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Bill Howley died yesterday.

Bill Howley is known by anyone working in opposition to transmission projects.  Due to a transmission line proposed in his community, he learned pretty much everything there is to know about transmission, wrote about it faithfully and fearlessly for years, and became an expert on advocacy, economics and technology of all things electrical.  He’s one of the first resources people would turn to when they first learned of transmission projects.  Recently, he’d taken the position of Program Director for WV SUN.

Bill Howley’s blog, since 2008 — take a few minutes to get an idea of the depth of his work.  Here’s hoping that his family will keep this blog going in perpetuity, a memorial to his work and as a guiding light for all those who are dealing with transmission projects:

The Power Line

The View from Calhoun County

From the Hur Herald from Sunny Cal:

People’s Advocate Bill Howley of Calhoun County has died.

His life’s work was based on his favorite quote by Ghandi, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

He was a well-known researcher, consultant, consumer advocate, activist, writer, and paralegal.

Howley, 62, of Red Bud Lane, Chloe, died in a vehicle accident on I-79 in Braxton County Thursday evening.

A graduate of Yale University, he and and his wife Loren Howley, Grantsville attorney, moved to Calhoun County years ago to live their lives in the country.

For several years he was a public advocate for consumer rights related to electric company abuse of consumers and published The Power Line, an on-line media outlet.

He was a leader defeating the goliath PATH electric transmission project promoted by WV’s coal fired power plants, that power would have exported to northeast urban areas, with a part of those costs being absorbed by consumers and taxpayers in West Virginia.

Howley protested the state’s taxing of deep coal that cannot be mined under 1,000 parcels of Washington District land, the Calhoun Commission taking action against the proposal, which was dropped.

He recently assumed a position as Program Director for West Virginia Sun, an organization that is helping West Virginia communities create affordable renewable power.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

GarofaloPasta

The price of Garofalo is too cheap — toadying to the corporate masters.

Rep. Garofalo claimed it is not the legislature’s role to interfere in private contracts.  But in taking out the language specific to Black Oak/Getty wind, he adds this tidbit, it supposedly was added in committee “during markup” — did anyone on the committee understand? Did anyone look at this footnote to Minn. Stat. 500.30?  It’s in the 2nd Engrossment, then 3rd, and 4th which was passed yesterday with some amendments:

This is language that modifies a footnote to Minn. Stat. 500.30.  It pushes up the sunset of the 7 year limit for wind easement contracts.  And there’s nothing in here that says that it does not apply to current contracts.  Geronimo wants it because it WOULD apply, at least they’d try to make that happen!

Nope, this is not OK at all.  That’s just doing the corporation’s bidding in another way.  Thanks, thanks a lot.  If you want to keep this language in, it needs to expressly state that it has no application to existing contracts.

I wonder — did Sempra know they were jumping into this morass when they bought the project?

Now it’s time to keep on Senate to remove it, and be alert for the Conference Committee.

Here’s the contact info for all Senators, it will hit the floor sometime, either in SF 1431 or maybe even SF 2101:

SENATORS’ CONTACT INFO HERE

Why?

1) We need to make sure that the Senate, THE WHOLE SENATE, knows that the special legislation for Geronimo in S.F. 1431, p. 34, lines 8-16, must be deleted when this comes to the floor in the Senate, if not before.  Check that bill carefully.

2) Also don’t try to sneak it in like they did in the House:

3) They also need to know that this special legislation for Geronimo must not appear in any other bill — don’t try to sneak it in somewhere else, and don’t forget to take it out, don’t try to drop it in during Conference Committee!  NO!  NO!  NO!

Contact each and every Senator and let them know “No special legislation for Geronimo” and that under Minn. Stat. 500.30, wind easement contracts now terminate after 7 years — do not attempt to change this 7 year limit for existing contracts between landowners and the wind developer/owner.  This change would be for the benefit of the Black Oak/Getty wind project(s) and to the detriment of the landowners.

 

 

keepinganeyeout

What’s going on with these Energy Omnibus Bills?  It’s bad enough that they do it in this “Omnibus” form, instead it’s OMINOUS, because they toss such a mash of incongruous things together, a little for everyone so they have a “deal, a package deal, and it’s a good deal” when it’s really just a mess that adds up to bad policy.

Senate Energy Omnibus bill is SF 1431:

SF 1431 – 1st Engrossment

The Companion HF 1678 Textisn’t going anywhere…

House Employment and Economic Development Bill is filled with energy related backpedaling and is even more OMINOUS:

HF 0843 – 3rd Engrossment

The “Senate Companion” to HF 843 does not really exist, but the stated companion, SF 804 was added to S.F. 2101, the Omnibus agriculture, environment, natural resources, jobs, and economic development appropriations:

SF 2101 – 1st Engrossment

With the different bills, it gets difficult when considering the special legislation for Black Oak/Getty that Geronimo added to the Senate bill (SF 1431).  That language remains in SF 1431.  Now it’s BACK in HF 843 — as of tonight. 

Initially, it was added to the House bill (HF843) without any committee discussion, but was then removed (YES!) after loud objections.

Better yet, the new owner of the project, Sempra U.S. Gas & Power, wants nothing to do with Geronimo’s legislative “fix.”  From “Signed, sealed and sold: Controversial legislative fix gone with the wind” Watchdog.org Minnesota Bureau, by , Sempra confirms that important distinction between itself and the former owner, Geronimo (also linked below):

Sempra U.S. Gas and Power assumed ownership of the up to 41-turbine wind farm March 25, according to the letter.  But the California company distanced itself from any statehouse deal that infringes on landowner agreements.

“From our understanding the Omnibus energy bill is no longer in consideration and will not move forward as legislation. Sempra U.S. Gas & Power is not in favor of any legislation that would change the terms of the leases agreed to by the Black Oak Getty landowners,” Steve Schooff, Sempra U.S. Gas and Power communications director, said in an email.

Good!  Sempra, thank you for taking a step back!  That they’re distancing from legislative action on private contracts is a sign that they have a sense of ethics and won’t try to steamroll this project through.  They deserve a hearty “Here! Here!”  Will Sempra give a listen to landowners?  We shall see!

But then tonight, I heard that Rep. Garofalo put it back in. Specific wording remains to be seen, let’s have a look at the 4th Engrossment, which should be out soon.  But noooo, this sly change was added a while ago:

Rep. Garofalo, you’d said on the record that it wasn’t the legislature’s business to interfere in private contracts.  Now it’s suddenly OK.  So which is it?  Now you think it’s OK to jump to your corporate masters and put that language in, to the detriment of the residents of Raymond and Getty Township who have contracts, contracts with specific stated termination dates?  Shame… what changed?

GarofaloPasta

And Sempra supposedly isn’t the only one to publicly back off — two sources in the Senate have said, IN WRITING, that Geronimo has said it wants that language deleted from the Senate version.  SO LET’S DO IT!

In the meantime, though, despite those assurances, we need to keep at it.  We need to continue to let the Senate know to remove Section 40 of S.F. 1431, which is lines 34.8 – 34.16 on p. 3,4 to eliminate that special legislation for Geronimo:

SF1431_Sec40

It’s supposed to happen when it hits the floor for a vote, and right now, “negotiations” seem to be stalled out, everything is behind closed door, and we have no way of knowing what’s really going on.

So what to do?

1) We need to thank everyone for removing the offensive special legislation from HF 843.   We need to make sure they know that the special legislation language must not appear in any House version.  And don’t even think of putting this special legislation interfering with private contracts into any bill in Conference Committee.

Contact each and every House member and let them know “No special legislation for Geronimo” and that under Minn. Stat. 500.30, wind easement contracts now terminate after 7 years — do not attempt to change this for existing contracts between landowners and the wind developer/owner of the Black Oak/Getty wind project(s).  Stand up for the people of Raymond and Getty Townships and remove this language.  Say NO to your corporate masters!

HOUSE MEMBERS’ CONTACT INFO HERE

2) We need to make sure that the Senate, THE WHOLE SENATE, knows that the special legislation for Geronimo in S.F. 1431, p. 34, lines 8-16, must be deleted when this comes to the floor in the Senate.  They also need to know that this special legislation for Geronimo must not appear in any other bill — don’t try to sneak it in somewhere else, and don’t forget to take it out, don’t try to drop it in during Conference Committee!  NO!  NO!  NO!

Contact each and every Senator and let them know “No special legislation for Geronimo” and that under Minn. Stat. 500.30, wind easement contracts now terminate after 7 years — do not attempt to change this for existing contracts between landowners and the wind developer/owner of the Black Oak/Getty wind project(s).

SENATORS’ CONTACT INFO HERE

micheletti_1_mpr082216

Doesn’t this guy ever quit?  New legislation with new option, wanting to change the law to allow a “biomass” plant on the Mesaba Project site.  WHAT?  Aren’t they paying attention to the Laurentian Energy Authority’s unworkable “biomass” projects in Hibbing and Virginia, the “biomass” plants that don’t have enough feedstock and so are burning coal?  Did they forget that the MPCA has only issued one woody biomass permit, for Laurentian (Hibbing and Virginia) and that that permit was violated, so extremely that the MPCA issued fines and reworked the permit?

LEGALECTRIC POST: Laurentian “biomass” Air Permit Draft (second time around)

LEGALECTRIC POST: “Biomass” violates air permit – fines likely

DOH!

Thanks to a little birdie for the heads up on this.

littlebirdie3

Here’s the change, hidden in Senate File 2101:

2101Today, say NO to lines 191.4 – 191.19 of Senate File 2101.

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There’s the Garbage Queen Victoria Reinhardt, Ramsey County Commissioner, promoting the Joint Powers of Ramsey and Washington County’s dream of buying a RDF processing facility in Newport, one that’s now a private entity that they’re contracted with to handle their garbage!  Why buy it?  Why lock the counties into decades of grinding up garbage?  They couldn’t answer that.

And it’s a bit of a conflict, as after they grind it up and turn garbage into RDF, they send it down here to burn it.  Thanks Ramsey & Washington Counties.  Let’s be clear here — you need to deal with YOUR garbage problem, and not send it to us, and not put it in our lungs.

They talked some about “what ifs,” like dreams/nightmares of anaerobic digestion and garbage gasification, but that is not dealing with their problem.  It’s an issue of REDUCTION, REUSE, RECYCLING.  How difficult is that?

More Value Less Trash_Open Houses Powerpoint

Here’s their site and read between the lines for the plan:

More Value Less Trash

Last night’s meeting was at Century College, which was 916 Area Vo-Tech when I went there and emerged in 1983 with a Truck Driver Certificate and the first of a few jobs of over the road driving that got me through a BA at Metro State!  It’s changed a lot, big expansion, and the trucks are no longer there, but offsite.

The next “Talkin’ Trash” garbage open houses will be 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.:

• Tuesday, April 21, in the Marsden Room of the Ramsey County Department of Public Works building, 1425 Paul Kirkwold Drive in Arden Hills.
• Thursday, April 23, in lower level conference room 14 at the Washington County Government Center, 14949 62nd St.t N., Stillwater.
• Monday, April 27, in at the Newport City Hall, 596 Seventh Ave., Newport.
• Tuesday, April 28, in Auditorium A of the Wilder Foundation, 451 Lexington Parkway N. in St. Paul.

Here are the latest reports that they’ve generated…  they lose it by only looking at burning or landfilling — there’s a much wider range of options.  And the Foth Report (first up) should make you froth:

Foth Analysis of Mixed Waste Processing
This study examines the potential of adding Mixed Waste Processing Technology at Newport and the costs associated with adding the technology.
Report

Ownership Analysis
This analysis includes looking at the current Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) processing facility and also looking at other technologies that may be used to process MSW.
Analysis

Governance Report
This policy study investigates the governance options available to the counties, describes the process to implement and consequences associated with each.
Report

Waste Delivery Assurance Analysis and Options
This document provides an overview of options for assuring delivery of mixed municipal solid waste, and potentially other solid wastes, to the Newport Refuse Derived Fuel (RDF) Facility or another resource recovery facility involving Ramsey and Washington Counties.
Report

Technology Comparative Analysis
This report compares the three options analyzed in the Preliminary Resource Recovery Feasibility Report to the current RDF System and to landfilling.
Report

Preliminary Resource Recovery Feasibility Report
This report addresses the technologies selected for continued evaluation by the Ramsey/Washington Counties Resource Recovery Project as part of the future of waste processing decision process.
Report