Power and Energy is the theme of the week.



Yesterday was the MAPP NM-SPG meeting, which is the Mid-America Power Pool Northern MAPP – Subregional Planning Group! MAPP is the transmission industry regional group that was formed a few years after the New York blackout to help share power between the utilities. The NM-SPG, like the other planning groups, determines need for transmission from a transmission engineering perspective, does the necessary electrical studies to evaluate load serving needs, voltage stability and reactive power problems, and generally insuring reliability of the transmission system. The MAPP site has some good resources, for example, if you really want to know how much power is ?needed? you can find that in MAPP?s Load and Capability Report.

Meetings are held at Great River Energy in Elk River. The main office is built next to their 250MW municipal waste burning plant. Years ago, this was the site of the state?s first nuclear plant, which my father helped design, a decade before he desiged the solar at the Minnesota Zoo!

Though some have called it ?watching paint dry,? I really get a charge out of these meetings. Maybe that?s because I miss the first half?caught the close of the discussion about the Transmission Planning meetings starting next week. Check the CapX2020 report for their rough plans/dreams. (see ROUGH transmission map, p. 28). Here?re the meeting dates:

Southeast Zone

May 12, 2005 7 p.m.
Rochester Public Utilities Community Room
4000 East River Road NE
Rochester, MN 55906

Southwest Zone

Twin Cities Zone

West Central Zone

Northwest Zone

Northeast Zone

Last year at the SE Zone meeting, when I wanted to raise issues about interconnection of the Mesaba Project, was told to go to Duluth! (yes, Duluth is hell, but my friend Sadie lives there!). At the NE Zone meeting, there was no one from the Mesaba Project presenting, and the presenters who were there did not want to deal with Mesaba! I?m warning Michael Wadley that I expect the real poop from them that evening!

Here’s the EQB Transmission Map!


Back to the MAPP meeting — there were updates on the ?SW Wind Projects? from Xcel?s Pam Rasmussen; Air Lake-Empire from GRE?s Mike Steckelberg MSteckel@GREnergy.com and Plymouth-Maple Grove 115kV and Eastwood & Faribault 115kV lines.

I asked if they had any info about the Blooming Grove 325MW gas plant and they knew nothing about it. Randy Porter of Dahlen-Berg, which handles management of MMPA, and who worked on the Faribault plant, knew about the earlier plans for a 46MW. Although the line to the north along Hwy. 60 had recently been upgraded, there just isn?t 325MW of spare capacity, and the tap from Hwy. 60 down to Waseca that would connect the plant couldn?t handle that power without upgrades. Rick Free, the Transmission guy for Simon Industries, will have his hands full! It?s important for the Independent Power Producers (IPP?s) to show up at MAPP to keep the planners apprised of their pending projects.

Need a job? GRE is looking for a President and CEO!!!

PUC – Minnesota Power petition to allow ATC to own Arrowhead Line

From there, on to the PUC, for Oral Argument about the Minnesota Power petition to let American Transmission Company take over the Arrowhead Project, leaving MP as only ?construction management.? Right? The issue has been bouncing around between agencies after being raised by various parties for a while, and has settled in the PUC now that MP has filed this request.

PUC staff did a good job of analysis in the Staff Briefing Paper, calling MP lying sacks of.. er… ah… ?disingenuous,? yeah, that’s it. It?s impossible to tell from MP?s statements in the various venues who is doing what, who owns what, and what their relationship really is, and it’s been that way for years. ATC emphatically said it is not a party, and until Thursday?s meeting, had not participated in any way!

The argument was spirited with 12 seated at the table, five participants plus PUC staff and MP/ATC, continuing along the lines of the positions outlined in the Staff Briefing Paper. George Crocker, NAWO, has yet to explain his conflict of interest — on one hand this opposition to ATC, and on the other, a deal and promotion of the Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell as ?a good deal.? This bill will change the law to allow ATC and TRANSLink companies to operate in Minnesota, just what he advocates against at the PUC. I asked him on the record to disclose his interest in that deal and explain his position, but he did not. The Attorney General’s RUD opposes this bill — I’m glad I’m not the only one who finds it problematic that we’re giving away state authority. May Crocker and Bill Grant of the Izaak Walton League have SF1368 and HF1344 tattooed on their foreheads to forever remind themselves and the world of their legacy…

World Organization for Landowner Freedom, the organization I represent, was the only party to raise ATC ownership at the Arrowhead EQB hearing in August of 2000, but the ALJ ruled it irrelevant. Then Judge Nickolai is now PUC Commissioner Nickolai, and I think now he finally gets it! What?s interesting is that he was ALJ for Arrowhead, he replaced Judge Reha, now Commissioner Reha, and she was ousted as ALJ in Arrowhead for her connection via mediation of the Chisago Project (the one with the side deals for Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls). It?s possible those two will have to recuse themselves, and if that happens, then we lose the two Commissioners with hands on knowledge of transmission.

Bottom line ? it looks like the PUC will order a contested case. The Briefing Papers present options, and I prefer Option II(B), that orders specific issues to be addressed. It?s about time.

Commissioner Johnson had a good question for ATC: WHY DO YOU WANT THIS? It’s simple: Arrowhead makes no sense electrically or economically. It’s planned as a 600MVA line with an 800MVA limitation, which won’t generate enough revenue to justify the $450+ million cost. It makes a lot of sense if Mesaba ties in and the line expands to a typical 345kV capacity, like the 345kV in SW MN (2085 MVA). MN doesn’t want Arrowhead used for bulk power, but if ATC controls the line, then Minnesota won’t have jurisdiction, FERC will, and Minnesota probably can’t regulate it! Pretty simple! WATCH! And remember who promoted the legislation that lets this happen.

Girl Scouts – Advocacy for Girls

From then to Northfield for the Girl Scout Board Meeting where the big issue is the annual Golf Scramble, Monday, June 13, 2005 at The Legacy, in Faribault (directions/details — walking is allowed!). For more info, contact the Girl Scout Council of Cannon Valley at (507) 645-6603.

We had a very good discussion about the importance of advocacy for girls, focused on “what is lobbying” and what is appropriate and necessary given our mission — the the very purpose of the organization is advocacy for girls. The Vision Statement: Everything we do with our time, talent, technology and treasure is for girls. We’ve been working on Strategic Planning, and as needs rise, we want to be focused to be able to provide for those needs as best we can. You’ll be seeing and hearing more about Girl Scouts!

FULL DISCLOSURE: Golf??? I just can?t relate, Mark Schweiss jokingly described one fancy-schmancy course in the Metro as an ?edifice to capitalism? or some such, but to me it’s too true. ?Golf? represents too much of what?s wrong today, people devoting so much time and money to golf and all the accoutrements when there are so many urgent and demanding needs in our society (yet it’s great the Girl Scouts turn that to an advantage), another opiate of the people. It?s a class thing… I sure can’t afford “country club casual,” and I just don’t have any interest. For me that philosophical tension was captured by very existance of the Central High School golf team — inner city students out in the school’s front yard practicing, hitting balls towards 4th Ave. into cars and the houses across the street. I think the infamous Dakota chef Ken Goff* was on that team! Bill, my old neighbor here in Red Wing, was a golf pro until he salvaged his soul by becoming a high school teacher (and of course coaching the golf team). My little bro? David say?s he?s found the highest and best use for a golf cart ? running down the coyotes at ?his? resort. Nope, I am not now nor have I ever been…

* Huh, article in the Thursday STrib says Goff’s out of the Dakota! More time for golf?

One Response to “Transmission, Transmission, and … and… golf???”

  1. Mike Bull Says:

    Carol — the Attorney General supported passage of the 2005 Omnibus Energy bill in all respects. The only issue the AG had with the bill dealt with the formation of transco’s. Ron Giteck of the AG’s office worked with the utilities and developed the language that was included in the final bill, which the AG then supported. The transco language doesn’t give away any state authority — under current law, the PUC arguably has all the authority it needs to approve a transco petition, but has no statutory guidance as to what to look for in a transco. The 2005 legislation establishes the public interest criteria and considerations by which the PUC should review a petition for formation of a transco.

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