January 24th, 2008
In today’s STrib, there’s an article that is hard to take seriously. It’s “Pawlenty: State overemphasizing social services,” where Pawlenty opines:
“If we don’t get a handle on this at both the federal and at the state level, and at county, school district and city level, these programs are growing so fast and so out of proportion with the rate of the private economy, that within 15 years it will consume a vast majority of the state’s budget,” Pawlenty said.
And a story of a “welfare king” with 11 kids conniving health care:
Jim Carlson. owner of Carlson Financial Strategies in Burnsville, was one of those business people who said he was glad to hear the govenor talking of containing such costs.
Carlson told the governor and others of one of the unintended consequences he’s seen when it comes to the high cost of health care — and the state’s generosity. One of his clients, who works in the construction industry, had been trying to earn less than $50,000 a year so that his 11 children could qualify for public assistance for health care, Carlson said.
Pawlenty said he, too, has heard of people who try to adjust their income so they can qualify for subsidized health care.
Snickering questions aside about whether vasectomies are covered by “subsidized health care,” how could someone afford to pay for health coverage for 11 kids? What would that amount to monthly? If this is an example of the type of social service expense Pawlenty wants to cut, is this what’s meant by “family values?” And nevermind that the big state health care line item is nursing home costs… sigh…
And here’s his Energy agenda…
Governor Pawlenty today signed an Executive Order creating the Governor’s Clean Energy Technology Collaborative (CETC). This group of up to 15 members appointed by the Governor will be responsible for developing a Clean Energy Technology Roadmap that will provide the research and development vision, along with a plan and milestones, to ensure Minnesota achieves the state’s clean energy goals.
Among those goals are the 25 x ’25 renewable energy standard that requires 25 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2025.
CETC members will include scientists from industry and academia, with the Director of the Office of Energy Security and Commissioners of Agriculture, Employment and Economic Development and the Pollution Control Agency serving as ex officio members.
“To achieve our clean energy goals we will need new, better and cheaper renewable energy technologies. That requires scientific and technological breakthroughs,” Governor Pawlenty said. “This collaborative will bring together scientists from our state’s great academic laboratories and industry research centers to draft a roadmap for achieving these breakthroughs and reaching our nation-leading clean energy goals.”
Office of Energy Security
A second Executive Order signed by Governor Pawlenty today creates the Minnesota Office of Energy Security within the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
“Clean energy and energy security is a critical issue to Minnesota’s future. This organizational change will keep Minnesota moving towards a better energy future,” said Governor Pawlenty.
The Governor appointed Commerce Department Deputy Commissioner Edward Garvey to also become the director of the new office. Garvey will coordinate energy and climate issues throughout the administration. Creating a focused office on energy security will allow the public easier access to energy information and technical assistance.
The Office of Energy Security will be housed in and receive administrative support from the Department of Commerce and there is no fiscal impact from this change.
“This structural change will support Governor Pawlenty’s efforts to secure a clean energy future,” said Glenn Wilson, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. “Edward Garvey is the right person to lead this new office because of the universal respect he enjoys from all sectors of the energy industry.”
Carbon Market Planning Authority
Through increased energy efficiency, use of renewable energy and changing industrial processes over the next several years, Minnesotans will address the threat of climate change and take actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
These actions could result in marketable carbon credits that could be sold in developing regional, national or global carbon trading programs.
To help plan for and foster this credit trading opportunity, Governor Pawlenty is proposing the creation of the Carbon Market Planning Authority (CMPA) within the newly created Office of Energy Security. Creation of CMPA will be submitted to the legislature in the 2008 session.
CMPA will study and plan for the potential for a carbon market exchange and the need for financing strategies to encourage the creation and viability of a carbon credit market.
CMPA will include six at-large members appointed by the Governor, as well as the Commissioners of the Pollution Control Agency, Employment and Economic Development, Finance, and Agriculture and would be chaired by the Director of the Office of Energy Security.
“While it’s still too early to know exactly how the carbon credit market will develop, it’s not too early to prepare for the emergence of markets,” Governor Pawlenty said.
Mikey’s been busy…
January 19th, 2008
I’ve posted previously about the garbage burner planned for Rock-Tenn and the fight to keep that from happening, lead by Neighbors Against the Burner, a very effective bunch from the surrounding community. Well, it got really hot on Thursday (yeah, old news, that’s how it goes…), hot in a different way:
Rock-Tenn fire caused $500,000 damage
BY MARA H. GOTTFRIED
Article Last Updated: 01/18/2008 06:21:05 PM CST
The two-alarm fire at Rock-Tenn Co. in St. Paul on Thursday caused $500,000 in damage, the St. Paul fire marshal said today.
Fire investigators have narrowed the cause of the fire, but it remains under investigation, said Fire Marshal Steve Zaccard. It wasn’t intentionally set, he said.
At the state’s largest paper recycler, work has continued elsewhere at the 42-acre site and will soon resume at the site of the fire, said Rock-Tenn general manager Dave Briere.
No workers were injured in the fire at Rock-Tenn, near Interstate 94 and Vandalia Street. More than 40 firefighters fought the blaze.
Throughout this garbage burner fight, Rock-Tenn is claiming to be a “victim” of MERP, the Metropolitan Emissions Reduction Project (plan? p???), which was the means of shutting down coal at Xcel’s Riverside and Highbridge plants.
Anyone involved in MERP knows full well that loss of steam at Highbridge was NOT an unknown, and Rock-Tenn sat on its hinder, thumb or head implanted, and did nothing, NOTHING, as MERP went through a long negotiation and PUC docket, not exactly a private proceeding, and Rock-Tenn was certainly discussed. And now here they are, begging at the public trough, expecting taxpayers to subsidize their business by building them a steam source, and by financing a District Energy expansion into the eastern edge of St. Paul… say what??? Why? THEY DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER TO INTERVENE IN THE MERP DOCKET!!! This whining “victim” stance is very odd… the basic legal word for their “problem” is “laches,” the “you snooze, you lose” theory. Rock-Tenn is trying to turn it into a “you snooze or you sit back, feet up, and YOU WIN THE SUBSIDY LOTTERY!!!” I don’t think so. “STRANDED COSTS?” Over my dead polar bear! Here’s what they tried in 2004, and thankfully it didn’t prevail, but it gives an indication of the extent they’re willing to go to get that big subsidy:
Anderson also authored a bill, S.F. 2854, providing for the recovery of stranded costs by thermal energy customers adversely affected by the Metropolitan Emissions Reduction Program. Representatives of the Rock-Tenn Company, which manufactures 100 percent recycled paper board and buys steam from the High Bridge plant in St. Paul, outlined their needs and the investments they have made in their business and a steam line between the High Bridge plant and their facility, which is located in the Midway area of St. Paul. About $20 million of costs will be stranded when the High Bridge plants converts from coal to natural gas, said Larry Schedin, an engineer. Rock-Tenn Vice President Jack Greenshields said the company intends to build a biomass power generation facility on its manufacturing site. Chris Clark, Xcel Energy, said the bill is the wrong way to solve Rock-Tenn’s problem. The company’s contract to buy steam is with NRG, not Xcel, Clark said. Xcel ratepayers should not bear the burden of paying for Rock-Tenn’s loss, he said. Beth Goodpaster, Izaak Walton League, said the bill sets an inappropriate precedent for the use of emissions reduction riders. Stranded cost recovery usually involves a taking by the state, Ourada said, but the emissions reduction plan is a voluntary action undertaken by Xcel. Rock-Tenn made a business decision to buy steam from a third party, he said. However, Anderson said the state helped along the process leading to the conversion of the High Bridge plant. A motion to advance the bill failed on a 6-6 tie.
S.F. 2854, authors Anderson; Pappas; Larson; Hottinger (Gaither removed his name as author)
H.F. 2823, author Hausman (referred to Regulated, but no hearing)
The bill would have added the following language to 216B.1692, Subdivision 5, and renumbered subsequent paragraphs:
and the 2003 “Prairie Island” bill, Laws 2003, First Special Session Chapter 11, article 3, section 12, would have been amended, adding:
Minnesota Statutes, section 216B.1692, subdivision 5. Such costs must also include amounts to be reimbursed to a thermal energy customer of a facility subject to this primary metropolitan emission reductions proposal for recovery of stranded costs under the rider caused by the qualified emission reductions project pursuant to Minnesota Statutes, section 216B.1692, subdivision 5. Such stranded costs include, but are not limited to, recovery of costs incurred in connection with the construction and other required capital improvements to the steam production facilities that are subject to a qualifying emissions reduction project which provides steam service to such thermal energy customer and to the steam delivery pipeline used to deliver steam from the steam production facilities to the thermal energy customer. The commission shall verify and approve the amount of stranded costs to be recovered under the rider.
Thankfully this didn’t get anywhere. Whatever were they thinking?
Note Larry Schedin weighing in on this. He was “The Environmental Organizations” expert witness in the SW MN 345kV line, a former Xcel employee, probably back in the NSP days. He’d worked on the 345kV ring around the metro area! Here’s his testimony for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce in the Rate Case. He was also involved in the 2004 Wind Integration Study.
January 17th, 2008
The South Dakota Supreme Court has issued its Opinion — essentially that the Big Stone II approval by the PSC was not “clearly erroneous.” Yup, that’s the standard for administrative actions and so that’s where that’s at. Read it here:
January 16th, 2008
You can find them here:
January 15th, 2008
Here’s the latest – Excelsior Energy’s appeal of the PUC-nondecision on its Mesaba Project IGCC plant was tossed out, one more nail in the Excelsior coffin! “This appeal is dismissed as premature and not taken from a final agency action.” That’s one. AND, they were also tossed out on their request for discretionary review! TWO NAILS!
How many nails does it take? We’ll see, because we’ll just keep hammering and hammering.