August 21st, 2016
In the inbox today from an activist cohort, a poem by Thomas Lux:
The high-tension spires spike the sky
beneath which boys bend
to pick from prickly vines
the deep-sopped fruit, the rind’s green
a green sunk
in green. They part the plants’ leaves,
reach into the nest,
and pull out mother, father, fat Uncle Phil.
The smaller yellow-green children stay,
for now. The fruit goes
in baskets by the side of the row,
every thirty feet or so. By these bushels
the boys get paid, in cash,
at day’s end, this summer
of the last days of the empire
that will become known as
the past, adios, then,
the ragged-edged beautiful blink.
What surprises me is when someone notices transmission, and in this case, Lux is jarred enough to think and write about it. It’s such a common part of our landscape that most people don’t notice it… that is, most people don’t notice it until they’re affected, and suddenly wake up to the reality of transmission, criss-crossing our country with its insidious web, noticing that it’s EVERYWHERE! Once your eyes are opened to transmission, it’s impossible to disregard.
August 6th, 2016
Chickadees, in Bird Clan, a print of oil by Daniel Milton HorseChief, are now framed and ready for its new home in my office, next to my inspirational Jerry Garcia “You can pursue that goal and feed the dog at the same time, it just takes a little extra effort” photo. I haven’t had a splurge like this in a while, and it feels good!
HorseChief is both a painter and sculptor, living on the Oklahoma end of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line transmission project.
Prints are available of his work, and he can be reached via facebook.
July 17th, 2016
There are a few more hearings for Xcel Energy’s rate case coming up:
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:
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?
For some reason, this docket disappeared… wonder who all on this consensus e21_Initiative_Phase_I_Report made that happen!?!
Does 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:
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:
- the problems with SF 1735… March 18th, 2015
- Bill to extend Getty/Black Oak wind contracts? (e21 discussed at this Committee meeting) March 24th, 2015
- SF 1735 – SHAME on each Senator who voted for it (in the Energy Ominous Bill) May 5th, 2015
These issues were raised, e21 marches onward, and here we are, in a rate case.
July 14th, 2016
Last night there was a hearing in Mankato on the Xcel Energy rate case (Docket E002/GR-15-826). Public participation in Public Utilities Commission dockets is supposed to be a happenin’ thang… But there were no witnesses to question yesterday at the public hearing, and the Xcel representative who was there could not answer questions. Worse, there was no commitment to have witnesses available to the public at the public hearings, and only advice that the public could attend the evidentiary hearing. ATTEND?!? When might we be able to question witnesses?
Sent this Data Practices Act Request this morning to round up the Information Requests and Responses regarding transmission, transmission riders, MISO and FERC:
Xcel Energy wants to shift its transmission rate recovery from CWIP and AFUDC to general rates, but there was no one there to talk about it. These are the MVP projects at issue, in Schedule 26A, below, which are worked into MISO tariff and FERC blessed:
Next meeting I’ll have some more:
Back to last night’s hearing…
Check the rules about public participation:
The judge may, in the absence of a petition to intervene, nevertheless hear the testimony and receive exhibits from any person at the hearing, or allow a person to note that person’s appearance, or allow a person to question witnesses, but no person shall become, or be deemed to have become, a party by reason of such participation. Persons offering testimony or exhibits may be questioned by parties to the proceeding.
Another, the PUC practice rules:
And yet another:
And this one (though they’ll say it isn’t applicable because a rate case isn’t part o the Power Plant Siting Act):
At all hearings conducted pursuant to parts1405.0200 to 1405.2800, all persons will be allowed and encouraged to participate without the necessity of intervening as parties. Such participation shall include, but not be limited to:
B. Offering direct testimony or other material in written form at or following the hearing. However, testimony which is offered without benefit of oath or affirmation, or written testimony which is not subject to cross-examination, shall be given such weight as the administrative law judge deems appropriate.
C. Questioning all persons testifying. Any person who wishes to cross-examine a witness but who does not want to ask questions orally, may submit questions in writing to the administrative law judge, who will then ask the questions of the witness. Questions may be submitted before or during the hearings.
July 1st, 2016
And here are the Comments I filed on behalf of No CapX 2020:
Oh, and the interesting thing is that just this morning, I got a copy of the “Briggs Road-La Crosse Tap 161 kV Rebuild Study” Thank you, Chuck Thompson!