Under a meme “Raise your voice… before they raise your rates” on a friend’s fb page, the Center of the American Experiment goes off the rails.  They’re fixated on renewable energy as the driver of the Xcel Energy rate case and rate increase, but don’t want to bother with the facts.  Well, it is the Center of the American Experiment, after all…

There’s no posting of the public hearing schedule, and no links to send comments, so what’s the point?  Guess they just want to rant.  I posted info on the schedule, and info about the transmission driver, and surprise, they deleted my comments!

Time to trot out this old favorite:

In Grist today: Transmission Lies

And here’s CAE‘s take:

Renewable Mandate Drives New Increase in Utility Bills

Minnesotans continue to pay through the nose for one of the nation’s most expensive renewable energy programs. Electric prices rose by 12.5 percent here from 2007 to 2014, versus a 1.6 percent decline in the average price nationwide.

Today the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is taking public testimony in the Twin Cities on Xcel Energy’s latest request for permission to jack up ratepayers’ utility bills by another 9.8 percent over the next three years. The request follows five consecutive years of rate increases for Xcel ratepayers, which begs the question of why.

The liberal grassroots group American Association of Retired Persons is leading the charge against a rate hike that will cost average ratepayers an average of $132 more per year.  AARP took out an expensive ad in the Star Tribune this week urging members to show up in force and “raise your voice against another Xcel Energy rate increase” at the PUC hearings.

“AARP knows that when utility bills go up, it hurts Minnesota families, especially those on fixed incomes or struggling to make ends meet. That’s why we’re fighting make sure you only pay what’s fair and reasonable for reliable utility service.” (the quotes aren’t formatting correctly, hence “)

So far, so good. AARP’s website also offers an “easy online tool” to help seniors “share their comments and concerns directly with the PUC.” Of course, doing so automatically opts you in “to receive periodic text, picture and video messages” and “action alerts about the issues that matter the most to older Americans.”

But when it comes to educating AARP’s members on the root cause of the problem, the powerful senior citizens lobbying group gives its usually like-minded environmentalist allies and government supporters a pass.

There’s no mention of why its thousands of members’ utility bills have escalated higher and faster than in most other states, in line with the increase in Minnesota’s renewable energy mandate.

Yet Xcel Energy makes it clear that renewable energy costs are driving much of the rate hike on a website dedicated to the issue.

“We’re making improvements to our distribution and transmission systems for continued reliability, the ability to safely integrate new energy on our system and to continue to provide carbon-free nuclear energy. Those improvements require investments, so we’re also working with regulators to bring more predictability to your energy bills.”  (the quotes aren’t formatting correctly, hence “)

The predictability in our energy bills comes in the form of annual rate increases. And 28 percent of the increase can be directly attributed to “carbon-free energy generation” and “diverse energy,” according to the utility. Another 58 percent goes into the grid for transmission, distribution and technology upgrades, but it’s not clear exactly how much is directly tied to renewable energy development.

Minnesota residents might as well get used to it. If state regulators okay the proposed hike, Xcel customers will have seen their rates increase for eight straight years.

RemainingHearings

Above is the public hearing schedule for the Rate Case, which apparently CAE does not want published. IF YOU GO TO THE HEARING AND OFFER ORAL COMMENTS, ASK TO BE PUT UNDER OATH (swear or affirm) TO GIVE YOUR TESTIMONY EXTRA OOOOOOMPH!

And to send in written comments, here’s from the PUC blessed  Xcel Notice:

Notice_Comments

 

There are a few more hearings for Xcel Energy’s rate case coming up:

RemainingHearings

Who cares about this rate case?  Center for American Experiment does, but it’s a pretty myopic view, claiming that “Renewable Mandate Drives New Increase in Utility Bills.”  Wish they’d read the testimony.  Anyway, you all should care because this is a transmission driven rate case (see 2A2_MYRP_Chuck Burdick Testimony p. 28-30; 2C2_Xmsn_Benson)     Greasing the skids was a consensus agreement reached by Xcel Energy  on many issues, including Xcel’s proposal for a “Multi-Year Rate” plan prior to legislation being introduced to give Xcel what it wanted:

Exhibit 1B – e21_Initiative_Phase_I_Report_2014 – Xcel Filing PUC Docket 14-1055

Note this snippet, where they’re whining that their grid is only 55% utilized:

(N) Identify and develop opportunities to reduce customer costs by improving overall grid efficiency.  In Minnesota, the total electric system utilization is approximately 55 percent (average demand divided by peak demand), thus providing an opportunity to reduce system costs by better utilizing existing system assets (e.g., generation, wires, etc.). (e21_Initiative_Phase_I_Report, p. 11).

Well, DOH, we know that CapX 2020 wasn’t needed, we know the purpose was evident in the map starting at the Dakota coal fields, and putting it on our land wasn’t enough (for those who think it’s “for wind” no, it’s not, what a crock, you should have heard the testimony, seen the exhibits, the record demonstrates it isn’t, www.nocapx2020.info), now they want a whole new scheme for us to pay for their infrastructure to sell coal eastward?

CapXFor some reason, this docket disappeared… wonder who all on this consensus e21_Initiative_Phase_I_Report made that happen!?!

e21ParticipantsOr maybe the e21 Project Team?

e21ProjectTeamDoes anyone else care that Matt Schuerger, most recent Dayton appointee to the Public Utilities Commission, was instrumental in working the e21 scam?  Shouldn’t he have to recuse himself from any consideration of Xcel Energy’s e21 Initiative rate case?

And look at Bill Grant’s role in e21.  He’s now Deputy Commissioner at Commerce in charge of energy issues, and was for 20+ years head of Midwest Izaak Walton League (working over then employee Beth Solholt and IWLA employee, now PUC Commissioner, Nancy Lange).  Given Nancy Lange’s role in e21, she should also recuse herself.

And then there’s Mikey Bull’s role, as he recounts, and look who all is involved:

The e21 Initiative started as little more than a glimmer in my eye a couple of years ago, when I was a Manager of Policy and Strategy for Xcel Energy.  I’d just come back from a meeting at the Edison Electric Institute about the impact of various dynamics – low load growth, increasing infrastructure investments, deeper penetrations of distributed resources – on the current utility business model. In general, rates were going to rise under the current model far faster as a result of those forces, and utility revenues become more uncertain.

Those dynamics were later chronicled in the Disruptive Challenges report issued by the Edison Electric Institute in January 2013. I realized that it was important for Xcel to try and get out ahead of the curve.

So I reached out from Xcel to Rolf Nordstrom at the Great Plains Institute and Nancy Lange then at CEE (now a Minnesota PUC commissioner), to start putting the e21 project together. Rolf and I worked to put a strong core project team together – CEE, Great Plains, Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, George Washington University Law School and consultant Matt Schuerger. We then compiled a terrific group of stakeholders who together represent much of what constitutes the public interest – low income customer advocates, small and large business representatives, utilities, environmental organization, cities and other public entities, and regulators. Beginning last February, this group of 25-30 stakeholders met monthly for day-long sessions that were wonderfully facilitated by Rolf and Jennifer Christenson, his colleague at GPI, toiling together deep in the weeds of utility regulation.
It was an honor to work with all of them, as we coalesced around the set of consensus recommendations detailed in the report.

Here’s the full recap:

e21_MikeBull_Center for Energy and Environment

wallstreetbull2

The legislation, SF1735, well, check the links below, and you can see how that went down.  I was there, seeing is believing.  First it was introduced, but despite the full room of SILENT “usual suspects” who had acquiesced to e21, and only a couple of us objecting to the bill, Sen. John Marty pulled it from consideration, initially on the Senate Energy and Environment Committee same days as legislative extension of the Getty and Black Oak wind contracts (the project couldn’t do it before the PUC so they go to the legislature), stuck in a placeholder “e21 Lite” and then put it in later as part of the Energy Ominous Bill, SF 1431:

These issues were raised, e21 marches onward, and here we are, in a rate case.

 

 

PhilandoCastile2

Philando Castile.  Another police shooting death, another police murder.  How do we turn this around?  Why do police officers have their hands on their guns, and not tasers?  Was nothing learned from Jamar Clark’s shooting?  It goes beyond a matter of prosecuting the shooters, it goes beyond training, it goes to the fear, profiling, and systemic racism that triggers these shootings by police.  Again, how do we turn that around?

What to do, what can be done… and it seems to me here’s a start: It’s time for systemic change to address the race/class/religious profiling and fear, for police protocol putting tasers as the first option (not guns), training all police officers on the use of deescalation techniques, raising the legal threshold for justifiable use of force, and a serious look at police psych testing and reevaluation of criteria for hiring.  After the fact, we need an independent investigation, truth, and restorative justice process.  Attend vigils and demonstrations, particularly us white folks.  We can push in all venues, and action sure helps the existential angst!

Minnesota House Members

Minnesota Senate Members

Federal — Members of House and Senate

A vigil for Castile being planned for 5:30 p.m. today at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School, where he worked and was well-respected. He was a cafeteria supervisor there and had worked St. Paul Public Schools since 2002.

Diamond (used Lavish fb account) Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, recorded this right after the shooting last night and posted it to facebook — facebook disappeared it for a while, but it’s back, and even the STrib has posted it, that probably won’t disappear.

Video recorded by Diamond Reynolds, via STrib.

The whole world is watching… It’s gone national, the police murder of Philando Castile, pulled over for a tail light out, and shot while sitting in his car while following directive of police to produce his license and reaching for his wallet.

From the New York Times:

Philando Castile Shooting in Minnesota Leads Governor to Seek U.S. …

And NPR:

‘I’m Outraged’: Mother Of Philando Castile, Slain By Police, Speaks Out …

Who was Philando Castile? From the St. Paul School District:

“Saint Paul Public Schools and its staff grieve the tragic death of a former student and current employee, Philando Castile.

He graduated from Central High School in 2001 and had worked for Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) since he was 19 years old, beginning in 2002, in the Nutrition Services Department.

Mr. Castile was promoted to a supervisory position two years ago and was currently working in one of our schools during the summer term.

Colleagues describe him as a team player who maintained great relationships with staff and students alike. He had a cheerful disposition and his colleagues enjoyed working with him. He was quick to greet former coworkers with a smile and hug.

One coworker said, “Kids loved him. He was smart, over-qualified. He was quiet, respectful, and kind. I knew him as warm and funny; he called me his ‘wing man.’ He wore a shirt and tie to his supervisor interview and said his goal was to one day ‘sit on the other side of this table.’”

Those who worked with him daily said he will be greatly missed.”

And thanks to the STrib for posting a transcript of Diamond Reynolds’ video:

Lavish Reynolds: Stay with me. We got pulled over for a busted tail light in the back and the police he’s he’s he’s covered [inaudible]  they killed my boyfriend. He’s licensed he’s carried so he’s licensed to carry. He was trying to get out his ID and his wallet out his pocket and he let the officer know that he was that he had a firearm and he was reaching for his wallet and the officer just shot him in his arm.

Officer: Ma’am, keep your hands where they are.

Reynolds: I will sir, no worries, I will.

Officer: [Yells expletive.]

Reynolds: He just got his arm shot off. We got pulled over on Larpenteur.

Officer: I told him not to reach for it. I told him to get his head up.

Reynolds: He had, you told him to get his ID, sir, his driver’s license. Oh my god please don’t tell me he’s dead.

Officer: [Expletive.]

Reynolds: Please don’t tell me my boyfriend just went like that.

Officer: Keep your hands where they are please.

Reynolds: Yes I will, sir. I will keep my hands where they are. Please don’t tell me this Lord please Jesus don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please don’t tell me that he’s gone. Please officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him. You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir.

[Silence]

Officer: Get the female passenger out.

Other officer: Ma’am exit the car right now with your hands up. Let me see your hands. Exit now. Keep ‘em up, keep ‘em up.

Reynolds: Where’s my daughter? You got my daughter?”

Other officer: Face away from me and walk backwards. Walk backwards towards me. Keep walking. Keep walking. Keep walking. Get on your knees. Get on your knees. Ma’am you’re just being detained right now until we get this all sorted out OK?

Reynolds: They threw my phone Facebook. Please don’t tell me Lord Jesus please don’t tell me [inaudible].

Officer: Let me see your purse. You have any weapons or anything?

Reynolds: No. Please don’t tell me my boyfriend is gone. You can take it off my hand. Please don’t tell me he’s gone. Please Jesus no. Please no. Please no don’t let him be gone Lord.

Officer: [Expletive]

Officer: [Expletive]

Reynolds: He told him to get his license and registration. He told him he was licensed to carry and that he had his gun on him and then he started shooting. He started shooting for no reason.

Officer: [Expletive]

Officer: [Expletive]

Officer: [Expletive]

Officer: [Expletive]

Officer: [Expletive]

Reynolds: His wallet and license and registration you told him to get it, sir. You told him and he tried to tell you he had a license to carry and was gonna take it off. Please don’t tell me my boyfriend’s gone. He don’t deserve this. Please. He’s a good man he works for St. Paul Public school. He doesn’t have no record of anything. He’s never been in jail anything. He’s not a gang member anything.

Reynolds: [inaudible] and that you cover him Lord. That you allow him to still be here with us Lord. Still with me [inaudible] Lord. Please Lord wrap your arms around him. Please Lord make sure that he’s OK, breathing Lord. [inaudible] Please Lord you know our rights Lord you know we are innocent people Lord. We are innocent people. We are innocent. My four-year-old [inaudible]

Reynolds: Could you please get my phone for me?

Other officer: I’ll talk to my supervisor.

Reynolds: It’s right there it’s on the floor. It’s right there.

Other officer: Could you just stand here sweetie?

Child: I want to get my mommy’s purse.

Other officer: I’ll take care of that OK? Just stand right here for me.

Reynolds: Stay right here. Before you take the handcuffs off of me can you [inaudible]

Other officer: Can you search her before [inaudible]? I can’t it’s got to be processed OK?

Reynolds: Come here (to child).

Other officer: Is that your phone?

Reynolds: We’re in the back seat of the police car. [inaudible] call me the police just shot my boyfriend for no apparent reason. My phone is about to die. They shot him. He shot him three times because we had a busted tail light. He asked him for license and registration he told him that it was in his wallet but he had a pistol on him because he’s licensed to carry and the officer told him don’t move and as he was putting his hands back up the officer shot him in his arm about four or five times. I’m on Larpenteur and Fry. Whoever can come to Larpenteur and Fry that’s where I’m at. I’m gonna need a ride home. We’re on Larpenteur and Fry. [inaudible] if you can come to Larpenteur and Fry we’re right here in Roseville. Got the Roseville Police they got me handcuffed, my phone is about to die. I’m on Larpenteur and Fry and the Roseville Police Department just shot my boyfriend. They shot him four times. He’s licensed to carry. We had a busted tail light. And we had some weed in the car that’s about it.

It was a Chinese police officer that shot him. He’s Chinese he’s about 5.5, 5.6-1/2, heavy set guy. He asked him for his license and registration which was in the back of his pocket because he keeps his wallet in his pocket. And as he went to reach he let the officer know before he was reaching that he had a firearm on him and before he can let the officer know anything the officer took off shots. About 4 or 5 rounds were shot and my boyfriend I don’t know what condition he’s in. I don’t know if he’s OK or if he’s not OK. I’m in the back seat of the police car, in the back seat of the police car handcuffed. I need a ride. I’m on Larpenteur and Fry they’ve got machine guns pointed.

Reynolds: Don’t be scared. My daughter just witnessed this. The police just shot him for no apparent reason. No reason at all. They asked for license and registration. That’s the police officer over there that did it with the black on. I can’t really do shit because they have me handcuffed.

Child: It’s OK mommy.

Reynolds: I can’t believe they just did this I’m [expletive] [screams].

Child: It’s OK, I’m right here with you.

Reynolds:[Cries]

Reynolds: Y’all please pray for us Jesus please y’all. I ask everybody on Facebook everybody that’s watching everybody that’s tuned in please pray for us. Sister I know I just dropped you off but I need you to pick me up I need [inaudible] to call my phone.

philando3

Graphic3

Dairyland Power Cooperative’s transmission through Onalaska and La Crosse is something to see…

Dairyland Power Cooperative and USDA’s Rural Utilities Service has released the “Q-1D South” Environmental Assessment, open for Comment until July 1, 2016:

Q1-South_Environmental Assessment (BIG FILE)

And from Dairyland’s site:

Briggs Road to La Crosse Tap (Q-1D South) – Environmental Assessment

Comments are due July 1, 2016 — send to:

USDA’s Dennis Rankin:  dennis.rankin@wdc.usda.gov

(I’d also cc DPC’s Chuck Thompson:  cat@dairynet.com)

By U.S. Mail:

Dennis Rankin

Environmental Protection Specialist

USDA Rural Utilities Service

1400 Independence Avenue S.W.

Mailstop 1571, Room 2242

Washington, DC  20250-1571

What’s to comment on?  I see two issues that should be sufficient to stop this project in its tracks — the debt load of Dairyland Power Cooperative and the physical setting of the project which too near and right over people’s homes.

Debt load — Dairyland Power Cooperative’s debt is excessive and should prohibit taking on more debt:

Dairyland Power Cooperative’s Annual Meeting was last week.  One purpose of an organization’s Annual Meeting is to discuss its financial status and approve plans going forward.

Dairyland depends on federal USDA/RUS loans to pay for its transmission expansion, such as the Q-1 transmission upgrades, including Marshland-Briggs Road and now the stretch from Briggs Road to North La Crosse south of I-90. Another USDA/RUS loan paid for Dairyland’s share of the CapX La Crosse line now blighting the bluffs. Dairyland will also be part owner of the MISO Hickory Creek to Cardinal line from Iowa to Madison. That’s a lot of transmission and loans.

Dairyland recognized this financial risk and lopsided debt/equity position, and in 2012 sought help from FERC_(DPC_Request4DeclaratoryOrder), requesting a hypothetical capital structure of 35 percent equity and 65 percent debt when its actual capital structure was 16.5 percent equity and 83.5 percent debt, and FERC did grant this relief in an Order for DPC for CapX 2020 (see FERC Docket, go HERE and plug in docket EL13-19-000).  That Order, and the 83.5/16.5% debt/equity ratio was prior to the present Q-1 D South project and the MISO MVP Hickory Creek to Cardinal transmission line.  Dairyland requested a “hypothetical” (bogus) debt/equity ratio to preserve its credit rating and enable low cost loans. The true debt level makes DPC a higher risk.

Are Dairyland members aware of the 83.5%/16.5 % debt/equity ratio and reliance on loans for major transmission projects? What’s the debt level where new projects are included? This new transmission enables increased power marketing and sales, a private purpose. Is this highly leveraged position for new transmission in the best interests of Cooperative members?

Physical setting of the project — it’s just too close!

The map way above is what the transmission system in the area looks like theoretically, according to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, but here’s what Dairyland’s Q-1 South line looks like on the ground:

Ulman_St[1]

Really… Here’s what it looks like from a satellite with the lines drawn in, on the far south:

End of the Line

Here’s what it looks like further north — look at all those homes:

Sheet Map 3

And here’s what the Wisconsin PSC Code says about clearances in PSCW 114.234:

(2) Transmission lines over dwelling units. [Follows NESC 234C1b, p. 119] (Addition) Add the following paragraph c:
c. Transmission lines over dwelling units.
No utility may construct conductors of supply lines designed to operate at voltages in excess of 35 kV over any portion of a dwelling unit. This provision also applies to line conductors in their wind-displaced position as defined in Rule 234A2.
Note: It is the intent under s. SPS 316.225(6) that the public not construct any portion of a dwelling unit under such lines.
Note: The term “dwelling unit” has the meaning given in ch. SPS 316, which adopts by reference the definitions in NEC-2008.
Note: See s. SPS 316.225(6) Clearance Over Buildings and Other Structures, which refers to ch. PSC 114 regarding clearance of conductors over 600 volts and the prohibition of dwellings under or near overhead lines.
So look what Dairyland says about these clearance problems, first on page 3-3 of the Q1-South_Environmental Assessment in its discussion of alternatives, specifically joining with Xcel Energy, which has a similar line right through the community over homes and through yards on the other side of the highway:
p23
Though there’s no case law about this, Dairyland states, “This provision likely applies to Xcel as a public utility but not DPC as a cooperative.”  That’s pretty presumptive, with no basis for the presumption, DPC!  And they wiggle around again, claiming the code doesn’t apply to them 10 pages later:
[33_1p33_2
Do you buy that argument???  First, they don’t even cite the correct PSCW section, using “PSCW 114.234(a)(4)” rather than PSCW 114.234(a)(2).  Note they state that “public utilities may seek waivers of any rule expanding upon NESC requirements…”  But if they’re saying the code doesn’t apply to them, why would this apply to them and they can seek a waiver?  Under their argument that the PSC Code doesn’t apply to them because they’re a cooperative, then if that applied, then this would not apply to them either.  Or is it the opposite, that the Code does apply to them, they cannot rebuild the line under  and have to apply for a waiver to the PSC?  Which is it, Dairyland?  Oh, but wait, I thought part of why you’re doing it the way you are, applying to local governments, in this short segmented version of your Q-1 line, was that you don’t want to have to go to the PSC, that you’re trying to get around it…
Segments
Segmenting, particularly segmenting to avoid environmental review, is not OK, Dairyland…
Remember, comments are due July 1, 2016 — send to:

USDA’s Dennis Rankin:  dennis.rankin@wdc.usda.gov

(I’d also cc DPC’s Chuck Thompson:  cat@dairynet.com)

By U.S. Mail:

Dennis Rankin

Environmental Protection Specialist

USDA Rural Utilities Service

1400 Independence Avenue S.W.

Mailstop 1571, Room 2242

Washington, DC  20250-1571

#ImWithHer ? Ummmm…

June 17th, 2016

I keep seeing #ImWithHer everywhere.  Somehow this is the hashtag adopted by Hillary supporters, maybe even promoted by Hillary Clinton herself.

Given the common use of “I’M WITH STUPID” to the extent that “I’m with…” will be invariably not end well for Hillary, why is this being used?

I'mWithStupid_H

And it also opens her up to such obvious funnin’!

I'mWithStupidHRCI'mWithStupidHRC_Real Photo

 

How stupid can they be?