Xcel 2019 Host Capacity Report

December 23rd, 2019

Red Wing has had a lot of outages in recent years, distribution for sure, not transmission. We’ve had intense storms, trees down, lines down, even one on our block that affected the rest of the block but not us up along West.

Utilities regularly cut maintenance and upgrades of distribution and transmission lines in a short-term short-sighted effort to save money. That’s a byproduct of deregulation — what caused the 2003 blackout across the eastern interconnect was utility failure to maintain transmission easements.

Distribution lines are the primary source of power outages, caused by something as simple as a car careening into a pole, or a tree falling on a line, and frequently squirrels in the substation (fried squirrels rate a category in outage reports). Distribution outages can also be caused by too much load on a distribution circuit, or lines aging beyond useful life, both of which can be addressed by reconductoring, putting in a new line and at the same time using a larger conductor for increased capacity. Substation modifications would also be necessary.

Utilities, well, Xcel Energy, has a habit of proposing transmission “solutions” for distribution issues, evident in the Hiawatha (CN-10-694 and TL-09-38) and Hollydale (CN-12-113 and TL-11-152) transmission line dockets. To look at dockets, go HERE and search using year number and docket number.

Xcel Energy filed its Biennial Transmission Projects Report.  BUT it filed the Integrated Distribution Plan separately. It also filed the Hosting Capacity Report separately:

Initial Comments area due December 30, 2019, Reply Comments due January 17, 2020.

For comparison, 2017:

This is really important, because by looking at the substation and distribution capacity, it’s easy to tell if their “transmission” project proposals are indeed for transmission needs or distribution, something that should be used in siting, but which isn’t. It’s also easy to tell where the utilities are neglecting their duty on the distribution side. We’ve had a lot of distribution outages in Red Wing, particularly on the west side of town… once more with feeling, here’s the map:

Why all the red and orange?

From the 2019 Report (note the grey “TRADE SECRET” redactions – peak load is taken out:

Here are the details from the 2017 Hosting Capacity Report, nothing “redacted,” but the Peak for substation and that distribution circuit are not included:

Let’s take a close look at the Hiawatha and Hollydale transmission areas, Hiawatha (PUC Dockets CN-10-694 and TL-09-38) and Hollydale (PUC Dockets CN-12-113 and TL-11-152). Hiawatha transmission WAS BUILT, ostensibly to address reliability issues around Abbott Northwestern Hospital. Need wasn’t adequately challenged. Hiawatha transmission was built, underground, and look — but did it “solve” the distribution problems? Here’s a lot of yellow, orange and red nearby in areas ostensibly served by these substations!

And from a prior Legalectric post ((Hiawatha Project Comments due tomorrow October 25th, 2011):


And let’s look at Hollydale transmission area, which was ostensibly needed for the huge load along Hwy 55 and 694. Need was challenged and Hollydale was NOT built. The plan is to upgrade the distribution system, with larger transformers and higher capacity conductors. This shows that the 694 & 55 corridors are just fine, and that upgrade of the distribution system in Plymouth is exactly what is needed, and only what is needed:

And another old Legalectric post (Hollydale Xmsn Report at long last! June 7th, 2016) had these predictions, first state of distribution in 2016:


Prediction of system for 2036:


Note that you can see the 694 and Hwy 55 corridors, they’re yellow and orange for 2016 map, and yellow, orange, and red for 2036. Once more with feeling, in the 2019 Hosting Capacity map:

2019, the 694 and Hwy 55 corridors are GREEN, GREEN, GREEN, lots of space. Go figure.

Another issue, in the 2019 Hosting Capacity Report, as noted above, is that the details are deemed “TRADE SECRET.” WHAT?!?! WHY?!?!

Not OK. They’re withholding that information, and we’re only able to look and guess, and that’s pretty hard for people to do, even those of us mired in transmission.

It’s time to challenge that “TRADE SECRET” designation of the peak loads.

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