Tomorrow, the Chapter 7829 Rulemaking is going to the Commission, for approval of the FINAL rules.  This rulemaking has been going on formally for over two years now in Docket 13-24 (go to NEW SEARCH and search for this docket).

Overland 7829 Comment Nov 18 2015

PUC Staff BriefingPapers_201511-115619-01

FINAL_Rules 7829_201511-115691-01

And some history…   I’ve been concerned about this chapter for a long while, and submitted a Petition for Rulemaking over FOUR YEARS ago.  Apparently that was filed in the trash:

Overland Petition for Rulemaking-7829

And prior posts:


Last week there was a large info dump from the DOE. Environmental Impact Statements are rolling through the Dept. of Energy’s Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, one for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line (see BLOCK Clean Line) and its ; another for the Great Northern Transmission Line (see Not-so-Great Northern Transmission Line)  They’re in different departments at this office, “Clean Line” is a “Section 1222” review and the “Not-so-Great Northern” is a Presidential Permit application.

Here’s the Record of Decision schedule (click for larger version):


And the full DOE EIS schedule (they’ve not yet released the November schedule):

Key EIS Chart – October 2015

  • Record of Decision expected 1/16/2016.  The Clean Line project has no associated state permitting and review process, because the applicant was rejected by the State of Arkansas as a utility, and because they’re not a utility, they’re not eligible for a state permit.  To make things more complicated, the Section 1222 review is something new, there are no rules, and it’s a financing law, and that is all (though Clean Line wants it to be so much more!).  The DOE held scoping meetings and hearings in Texas and Tennessee, and in multiple locations across Oklahoma and Arkansas, but these were only about environmental review, and not the Section 1222 issues or anything else.  They’ve not scheduled hearings, there’s no evidentiary hearing, nothing, despite a specific request.  Comment letters are in Appendix Q, and there are THREE of them!   They listed on the comments the FEIS sections where comments are addressed.  What a pain to go back and forth, where the sections are not clearly identified on the links.
  • Record of Decision “uncertain.”  What does that mean?  The “Not-so-Great” Northern Transmission Project is before the DOE because the applicants Minnesota Power and Manitoba Hydro (in the U.S., it’s just Minnesota Power, doing the lifting for both) have applied for a Presidential Permit, essentially permission to market power between Canada and the US.  In tandem with this DOE Presidential Permit, MP has applied for a state Certificate of Need and Routing Permit.  Hearings are over, briefs are in (there are NO intervenors in this docket), and now we’re waiting for the ALJ Recommendation.  Then exceptions to the Recommendation, and on the the PUC.  that’s probably why the RoD date is “uncertain,” because there’s the state agency that they’re dealing with.

So there are procedural differences, timing differences.  But it sure is a lot to wade through.  Plus the PolyMet FEIS just came out.


Notice of the Power Plant Siting and Transmission Line Routing Program Annual Hearing

Issued: November 6, 2015

In the Matter of the 2015 Power Plant Siting Act Annual Hearing

Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Docket Number: E999/M-15-785

Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) Docket Number: 60-2500-32901

Date: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Time: 9:30 a.m.

Location: Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Large Hearing Room, 121 7th Place East, Suite 350, Saint Paul, MN 55101

Bad weather? Find out if a meeting is canceled. Call (toll-free) 1-855-731-6208 or 651-201-2213 or visit mn.gov/puc

Hearing Description

The annual hearing is required by Minnesota Statute § 216E.07, which provides that:

Thecommission shall hold an annual public hearing at a time and place prescribed by rule in order to afford interested persons an opportunity to be heard regarding any matters relating to the siting of large electric generating power plants and routing of high-voltage transmission lines. At the meeting, the commission shall advise the public of the permits issued by the commission in the past year….

Note – No decisions about specific projects are made at the annual hearing.

Public Hearing Information

  • Public hearings start on time.
  • Arrive a few minutes early so you have time to sign in, pick up materials, and find a seat.
  • Administrative Law Judge James LaFave will preside over the hearing.
  • Public Utilities Commission and Department of Commerce staff members are available to answer questions about the Power Plant Siting Act processes and the projects.
  • You may add verbal comments, written comments, or both into the record.
  • Learn more about participating at a public hearing at http://mn.gov/puc/resources/meetings-and-hearings.jsp
  • Judge LaFave will use information gathered at the public hearing and during the comment period to write a summary report for the Commission

Submit Comments

Topics for Public Comment:

  • Any matters related to the site permit process for large electric generating power plants and routing of high-voltage transmission lines.

Comment Period: November 6, 2015 through January 5, 2016 at 4:30pm.

  • Comments must be received by 4:30pm on the close date
  • Comments received after comment period closes may not be considered

Online Visit mn.gov/puc, select Speak Up!, find this docket (15-785), and add your comments to the discussion.

If you wish to include an exhibit, map or other attachment, please send your comments via eFiling (see below) or U.S. Mail.

Please include the Commission’s docket number in all communications.

Filing Requirements: Utilities and state agencies are required to file documents using the Commission’s electronic filing system (eFiling). All parties, participants and interested persons are encouraged to use eFiling: mn.gov/puc, select eFiling, and follow the prompts.

Important Comments will be made available to the public via the Public Utilities Commission’s website, except in limited circumstances consistent with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. The Commission does not edit or delete personal identifying information from submissions.

Hearing Agenda

I. Introductions
II.Overview of Programs
A. Public Utilities Commission – Facilities Permitting and Public Advisor
B. Department of Commerce – Energy Facilities Permitting Unit
C. Role of Other Agencies
III. Projects Reviewed
A. Projects Permitted in 2015
B. Pending and Anticipated Projects
C. Electric Facilities Subject to Power Plant Siting Act
1. Generating Plants
2. Transmission Lines
IV. Public Questions and Testimony
V. Adjourn

How to Learn More

Subscribe to the Docket: Subscribe to receive email notifications when new documents are filed. Note – subscribing may result in a large number of emails.

  1. mn.gov/puc
  2. Select Subscribe to a Docket
  3. Type your email address
  4. For Type of Subscription, select Docket Number
  5. For Docket Number, select 15 in the first box, type 785 in the second box
  6. Select Add to List
  7. Select Save

Full Case Record: See all documents filed in this docket via the Commission’s website – mn.gov/puc, select Search eDockets, enter the year (15) and the docket number (785), select Search.

Project Mailing Lists: Sign up to receive notices and opportunities to participate in other dockets relating to specific projects in which you are interested (meetings, comment periods, etc.). Contact docketing.puc@state.mn.us or 651-201-2234 with the docket number, your name, mailing address and email address.

Minnesota Statutes and Rules: The hearing is being conducted according to Minnesota Statute 216E.07. Minnesota Statutes are available at www.revisor.mn.gov.

Project Contacts

Public Utilities Commission Public Advisor

Tracy Smetana – consumer.puc@state.mn.us, 651-296-0406 or 1-800-657-3782


Hot off the press,here at the Plains & Eastern EIS site!

Appendix Q contains the Comments and responses to those Comments:

Here’s a very problematic statement from the intro letter:

Based on the information presented in the Final EIS, DOE has identified participation in the Project as its preferred alternative in the Final EIS.

Why?  Most improper in that the EIS is not supposed about a “preferred alternative,” which goes too far towards bias of a supposedly neutral party.  It’s pretty basic — the purpose of an EIS is to inform the record, and the decision makers, of the IMPACTS.  It is not a decisional document, it is not the basis for a recommendation.  Add to that the lack of a thorough evaluation of need, which, particularly in this case, is to be the deciding factor.  A project of this magnitude doesn’t go forward just because, or because the developers want it.  That’s not enough.  It’s about need.  If you search the Table of Contents, there is only one mention of “need” in the intro, talking about the “need” for an EIS, and there is one section in the text, entitled “Department of Energy Purpose and Need.”  There doesn’t seem to be any evaluation of need for the P-R-O-J-E-C-T!

Here ’tis:

And HERE’S a nearly verbatim cut and paste of their email, release of yet another FEIS from the Department of Energy:

Plains & Eastern EIS

You are receiving this email because you signed up to receive information and updates about the Plains & Eastern EIS. Thank you for your interest in this project.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line Transmission Project is now available

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (DOE/EIS–0486; Final EIS) is available on the project website at http://www.plainsandeasterneis.com/interactive-map/maps-and-documents.html and on the DOE National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) website at http://energy.gov/nepa/environmental-impact-statements-eis. DOE has not made a decision regarding the proposed Plains & Eastern Clean Line Transmission Project.

DOE is the lead federal agency for the preparation of the Final EIS, which examines the potential environmental impacts from the Applicant Proposed Project and the range of reasonable alternatives. The Applicant is Clean Line Energy Partners LLC of Houston, Texas, the parent company of Plains and Eastern Clean Line LLC and Plains and Eastern Clean Line Oklahoma LLC (collectively referred to as Clean Line or the Applicant).

The Final EIS considers comments submitted on the Draft EIS, including those submitted during the public comment period that began on December 19, 2014, and ended on April 20, 2015. Late comments have been considered to the extent practicable. During the comment period, DOE held 15 public hearings in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Approximately 950 comment documents were received from individuals, interested groups, tribal governments, and federal, state, and local agencies. In addition to numerous comments that provided a statement of general opposition or support, the primary topics raised include, but are not limited to: concern about electric and magnetic fields from the transmission line; concern about reductions in property value; concern about impacts to agricultural resources such as crop production, irrigation, and aerial spraying; concern about the use of eminent domain; and concern about visual impacts from the transmission line. A Comment Response Document, included as Appendix Q of the Final EIS, contains the comments received on the Draft EIS and DOE’s responses to these comments.

Parallel with the NEPA process, DOE is evaluating Clean Line’s application under Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. This non-NEPA evaluation includes, but is not limited to, reviewing the application against statutory criteria and other factors listed in the 2010 request for proposals (75 Federal Register 32940). An outcome of this evaluation could be a Participation Agreement between Clean Line and DOE, which would define under what conditions DOE would participate with Clean Line and, if applicable, would include any stipulations or requirements that resulted from this environmental review under NEPA. The DOE Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability website (http://www.energy.gov/oe/services/electricity-policy-coordination-and-implementation/transmission-planning/section-1222-0) provides more information about the Section 1222 evaluation.

If DOE decides to participate in the proposed Project, it will publish a Record of Decision no sooner than 30 days after publication of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. Copies of the Final EIS and supporting documents are available for inspection at public reading rooms.

Have questions? Email us at info@PlainsandEasternEIS.com


Xcel’s cost of electricity is down.  Yet they want more money from us, 9.8% over the next 3 years, with the average residential customer’s 675 kW/hr bill to go up $11 a month.  WHAT?

Meanwhile, last year at the legislature, the biggest of the big customers got a special rate category and special lower rates.  WHAT?

The above graph is from Chuck Burdick’s testimony — after dealing with him in the Goodhue Wind case, I couldn’t resist checking out his testimony (Application, 2A2 – MYRP).

So if Xcel Energy was authorized a certain ROE, and only earned a much lesser ROE, does that mean we should make up the difference?  Also from Burdick’s testimony:

Slow2NoGrowthWere this “free market” the response would be that the company should contract, that there are too many cooks in that kitchen, that the capital expenses not for our use, such as this big transmission build-out, should not occur, and we should not have to pay for them.

Let’s take a look at the drivers, where they’re running short — do we want to pay for this?  From the Application 1:


The initial filing in this new rate case is there for the reading, dig in, I’m sure there’s something you’ll enjoy.

Just go HERE TO PUC’S SEARCH DOCKETS PAGE and search for PUC docket 15-826, opened today.

In the STrib today:

Xcel seeks 9.8 percent rate hike in Minnesota over three years