horsesassaward

I haven’t given out one of these in a long time, but here we go, the Horse’s Ass Award to Xcel Energy and Office of Administrative Hearings, based on the bias and double standards for participation and obstructions to intervention in the latest Xcel Energy rate case (PUC Docket GR-15-826).

Yes, Intervention in the rate case denied again:

20162-118122-01_Denial #2_Overland-NoCapX Intervention

And I quote:

Further, the Petition states that purposes for which No CapX 2020 was “specifically formed” (fn omitted) was to participate in dockets which are now closed, raising the question of why No CapX 2020 continues to exist.

aghast

H-E-L-L-O?!?!?!  This rate case docket is all about shifting the CapX 2020 and MISO MVP 17 project portfolio transmission costs from one scheme to another.   I specifically cited all the references to CapX 2020, MISO MVP, and transmission.

dohHere’s what has gone before…

Intervention Petition II

Xcel objection to second petition to intervene

Overland-NoCapX_Intervention Petition 2

Intervention Petition I

20161-117574-01_Order Denying Intervention Petition 1

No CapX 2020_Response to Xcel’s Objection

20161-116957-02_Xcel’s Objection to Intervention

NoCapX 2020 and Carol A. Overland_Intervention Petition Packet

And in a parallel track, note the double standard in pleading.

  • Note that Xcel has objected only to the Overland/No CapX 2020 intervention.
  • Note that Xcel has not objected to those who participated in the “e21 Initiative” which is the basis for this rate case “multi-year rate plan” and transmission shift.
  • Note how little the other “intervenors” say.
  • Note they do not state their interests.
  • Note they do not state how their interests are different from general ratepayers.
  • Note they do not state how their interests will not be represented by OAG and Commerce.

OAH has approved Interventions of “The Commercial Group,” “Suburban Rate Authority,” and “City of Mineapolis.”  I’m sure the approval of “Clean Energy Organizations” will soon follow, despite the lack of specific pleading and the apparent conflict with one “attorney” representing so many organizations that either have differing positions and interests, or which are adequately represented by other organizations and don’t need to intervene… funny how this double standard works…

Read the Petitions:

Petition to Intervene of the Commercial Group

Petition to Intervene of Suburban Rate Authority

Petition to Intervene 0f City of Minneapolis

Petition to Intervene 0f “Clean Energy Organizations”

Petition to Intervene of MN Chamber of Commerce

Check out each of these petitions.  Look at the pleading, what’s stated, and as importantly, what is NOT stated.  What are their interests?  How are the “interests” different than general ratepayers in their class?  How are their interests not represented by Office of Attorney General and/or MN Dept. of Commerce?

So what to do?  Participating in the public hearing is not sufficient, and if that’s the limited offering, well, there’s no Discovery for a public participant.  What’s next?  Fight for the privilege of an unfunded intervention, as if there’s nothing else to do?  The issues raised by Overland/No CapX 2020 will not be addressed otherwise.  And thos overt quashing of participation is not consistent with the “public” in “Public Utilities Commission” and the Commission’s mandate.

Meanwhile, FERC just denied the 2010 Petition for Intervention too in the case regarding the cost allocation for these CapX and MISO MVP projects, yes, that took them 5 1/2 years to do, so why now?  Check this out:

FERC Order – Docket ER09-1431 (p. 8)

Odd that should come up now… naaaah, not really.

booted-out

OOPS_XcelInDitch

SNORT — love it when this happens.  Xcel Energy truck slid into the ditch, and note that the trailer didn’t take out the xmsn structure!

Xcel Energy truck slides into ditch in Faribault

Thanks to Faribault Daily News for this!

“Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy” filed a rate case with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, PUC Docket 15-826.  You can see all the filings — GO HERE TO PUC SEARCH PAGE — and search for docket 15-826.

Prehearing Conference

Monday, January 4 at 1:30 p.m.

PUC Large Hearing Room – 3rd Floor

121 – 7th Place E.

St. Paul, MN  55101

Xcel is asking for a big increase, and they admit it’s transmission driven.  So yes, I’m interested, you betcha.  No CapX 2020 and Carol A. Overland (as individual) have intervened:

No CapX 2020 – Overland_InterventionPacket

So far, here’s what’s been happening:

A rough schedule has been proposed by Commerce DER, which will be hashed out at the Prehearing Conference, and probably altered as the case moves forward:

ProposedSched

The PUC Staff Briefing Papers for last Thursday’s meeting:

Staff Briefing Papers_1_201512-116122-01

Staff Briefing PapersAddeudum_1_201512-116402-01

Staff Briefing Papers Addendum_2_ PI Decision Options_201512-116402-02

Staff Briefing Papers_Tuma Option_201512-116402-03

Here’s the webcast:  Video – should be good for 90 days from Dec. 10

Video – Docket 15-662 — Rate Design — video at 00:15:00 – 02:20:00

Video – Docket 15-826 — Rate Case — starts at 02:20:00

There has been one other intervention — “The Commercial Group” which is the biggies, like Walmart.  There have been several Notice of Appearances filed, but not interventions. ???

The AG’s Office has been the only one filing challenging comments thus far, which is why I have felt the need to barge in.  The “usual suspects” have been part of the e21 nonsense, and other agreements in the past that have both compromised their position and not been in the public interest.  Here are the AG Comments thus far.  RUD is dead on about NSP/Xcel’s overstatements, and those proven overstatements should be sufficient to grind this thing to a halt and get on more realistic terms:

OAG_RUD_Comments_11-20-2015_201511-115843-01

OAG_RUD_Comemnts_InitialComments_201511-115670-01

This is just Minnesota.  Obviously there will be a similar proceeding in Wisconsin in the very near future.

And given this rate case is transmission driven, the linkage between the FERC approved MISO rate and the reduction of return on equity in the FERC docket will have to be addressed:

Lower Return on Equity for Transmission

December 29th, 2015

Onward!

Miso-Soup-2

HOT OFF THE PRESS (thanks to Julie Risser for the heads up!): There’s a very long and intense FERC decision that has an impact on utilities’ return on equity allowed under FERC approved MISO rates — lower return on equity for all that transmission they built that we don’t need.  The utilities fight to build this transmission, conspire with MISO to push through an egregious rate to FERC for approval, and FERC rubberstamps it.  Business as usual!  But noooooo, 12.38% is not OK:

FERC EL-14-12-002_ALJ Order

Look who brought the Complaint (you might want to ask yourself why the state AGs weren’t the ones filing the initial Complaint, where are the ratepayer advocacy groups, and of course, where are the “environmental” groups?):

q

To see the complete docket, all the filings, go to the FERC LIBRARY and search for docket EL14-12-002.

This goes back a ways, the gears turn slowly at FERC.  Over a year ago, a Complaint was filed at FERC seeking to lower the 12.38% return on transmission:

Complaint_20131112-5303(28921346)

Read today’s STrib article here (and thanks to David Schaffer for posting the link to the Order):

Midwest consumer advocates win victory on electric grid transmission rates

The issue, per the ALJ:

1Here’s a more detailed look at the issues in the Complaint:

3

From my perspective, the issue is a lot more than that, because this transmission was built for a private purpose, that “lower production costs” is a benefit to the producer.  That market access is a benefit to the producer/seller and those buying wholesale to sell at ? price.  That this transmission for a private purpose is being built on the backs of landowners whose land is being impermissibly, unconstitutionally taken.  But that’s not going to be addressed here.  … sigh… oh well.

How do these rates compare with return granted by Minnesota’s PUC?  Here are the ask, interim and ultimate result for Xcel rate cases since 2005:

BriefingPapers_RateCasesPostMerger

Who cares about this?  Anyone who lives in the MISO district should, and oh, has it expanded over the years:

MISO_elect_map

And anyone looking at MISO Schedule 26A (updated every year) should care — this is how they’re apportioning costs among the utilities handling the many zones in MISO:

Sched26A_ZoneYeah, it’s impossible to read — here’s the Excel spreadsheet (2014 version, this is updated annually):

Exhibit B_Schedule 26A Indicative Annual Charges_02262014

What is the impact of this scheme on ratepayers?  Who knows… it’s anyone’s guess.  For example, check the Badger Coulee transmission project (eastern part of CapX 2020 masterplan, from La Crosse to Madison) record about cost allocation, rate recovery, return on investment… Look at the testimony of Hodgeson (ATC) and Hoesly (NSP-Wisconsin).  Hodgson’s not exactly credible on the stand — when questioned about rate impacts on ratepayers, nada, he refused to address impacts on ratepayers, only that “benefits” will go to utilities:

Untitled4

Trying again:

Hodgson1Untitled2Untitled3

So not only is this an issue in the FERC case, but this is an important issue in the current Minnesota rate case.  For filings on that, go to PUC Search Documents and search for docket 15-826.

AC-SL-Projects-Map

Here’s the decision:

Line 67 ruling Dec 2015

This decision is important because it is not just this pipeline — because the basis for it is the Presidential Permit, and the notion that issuance of a Presidential Permit may not be appealed applies to the Presidential Permit for the (Not-so) Great Northern Transmission Line too!