WI PSC gets interesting

March 23rd, 2019

Thursday afternoon, the Friday PSC meeting was abruptly cancelled. Why? Well…

Thursday, there was an important court decision in Dane County, where the judge blasted the “lame duck session” where the R’s did everything they could to limit powers of the new Evers administration.

Following judge’s ruling, Tony Evers rescinds 82 Scott Walker appointees during lame duck session.

And one of those appointees was PSC Commissioner Ellen Nowak!

A little birdie told me that decisions made while she was a Commissioner may be at issue too!

She’d been on since 2011, and snuck in again during the lame duck session. From the PSC’s site:

Ellen Nowak was first appointed to the Wisconsin Public Service Commission in July 2011 by Governor Scott Walker. She was reconfirmed for a new, six-year term beginning on March 1, 2013. Commissioner Nowak was named Chairperson of the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin in March of 2015. In March of 2018 Governor Walker appointed her as Secretary of the Department of Administration. She served in that role until the end of the Governor’s term and was then reappointed as chairperson on the PSC in January 2019.

BYE! Don’t let the screen door hit you!

Oh joy! It never ends. Just got notice that Invenergy’s Freeborn Wind is at the MN Public Utilities Commission… on April Fools Day! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!

Notice that they’re only giving a nod to Invenergy’s “Request for Clarification” which is there “Hey! You didn’t give us everything in our back-door agreement!” filing.

And from the looks of it, this is all that the Commission is considering, just the comments since the latest Order was released:

1. PUC – Order – 2-26-2019, 2. FWE – Response – 2-27-2019, 3. 1 FWE – Comments – 3-4-2019, 4. 2 FWE – Comments – 3-4-2019, 5. 3 FWE – Comments – 3-4-2019, 6. DOC – Comments – 3-11-2019, 7. AFCL – Motion to Strike – 3-11-2019, 8. AFCL – Comments – 3-11-2019

CANCELLED – TOMORROW’S MEETING HAS BEEN CANCELLED. Received phone call from PSC Counsel, and it’s on their event calendar.


TOMORROW! Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) is set to decide whether the 300 MW Badger Hollow solar project should be issued a CPCN. This is the biggest solar project in the Midwest, and it’s proposed for prime ag land, in “Exclusive Agricultural” zoning, and the PSC has NO solar siting rules. WHAT? We tried, filed a Petition for Rulemaking, but they tossed it out. Who needs rules for siting…

Something I don’t understand about Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission — they don’t give adequate notice for their meetings. I checked yesterday, nada, but today, the notice for TOMORROW’S meeting is now posted.

We’re items 6-8. The meeting starts at 10:30 a.m. (oh my, another early start this week!), and I’ve seen them ram through docket after docket at breakneck speed, sooooo, heading east at “too early o’clock.”

To check the dockets for these projects, go to HERE: PSC HOME PAGE SEARCH and search for:

  • Project-Site CPCN: 9697-CE-100
  • Project-Transmission: CPCN 9697-CE-101
  • Acquisition Docket: 5-BS-228


Freeborn Wind tabled again!

March 20th, 2019

County Delays Vote on Wind Farm Agreement

Yeah, so it goes. A couple weeks ago, the PUC decided to toll the Reconsideration deadline and open up Freeborn Wind’s “Special Conditions” and the permit to comments. Comments were due last Tuesday, and now we’re waiting for PUC to announce a meeting.

Meanwhile, Freeborn County is looking at this project coming in. They have a Development Agreement, and in it, there are provisions that would open the door to use of the County road RoW for Freeborn Wind transmission. Remember PUC Commissioner Tuma hollering, “If they don’t have the land, they can’t build it” because they don’t have the land and PUC wanted to grant the permit anyway.

And the worst of the provisions, waiving, waiving, waiving:

Really… why would anyone agree to a paragraph like this? Here’s the entire agreement, also note Section 4.12: (MIA)

Association of Freeborn County Landowners just couldn’t let that sort of agreement go forward, so they’ve been working hard. We got our 5 minutes at the general comment time. When we got to Agenda item 5a, it was contentious, and first time there was confusion and statements that were off, I asked to come up and correct the record. Later, when something was misrepresented, I’d holler a bit “OBJECTION!” from the back of the room. The chair wasn’t too happy about that, I got a lecture about their new “Civility” ordinance/policy. Well, there’s nothing civil about misrepresentations. Rest assured that I will object, will continue to object, and get misstatements straightened out.

Tabled until the Public Utilities Commission issues its Order! Love it when that happens.

Transmission above picnic bench at Memorial Park lookout

(Incomplete — a work in progress)

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Wisconsin’s Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line (southern part of MVP 5) was issued at the end of the month. I’m representing Jewell Jinkins Intervenors in this project, and it’s time to wade through the DEIS and see what’s what. What I learned first was that my clients, Jewell Jinkins Intervenors, hadn’t been listed in the DEIS. Then I checked the list on the 2nd Prehearing Conference Memorandum, nope, not there. So then I checked the 1st Prehearing Conference Memorandum, and not there either. Well, I was there, heard intervention granted to the “Group 3” intervenors (Tr. p. 37, l. 14-15).

And then I discover that the Agricultural Impact Statement, Appendix G of the DEIS, is not an AIS, but is a Summary, the Summary is only a draft, and although it says that an AIS “has” been completed, it’s not done. How are we supposed to comment on it, comments due April 14, when the real AIS is not planned to be filed until PSC testimony, April 26th? What will it get to get this timeline in order?

Part of environmental review is “alternatives,” both “system alternatives” and “route alternatives.” A big PR flurry early last week about the “SOO Green Renewable Rail” transmission project caught my attention. It’s claimed to be a “wind” transmission project, though it interconnects the MVP 4 line at the Killdeer substation, taking on whatever energy is there.

Killdeer is in the ITC (blue) part of MVP 4

Oh, but wait… the Cardinal-Hickory Creek is the southern part of MVP 5, with Badger Coulee the northern part.

MVP 3, 4, and 5 (Cardinal-Hickory Creek is “southern 5”

Remember the so-called “benefits” of the MVP 17 project portfolio? Here’s their latest claim in MISO’s MVP report:

Here’s their previous claim:

Wisconsin law requires consideration of “alternatives to an action.” Wis. Stat. 1.11(2)(c)(3). Where do alternatives come from? ” Scoping is an aid to help the commission identify all of a project’s relevant environmental concerns and reasonable alternatives. ” Wis. Code PSC 4.30(2). Then, the EIS must include, “[a]n evaluation of the reasonable alternatives to the proposed action and significant environmental consequences of the alternatives, including those alternatives that could avoid some or all of the proposed action’s adverse environmental effects and the alternative of taking no action. ” Wis. Code PSC 4.30(3)(c).

Now, take a look at the:

The “system alternatives” are all the “applicant’s system alternatives.” Really… Do a search. And the “applicant’s system alternatives” is very limited, artificially limited so that only the applicant’s project “works” and alternatives are rejected.

Are there some “system alternatives” that should be considered that weren’t? Ja, you betcha.

(… manana… this “block” format is royal PITA)