We had a “win” at the PUC on Thursday, but it’s the kind of a win that is such a “DUH!” that it’s hard to celebrate, it’s too much of a reminder of the ways that the public is being treated these days, shut out of process, harassed, quashed, and in this case, as attorney for City of Lindstrom, it’s astounding me the lengths Commerce on the Siting and Routing side will go to to keep a local government from having input. Unbelievable!

While I’m clear that Xcel is not “our friend,” they are not the ones putting up the roadblocks, and we have to be ever vigilant about ALL the players in this. Pawlenty’s state agencies particularly!

I’m having a hard time getting this posting done because the actions and position of the Dept. of Commerce have been so egregious… so I guess I’ll just let them speak for themselves, the pattern will show through:

Prior Post: Chisago — State cuts out the public

When it became clear that the Task Force process was being perverted by Dept. of Commerce into a “no notice” and “too little time” fiasco, we filed a Motion to Extend Task Force:

City of Lindstrom – Motion to Extend Task Force

Which was followed by the Commerce position, in a “letter” and not a responsive pleading, that it was not necessary to extend Task Force, that what had transpired was just fine, and arguing that the Siting/Routing docket was not a contested case:

Commerce Letter to ALJ Lipman

OK, fine, so then we filed a Petition for a Contested Case with the PUC:

City of Lindstrom – Petition for Contested Case

Our Motion was referred to the PUC, and was put on agenda for Thursday, April 19, 2007.  And here are the Staff Briefing Papers for Thursday’s meeting:

Staff Briefing Papers for April 19 2007

And here’s where it gets interesting. Xcel was not the “bad guy” here, the “bad guy” is the Dept. of Commerce Siting and Routing staff! Xcel came in with no objections to a contested case, an interest in assuring that “at the end of the day” the City of Lindstrom couldn’t say “we were shut out,” and “we had no opportunity to participate!” AND, best of all, they brought in this great chart showing just how it could be handled, where the rules for this “Alternate Review Process” can be integrated into the pre-existing Contested Case for the Certificate of Need! Minn. R. 4400.2850 folded into Minn. R. Ch. 1400 (and noting in places that “Ch 1405 provides helpful analogy.” And yes, I made sure Mike Krikava new that I appreciated Xcel’s attitude in this. Another interesting point — Commerce staff, in presenting their off the wall arguments, were there on their own, no Asst. A.G. to be seen!

Here’s Xcel’s chart, that shows how the processes can be combined:

Xcel – Alternate Review and CoN can be combined

The meeting was “spirited” and the bottom line was that because (I believe) Xcel had no objection with combining the two forks, Siting/Routing and Certificate of Need, into one contested case, that’s how it’s going to go! Will post the Order when it comes out.

One Response to “Pawlenty’s Dept. of Commerce goes overboard quashing public participation”

  1. Legalectric » Blog Archive » Another outrageous ALJ Order Says:

    […] CRVC explain just exactly why their representing themselves was not unauthorized practice of law (Here’s another post on that). And I’m remembering David Ludwig of the PSC essentially saying the same thing to me when I […]

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