Xcel’s in a bit of a bind…

February 18th, 2012

Xcel Energy’s Q4 Earnings Call Transcript

Of note for Minnesota, which needs all the property tax revenue it can get:

Ali Agha – SunTrust

Yes, and also one other clarification. Teresa, I think you mentioned the property tax deferral in Minnesota, you asked for that and you’ve assumed you’ll get it. Can you remind us how big of an amount that is?

Teresa Madden – Xcel

Yes, it’s $28 million and it’s both electric and gas. So even though it came out of the electric case, it’s for both businesses.

Demand is down down down and Xcel says they won’t need any more new generation until at least 2018.  Well DUH!  They filed an amendment to their IRP given that the situation is sooooooo bad.

2010 Resource Plan Update

Something I found interesting, aside from their projections of load growth that are down the toilet:

The most important information is fundamental data regarding the status of the economy and projections of economic growth.

And lack thereof:

We now expect 0.7% annual demand growth and 0.5% annual energy growth over the Resource Plan  horizon, down from 1.1% and 0.9%, respectively, included in our initial filing. The magnitude of the reduced forecast is such that it prompts us to reconsider some components of our Five Year Action Plan.

Which means:

We do not expect additional generation will be needed on our system until 2018.

Well DUH!  And that’s a full year after Mikey Bull had estimated at that big LS Power meeting in Chisago!  So I’d guess that if they’ll admit that, it’s really 2020 or further out.  And remember CapX 2020 is based on a 2.49% annual increase?  Right…

They had issued an RFP for wind, but they don’t need or want it now:

Currently we have significant installed generation and a bank of renewable energy credits that we can use to satisfy our renewable energy requirements. To the extent the PTC expires and wind prices increase as expected, we will be able to rely on our installed generation and banked RECs rather than adding uneconomic wind generation.



They also note that they’ve lost some wholesale customers, which is also noted in this week’s FERC filing, a Complaint against Xcel, where p. 11 of the complaint they state they lost 9 wholesale customers in Wisconsin and Michigan.  For more on that, go to NoCapX 2020:

CATFIGHT! Xcel and ATC go at it at FERC


The oh-too-cozy connections in Minnesota are pushing my buttons today. Wind on the Wires’ death-of-wind-as-we-know-it comments to the Public Utilities Commission  arguing a “this will affect all of Minnesota” were given way too much weight for an entity that wasn’t even a party, and given their tight and close connections to the Dept. of Commerce Energy Division head, it seemed undue influence.  But it got worse today… and suddenly, HOG PILE, lots of things came to light.

So what else happened?   Well, it’s a full moon.  I was looking for a document in my Goodhue Wind Truth file and my cursor passed over a WOW filing, Comments they’d filed in the record that I’d downloaded and filed with the rest, and as my cursor passed over it it said and I cursed:

Author: Alan Mitchell

Say what?!?!?!  Alan Mitchell, author of Wind on the Wires filings?


So I open it up and check the document properties directly, and sure enough, it says “Author: Alan Mitchell.”  Open it up and see for yourself:

Author: Alan Mitchell – Wind on Wires Comments November 15, 2010

Who is Alan Mitchell and why should anyone care if he authored comments?


Alan Mitchell is an attorney working on energy issues — he worked as the Asst. A.G. on utility siting at the EQB forever, during Nuclear Daze, I almost thumped him on the head when he made a DUH! admission we’d been fighting about for years.  He was there (Dwight Wagenius too) during Arrowhead and Chisago transmission, and retired I think in the Pawlenty administration exodous, around 2006? and went to Lindquist & Vennum, to work on energy issues, and then jumped to Fredrickson & Byron, at the same time Todd Guerrero did.

And there’s the rub.

Todd Guerrero represents AWA Goodhue Wind (community based wind my ass — can anyone spell “T. Boone Pickens” the owner of this project?  Last I checked, Anywhere Texas is NOT in Minnesota)  in the AWA Goodhue Wind fracas at the Public Utilities Commission and Appellate Court.  To check those AWA Goodhue Wind dockets go to www.puc.state.mn.us, click on the blue “Search eDockets” button, and search for dockets 08-1233 (siting), 09-1186 (Certificate of Need) and 09-1349 and 09-1350 (PPAs).

Todd representing AWA Goodhue and Alan for Wind on the Wires.  It’s too close folks — have you checked your “conflicts” file?  Oh, yes, that’s right, it’s not a conflict because their positions are in alignment, AWA Goodhue Wind and Wind on the Wires are both promoting this project, DUH!  So having Alan and Todd working on this together, well, it’s not a conflict, it’s not scumbaggery, it’s economies of scale, eh?  It’s something that we should know when presented with Wind on the Wires filngs, and their failure to disclose is something I’ll be mindful of, it shows their spots, not that the Commission give a rodent’s rump.

Not to worry, WOW has other pigs it’s also rolling around in the mud with.  There’s the matter of Bill Grant, former head of Izaak Walton League, who was appointed by Gov. Dayton to be the Deputy Commissioner of the Dept. of Commerce’s Energy Division and the Facilities Permitting shop.  And after all, Wind on the Wires is separate, eh?  Well, sort of, but wait, take a look at the first IRS 990 filing by WOW:

2009 Wind on the Wires IRS 990

Look closely, and take note that this IRS 990 was filed on November 12, 2010.  REMEMBER THAT DATE!  Just for yucks, let’s take a look.  The IRS 990 claims income of  and assets of:

$   706,500    Contributions and grants

45    Interest

$    201,524     Cash

$    505,000    Pledges and grants receivable

118 Prepaid expense and deferred charge


And expenses?  Put on your seat belt:

3expensesYes, that says $3. as in THREE DOLLARS.  EEEEHH?

Here is their lobbying report from Wisconsin — and then there’s Minnesota to consider too:

WOW – Lobbying Report – 2009-2010

And here’s the snippet from the Walton’s 990 reporting that expense:


Let’s see if I understand this — Izaak Walton League is reporting it as an expense on their IRS 990 and not registering with the state, and Wind on the Wires is registering their lobbyists with Wisconsin but reports nothing on their IRS 990.  OK, now for a closer look at that below!

Onward with the WOW 2009 IRS 990.  WOW says that 2009 was a “transitional year” and that:



Uh-huh… right.   “Majority of activity” with over $600k in expenses while at the Waltons, and $3 in expenses independently.  Uh-huh… uh-huh… As for $$$$, “The $423,442 capital contribution to Wind on the Wires is the IWLA’s “Project” net assets at the end of 2009.”  $432.442…

Sure, OK, let’s see what the Walton’s IRS 990 says about that.  Hmmmm, nothing about going independent, and this was filed August 27, 2010, almost 9 months after 2009 ended, you’d think they’d know what happened in 2009:

waltons2009wowprogramHere’s the full IRS 990 filing, see for yourself.  Wind on the Wires is the biggest program, income and expenses, that they’ve got going:

2009 Izaak Walton League IRS 990

And remember that Wind on the Wires claim of a “contribution of $423,442?  Here’s it’s $431,942:

duetowowThe Waltons had $8,500 more at year end, and more importantly, as of the Walton’s 8/27/2010 “year end” filing of their 2009 IRS 990, it was owed to WOW, it wasn’t outgoing money — it hadn’t been paid as of their year end…

We’re in a time warp here.

OK, now for Waltons’ lobbying — their 990 reports $102,000 lobbying expenses in Wisconsin, via Lee Cullen of Cullen Weston Pines & Bach:

cullenlobbyingAnd who else does Lee Cullen lobby for?  Let’s see… In addition to “Wind on the Wires” (and remember, prior to the 2010 filing, the 2009 501(c)(3) status and independent filing, it was but a program of the Izaak Walton League) Lee Cullen lobbied for Citizens Utility Board in past years, and while representing the Waltons… errrrrr… Wind on the Wires, throughout 2007 to the present session, he also represented RENEW Wisconsin and ATC Management, LLC … ATC Management, LLC?  You mean ATC?  ATC?!?!?!  Yes, that’s right, AMERICAN TRANSMISSION COMPANY.

Oh, it’s getting too cozy in here… but as above, there’s no conflict, nosiree, no conflict at all, because WOW is in bed with American Transmission Company, their interests are the same, there’s no conflict!


Anyway, back to the date of the Wind on the Wires IRS 990 — it was filed November 12, 2010, just a week after the election, the election where a governor was just elected who shortly thereafter appointed the Walton’s Bill Grant, head of the Midwest Izaak Walton League, to be the Deputy Commissioner of Commerce, Energy Division, in charge of energy facility permitting.  Uh-huh…

And then there’s that WOW  Board of Directors.  More on that tomorrow or Tuesday, but for sure before November 17, 2011,  when Howard “The Slow” of ELPC hosts another bogus “Transmission Strategy” meeting.  I wonder who’s paying for that?!?!


There’s a problem with not having a dog in the fight, and that is that I’ve not been tracking what’s going on in the Hiawatha Project Certificate of Need docket, or more correctly, what’s NOT going on.  OH MY!  Look what I just learned!


Yup, really, here’s the notice:

PUC’s Notice of Comment Period

That was sent out in early March, setting the deadline for Initial Comments as March 31, 2011, and Reply Comments for April 29, 2011.

This Certificate of Need is going through the “informal process,” something arbitrary set up by the PUC and MOES, with no rules, and oh, it is going weirdly.  Here’s the PUC Order authorizing the “informal process” that was issued in February:

Order of PUC establishing “informal process”

Let me see if I understand this.  The Environmental Report is not done, in fact it’s not yet begun, the Scoping Comments were due yesterday, April 6, 2011.   And the notice for the Scoping of the Environmental Report notes that there will be a public hearing on need, as required by the statute and rules, after the Environmental Report is released.

… but the initial Comment period is closed, the Reply comment period ends April 29, 2011, and all of that will be over before the Environmental Report is done and before the “Public Hearing.”  HUH?  This makes no sense.

Worse, the only party to file comments by the March 31, 2011 deadline was MOES!  There were how many intervenors in the Routing docket, and they raised such a stink about the need for a Certificate of Need proceeding that they rammed through a bill requiring it, and now that it’s begun (and now that their $90k was line-item vetoed by Pawlenty) they are all absent, not a one has bothered to show up and submit a single Comment.  Give me a break!  What does it take to put a comment in?  And not one… and a few have submitted letters saying they won’t be intervening, notably the large funded intervenors:

Letter from Hennepin County, City of Minneapolis and Midtown Greenway Coalition, stating they have no intention of intervening

…sigh… gee, I wonder why they’re not intervening…

Anyway, here’s what MOES has to say, and remember this is the beginning, not nearly the end:

MOES – Comments and Recommendation

So once again, let me see if I understand this.  MOES has submitted Initial Comments recommending that this Certificate of Need be approved, and is basing that on the Application, and to support that Recommendation, using demand data from 2006, and using the Chisago Project record from 2007 as the basis for saying that a determination regarding undergrounding should be made in the routing docket.  Really, that’s what it says, PLEASE read it!


Look what Xcel filed on January 6th, 2011, as a “Supplemental Filing” replacing their “Appendix B, Figure 7, Monthly Demand and Capability” chart (click to enlarge):


Compare that “Net Peak Demand” with the original chart — there’s a LOT more capability than demand… but hey, we knew that:


So can you believe this MOES Recommendation to grant the Certificate of Need?  Where are my waders…


MOES clearly has not taken this chart into account showing a 10-15% decrease in demand.  Plus MOES is not taking into account any Comments because theirs were filed on the first deadline!  They’re taking everything Xcel says in its application and presuming it’s fact!  Even the 55MW need claim based on 2006 data.  HELLO?!?!

A Recommendation should come at the end of the process, not the beginning.  DUH!

Well, here we go… Reply Comments due April 29, 2011.

Duck and cover!


Interesting day at the PUC!

November 23rd, 2010


Today on the PUC’s agenda? AWA Goodhue’s request for Reconsideration of the PUC’s remand to an Administrative Law Judge.

Here’s their remand Order and subsequent filings:

PUC’s Order – Remand to OAH

And from that Order, here’s what the PUC wants from the ALJ:

1. The ALJ assigned to this matter is requested to develop a record on every standard in Article 18 that is more stringent than what the Commission has heretofore applied to LWECS and make recommendations regarding each such standard whether the Commission should adopt it for Large Wind Energy Conversion Systems in Goodhue County. The Commission has identified two such standards in this Order (Section 4 and Section 6) but is not by this Order restricting the ALJ from developing the record and making recommendations regarding additional standards in Article 18 that upon further examination meet the “more stringent” qualification.

2. The ALJ assigned to this matter is requested to allow the parties to develop a factual record on the question of “good cause” as that term appears in Minn. Stat. § 216F.081 and to provide recommendations on whether, with respect to each standard in Article 18 identified in the course of her review as “more stringent” than what the Commission has heretofore applied to LWECS, there is “good cause” for the Commission to not apply the standard to siting LWECS in Goodhue County.

3. As the ALJ addresses the issues identified in the previous two sections, the ALJ is requested to include (but not limited to, by this Order) whether there is sufficient evidence regarding health and safety to support a 10 rotor diameter set-back for non-participating residents and the stray voltage requirements.

To which AWA Goodhue said  …. “NOOOO, we want you to undo that decision” …

AWA Motion – Text only – maps are too big

… and to which we said, “PPFFFFFFFFFFFFFBBBBBT!” …

Goodhue Wind Truth – Response to Motion for Reconsideration

… including a section you really ought to read:


… and from Goodhue County:

Goodhue County – Response – late filed

… and then the AWA Goodhue’s Reply – quite pissy, eh?

AWA Goodhue Reply

… and some others on behalf of AWA:

“Wind on the Wires” Izaak Walton League Comment

GE Energy Comment – late filed

… and PUC staff weighs in:

Staff Briefing Papers (a separate revised cover sheet filed later)

… and then at 8:21 a.m. this morning, served by eFiling, and Document Properties show it wasn’t pdf’d until 4:03… TODD GUERERRO, WHATEVER ARE YOU THINKING… this from AWA Goodhue trying to wiggle into mediation somehow rather than a proceeding before the Administrative Law Judge.  Mediation???  Mediation has it’s place, but… well, anyway, here’s what they said:

AWA Goodhue Last Minute Letter

The Commission was probably not pleased, the timing of that latest filing was duly noted, and after a short discussion about the availability of mediation in any contested case, under the administrative rules it’s always an option, the discussion led by Commissioner Reha, who as an ALJ had mediated the Chisago Transmission Project (were any of the Commissioners around then?  Perhaps Pugh?):

Deal – NSP – Taylors Falls – St. Croix Falls

That’s one result of that mediation, one which I certainly wouldn’t be proud of, because though it did underground down the banks of the St. Croix River, it DOUBLED the capacity, and I don’t think anyone other than our friends at NSP had any clue what dropping voltage but bundling BIG conductors meant.  Well, Art Hughes, Ph. D., of course, but he’s dead… And at the time,  it was disturbing the way ALJ Phyllis Reha and George Crocker were on the stage of the Festival Theatre in St. Croix Falls stumping for the deal and urging Concerned River Valley Citizens to adopt the deal.  WHY, what’s in it for them?  For CRVC, nothing!  And why would Reha and Crocker want CRVC to adopt that deal?  Enough to be promoting it on stage before CRVC?  CRVC said NO, and the rest is history…

So anyway, to make a short story long, the PUC talked about Reconsideration and the referral to OAH a bit, Commissioner Reha mentioned some things she is concerned about as material facts at issue, they expressly stated they did not want to Reconsider, and they all (4, Betsy Wergin was missing) said NO to AWA Goodhue’s Motion for Reconsideration.



Underground Xcel’s Hiawatha Project transmission.  That’s BIG, it’s good news, except for one thing — “Who pays?” is still a question:

ALJ Heydinger’s Recommendation for Xcel’s Hiawatha Transmission Project

Problem is, cost allocation isn’t dealt with specifically, only explained, so no recommendation regarding that.


If the PUC went ahead, would it be spread across the Metro area, the full Xcel rate base, or???

For the SE Metro, and for the Chisago Transmission Project, if they cities would have agreed to shoulder the cost, undergrounding was no problem.  But that’s not feasible for a city to pay.  So now what?  Will the PUC actually order undergrounding, with a broad rate base recovery?