April 24th, 2013
Greetings from the Range. Today’s first Not-so-Great Transmission Line meeting was in Taconite. This is near where my Exclesior Energy Mesaba Project clients own property:
I got there late, but hey, got there before teardown, and had time for a chat with the GIS guy and a fleet of engineers. There wasn’t quite the passionate standing-room-only turnout that there was against the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project:
This project is moving slowly, and the application for the Certificate of Need has yet to be filed. That makes sense because it was only last year that it moved from a C to a B project at MISO. Here’s the listing (click for a larger view):
Today what I wanted to find out was “What’s happening at the border?” so I went over that with Mr. GIS. Click HERE to pull up maps at the Minnesota/Canada border. What I found was that none of the transmission corridors proposed have transmission lines in them, and there’s no corridor of any other sort either. ???
And further south, north and near Taconite, there’s a funnel where all options end up in a narrow area with three narrow corridors: one corridor has a line that they told me had been taken out; one corridor has no road or transmission line, nothing; and the other one has a line going smack dab down the corridor. Hmmmm, I wonder where they plan to put this new line?
(and each time I try to pdf them for posting, firefox crashes, AAAAAAAAAGH!)
… one moment please… or three… or four… I may never get that posted!
Anyway, I also had a chat with a fleet of engineers, because in considering “need” for the line, I want to know the capacity of the line, meaning emergency rating, so that I can get an idea what the claimed need represents compared to potential capacity. So far, they say there’s a need for 250MW due to a PPA with Manitoba Hydro. OK, lovely, but what’s that got to do with a 500 kV line? I asked them what the emergency rating was of the line that’s there now, the 500 kV, and it took a while, they didn’t want to answer, giving waffly excuses about liiting factors. I know all about limiting factors and things change, upgrades are happening all the time, so just out with it. I finally was told that the existing 500 kV line was 1732 MVA. OK, that makes sense. Although it doesn’t make sense to me why Minnesota Power uses low capacity lines. Xcel uses ACSS conductors, a higher capacity line, but MP uses ACSR, a lower capacity. Why? Why go through all the rigamarole of certifying and getting a route permit for a little line? One engineer pointed out the Arrowhead as an example and yes, that’s a good example of planning that makes no sense, or a business decision that makes no sense. If they’re going to go for it, why not make it worth their while? Well, other than that there’s that pesky issue of needing to demonstrating need. But one thing that was disturbing was that when asking for info on the existing line, to consider why that line wasn’t being upgraded, or double circuited, etc., one engineer said that they didn’t know that for the current line yet because they’re not there. I was referring to the existing line and made that clear, but what I didn’t get into was that I know what the rating is for their planned line, that it’s in the MISO filing (see chart above, it’s also 1732 MVA). He should know better than to think that I’d believe they don’t know what the emergency rating would be for the line they’re proposing!!! AAAARGH. Anyway, I’ll post that chart one more time so we’re clear the project and rating we’re talking about here:
That’s a 1732 MVA (A rating) for a line where all they’ve got to justify need so far is a 250 MW PPA with Manitoba Hydro.
April 16th, 2013
There are meetings happening this week and next on the Great Northern Transmission Line, stretching from Manitoba south easterly toward Duluth.
Meeting schedule (or CLICK HERE):
Where is this project at? It’s just at the beginning. To see what’s in the PUC’s docket thus far, go HERE and search for docket number 12-1163. The Notice Plan and Exemptions from filing requirements have been approved by the Commission, so the Application is probably going to be filed any day now.
What is Minnesota Power saying about the Great Northern Transmission Project? That’s their site, highlighted, and here’s handouts from prior meetings:
Think we need it? Think we don’t? I need to do some digging this week, and I’ll post what I find. But to be clear, I’ve never seen a transmission that was wanted for the reasons they say it’s needed.
Here’s the Certificate of Need process, roughly, and ignore the comments typed in about when Notice Plan comments are due, that’s history. Remember that to have a seat at the table and the opportunity to influence what happens, it’s time to INTERVENE!!!
April 8th, 2013
You seem to think you’re Dog’s gift to this earth…
Two things appeared in the inbox at about the same time, the first an announcement of McKnight Foundation and Energy Foundation grants in the Midwest, and from Truthout, a review and interview of Ozzie Zehner, author of Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism.
First, the massive foundation to “environmental” organizations:
The two-year grants of $20 million to Energy Foundation and $5 million to RE-AMP, a network of nonprofits, extend existing funding partnerships and the philanthropy’s $100 million commitment, announced in 2008, to blunt climate change. The two groups will focus on developing policies and public education to reduce dependence on fossil fuels in Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio.
And on to Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism. GO HERE TO ORDER.
Mainstream environmental groups are exchanging their principles for power at a suspect rate of exchange. It’s not just the alternative energy technologies that rely on fossil fuels. The environmental groups do, too. They rely on funding from the excess wealth accumulated as froth on the top of the fossil fuel economy. But it’s not just money. There are other influences too.
That pretty much sums up what I’ve seen over the last 20 years…
There is an impression that we have a choice between fossil fuels and clean energy technologies such as solar cells and wind turbines. That choice is an illusion. Alternative energy technologies rely on fossil fuels through every stage of their life. Alternative energy technologies rely on fossil fuels for mining operations, fabrication plants, installation, ongoing maintenance and decommissioning. Also, due to the irregular output of wind and solar, these technologies require fossil fuel plants to be running alongside them at all times. Most significantly, alternative energy financing relies on the kind of growth that fossil fuels drive.
…the binary aspect, and looking for a simple “flick the switch” solution when it’s oh-so-complicated.
March 7th, 2013
1:30 p.m. at the Medina Ballroom on Hwy. 55
It’s a 115 kV line proposed for Plymouth and Medina through people’s yards — not a good idea. DUH!
For the full docket, go to the PUC’s Search Docket Page and search for 12-113.
Here’s how they present it in Figure 2 of the Certificate of Need application:
But here’s what it really looks like:
I'm representing a family that lives west of the "Focused Study Area" who just moved to Medina and were surprised by this project -- no notice that it was proposed -- and are challenging need for the project, and if need is demonstrated, supporting the A-2 distribution system alternative, an upgrade of the 13.8 kV system to 34.5 kV, distributed generation at the load along the area highways, and a combination that would address any demonstrated need:
The parties had a phone conference Monday about Xcel Energy's request to delay the evidentiary hearings (we aren't formal parties at this point and weren't invited, but thanks to "plays well with others" Xcel for the heads up about it):
And the response from Western Plymouth Neighborhood Alliance:
It's odd delaying a project hearing for a bill that's speculative, who knows if it might pass or not. But it's delayed, the evidentiary hearing, that is, until May or June sometime, after the legislative session is over, and details remain to be worked out. I'd guess Xcel Energy has other reasons not to go forward with the evidentiary hearing on need for this line...
January 23rd, 2013
Comments due TOMORROW!!! If you want to be a part of the Rulemaking Advisory Committee, this is the time to let them know that you want to be included. After you’ve written your comments, file in PUC Docket 12-1246 or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has opened a docket for… get this:
Possible Amendments to Rules Governing Certificates of Need and Site and Route Permits for Large Electric Power Plants and High-Voltage Transmission Lines, Minnesota Rules, Chapters 7849 and 7850; and to Rules Governing Notice Plan Requirements for High-Voltage Transmission Lines, Minnesota Rules, part 7829.2550; Revisor’s ID Number R-04151; PUC Docket No. E,ET,IP-999/R-12-1246.
This is similar to the OAH “Possible” rulemaking, where they’re on a fishing expedition, for what I have not a clue, whether it’s to get ideas, or find out what not to include or identify the usual suspects, very hard to tell, and I couldn’t get any information out of Bret Eknes at the PPSA Annual Hearing. The notice states “The Commission has not yet drafted the possible rule amendments.”
Here’s the notice — note they do say that part of this is to “maximize citizen participation” so let’s hold them to it:
Possible? Ummmmm, right… well, it’s about time. Here’s the PUC’s Rulemaking site (you can also go to eDockets, search for 12-1246):
I’d put in a rulemaking Petition two years ago tomorrow…
…and they said they wanted it broken down. OK, sure, whatever, so I did. Thus far I’ve filed the OAH ones, and haven’t gotten around to doing that yet. SO, got to work today and ground out these comments based on the previously filed ones, you can use these for ideas, steal away!
Once more with feeling, they’re due tomorrow.