The Great Plains Institute has long been a problem, and it remains a problem, evidenced in today’s missive trying to bootstrap onto tRump’s “infrastructure” agenda, by releasing a “White Paper” “calling on President Trump and Congress to make CO2 pipelines a priority component of a broader national infrastructure agenda and recommending that the federal government support the development of CO2 pipeline networks.”  Oh, great… brilliant idea, just brilliant.

Great Plains Institute a problem?  Yes.  They were paid handsomely to promote coal gasification, projects including but not limited to Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project, the boondoggle of boondoggles.  For example:

Great Plains Institute – is Joyce getting their $$ worth?

January 18th, 2007

Carbon capture and storage/sequestration was seen by many circa 2005 as a “way forward for coal.”  So the Walton’s Bill Grant said.  No.  It wasn’t.

CO2 sequestration is so… like… not happening!

It wasn’t a “way forward for coal” then, and it isn’t now.

The market has spoken on coal, and it’s clear that coal is on the way out as coal companies go bankrupt, as coal generated electricity languishes on the energy market, and as the inefficient and costly older coal plants have closed, with newer larger plants waiting in queue to be shuttered.

And CO2 capture and storage/sequestration is a farce.  Why? Well, we learned a lot about CO2 capture in our fight against Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project.  That’s where the Public Utilities Commission determined that it was just to expensive and risky to approve a Power Purchase Agreement — go HERE and search for PUC Docket 05-1933. Here’s a rough visual of CO2 capture and storage/use:

From Global CCS Institute HERE

So what’s the problem?

  • First, capture is costly and difficult, particularly capturing any significant portion of CO2 generated.
  • The higher percentage captured, the higher the cost of that capture, and high percentage capture has not been achieved.
  • The cost of capture is not only the cost to physically do it, the hardware, technology, and engineering, but there is a high cost in efficiency of the CO2 producer, a parasitic cost, meaning that if you’re capturing that CO2, you’re paying a high price in efficiency of an already inefficient process (burning is always inefficient).
  • And another parasitic cost, these pipelines require pumping stations to pressurize andpump it into the pipeline, a pumping station every 75 miles or so to keep that pressure up, and a pumping station at the destination, and those pumping stations require 4-10 MW of power, depending.
  • Environmentally, the impacts of digging up land for hundreds of miles is immense.
  • These are private projects and for a private project, a private purpose, eminent domain isn’t available for the taking of people’s land.

Yet this CO2 capture and storage/sequestration farce continues, evidenced in the most recent Great Plains Institute missive I found in the inbox, here the missive’s link to CO2 capture and storage for oil extraction, “Enhanced Oil Recovery”.

Here’s their “White Paper” with what they’ll be lobbying for:

21st Century Energy Infrastructure: Policy Recommendations for Development of American CO2 Pipeline Networks

Short version:  The federal government should make this CO2 pipeline and infrastructure build out happen across the country, a la the Interstate highway system.

In light of tRump’s Executive Order 13766, Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects, that’s a scary notion.

Check out this site from Global CCS Institute, and note, they talk of benefits, but look for talk of costs.  Hmm…

A “way forward for coal?”  CO2 capture?  Over my dead polar bear.

Here it is, TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline is baaaaaaaaaaack. From the Federal Register Notice:

On February 5, 2014, the Department invited members of the public to comment on any factor they deem relevant to the national interest determination that will be made for the Keystone XL project application (79 FR 6984) and it is not inviting further public comment at this time.

Really…

A cut and paste from the State Department site:

Keystone XL Pipeline Application

On January 26, 2017 TransCanada submitted a Presidential permit application to the Department of State. The application and other project documents can be found here.

Documents relating to TransCanada’s 2012 application can be found here.

Two days… they resubmitted the application two days later… and no comment period.  WHAT?!?!

Here’s the Federal Register Notice for TransCanada Keystone Pipeline (it did take about two weeks for that to come out, and it’s just after the Enbridge Line 67 Expansion Federal Register Notice!).

Xcel Energy has released its 2016 SEC 10-K, and here is the number I care most about, the peak demand, incorporated into the chart above:

“Peak Demand” is the number they use to attempt to justify “need” for all sorts of abhorrent and expensive infrastructure, particularly infrastructure of the transmission variety.  Here are the specifics in megawatts (MW):

As Xcel Energy’s Ben Fowkes says, this is the “new normal.”  From the Seeking Alpha transcript of the XEL Earnings Call, January 31, 2013. 

So I think the economies are in decent shape across all our jurisdictions. Doesn’t necessarily mean it translates to high sales growth. And that’s consistent with our forecast. I mean, we’re not anticipating that we’re going to see a tremendous rebound in sales, even as the economies start to improve. I mean, I think, that’s our new normal, frankly.

Hence, they’re looking for other ways to make money, which they found in transmission, specifically CapX 2020 transmission, which was justified with this chart from MN Dept. of Commerce’s Steve Rakow, in his bar napkin depiction of the ups and down of peak demand:

Compare this drunken-dream drawing with the actual peak demand above — doesn’t look at all similar, does it.  Nevertheless, we’ve been stuck with over $2 billion in transmission infrastructure build-out which we’re just starting to pay for, and just starting to see show up in rate cases.  People are just now starting to get a feel for the economic impact, as if the environmental and quality-of-life impact isn’t bad enough…

Meanwhile, after going through years and years over CapX 2020, followed by the MISO MVP 17 project portfolio, now under construction, MISO wants to spring another bunch of projects on us. Their “Transmission Overlay.”  Yeah, right…

Here’s the list, in a spreadsheet:

20170131 EPUG Preliminary Overlay Ideas List

This is the MN, WI, SD, ND and some IA wish list weeded out from that spreadsheet (click for a larger version):

They want to add all of this, nevermind that Xcel is whining in its e21_Initiative that only 55% of the grid is not utilized:

(N) Identify and develop opportunities to reduce customer costs by improving overall grid efficiency.  In Minnesota, the total electric system utilization is approximately 55 percent (average demand divided by peak demand), thus providing an opportunity to reduce system costs by better utilizing existing system assets (e.g., generation, wires, etc.). (e21_Initiative_Phase_I_Report, p. 11).

And they want to build more?  MORE?!?!

And they want to ram it through even though it’s not needed, just like CapX 2020 transmission?  As if Obama’s RRTT wasn’t enough, pushing CapX 2020 Hampton-La Crosse transmission line:

Obama “fast tracks” CapX Hampton-LaCrosse?!?!?!

… check out tRump’s Executive Order 13766:

Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects

GRRRRRRRRRRRR!  As if there’s not enough work to do these days… but you know, the work never ends for us “paid protesters.”  And a woman’s work is never done either.

That’s the mess that stopped Amtrak’s Coastal Starlight train, and we had to take a bus around it, from Redding down to Sacramento (that leg is up and running again, but now Costal Starlight between San Luis Obispo and LA is down).  Climate change and extreme weather is the theme of the month, particularly during this “vacation” which is turning into a “Climate Change Tour.”

Yesterday’s storm fortunately was focused on southern California, so the Oroville dam area didn’t get hit as hard as was thought earlier:

Deadly storm slams Southern California – CNN.com

But this Oroville dam safety issue is nothing new:

Releasing water at Oroville Dam a lingering problem

How Did the Oroville Dam Crisis Get So Dire? – The Atlantic

Oroville Dam Disaster Is a Wake-Up Call for Infrastructure Investment

Sacramento Bee –Check out this interactive 3D model of Oroville Dam

For years there has been ongoing safety analysis and scrutiny, yet here we are now. ???  In crisis… many people evacuated, over 180,000 in many cities and surrounding areas:

Look up FERC Docket P-2100 for more info, much is about Thermalito, but much is about Oroville.  It’s about 50/50.  The “good stuff” is CEII, which means that regular folks can’t look.

CEII Generally (FERC)

FERC: CEII – Designation of Incoming Dam Safety Documents

I’d heard there was a 2005 safety report in the relicensing docket, but can’t find a public copy.  Here’s an example of what I found most interesting in the Oroville docket… BUT WAIT… it’s CEII, so we have no way of knowing what’s at issue:

Category/
Accession
Doc Date/
Filed Date
Docket
Number
Description Class/
Type
Files Size
Submittal
20141216-5278
Document Components
12/16/2014
12/16/2014
P-2100-000 Department of Water Resources under P-2100 submits Ninth Part 12D Independent Consultant’s Safety Inspection Report and Supporting Technical Information Document for Oroville Dam.
Availability: CEII
Report/Form /
Part 12 Consultant Safety Inspection Reports
 PDF     8758K
 PDF     30388K
 PDF     36417K
 PDF     33640K
 PDF     3773K
 PDF     48602K
 PDF     43905K
 PDF     49545K
 PDF     45365K
 PDF     42240K
 PDF     40681K
More Files – See List.
INFO

FILE

Submittal
20141210-5070
Document Components
12/10/2014
12/10/2014
P-2100-000 Department of Water Resources submits CEII Potential Failure Mode Analysis Report for Oroville Dam under P-2100.
Availability: Public
Report/Form /
Other Dam Safety Report
 PDF     128K
 FERC Generated PDF     128K
INFO

FILE

Submittal
20141210-5071
Document Components
12/10/2014
12/10/2014
P-2100-000 Department of Water Resources submits CEII Potential Failure Mode Analysis Report for Oroville Dam under P-2100.
Availability: CEII
Report/Form /
Other Dam Safety Report
 PDF     153K
 PDF     3056K
 PDF     48629K
 PDF     45437K
 FERC Generated PDF     96911K
INFO

FILE

Submittal
20141205-5099
12/05/2014
12/05/2014
P-2100-000 Update to Service List for Pierce Atwood LLP Under P-2100.
Availability: Public
Pleading/Motion /
Procedural Motion
 PDF     166K
 FERC Generated PDF     166K
INFO

FILE

Looking forward to catching up with Ted Nace soon in San Francisco.  He’s author of Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy — get your copy HERE.

Alan Muller and I had the good fortune of meeting him through our “no coal” work and the “No New Coal Plants” list that was instrumental in stopping so many coal gasification plants across the U.S., including Minnesota’s Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project (see also www.camp-site.info)and the NRG coal gasification plant proposed for Delaware.  He wrote this Orion article about that coal gasification fight (a couple things are off — hey, Ted, it’s an ORANGE crate!!):

Orion-Stopping Coal in its Tracks – Ted Nace – JanFeb 2008

And from that, he also also wrote:

Climate Hope: On the Front Lines of the Fight Against Coal

Check these out, you can find them reasonably priced at www.abebooks.com.  Support your independent bookseller!