Rock County CUP granted

September 11th, 2019

Here they are, the two County Attorneys bookending the three developer reps, probably congratulating themselves on the County’s granting of the “Juhl Energy Development in partnership with Agri-Energy/GEVO” Conditional Use Permits for Sections 17 and 19 in Rock County.

What’s the big deal? Well, let’s start with the application, which was “fluff” — incomplete to put it mildly, and yet it was forwarded to the Planning Commission, a hearing was held without necessary information and documentation, and then it went to the County Board. Really, no exaggeration. Here’s the full board packet:

And what’s odd about this? The “conditions” proposed in the Board packet:

These are things that are to be included with an application, and if not, the Ordinance says that the application is not complete. FYI, this Ordinance was adopted in 2018, but is NOT posted on the County’s Website with the other Ordinances — really — check the link. WTF? Here it is (the County Attorney sent me a pdf, but it was only the even pages! Another WTF! Thankfully a little birdie sent the full Ordinance.):

NOTE in the heading: “An application to the County for a permit under this section is not complete unless it contains the following…” with all those 1-19 requirements constituting “the following.”

Take another look at the “application” in the board packet, two “applications” and a total of 10 pages! What a farce.

On behalf of the Jarchows, I’d sent a letter to the County Attorney, Administrator, and Zoning/Land-Use Administrator, and the County Board, laying out the problems, particularly stressing the egregiously incomplete application, together with an Affidavit of John Jarchow explaining their concerns with the potential nuisance coming to their property, a pre-existing permitted use:

And a Data Practices Act Request:

On to yesterday’s meeting. The County Attorney admitted that the Board had only the materials of the posted pack in front of them. As to the many missing items necessary for a complete application, one Commissioner asked about the Ordinance requirement of completeness, and the County Attorney said (not exact quote, but close) at least twice:

Oh, I wouldn’t be concerned about what the Ordinance says.

Really… I’d reminded the Commissioners of their Oath of Office, and I wonder if they thought about that. What’s the point of an ordinance if it’s ignored by the Board, the Planning Commission, and the Zoning Administrator who referred that incomplete application forward?

There were unstated claims that the biofuel plant needs this project to be able to sell to a California company. There’s a deadline approaching as the developers say this will be operational by year end.

IF THIS PROJECT IS SO IMPORTANT TO THE PLANT, AND TO THE COMMUNITY, why would the developer submit such an inadequate application? It’s on them, if they want to grease the skids and make it sail through, to do it right. But they didn’t.

Why would the Zoning Administrator forward such an inadequate and non-compliant application to the Planning Commission to review? Why would the Planning Commission hold a hearing and recommend it be approved when there is no record on which to base its “Findings.” Why would the County Board approve a CUP with so little record, and make a decision that has no record to support it? Why would the County allow a developer to put it in this position?

It’s on the developer to provide a complete application. If this project is so important, why would a developer make this strategic decision not to provide what’s required in an application?

Because they could? Because they couldn’t/can’t provide the information required? Because they knew the County wouldn’t make them follow the County Ordinance?

Oh, I wouldn’t be concerned about what the Ordinance says.” Don Klosterbuer, Rock County’s County Attorney

Follow up Data Practices Act Request #2:

Stupid is as Stupid does…

September 4th, 2019

See that black line into Alabama?

From Cornell’s site, 18 U.S. Code 2074: Whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both. (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 795; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(G), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2147.)

Did he really do that, or have someone do that, to double down on his claims that Alabama would be hit? Really?!?!

Yeah, looks like he is indeed that stupid:

Trump Shows Altered Map of Hurricane Dorian’s Path

Legalization…

September 2nd, 2019

Buds compliments of NYTimes, fair use

There’s been lots of talk about legalization of marijuana in Minnesota, though it’s not clear to me exactly what’s being proposed

Walz wants state to be ready to roll on legal marijuana

Minnesota Democrats make push on recreational marijuana, Senate GOP pumps the brakes

Makes me wonder where these folks were in the 80s when chronic use started catching up with people? This has been a topic on a yak-yak list here in RW, and Alan Muller and I have been talking about this off and on lately. It seems there are at least five distinct issues here: 1) decriminalization v. legalization; 2) gov’t regulation; 3) taxation; and 4) physical and mental health issues; 5) expungement of prior convictions. What exactly does “legalization” mean? Are there more than these 5 issues to consider? Probably…

I can see medicinal benefits, but “recreational” use, I’m not a fan of legalization. Decriminalization, yes.

Hazeldon’s site has a page, but it’s extreme, not that far from a “Reefer Madness” mode.

From Hazeldon’s page:

A number of studies link chronic marijuana use and mental illness. High doses can produce a temporary psychotic reaction in some users. Use of the drug can also worsen the course of illness for patients who have schizophrenia. A series of large, longitudinal studies also shows a link between marijuana and the development of psychosis.

Marijuana abuse has also been associated with other mental health problems, such as:

Depression
Anxiety
Personality disturbances
Suicidal thoughts (among adolescents)
Lack of motivation to engage in typically rewarding activities

More research is needed to better understand these mental health links and ramifications.

It’s this chronic use and correlation that I’m referring to, and have observed. I would guess that there’s also an association between age of first appearance of schizophrenia/bi-polar and/or psychosis and age of initial chronic use (late teens-early 20s), and I think there’s a chicken/egg issue, and again guessing that the chronic use is self-medication (that doesn’t work) for the underlying mental condition. Again, strictly opinion based on observation and not studies or experiments. I’ve seen folks waste away their life, doing nothing; I’ve seen folks using constantly, masking, self-medicating serious mental illness; I’ve seen folks using regularly enough that their wasted behavior affects their primary relationship and it’s off to D-I-V-O-R-C-E court. I have no interest in being around wasted people, whatever the drug of choice, and I don’t want to see our society enabling chemical use. I don’t want to see folks using and then heading down the highway, though they’d probably be doing 25 in the right hand lane!

Bottom line at this time (and I’m just starting to seriously mull it over), I really don’t want to see governmental encouragement and enabling of a more passive population. I’m a supporter of broad decriminalization and expungement of those convictions. I’m not a supporter of government regulation and taxation, that is yet another regressive tax, and avoids the necessity of restoring more progressive corporate and individual income taxation. “Legalization” (whatever that means) is one of the least pressing issues I see that need to be dealt with NOW! Perhaps even a distraction.

Freeborn Wind, now owned by Xcel Energy, tried to get Association of Freeborn County Landowners booted out of the Appellate Court. Freeborn Wind’s Motion DENIED!

And here’s the Order of the Appellate Court:

And this delightful snippet:

So now we’re off to the races!! We filed a Motion to Stay the Proceeding, because Xcel has filed its request for a site permit amendment. We shall see…

I saw this today and it’s nauseating.

First there was CapX 2020 transmission (following Arrowhead transmission, which was supposed to be the be-all and end-all of transmission)(and the SW MN 345kV line, precursor to CapX 2020. CapX transmission was based on a forecasted 2.49% increase in demand, which as we know, didn’t happen.

And there was the MISO 17 project MVP Portfolio:

Tomorrow, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission is making its decision regarding the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project, the southern part of #5 above, and the LAST of the MVP projects to go through state administrative approval.

So today, this is in the STrib:

Minnesota utilities will study if the $2B CapX2020 grid improvements were enough

The study beginning in January will look at whether renewable energy goals and other factors will bolster need to build out more improvements on transmission grid. 

By Mike Hughlett Star Tribune AUGUST 19, 2019 — 3:05PM

Photo: DAVID JOLESA utility worker assesses electrical power lines in south Minneapolis.

Minnesota’s largest power companies and several other Upper Midwest utilities will study how their transmission network must be bolstered to meet increasingly aggressive renewable energy goals.

The study is being launched at a time when space on the region’s Midwest’s grid is already tight — even after a $2 billion transmission expansion that was completed just a couple of years ago.

That project, called CapX2020, was the work of Xcel Energy, Great River Energy, Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power and seven other electricity providers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. CapX2020 took over seven years to complete and included 800 miles of new high-voltage lines.

Ten of the 11 utilities involved in the earlier project Monday announced the “CapX2050” study, which they are aiming to complete in January. The study “will look at maintaining a safe, reliable and cost-effective electric grid as the system adds more carbon-free energy,” the utilities said in a statement.

CapX2020 was the largest transmission project in the Upper Midwest since the 1970s, and it was aimed partly at freeing up power line capacity for burgeoning renewable energy production.

The U.S. electrical grid was built to serve large centralized power plants, but wind and solar farms are more dispersed, often requiring transmission build outs. Xcel has stated plans to produce 100% carbon-free power by 2050, while other utilities also are planning for significantly more renewables.

Also, Minnesota’s DFL Party has strongly backed raising Minnesota’s overall carbon-free energy goal to 100% by 2050.

The CapX2020 project isn’t enough to meet those long-term needs and the grid is essentially “at capacity,” an energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists told the Star Tribune last year.

Xcel’s latest long-term resource plan, filed this spring, came to a similar conclusion. “Many of these (CapX2020) lines planned in the early 2000s and completed over the recent past are already fully-or-nearly-fully subscribed,” the plan said.

So that said, here’s Xcel Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan’s Appendix on transmission:Xcel IRP – Appendix I – Transmission & Distribution – from 20197-154051-03Download

The schedule for IRP hearings was just released, it’s in October, so there’s time to make time for it:

We know Xcel Energy gets a “handsome” rate of return for transmission capital expenditures (hence “CapX transmission), so of course they want to build more. The IRP is our time to tell them how they should get the electricity they need, whether their plans are making any sense.

How about shutting down some of those coal plants, and freeing up some capacity? How about siting solar on every rooftop, over every parking lot, putting the generation at load so we don’t need transmission? Oh, but wait, that makes too much sense, especially where a utility wants to keep control of the generation, and the expenditures, and rake in the dough.

Time to pay attention to the IRP. URP!