuclear plant?

  • There is no need.
  • They cost so much that it’s unreasonable to even consider, and is the definition of imprudent!

Why are Reps. Kiffmeyer and Anderson trying to make this a possibility?  Is this for real?  Is it a diversion from some other issue?

CONTACT INFO FOR LEGISLATORS:

To contact the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, go to COMMITTEE LINK, because many MN Senators have form access, not direct emails.  Boo-hiss…  Here are the emails listed, but go to link to see the buttons for the Senators with form access only:

sen.john.hoffman@senate.mn; sen.david.osmek@senate.mn; sen.michelle.benson@senate.mn; sen.david.brown@senate.mn; sen.lyle.koenen@senate.mn; sen.julie.rosen@senate.mn; sen.bev.scalze@senate.mn; sen.matt.schmit@senate.mn; sen.bill.weber@senate.mn

Senate authors: sen.mary.kiffmeyer@senate.mn; sen.gary.dahms@senate.mn; sen.bruce.anderson@senate.mn

SF306 is authored by Kiffmeyer, coauthored by Dahms and Anderson, click names for links!

SF0536 is authored by Anderson only.

HF338 is sponsored by O’Neill ; Newberger ; Garofalo ; Howe ; Baker ; McDonald ; Nornes, click names for links!

WVaBakkenBoom

Recently there was an AP article that flew around the country that mentioned the massive numbers of derailments projected, but the study was not linked in any of the articles I’d found, and oh was I looking.  Then I went searching around, made a few phone calls, and FINALLY, out of the blue, it appeared in my inbox today.

Who cares about some government study?  Well, with info like this, I do, and so glad to get it.  How’s this for starters:

TableB3ProjectedDerailmentsAnd this, a chart of projected damages forecasted:TableB8ProjectedDamagesAnd, drum roll please…. HERE’S THE STUDY:

U_S_DOT_PHMSA_-_Draft_Regulatory_Impact_Analysis_-_Hazardous_Materials_Enhanced_Tank_Car_Standards_and_Operational_Controls_for_High-Hazard_Flammable_Trains_Notice_of_Proposed_Rulemaking

 

plant-blog480

Tomorrow the House Jobs Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee will take up HF 341, see also SF 237, to provide an exemption from Certificate of Need for natural gas plants that sell power into the MISO market.

SAY WHAT?!?!?!

The Power Plant Siting Act, specifically Minn. Stat. 216E.04, Subd. 2(2) already gives natural gas plants a free ride by allowing “alternate review,” which is “review lite.”  For example, the “Simon Says” 325 MW natural gas plant that had been planned for Waseca would have been built.  The 700-800 MW Sunrise River Station by the Chisago sub would have been built.  WHY?  Should a community be subject to living with a HUGE natural gas plant without regulation?  Nope, no way, no how.  Plus who will pay for the transmission interconnection, and how will that be regulated, both “need” and routing… and then there’s eminent domain!  What’s the impact on Minnesota utilities and their service territory?

The biggest problem?  If it’s not regulated by the PUC, who handles it?  Counties.  What county has the expertise or resources to review and permit a power plant?  Most likely it’s as in Freeborn County, where they cut and pasted the project APPLICATION and called it an EIS!  Really!  Or look at Chisago County and the Sunrise River natural gas plant.  That’s not something that should be thrown at a local government.

Here are the Authors’ emails — contact them today:

rep.chris.swedzinski@house.mnrep.jason.metsa@house.mn, rep.dave.baker@house.mn, rep.marion.oneill@house.mn

Here are the Committee member emails — contact them today:

rep.pat.garofalo@house.mn, rep.dave.baker@house.mn, rep.karen.clark@house.mn, rep.dan.fabian@house.mn, rep.bob.gunther@house.mn, rep.melissa.hortman@house.mn, rep.jason.isaacson@house.mn, rep.sheldon.johnson@house.mn, rep.bob.loonan@house.mn, rep.jason.metsa@house.mn, rep.jim.newberger@house.mn, rep.marion.oneill@house.mn, rep.peggy.scott@house.mn, rep.erik.simonson@house.mn, rep.dennis.smith@house.mn, rep.chris.swedzinski@house.mn, rep.bob.vogel@house.mn, rep.jean.wagenius@house.mn, rep.jim.knoblach@house.mn

Please let them know how important it is that we continue to regulate natural gas plants.  A power plants is large, expensive infrastructure with large, costly impacts, and should only be built when and where needed, after a full Certificate of Need and Siting review.

Here’s an example of how it went in Waseca when they tried to bootstrap a larger plant onto an already approve very small plant — short version?  It didn’t go:

Blooming Grove Township — Sen. Dick Day shows his true colors

And in Chisago County where they tried to ram through a HUGE plant on the Sunrise River and pull out large amounts of water — short version?  It didn’t go:

LS Power’s Sunrise River plant voted DOWN!

Lent Twp voters say NO! to LS Power

LS Power’s Sunrise River Energy in the news

Report on Monday Chisago meeting

500+ give LS Power a piece of their mind

What about the Mesaba Project which has a site permit good until 2019, and which couldn’t demonstrate either “need” or that it would provide reasonably priced electricity — under this bill, a large natural gas plant could go up on that site without any further review!  More info HERE on Mesaba Project!

That’s what communities think of having a natural gas plant using their water, making noise, being lit up 24/7, and all for the profit of some absentee corporate owner:  Thanks, but NO THANKS!

Here’s the agenda for tomorrow:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

12:45 PM

Room: 10 State Office Building
Chair: Rep. Pat Garofalo
Agenda:
Overview of natural gas issues in Minnesota.If you wish to testify on HF341, please contact Committee Legislative Assistant, Jonathan Fortner, at jonathan.fortner@house.mn.
Bills:
HF341 – (Swedzinski): Requirement to obtain certificate of need prior to construction of a natural gas plant generating electricity that is exported from the state eliminated.
Here’s the full text of HF 341:
HF341HF341_2