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.

pilesofiles

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is winding up its rulemaking on the Certificate of Need (Minn. R. Ch. 7849) and Siting/Routing (Minn. R. Ch. 7850) chapters.  My clients Goodhue Wind Truth and North Route Group have been participating all along, and their experience with the Certificate of Need and Routing/Siting process has helped inform this record and we sure hope leads to more sensible and workable rules, AND increased public participation.

Now is the time to download and make your comments on what should be included, what’s included that’s important and needs to go forward, and what needs to be reworded.

August 13 Draft 7849

7850 July 8 draft

August 13 Ch. 7850 comparison

Send Comments to:

  • kate.kahlert@state.mn.us
  • and/or post to the Rulemaking Docket.  To do that go HERE to the eDocket Filing Page, register if you’re not registered (it’s easy and almost instant), and post to Docket 12-1246.

It’s highly likely that the LAST meeting of the PUC’s Rulemaking Advisory Committee will be September 24, 2014 (9:30 a.m. at the PUC, in the basement).

A few things that need work:

  • Ch. 7849 & 7850: Need language mirroring statutory language regarding testimony by members of the public UNDER OATH (ALJs have refused to offer people opportunity to testify under oath, and PUC has stated that it makes a difference, “but were those statements made under oath” and if not, less weight.
  • Ch. 7849: Advisory Task Forces need language of statute, and membership not limited to “local units of government.”
  • Ch. 7849 & 7850: Transcripts available online — need to address this in rules and reporter contracts.
  • Ch. 7849: Scoping and Alternatives — compare with Ch. 7850.  Similar process?
  • Ch. 7849.1450: When is it Commerce EER & DER
  • Ch. 7849 & 7850 – timing should be similar for completeness review, etc.
  • Ch. 7850: Public Meeting separate from Scoping Meeting (Public Meeting is to disseminate information, Scoping Meeting is for intake).
  • Ch. 7850: Power Plant Siting Act includes “Buy the Farm.”  Need rules regarding Buy the Farm.

Now is the time to review the drafts, above, and send in Comments.  There may be, I hope there are, revisions released prior to the next meeting, but usually it happens just before, and there’s no time.  So here’s where we are now, and Comments would be helpful.

We’re working on the revisions of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission rules for Certificate of Need (Minn. R. Ch. 7849) and for Routing/Siting (Minn. R. Ch. 7850), and it’s OH SO PAINFUL and tedious.  But this is where it happens — the rules developed here will be presented to the PUC to release for public comment and adoption — and once they’re released, they can’t adopt rules that are significantly different, so realistically, there won’t be major changes.  It’s now or never… this is where participation matters.

Our next meeting is Wednesday, August 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Commission’s Large Hearing Room in the Metro Square Building, located at 121 Seventh Place East, St. Paul, MN 55101. The PUC will provide refreshments.

FINAL MEETING – Wednesday September 24, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Please take a look at these rule drafts and send in your comments.  Here are the latest drafts.

August 13 Draft 7849

7850 July 8 draft

August 13 Ch. 7850 comparison

The next meeting is this Wednesday, so not much time for review and comment.  Comments can be sent to kate.kahlert [at] state.mn.us and/or posted in the PUC’s Rulemaking Docket, 12-1246.  To see what all has been filed in that docket, go to PUC SEARCH DOCKETS PAGE and search for 12-1246 (“12″ is the year, “1246″ is the docket number).

IGCC Kemper plant lawsuit

August 6th, 2014

Thanks to John Blair, Valley Watch and Bruce Nilles for the heads up on this IGCC project settlement.  We fought off one here, the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project, which took a lot of people, a lot of groups, a lot of approaches and a lot of coalition, and thanks to all, we do not have a coal gasification plant in Minnesota.

What’s disturbing is that they get to run this boondoggle $5.2 billion dollar project (initially billed as $2.6 billion) at all, though they are shutting down older coal plants and converting to natural gas.  It’s the most expensive power plant in history, and guess who’s paying for it?

Mississippi Power, Sierra settle coal litigation

Mississippi Power, Sierra Club settle coal power dispute

Kemper_Diagram

Kowalko

Three cheers for Rep. John Kowalko, who was on the front lines taking the heat about his opposition to the “Data Center” natural gas plant proposed for Newark.

This from Alan Muller, Green Delaware:

Gas attack: U of Delaware kills $1 billion data center/power plant.”

“The Data Center” was a scam so blatant, so absurd, that it should never have gotten any traction at all.

That it did is a sad commentary on the intellectual and ethical emptiness of Delaware’s “Chamber of Commerce” business community, and, of course, the administration of Gov. Jack Markell.  The so called “Delaware Economic Development Office,”especially, demonstrates a consistent and predictable idiocy backed up by secrecy and dishonesty.

Per usual in Delaware, the scam was assembled by various parties, including the Markell Administration, the University of Delaware, and the City of Newark, before the public was given notice.  Then, it was rolled out as a done deal.  Thankfully, it apparently has been undone.  (Note that the objection is mostly to the power plant, not to a data center as such.)

Aside from the obvious lie of saying a 278 megawatt gas-burning power plant was “auxiliary” to a data center, consider the un wisdom, or the symbolism, of a large new fossil-fuel power plant in a state so vulnerable to the effects of climate change that much of it will soon enough be under water.  Delaware has the lowest mean elevation of any state at 60 ft above sea level.   (Florida and Louisiana are next at 100 ft.)  The mean elevation of Kent County is only 36 feet.  Current measured sea level rise is around 3.4 mm per year and speeding up–it varies from place to place–and almost every new official prediction of sea level rise is higher than the last one.  See Waters rising … Delaware going away?”

It is long past time to be shutting down the the existing combustion power plants that drive climate change and sea level rise, far less a time to be building new ones.  (The total generating capacity in Delaware is on the order of 3300 megawatts.)

In the face of this, Markell has allowed investment in wind, solar, and energy efficiency to mostly come to a stop–suiting the interests of Delmarva Power–while embracing various schemes for burning more natural gas.  (All considered, it appears that the climate change impact of natural gas is at least as high as coal, because of the unburned methane emissions.)

Residents of the City of Newark, and faculty and students of the University of Delaware came to life to oppose a scam in which the City and the Administration of the U of D were deeply involved.  In recent decades is has been rare to see signs of political life in Newark, but self-interest does have an energizing effect.  See Newark Residents Against the Power Plant.

The Delaware Chapter of the Sierra Club (especially Amy Roe) and the Delaware Audubon Society contributed.

But the real hero of this fight, in my opinion, is Rep. John Kowalko of Newark.  Kowalko relentlessly sought accurate information from various parties so he could represent the true interests of his constituents.  It doesn’t take a lot of courage for professors or environmentalists to oppose a power plant, but Kowalko, a longtime union man, took a lot of heat from any-job-at-any-cost Delaware union officials.

Kowalko, as usually does, behaved with gumption, integrity, and right-on values.   Consider the oath of office that Delaware’s Constitution prescribes for public officials:

 I, (name) , do proudly swear (or affirm) to carry out the responsibilities of the office of (name of office) to the best of my ability, freely acknowledging that the powers of this office flow from the people I am privileged to represent. I further swear (or affirm) always to place the public interests above any special or personal interests, and to respect the right of future generations to share the rich historic and natural heritage of Delaware. In doing so I will always uphold and defend the Constitutions of my Country and my State, so help me God.

How many legislators take their oath seriously?  John Kowalko is one who clearly does.  (I don’t know what role has been played by Senators representing the area.)

Compare the “Data Center” fight with the fight of people around Millsboro against a giant Korean chicken-killing plant, another Markell project just as absurd and undesirable.  See “ Just how disgusting can the Markell administration get? Is there any bottom?“  That area is represented by Gerald W. Hocker and John C. Atkins, two of the most special-interest-serving legislators in Delaware.  (Atkins has been in the news recently, and Green Delaware has featured him before.)

Friday and Saturday are forecast to be Code Yellow bad air days in Delaware.  Saturday is also Code Yellow for particles.  Some discussion of the meaning of this is here.

Alan Muller

Muller and Kowalko just prior to arrest at Legislative Hall years agogagged