Last night in Mazeppa

October 28th, 2009

dsc00304

Last night, Rep. Steve Drazkowski and Rep. Tim Kelly (who wasn’t there!) hosted a meeting about CapX 2o2o.

drazkowski_2 timkelly

But Rep. Randy Demmer, 29A was.

randydemmer

As one person said, he had a “deer in the headlights” look as he sat in the front of the room.  Did he have any idea what he’d be in for?  I’d talked with him a bit when he came in, and he said he hadn’t heard from many constituents about CapX… oh… OK, well, we can do something about that!  And it’s good he showed up to find out what was going on and hear the word on the streets and in the fields.

Short version of the meeting:

  • Bill Glahn gets roasted for MOES “Minnesota_Resource_Assessment” report, which is utter crap, the report, that is… the roasting was well-deserved.
  • PUC, Commerce, and DOT show up en mass and toady for process and project.
  • Rep. Drazkowski utters words of placation, but did not promote Nov. 4 joint committee hearing on repeal of Minn. Stat. 117.19.  HE’S ON ONE OF THE COMMITTEES, EARTH TO MARS!!!
  • Affected landowners don’t buy it,  they get that fundamentally CapX 2020 is not needed and are pissed-off at the crap (see above).
  • CapX said they were not going through or around Rochester.

There were two things I let slide, can’t take on everything:

1.Their statements about Big Stone were odd, theywell knows that Big Stone could not interconnect without CapX, and I have the electrical studies which prove it, which after trying 5 times to make it work with a line to nowhere (Granite Falls) then assumed CapX in try #6…   But I also wonder whether CapX Brookings (hence all of CapX) can go forward without Big Stone.

2. They kept saying “this is all about local load” and denying the LaX to Mad line, and kept talking about Rochester as the driver, yet they did not note, of course, the new gas plant at West Side sub or the four 161kV lines that are planned.

Overland’s Scorecard (concept stolen from Deb!):

CapX:     0
PUC:     -5
DOT:       1
Commerce:   -4
The People: +1

Longer version, bigger photo:

The people did a good job of expressing their displeasure and disbelief.

Bill Glahn brought up the Minnesota Resource Assessment Survey!  Bad move…  He  got one of my awards for that Minnesota Resource Assessment Survey, and here’s Maccabee – Presentation to LEC 10/23/09 , another voice saying it’s outrageous.  Last night  Alan Muller got him good about it, told him” it was  an unsatisfactory report, basically just a regurgitation of the business plans of MN… no independent thinking and not in the interests of the citizens of Minnesota …”  Alan does have a way with words.  When asked for a response Glahn looked abashed and admitted that he knows many people are unhappy with it.  AS WELL HE SHOULD!  I mean really… to use as an example that phony “chart” of Steve Rakow’s on p. 6:

rakownapkindemand

… with no ID of meaning of X or Y axis, it’s deceitful, but they pulled that in CapX when faced with decreased demand, entering this chart, then citing its entry in the CapX 2020 Certificate of need record as if it means something.  Oh, pleeeeeeeeze…  We’re way below the 2004 actuals, and this forecast, for the Blue Lake expansion, it’s CapX 2020 era forecasts, we’re about 1,500MW down and growing, down 15% so far, down 2.5% in 1&2Q 2009, SEC 3Q filing and investor call due any second now will take it down further:

annual-base-peak-demand2

After last night’s meeting, Bill Glahn is certainly under fire, but I also got the feeling due to the cadre of state employees stumping for CapX, that it’s their perception that it’s in trouble.  It could be something as simple as they have no financing to do it, that demand is so far down that it makes no sense even to PUC and applicants to build it, or …  The DOT was distancing itself, there’s been a lot of pressure on DOT.  The DOT has its “Policy of Accomodation” (at issue in Chisago Transmission Project III, or IV, the last round, where Xcel stuck poles, BIG poles, right in the middle of the new plan for US Hwy. 8, in one example, right next to and over a business), and here it is:

DOT Policy on Utility Accomodation

…and I don’t think they’re going to change that anytime soon.  At the Legislative Energy Commission meeting in September, there was mention of an October 13 meeting with the DOT, but Dave Sykora, DOT, mentioned that was cancelled, and instead they met last week.  There were no specifics disclosed, but the feeling I got from what was said was that it didn’t go the way legislators wanted it to, DOT didn’t cave.  Legislators are looking, from Rep. Drazkowski’s statements last night, and from Rep. Westrom’s comments at the LEC meeting, for a way to do the project with minimal landowner pain.  I don’t think that’s doable, and it’s sure not desirable.   CapX 2020 is a project that shouldn’t be built, and if it is, it will cause considerable pain, for landowners, applicants and legislators!

Also noteworthy last night was the general failure to accept “need” and a high level of understanding, and for the most part, people are getting the broader picture.  (there was an odd comment by Burl Haar that if there were questions about the appeal of the CapX decision, that they post most things on the docket, and to check with him!).  So is the PUC’s argument that this belongs at the District Court, and not the Appellate Court (despite what Cupit says) on display in the docket for the world to see?  I doubt it, but I’ll check.

Last night, Drazkowski kept referring to efforts to alter the eminent domain law, but he was evasive and didn’t disclose important info, like the upcoming November 4 hearing before Energy & Civil Justice (he’s on Civil Justice!) (Upcoming hearing on repeal of eminent domain exemptions), and he didn’t advise on how to advocate for change, dropped the ball, wouldn’t even pick it up.

Here’s the info on the hearing:

WEDNESDAY, November 4, 2009
10:00 AM
Joint Meeting of the Energy Finance & Policy Division and Civil Justice Committee
Room: 5 State Office Building
Chairs: Rep. Bill Hilty, Rep. Joe Mullery
Agenda: Informational hearing on HF1182 (Bly) Public service corporation exemptions repealed.

Anyone wishing to testify should contact Andy Pomroy at andy.pomroy [at] house.mn
Last night’s meeting in Mazeppa on CapX 2020  follows on the heels of one last Monday night in Chisago, about an 855MW gas plant proposed by LS Power, the Sunrise River Energy Station.  Click here for  Report on Monday Chisago meeting.  They’ve  proposed at least three gas plants before at that site, and they didn’t go far, this is the biggest, and most public, and will need mega transmission, BUT LS Power’s Blake Wheatley admitted at the Chisago meeting that they don’t have a plan, don’t have a PPA, don’t have anything but a tax exemption (est. $9-10 million) from legislators who should have known better than to sell out their constituents for nothing, and then after being caught, for a very small “Host Fee.”  At that meeting, Mike Bull said Xcel won’t need any power for a long time, 2016-2017 (and if he’ll admit that at long last, we know it’s really a lot further out).  As with last night’s meeting, at the Chisago meeting there was, despite heavy lobbying and presence of unions like IBEW and Building & Trades, a clear understanding that the LS Power plant is not needed, and that peak demand is down.  Granted LS Power made the mistake of walking into an energy educated community, but even Bob Cupit was surpirsed by the turnout, said he’d never seen such a large crowd, ~500, standing room only in a hockey rink sized room (Also, FYI, Bob stated to the audience that “If citizens feel the system still failed to consider issues, the decision of the PUC can be appealed to the state Court of Appeals.“)

There is a theme.  Minnesota doesn’t need more transmission, and we won’t, in the words of Xcel’s Mikey Bull, need an generation anytime soon.  Am I paraphrasing correctly, Mike? (Duck & cover — the You Tube of that is forthcoming!!!)  The MOES Minnesota_Resource_Assessment is a crock.

Here are the LEC members — it’d be good to contact all of them, and let them know what you think about “need” for generation and transmission, decreasing demand, and CapX 2020 in particular:

http://www.commissions.leg.state.mn.us/lec/members.htm
Here’s Senate member info:
http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/members/index.php?ls=#header
Here’s House member info:
http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/hmem.asp

And about CapX and eminent domain, contact:

rep.steve.drazkowski [at] house.mn

rep.tim.kelly [at] house.mn

rep. randy.demmer [at] house.mn

Once more with feeling — Get thee to the House Energy and Judiciary Committee meeting:

WEDNESDAY, November 4, 2009
10:00 AM
Joint Meeting of the Energy Finance & Policy Division and Civil Justice Committee
Room: 5 State Office Building
Chairs: Rep. Bill Hilty, Rep. Joe Mullery
Agenda: Informational hearing on HF1182 (Bly) Public service corporation exemptions repealed.

2 Responses to “Last night in Mazeppa”

  1. Jim Roschen Says:

    Carol,
    I was at the Mazeppa meeting and frankly your comments about Rep. Drazkowski are misleading. He did promote the 11/4/09 hearing once you told him about it. He said he was not aware of the meeting because they had not notified him about it yet. He was appreciative to you for the info and he told the group he would be attending the hearing. You also fail to mention that Rep. Drazkowski is the ONLY Legislator who has put together a meeting in order for land owners to learn about the CapX process, informing them how to be involved and work to protect their land rights. This meeting was a great opportunity for land owners to ask questions and communicate their feelings about the impact this would have. As the moderator he allowed you the microphone twice to promote your agenda and your materials. So I do not understand why your comments are written in such a way as to depict Drazkowski as “evasive and dropping the ball”. I attended this meeting with an open mind and to learn more about this process. After investigating your site and reading your misleading comments, I am beginning to realize that this is not about stopping CapX for you. Instead I am under the impression that you are using an emotional issue for political reasons. This is not only unethical but very twisted.

  2. Carol A. Overland Says:

    Jim -

    “Very twisted?” Undoubtedly. Unethical? Ask Xcel… Ask the PUC. We have a long history and we play well together, no blood drawn. Well, there’s maybe been a little PUC and Commerce blood lately, but they deserve it.

    My agenda is clear: NoCapX 2020, “transmission that they don’t need and we don’t want.”

    1) Oh, please. No way would I know about that Nov. 4 meeting before him — I got notice 10/23 at 8:30 a.m. from the Committee admin staffer Andy Pomroy on the general committee mailing list, that’s last Thursday. It’s been posted on NoCapX since October 24th at 8:30 a.m. I would presume notice to all Reps would have gone out earlier, and at least at the same time. He would have known about it even longer than I have. He should be enthusiastically promoting it and he was not. That’s why I called him on it.

    2) My main objection to his position on eminent domain stemmed from his use of the term “exempted” and his words were, regarding impact of 117.189, that “some would say it exempts utilities” which is bizarre because “exempt” is the exact language in the statute. It exempts utilities from important landowner protections. He’s showing he’s not familiar with the statute. He allowed CapX’s Hillstrom to go on about eminent domain when he was misleading and miminizing the impacts of 117.189 saying it had something to do with appraisals. It’s a LOT more than that and Hillstrom well knows it.

    3) Rep. Drazkowski did not give people clear advice as to what to do. He did not empower them with information about what to do, how to advocate for themselves, instead he withheld important information. He did not stand up and say NO to the line, and instead seems to be looking for more $$$ for landowners and a way to allow it to go through without all the public fuss That’s a problem. Because landowners don’t want the line.

    4) Political reason? SNORT! What might that be? Please explain. This project is so beyond “politics,” it’s got bipartisan support with the help of Xcel’s 38 or so lobbyists, GRE’s 25 or so lobbyists, all spreading the false hype that we need the lines. I’m not running for office, nor am I working for anyone who is, nor will I be in upcoming elections. I do admit I voted for Jesse, and he appointed good people to energy jobs, and I am not now nor have I ever been a member of the Communist Party. I am campaigning very hard for openness in administrative proceedings, for transparency and truth in agency actions (which is not happening now, look no further than UMTDI and relationship to PUC), and reality orientation about energy.

    I do represent NoCapX 2020 and United Citizens Action Network, and have been involved in this CapX project and opposed to it since it was first proposed in MAPP meetings back in 2004. Ask any of the Xcel folks about me, we’ve been doing these dog and pony shows for a LONG time, and in many projects before, during and after this one. I’ve got a decent working relationship with them all, Grant Stephenson quoted me the other night, as did Mike Bull in Chisago last week, we are on opposite sides but there’s earned respect there. Grant says he pretty much agrees with me on everything I say except for my take on line capacity, so we continue to argue about that.

    FYI — Rep. Drazkowski was the first to say “no tables” in all the years that I’ve been doing this — you’ll note I did not raise that free speech limitation in the post, though perhaps I should have. He said he did not want different factions presenting, but by having CapX up there, the project applicant, he already was having factions presenting. NoCapX and U-CAN are intervenors with full party status and are appealing the Certificate of Need decision. Intervenors should have had time too, but not one Intervenor was on the agenda. That failure/unwillingness showed bias or fear on his part. The two times I spoke were where grossly misleading and incomplete information was being presented by people who either didn’t know about it or didn’t want the audience to know, and it was about issues that are in my domain and about which I’m well versed and about an important point that I am not about to let slide. In talking about eminent domain, why did NO ONE mention “Buy the Farm,” the most important piece of landowner protective legislation in Minnesota?

    And as far as my “agenda,” it’s surely not for financial reasons! I’m not even close to breaking even here, not even close to covering my expenses for all of these road shows (at least 5 multi-stop 1-2 week trips across the state for CapX alone). No expense account to charge it to. But I love my job and sleep the sleep of the innocent. My agenda is clear and public, just look at my blog. It’s there for the world to see, and the world certainly does see it, based on my stats, mostly utility industry, agency staff, wonks, etc. And they tell me they enjoy it!

    Again, ask Xcel about my “agenda.” They get it and maybe they can fill you in.

    Rep. Drazkowski is not the only Rep. to organize meetings. There have been others, out west, in the middle, and further SE (there was one just last month near Winona or LaX), I don’t know about up north as I’ve not worked that part of the state much except for the DoC scoping meetings. Have a chat with Rep. Torrey Westrom, he could tell you a lot about CapX, he’s providing leadership and representing landowners, at least at the Legislative Energy Commission and House Energy.

    CapX has been going on for 5+ years now… I’ve been working on energy issues for 15 years… welcome to the party. Dive in!

    Carol

Leave a Reply