November 3rd, 2013
Years ago, five years ago now, Rep. Bill Hilty, chair of the House Energy Committee, and practitioner of the “Hilty Jilty” when he didn’t want me to testify, started out the legislative session not with testimony of agency heads about their view of what was needed, but with a presentation, a several meetings long LONG presentation, that things were different, and we needed to be clear about the distinction between “growth” and “prosperity.” Hilty also promoted a series of meetings across the state about “Planning for Energy and Climate Uncertainty.” It was a great concept, really looking at what we mean with all this talk of “expansion.” This was back in 2008… during the crash. He was on top of this, but it never went further than those meetings.
Yeah, that’s a good idea to be addressing these issues… whatever happened? How were we distracted?
The concept isn’t as dead as the discussion, and today, a Commentary in the STrib:
… with a focus of “Grow-or-die is the only way forward.” They’re trying to prop up the notion that up, up, up is where we have to go. It’s so contrary to obvious experience. Have we learned nothing?
I’ve been reading this book that looks at the origin of that “grow or die” concept, how growth became accepted as necessary, with little concern or awareness of the impacts of that growth. Here I thought back in 2008 that Rep. Hilty was going to bring some sanity to the legislature and shift the focus to “prosperity” and not “growth,” recognizing the difference, but nooooooooo… it didn’t take hold. Now here we are, the crash wasn’t a little temporary blip, it’s the “new normal,” and we’re spinning our wheels. Thus this little treasure found in someone’s free pile at a garage sale is just what the doctor ordered!
It’s a cute little book, and takes a bit too long going in circles telling the story, but it’s a good read, a reassuring read, tracing the notion of “economic growth” as a necessity, and the belief that the world is ours to take and strip of its resources forever, all the way back to Hegel and focusing on the utopian John Adolphus Etzler, whose “fantasy has become our reality and that we continue to live by some of the same economic assumptions that he embraced,” … “that the transfer of matter from the earth’s environments into the economy is not bounded by any limitation of those environments and that energy for powering our cars and iPods will always exist,” conflating growth with progress, doing what Hilty attempted back in 2008, to get us off the “growth” kick into something more sustainable.
The obsolete world view, per Stoll:
From that time forward, economic growth became conflated with American influence abroad and the capacity of politicians to maintain affluence at home…
The result was an oddly plausible utopia: cheap energy and a land regime that traced indelible patterns across the continent by removing American Indians and eradicating wildlife, leading to a soaring human population that would soon live by consuming manufactured products, all financed by joint-stock companies and protected by a government that encouraged growth.
… (and citing and quoting Thomas Ewbank):
“Who can inform us where the terminus is to be?” he asked. “No one; for there is nothing in ourselves, nor in the earth’s resources, to point out there the last step is to land us … It is a rational belief that there are no limits to [man's] advancement, as there appear to be one to the agents of it nor to his power over them.” Coal got him even more excited: “A first element of progress for all time, it is preposterous to suppose the supplies of coal can ever be exhausted or even become scarce.” Preposterous, he said, because it formed continually in “the depths of our oceans,” faster than people can burn it. … “The proposition is, that unlimited amounts of force are to be drawn out of inert matter.”
Oh my… Yup, that pretty much sums up this mess we’re in. We cannot go on… What are we going to do about it? In a very concrete example, I’m thinking about Xcel Energy’s forecasts on which the CapX 2020 transmission buildout is based, 2.49% annually, and it’s nothing close, far enough off that those forecasters should be fired, at best. The 2013 demand for Xcel Energy is now forecast at about -1.2%. That’s a 3.62% decrease from the earlier forecast. Jobs, jobs, jobs, grow, grow, grow, we cannot keep doing this forever, we cannot keep up this “Great Delusion,” and folks, worse, we’re clearly NOT doing it.
Let’s start focusing on prosperity. Because if we can’t get a handle on that, and refocus our efforts, we’re going to keep headed south. We’ve had how many years of a rude awakening?
September 30th, 2013
Yeah, I’m a little slow on the uptake here, but the minutes from the last Public Utilities Commission Rulemaking Committee and the latest rule draft update came out what, a month ago??? Naaaah, more like three weeks, but still… And the next Committee meeting is Wednesday.
Who cares about the rules? Who cares about Minn. R. Ch. 7849? Well, we all should because it’s the way the Commission determines, in this case, whether a particular proposed power plant or transmission line is “needed” or not. It lays out what the applicant must put into an application, it sets the parameters of initial notice for the project generally and the different types of notice as the project moves through the morass that is regulation.
Certificate of Need is the “IF” stage, IF a project will go forward, and not “WHERE” which comes after it’s determined that it’s needed (rightly or wrongly). If a project gets a Certificate of Need, then the next question is WHERE. These rules address forecasts and what types are necessary and how current, if an applicant should be exempted from any of the rules based on the type of project or situation, the (nominal) environmental review in an “Environmental Report,” what avenues are open for public participation such as meetings and public hearings, whether you can question witnesses at the hearings, blah blah… it’s arcane, it might be boring, but it’s what we’ve got to deal with. You can find really painful examples of how the rules do and don’t work here and at www.nocapx2020.info. Please weigh in!
Rulemaking Advisory Committee
9-11 a.m. — Wednesday, October 2, 2013
PUC Building Basement (follow signs)
121 East 7th Place
St. Paul, Minnesota 55101
This is about Minn. R. Ch. 7849, the rules covering Certificate of Need.
From the PUC:
We’re getting pretty far along, so this would be a good time to get comments in on the September 10 Draft — QUICK before they issue a formal draft and it’s set in stone.
September 5th, 2013
August 8th, 2013
This is a VERY interesting discussion, if you have some knitting or furniture refinishing to do, this is good background:
The link will be live for about 90 days.
August 8th, 2013
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has issued its Request for Comments on its procedural rules, Minn. R. Ch. 7829:
This is the rulemaking where I wasn’t even given notice, nevermind that I’d submitted a rulemaking petition March 14, 2011:
The meeting last Thursday was interesting, particularly Commissioner O’Brien’s comments on the Rule 11 like language, where there’s at long last language regarding truthfulness in pleadings and arguments before the Commission, ’bout time. The bottom issue is important because if staff recommends something that’s not even been discussed in the proceeding, we, intervenors and the public, need the chance to discuss it, to put in our perspective, and more so, we need the ability to vet their proposal. So check out this webcast, it’ll be posted for ~ 90 days.
Here’s the meat of it:
Topics Open for Comment:
• Any issue arising from the draft of possible amendments filed in the Commission’s electronic filing system in this docket as an attachment to Staff Briefing Papers on July 25, 2013—with emphasis on the following possible revisions:
• What should the Commission consider when deciding whether to include language that discusses possible sanctions for violations of the proposed Commission rule governing representations of fact or law to the Commission (Part 7829.0250)?
• Assuming that the Commission were to decide that a sanctions provision is appropriate, the Commission seeks comment on the following proposed language:
Subp. 2. Sanctions. If, after notice and an opportunity for comment and reply, the commission determines that subpart 1 has been violated, the commission may impose a sanction on any party or participant who violated subpart 1 or is responsible for the violation. A sanction imposed under this rule must be limited to what suffices to deter repetition of the conduct or comparable conduct by others similarly situated. An order imposing a sanction must describe the sanctioned conduct and explain the basis for the sanction.
• What should the Commission consider when deciding whether to amend rule part 7829.2600 to read “If commission staff recommend action not advocated by any party, at the request of any party and to the extent practicable, all parties must be granted an opportunity to comment.”?
To file Comments: E-file using the Commission’s electronic filing system (info on registration at this link too), or email to Christopher.Moseng@state.mn.us. Persons without e-mail access may send by U.S. mail to Christopher Moseng, Staff Attorney, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, 121 7th Place East, Suite 350, St. Paul MN 55101-2147. Please include the Commission’s docket number in all communications – U-999/R-13-24.