the problems with SF 1735…

March 18th, 2015

Minnesota_State_Capitol

Please say no to S.F. 1735, a bill that would result in removal of the regulatory protections for rate-payers and the public, and let utilities have the ability to charge us for private costs, and costs that have not been demonstrated to be prudent expenditures.

Little by little, Xcel Energy’s e21 Initiative is slithering into bills before the House and Senate Energy Committees.

Before anyone can vote on these bills, they should read Alfred Kahn’s “The Economics of Regulation,” both Volume 1 and Volume 2.

What’s e21 Initiative?  Here’s what Xcel filed at PUC, docket 14-1055:

Letter & e21 Initiative Report

Tomorrow, S.F. 1735 (see companion HF 1315)and S.F. 1431 are in Committee, and they’re supposed to vote on the Energy Ominous bill.

What’s up with S.F. 1735?  Well, check out this version, with yellow highlighting (and this is NOT all-inclusive):

SF 1735-1_Markup

SF 1735doesn’t have the part about “Competitive Rate for Energy-Intensive Trade-Exposed Electric Utility Customer” part that HF 1315 does, though we’ll see what the mines and Koch Refinery have to say about that when the Energy Ominous bill comes together and everyone has their hand out and foot in the door.

SF 1735 is a problem because… where to start…  the first problem is that it proposes, as Xcel does in e21, a BUSINESS PLAN which “replaces a general rate case filing,” REPLACES!  The standard it must meet is that it result in “just and reasonable rates,” and there’s nothing about “prudent” and there’s nothing about being in the public interest.  DOH!

And dig how it would be approved — they SHALL approve:

SF1735-approval

Stakeholder group… right, we know who that is, and we sure know who that isn’t!  And that’s the e21 Initiative mantra, stakeholders, and from who was included in e21, we know who would be deemed a stakeholder — all those who have done deals with Xcel Energy!  Oh, and DOH, they want approvals at the PUC based on “Settlement Agreements.”  Right, like the one that opened the door and welcomed CapX 2020 transmission, and that horriffic “it’s a deal, it’s a package deal, and it’s a good deal” of the 2005 Ch 97 – Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell with Xcel transmission perks, CWIP and C-BED :

SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT 02-2152 ME3 Waltons MCEA NAWO

PUC decision based on “stakeholders” and deals with Xcel Energy?  No, I think not.

Per the House hearing on HF 341 (see also S.F. 237), Minnesota should now be an electricity exporter, which is one between-the-lines goal of e21 Initiative, the others being ability to build without demonstrating need, to use ratepayer money for market development, to eliminate contested cases and use “Settlement Agreements,” which they’ve done expertly in the past.  Exporting for profit is doable, now that we have the transmission in place.  It would help Xcel Energy to just get rid of that Certificate of Need requirement, which HF 341 would do for natural gas plants of any size, i.e., 800 MW (like the LS Power Sunrise Station proposed for Chisago County, Lent Township) if it’s for sale into the MISO market.  As you know, also up for consideration is SF 306 & 536, HF 338, which would lift the nuclear prohibition and allow a CoN for Monticello or anywhere.  There’s no need, instead there’s excess generation, but that electricity could also go into the market, and with Construction Work in Progress, Minn. Stat. 216B.16, Subd. 6a, we ratepayers could pay for that private market activity.  NO.  NO.  NO.

NO!

The situation we’re in is NOT new to Xcel or any other utility.

  • Distribution system is utility responsibility as franchise holder and regulated utility, but they’ve neglected the distribution system over decades.  They have chosen not to upgrade and not to bring it into the 21st Century.  That neglect is not ours to correct.  Xcel has twice tried to invade and inflict communities with transmission when they had identified a distribution system deficit — Hiawatha and Hollydale.  NO!
  • Transmission deficit a decade ago was caused by putting so many IPP gas plants on line without requiring transmission upgrades.  This is reflected in the TLTG tables for the SW MN 345 kV line, PUC Docket 01-1958.  It also became an issue when Big Stone II was proposed because at that time it was “cause cost pays” and they hadn’t been charging gas plants but were going to charge BSII for interconnection costs, and BSII objected (see “standstill agreement” and withdrawal of Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment from that project at Legalectric: Bill Gates & Otter Tail at the PUC Tuesday…).  That transmission CoN was denied, approved, and plant was withdrawn so non-issue.  Then utilities and paid-for-NGOs went to MISO and FERC to find a way to spread the payment of transmission construction costs around, which they did.  The ones building it are not necessarily the ones paying for it, and it’s us ratepayers paying for transmission construction all around the country (See Schedule 26A, MISO Tariff, also Tariff MM) and the PUC has yet to address whether that should be paid for by us — but wait, it’s FERC rates, so the PUC has no say… well, that MISO MVP bill hasn’t come before the PUC yet, and that’s the last thing Xcel wants.  That capital cost is for private purpose transmission (market transactions) and as such, it is not ours to pay.
  • Generation changed decades ago too, moving away from utility construction and ownership, collect revenue for that, and now it’s morphed to an IPP (Independent Power Producer) mode where a third party takes on risk and cost of construction and sells power to utilities.  It’s been that way for decades.  Xcel has done some coal plant update, and nuclear update/uprate (grossly over budget by factor of 2+), but no new plants.  This shift from that regulated revenue stream was a business choice of utilities, but now they’re looking to make up that revenue that they don’t get for building the plants.  That business choice is not ours to “fix.”
  • Rates — Utilities want out of rate cases!  Of course they’d want that, Xcel has lost ground in their rate demands the last few rounds.  A Business Plan is not adequate, however, they need to prove up their expenditures if they expect us to pay them, and we should not, must not, be assessed for their market private purpose expenses, like transmission for export.  The bills for CapX 2020 ($2 billion) and for MISO MVP projects ($5.2 billion across Midwest) are the types of large expenses that they do not want to have to justify.  Not wanting to go through a rate case is no reason for us to let go of that protective review, or to let them charge us for things that are not public purpose expenditures necessitated by their obligation to provide universal service under their franchise.
  • Deregulation — this “e21 Initiative” looks and feels like the 2000 deregulation push to me, particularly with all the support from “environmental” and “advocacy” organizations, well funded, and funded I believe by Xcel and cronies (and that information should be made public).  Utilities wanted deregulation (back when Enron and Xcel’s NRG was making 300% profits screwing over California in an orchestrated rate skyrocket) and at that time, Xcel had all the “environmental” organizations behind it as “inevitable restructuring.”  Everyone was jumping on the deregulation bandwagon, all bozos on that bus, and that’s how this e21 feels.  Lots of people agreeing without knowing what they’re talking about, without understanding the consequences.  Back in that earlier deregulation push, the utilities also had everyone on board to pay them “stranded costs” for their large generating plants. Thankfully the A.G. stood up to that pointing out that deregulation is a disaster where ever it goes, and that the claimed “stranded costs” were really stranded assets, and if anyone owed anyone money, the utilities owed us for their assets that were paid for and fully depreciated.  Read Corneli on Stranded Assets.

This is not new to utilities.  It is not our job to correct their business plan errors, to pay for their neglect, or to finance their market activities.

More on this soon… but the short version, NO to SF 1735.  NO to SF 1431.

NO! NO! NO!

It’s not in the public interest.

And by the way, the “WE NEED MORE” histrionic mantra that you year year after year is false.  Excess generation?  Yes — here’s the peak demand that Xcel Energy has reported on its SEC 10-K filings since 1995:

Xcel_Demand

Also from the 2014 SEC 10-K link:

Demand2

The question to ask is “What’s stopping utilities?”  And it’s not our regulatory system.  It’s that utilities are looking for additional ways to transfer their costs to ratepayers without regulatory review.

It’s that time again, time for the “Book of the Day!”  Today it’s:

Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)

And you can get it at the library or pretty cheap at the abebooks link above!

Traffic

Perfect for those of us who love the road but can’t get out there as often as we’d like.  Part policy, part psychology, with lots of SOLs!  (that’s SNORT out loud)

There are some great snippets in here.  A favorite part is about traffic calming, what works, what doesn’t.  There was this problem with people going too fast through a deer crosswalk, and they put up signs, and, well, who pays attention.  Sign didn’t slow them, sensors with flashing lights when deer were present didn’t slow them, one thing that did get their attention was that someone dumped a deer carcass by the road, that got them to slow down!

Other ideas to slow traffic down, speed bumps (which tend to speed people up!), put a kids bike by the side of the road, a weird sculpture, “a ‘Street Reclaiming Chair,’ a bright throne of sorts, in the middle of a local street and then, wearing a large colorful crown, chat with passing drivers who, not surprisingly, have slowed.”  And of course, topless Danish models holding speed-limit signs.

Factoids like: The US pays about 1/2 of the fuel taxes of drivers in Canada, 1/4 that of the Japanese, and 1/10 of the English.  Adjusted for inflation, the fuel tax brings in less revenue than it did in the 1960s.  YES, INCREASE THE GAS TAX!!!

Lots on street and highway design.  Can’t get enough!

 

20150210_093435

Today is the Xcel Energy “stakeholder” meeting for “stakeholders” at the PUC.  For the IRP docket, CLICK HERE and search for PUC Docket 15-21.

20150210_093508

Here are their scenarios:

20150210_103218[1]

Regulatory process and timeline.  January 2 filing, 900 pages, and today between that filing and March 16, 2015 filing.  That March 16 filing will be next piece and will complete filing of plan to Commission, then forward with Information Requests and stakeholder meetings, and then PUC decision within next year or so, depending on what’s happening in stakeholder process.  Three components:

1) CAPCON Order (capacity acquisition process)

  • Aurora Solar
  • Calpine combine cycle expension
  • Black Dog 6 Natural gas

2) Increase small solar forecast

3) Sherco Retirement Scenario

  • Sherco 1 & 2 retirement in 2020
  • Sherco 1 retirement in 2020, Sherco 2 retirement in 2023 (based on capacity acquisition process, retirement, etc. scheduling)

For questions about the IRP, contact Jim Alders  james.r.alders@xcelenergy.com

This is on the heels of last night’s meeting of “Citizens League Electric Energy” group.  From the Citizens League site:

And notes from committee meetings:

The January 26 meeting isn’t posted, but I scanned them in and will post later.  They had a charge of the “committee” in the Phase 2 Report to support Xcel Energy’s “e21 Initiative” below:

Charge-to-Electrical-Energy-Phase-3

That charge contained this specific direction:

CitizenLeagueChargeReally, this is what it says:

… the Citizens League Study Committee will be asked to draft both a statement and legislation to direct the Public Utilities [Commission] to convene this public dialogue with the support of external stakeholder efforts.

So we shouldn’t have been surprised…  That charge was pretty much fulfilled and presented to the group last night, BUT the good news is that in addition to Alan and my objections to that endorsement of the “e21 Initiative,” there were several long-time Citizens League members who objected to the way that this was done and the endorsement of the e21 Initiative.  (I’ll insert the draft when I get back)

Short version, the Draft was soundly rejected.  WHEW!

And for those concerned about this e21 Initiative, Intervene!!! Yes, Citizen’s League, that’s something YOU can do!

Just filed Petition for Intervention in Xcel’s e21 Docket

February 4th, 2015

1000-dollar-us-bill
How many of these does it take to buy support for these transmission projects ripping across the Midwest?  Not all that many…

For Center for Rural Affairs, “Clean Energy” means “transmission.”  Look at their site:

“Clean Energy”

And of course Wind on the Wires has always been all about transmission.

So here’s an update on just a few of transmission’s shills from the McKnight Foundation Climate and Energy grants page, and note, this is JUST 2014:

 

Center for Rural Affairs

Lyons NE

to engage local communities in establishing environmentally responsible siting for clean energy transmission in Wisconsin and Iowa, and to co-support the RE-AMP Rural Communities Caucus leader and staff coordinator

Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy
Year Approved: 2014
Grant Amount: $150,000

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Clean Wisconsin, Inc.

Madison WI

for general operating support

Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy
Year Approved: 2012
Grant Amount: $75,000

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Fresh Energy

St. Paul MN

to expand Midwest Energy News’ reporting on Minnesota’s transition to a clean energy economy

Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy
Year Approved: 2014
Grant Amount: $75,000

to support collaboration on Minnesota energy policy communications

Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy
Year Approved: 2011
Grant Amount: $50,000

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

RENEW Wisconsin, Inc.

Madison WI

to support the expansion of Midwest wind power through clean energy transmission

Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy
Year Approved: 2014
Grant Amount: $20,000

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Rockefeller Family Fund, Inc.

New York NY

to support RE-AMP efforts to promote policies that combat global warming

Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy
Year Approved: 2013
Grant Amount: $5,000,000

to support RE-AMP efforts to promote policies that combat global warming

Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy
Year Approved: 2010
Grant Amount: $4,225,000

to support RE-AMP efforts to promote policies that combat global warming

Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy
Year Approved: 2008
Grant Amount: $2,000,000

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Wind on the Wires

St. Paul MN

to support work on Midwest transmission policy and planning

Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy
Year Approved: 2014
Grant Amount: $250,000

FCClogo

Time for a complaint to the FCC, this is too serious to go unreported.  Here’s the FCC Complaint page, scroll down to “TV File Complaint” and hold WBFF Baltimore accountable.

What’s at issue?  WBFF Fox 45 in Baltimore both edited a protest chant and said in a voiceover that the protesters were saying “so kill the cops.”  And that’s a lie.  And no, it’s not an innocent one. I’ve done a few years in radio, know about editing, and the chant was repeated and repeated, and they had to work to falsely report it, both in editing of the chant, and in the voiceover.  Innocent mistake? NO! WRONG! It wasn’t just once, but TWICE! Someone had to edit it and someone else did the voiceover, and I’d guess that someone else told them both how to do it and what words to use.

Here’s the original FALSE report and note they tie it in to the police assassination in New York:

 

Shame, shame, SHAME! File a complaint with the FCC:

The WBFF Fox 45 embedded code doesn’t work, so here’s THEIR PAGE ON THIS AND “APOLOGY”, and their link to the WBFF interview:  Fox 45 interviews Tawanda Jones .  There’s a comment section — be sure to tell them what you think!  WBFF stresses that this was an “HONEST error” (emphasis is theirs) but as Tawanda Jones notes, how is that possible?  The chant was repeated over and over and over.  They did a voiceover.  Tawanda Jones, I hope you’re shopping for a heavy hitting attorney to sue them and shut this down.

A compilation of the pieces of this story from TPM:
TPM: Baltimore Fox affiliate edits protest footage to sound like “Kill a Cop”

This is their roundabout admission from Facebook:

Last night on Fox45 News at Ten we aired a story regarding the increased risk in being a police officer in light of recent grand jury rulings and the shooting deaths of two police officers in New York City. We aired part of a protest covered by CSPAN that appeared to have protesters chanting “kill a cop”. We spoke to the person in the video today and she told us that is not what she was chanting. Indeed, Tawanda Jones, says she was chanting, “We won’t stop ‘til killer cops are in cell blocks”. We invited Tawanda to appear on Fox45 News at 5:00 and Fox45 News at Ten tonight for an interview so we can discuss the video and the recent violence in New York City. She has kindly accepted and we will bring you that tonight.

That’s not adequate.  When they’ve reported such inflammatory lies, how can something like that ever be retracted?  Something like this, particularly because the false notion that protestors are wanting to “kill cops” has to be loudly and publicly stopped, with strong action by the public and regulators, with monitoring and correcting each and every instance that protesters are branded, and a lawsuit or two by every protester falsely “quoted” and labeled.  SHAME!  This is false propaganda, abuse of media power at its worst.