PublicUtilitiesCommission

Xcel Energy has filed its “e21_Initiative_Phase_I_Report_2014: Charting a Path to a 21st Century Energy System in Minnesota  as a part of a filing entitled “INITIAL FILING–REQUEST FOR PLANNING MTG AND DIALOGUE IN SUPPORT OF E21 INITIATIVE” (now PUC Docket 14-1055) in which they make a request for consideration at a Public Utilities Commission planning meeting:

Request for Planning Mtg and Dialogue – Roadmap to Support e21 Initiative

It’s not just Xcel, but they’re the ringleaders filing the request.  So what is this and why support it? Well, first, let’s look at the basic plan — “stakeholders” and Xcel are proposing things be done differently.  Why?  Well, here’s an egregious example.  How about circumventing all that pesky criteria that they must meet to get a Certificate of Need, and we know how hard that is to prove up need when there is none… so will someone tell me what the relationship is between “use of, and give additional weight to, settlement agreements among the parties” and criteria for a Commission on anything, be it a Certificate of Need or a Rate Case?

E21 J1e21 J2-3

Can you believe that?  But wait, how many Certificate of Need applications have ever been denied?  Oh well, maybe it makes them work at it too hard to fabricate some need claim? And we know how rate cases have been going lately, not exactly in a way that Xcel wants!

Another points they’re looking for:

e21 K

Don’t want those pesky intervenors in individual cases, after all.  Multiple dockets for multiple projects, how on earth could people receive notice, participate and find representation in this scenario?  And how about not doing anything until they’ve addressed the 09-845 “Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines” docket that’s been languishing for five years now?

And look who the “stakeholders” are, and clearly some are more equal than others.  Look who’s involved, the same utility interests, or the toadies that have sold out to the utility interests:

Participants1Participants2

Note that not one of these “stakeholders” have bothered to join, participate, attend, or file comments on the PUC rulemaking for Minn. R. Ch. 7849 Certificate of Need and 7850 Site or Route Permt. None of them bothered to weigh in on the Office of Administrative Hearings Minn. R. Ch. 1400 and 1405 Rulemaking trial balloon either (it’s on hold, and comments have not been published and I had to file a FOIA Request to get the Comments of others).

And given what Gov. Dayton had floated as his trial ballon, it gets a little scary:

What is Gov. Dayton thinking?

AAAARGH!  Anyway, back to the “stakeholders.”  Utility toadies all… except I don’t know of toadying on the part of Ron Elwood, who’s often been participating on behalf of ratepayers in ratecases, and did a great report on nuclear ages ago.  But the vast majority are either utility employees or have been a clear benefactor of “agreements” with utilities and are actively advocating positions beneficial to utilities, a revolving door of personnel and employers.  Mikey Bull’s been on every side of this multi-party love-fest, Betsy Engelking too.  Beth Soholt and Matt Schuerger, then of the Waltons and ME3, are the ones who asked 7 or 8 of us likely intervenors “what would it take for you to approve this project” just before the SW MN 345 kV transmission line 01-1958 docket was applied for, searching for a sell-out but not offering anything or disclosing what exactly they were getting:

$8.1 Million Wind on Wires grant from McKnight/Energy Foundation

$4.5 Million to WOW

And looking back on some of the deals… for example:

1994 “Prairie Island Bill”  Session Laws Ch. 641

Merger Stipulation Dec 15 1999

This “Merger Stipulation” shows the beginning of not just the wind promotion but the transmission toadyism:

MergerPara4Who can forget the 01-1958 SW MN 345 kV 4 Certificates of Need docket, where parties, well, SOME parties, were actively encourage to “negotiate” by then ALJ and now PUC Chair Heydinger, and Crocker and Krikava were so busy winking at each other?

ALJ Recommendation – Nov 8 2002 PUC Docket 01-1958

Then on p. 1 of the Commission’s Order:

01-1958 ALJ Rec 1

PUC ORDER SW MN 345 kV Docket 01-1958

Throughout that proceeding, ALJ, now PUC Chair Heydinger, encouraged certain parties to negotiate, and negotiate they did and a couple of settlements occurred at that time, one was the Community Wind agreement incorporated into that docket, and the other the TRANSLink agreement:

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT 02-2152 ME3 Waltons MCEA NAWO

And shortly thereafter, let’s not forget the dough to promote transmission — once more with feeling:

$8.1 Million Wind on Wires grant from McKnight/Energy Foundation

$4.5 Million to WOW

Then we have these same folks at the legislature lobbying for the Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell giving Xcel everything they ever wanted:

2005 – Session Laws Chapter 97 – Revisor of Statutes

Well, apparently not everything they wanted, because now they want more.  We saw how promotion of transmission worked on this ITC Midwest MN/IA 345 kV case.  And don’t forget, the Walton’s Bill Grant is now Deputy Commissioner of Commerce in charge of Energy permitting and “environmental review,” and the Walton’s Nancy Lange is now on the Public Utilities Commission.

Wonder what kind of review their “e21 Initiative” will get!

Where is the public interest in this?

 

Here are materials sent by David Schultz after he was down here in Red Wing to speak about what it means to be on a nonprofit board, things to be aware of, basic ethics and responsibilities.  Great turnout, and a lot of good, needed, information.  MUCH appreciated, David!

And here’s another column about misbehavior of nonprofit and lack of oversight by the nonprofit boards, and another fresh example in TIES, which has some pretty egregious expenditures and practices.  It seems the Legislative Auditor is ramping up scrutiny and enforcement actions.  YES!

But below in his column, I think Schafer disses the level of training and knowledge required from his very first sentence: “There’s no reason to consult a manual of best practices in nonprofit governance, if anyone’s even thought to write one.“  He’s got some homework to do, as do board members!  But he ends it on a reasonable note:

If any nominee to a nonprofit board doesn’t think she can be the one to ask questions like that, then she really ought to think about contributing in another way. Maybe sign up for some volunteer shifts or make a donation.

Stay out of the boardroom.

Here’s what Lee Schafer has to say:

Schafer: Being a good board member just requires some common sense

There’s no reason to consult a manual of best practices in nonprofit governance, if anyone’s even thought to write one.

Being a fine board member just isn’t that hard.

In the spectacular cases of nonprofit mismanagement in the news this year, such as with Community Action of Minneapolis, there wasn’t anything clever going on that would have needed any special skill to sniff out.

How hard can it be, really, to figure out that lending more than $36,000 to the executive director to buy a car maybe isn’t a good idea?

Melissa Stone, a professor of nonprofit management at the at the University of Minnesota, said she doesn’t much like the term best practices either, in part because serving on a nonprofit board can be such a different experience depending on the size of the organization or its mission.

But when it comes to what she called “the basic legal responsibilities,” including financial oversight, the job is really the same whether you’re a trustee for a big hospital or a director for a community food shelf.

That legal responsibility comes with terms that may sound technical the first time a person hears them, such as “duty of care.” All that really means in practice, though, is that the director puts in the effort to look after the best interests of the organization.

That probably also means, of course, showing up on time when the board meets.

“It’s really pretty hard to provide oversight if you don’t attend meetings,” Stone said, observing that many nonprofits don’t have an attendance requirement in their bylaws.

The recent scandals may give the impression that the nonprofit community is out of control, but the basic financial oversight of nonprofits seems to be improving. Many more nonprofit boards, for example, have a formal conflict of interest policy than was the case 10 years ago.

“With the clients we deal with, the boards are getting more active,” said Marc Kotsonas, senior manager and auditor with the St. Paul accounting firm Mahoney Ulbrich Christiansen & Russ. “I was kind of surprised by the couple of items [of mismanagement] that popped up in recent weeks in the paper.”

The reality for a lot of nonprofits, particularly smaller ones, is that keeping a full complement of board members isn’t easy, let along recruiting enough legal and financial experts. There’s no reason to be concerned, though, because a board mostly made up of well-intentioned financial novices can be plenty effective at basic oversight.

They just need some encouragement, from the nominating committee, the board chair or the executive director. There’s no reason for a new director to be embarrassed about having to ask why a not-for-profit has to file a tax return or what the outside auditor actually does before deciding the financial statements accurately reflect what’s been going on.

A good director isn’t necessarily a whiz with financial statements. Rather, it’s someone with a willingness to ask questions.

One idea of hers is to have candidates ask about the relationship between the board and executive director, particularly the executive director and whoever chairs the board. It’s possible for the board chair and the executive director to be too chummy, for example, with the rest of the directors struggling to have any influence.

Another common sense thing Stone suggested was making sure any candidate asks why he or she is being recruited. If it’s a personal friend doing the asking, and friendship seems to be the primary qualification, then maybe say no.

A couple of well-timed questions from a board member might have been all it took to change the direction at a school technology nonprofit called TIES. The Falcon Heights-based nonprofit was one of the cases of mismanagement in the news this year, and the forensic accounting report disclosed this fall, by the accounting firm Kern DeWenter Viere, is two dozen pages of sobering reading.

One small section that stands out is when KDV discusses a letter TIES received from Malloy, Montague, Karnowski, Radosevich & Co., TIES’s outside audit firm. This firm was letting TIES know it didn’t want to bid for the audit work anymore, citing a bunch of concerns about the accounting at TIES.

The Malloy firm’s letter was received May 15, 2002.

More than 12 years of board meetings came and went since TIES got that letter, and then TIES landed on the front page when KDV detailed some of the very failings that the former auditor had pointed out 12 years ago.

Back in 2002 somebody on the board needed to speak up. Apply some common sense. We need an auditor, right? And our auditor doesn’t want to do it anymore? Why?

If any nominee to a nonprofit board doesn’t think she can be the one to ask questions like that, then she really ought to think about contributing in another way. Maybe sign up for some volunteer shifts or make a donation.

Stay out of the boardroom.

 

 

 

I hate it when this happens.  KAAL in Austin and Rochester, Minnesota, has presented a distorted half-truth using only a half-video clip of the car that rammed its way through the Minneapolis protesters last week, and it’s this distorted half-truth that has 5,236 comments and 17, 591 shares:

KAAL fb post – Partial KSTP video of car ramming demonstrators

This is their entire report linked to that partial video that was edited and doesn’t show the driver at the stoplight, other cars going safely around, and the driver going around the car in front of him waiting at the intersection and he drives INTO the crowd (emphasis added):

(ABC 6 News) — We’re following breaking news out of a Minneapolis where a car drove through a group of protestors.
    
One person was hit before the group of protestors jumps on the car and begins vandalizing it.  Police confirm one person was transported to the hospital with very minor injuries.
    
This protest was in response to last night’s grand jury ruling in Ferguson, MO.

Stay with ABC 6 News for the latest on this developing story tonight at 10

Very naughty — that is NOT reporting.  That’s a grossly misleading spin.  KAAL had access to the entire video just like the rest of us did, and maybe even before the rest of us did.

Meanwhile, there were over 5,200 comments to that misleading facebook post, and over 17,000 shares — sharing and commenting on an incomplete and misleading version of the video.  Read those comments, filled with hate and rage.

HERE’S KAAL’s  MORE RECENTLY POSTED VERSION WITH FULL KSTP VIDEO, CORRECTLY LABELING DRIVER AS SUSPECT.

From Alan Muller on today’s Mpls. yak-yak list, to consider when looking at some of the 5,235 comments on that KAAL post, comments like:

  • “He needed a plow with knives”
  • “I would have done the same…they were out to kill the driver for sure.”
  • “Should get a snow plow and gas on it!!”
  • “I would’ve drove straight over those idiots. White black pink don’t care, I’m not stopping for psychos in the street to get out from under me. Made their decision being out there.”
  • “Good for him maybe more people should do this so these idiots will go get a job instead of standing in the street protesting free rights for hoodlums to act like gangbangers.”

What???  So back to Alan’s comment:

Every once in a while, on a list like this, a thread 
happens that seems that seems to speak about larger 
social or community problems.  This one does to me.  
Is it OK to ram a car into a crowd of people?  One 
could use answers to this as part of a test to 
diagnose sociopathic tendencies.  Do you have a moral 
compass?  Yeah, I mean "If you think the answer to this 
question is 'YES,' I would hope you don't ever get 
hired as a teacher or police officer, or reporter, or 
animal control person, or manager of people, or...."

For me, it’s the sort of thing where I long to see a societal intervention and treatment, this is embedded self-centered ignorance and hate with no regard for rights of others, or laws or basic human decency.  How ugly can we humans get?  That’s a question I do not want answered…

KAAL – though you have posted the full KSTP video, this other shorter one is so distorted that I think you should remove that post so that people won’t continue to be misinformed, and continue to pass on that misinformation.


		

1000-dollar-us-bill

Released yesterday by National Institute for Science, Law, and Public Policy (NISLAPP) (never heard of it before, need to do some checking):

Green Electricity or Green Money?

Why is this a question?  We know it’s a problem. But this report focuses on things like “Smart Meters” and doesn’t dig into the the even worse toadying for coal gasification and other harebrained promotional schemes of these orgs.

Here in Minnesota, the money goes to Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Fresh Energy f/k/a ME3, Izaak Walton League and its former program now independent 501(c)(3) Wind on the Wires (conveniently separate since just after election, when Bill Grant was appointed Deputy Commissioner of Commerce in charge of all things energy)(oh, and Nancy Lange appointed to Public Utilities Commission).  And then there’s RE-AMP.  There’s so much money flying around for promotion of transmission and coal gasification.

Bill Clinton toadying for transmission

WOW’s devil we know… ummm… WOW!!!

Walton’s Bill Grant – Deputy Commissioner of Energy?

Wind up to ELPC Transmission Strategy Meeting

AAAAAAAAAAAAARGH… back to work…

DraftIt’s final… that is, the FINAL meeting notice was just issued, one more go round on these draft rules for Certificate of Need (Minn. R. Ch. 7849) and Power Plant Siting Act (siting and routing of utility infrastructure) (Minn. R. Ch. 7850).

We’ve been at this for about a year and a half, maybe more, and to some extent we’re going round and round and round.

Here are the September 2014 drafts, hot off the press:

September Draft 7849

September Draft 7850

Send your comments, meaning SPECIFIC comments, not “THIS SUCKS” but comments on the order of “because of _______, proposed language for 7950.xxxx should be amended to say_______.”  It’s a bit of work, but it’s important, for instance, the Advisory Task Force parts are important because we were just before the PUC on this last week, trying to reinforce that Task Force’s are necessary, despite Commerce efforts to eliminate and/or neuter them.  That despite ALJ orders otherwise, the Final EIS should be in the record BEFORE the Public Hearings and Evidentiary Hearings (just lost a Motion to require this last month).

How can you comment?  The best way is to fire off an email to the Commission’s staff person leading this group:

kate.kahlert@state.mn.us

If you’re up to it, sign up on the PUC’s eDockets, and file your Comment in Docket 12-1246.  If you’d like your comment filed there, and can’t figure it out, please send it to me and I’ll file it for you.  It’s important that these comments be made in a way that the Commission will SEE, in a way that they cannot ignore, when this comes up before them.