It’s out, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s Order both rejecting Association of Freeborn County Landowners’ Petition for Environmental Assessment Worksheet and approving the Xcel Energy site permit amendment.

The Commission meeting amending Xcel Energy’s permit as requested was back on December 19, 2019, and the Commission’s deliberation and “decision” rejecting the AFCL Petition for an EAW was February 6, 2020:

VIEW WEBCAST HERE!

Per the EQB rules (Minn. R. 4410.1100, Subp. 6), the Commission was supposed to issue an Order and Record of Decision WAY BACK, but didn’t. We appealed their “decision.”

AFCL appeals PUC denial of EAW Petition

This new order (20203-161639-01_Order-Site Permit Amendment and Denial of AFCL Petition for EAW) has many statements, some pretty wild ones, but I don’t see what ought to be there.

It’s time to get out the magnifying glass for a careful read. AFCL, this means all of us!!!

Last month, both Invenergy and NextEra had issued Notice of Force Majure:

Solar Force Majure in WI – Coronavirus February 26th, 2020

Then NextEra cancelled its notice, and apparently plans to move forward with the Two Creeks project.

Here’s a recent industry blurb about the impacts, mentioning Badger Hollow solar and the rush to get projects in the ground before the tax credit and subsidies deadline, and trying to get perks in the COVID relief bill:

U.S. wind, solar industries plead for “tweaks” to coronavirus stimulus to keep projects alive

From the article:

Developer Invenergy LLC also issued a force majeure notice on its 300 megawatt (MW) Badger Hollow solar project in Wisconsin, according to a regulatory filing, citing the potential impact of factory shutdowns and travel restrictions on its suppliers and contractors. A spokeswoman for Invenergy declined to comment.

On Wednesday, Association of Freeborn County Landowners filed an appeal of the Public Utilities Commission’s denial of AFCL’s Petition for and Environmental Assessment Worksheet. It was mailed Certified Mail yesterday, as required by statute, and today, filed on the PUC’s eDockets:

The PUC really screwed this up, in so many ways. Granted there are few Petitions for EAW to the Commission, and Commission staff may not be familiar with EQB rules and process. However, in the only other Petition for Environmental Assessment Worksheet/EIS, they denied a Motion and then a Petition for EAW forwarded by the EQB, and it was sent back to the Commission by the Appellate Court:

In the Matter of Minnesota Power’s Petition for Approval of the EnergyForward Resource Package

Lesson not learned. We’ve been trying to get environmental review of wind projects for how long now, particularly given the demonstrable impacts, actual and constructive notice, beyond the “potential” for environmental impacts. Bent Tree noise excedences and landowner settlements? What more is needed?

Bent Tree Order filed by PUC

In the Staff Briefing Papers, which is staff’s recommendation to the Commission, over and over it was said that the Petition was insufficient because there were not 100 signatures, but there were 380+ signatures! In the Staff Briefing Papers, over and over it was said that the Commission could declare the Petition insufficient, when it is NOT the Commission’s job to address sufficiency, that was already determined by the Environmental Quality Board, which validated the Petition and forwarded it to the Commission for action! Read the Briefing Papers… really, it’s that absurd:

I fired off a letter requesting correction, which never happened:

And even after denying AFCL’s Petition, they went further, and provided “notice” in an email to the EQB that the Board had made its decision:

And that “notice” was published in the EQB Monitor on February 18, 2020:

And yet to this date, they’ve not filed an Order or the Record of Decision on this decision! WHAT?!?! Yes, really!!

I’d sent a letter to the EQB about the Commission’s failure to file the Order and Record of Decision nearly a month ago:

STILL NO ORDER OR RECORD OF DECISION. There are no Findings of Facts to explain, to support, the Commission’s decision. I guess it’s harder to make them up than staff thought?!?!

Meanwhile, the appeal deadline of a decision on an EAW Petition is 30 days after the notice is published in the EQB Monitor. Minn. Stat. 116D.04, Subd. 10. It’s kind of hard to Appeal a decision without the necessary documents, so I can guess that’s one more reason the Commission has chosen not to file! Oh well… ONWARD!

Prior posts on AFCL’s Petition for Environmental Assessment Worksheet:

Freeborn EAW – more time!

EQB forwards EAW Petition to PUC

Petition for EAW – Freeborn Wind

2019 PJM State of Market

March 12th, 2020

PJM’s annual State of the Market Report has been released by Marketing Analytics:

What I’m looking for first is demand info, so I’m searching. Here ya go:

It looks like peak demand/load, at 148,228MW is above what it was in 2006. From FERC – Electric Power Markets PJM:

All time peak demand: 144,644 MW (set August 2, 2006), and down to 139,438 in 2007.

Peak demand growth (2006-2007): Peak demand declined 3.6%. See PJM State of the Market 2008, below.

2006
Summer Peak Demand (MW)144,644 139,438
(Source: PJM)

CLICK HERE FOR:  PJM State of the Market – 2008

And about wholesale cost, from the 2019 State of the Market report:

One of the benefits of competitive power markets is that changes in input prices and changes in the balance of supply and demand are reflected immediately in energy prices. PJM real-time energy market prices decreased significantly in 2019 compared to 2018. The load weighted,average real-time LMP was 28.6 percent lower in 2019 than in 2018, $27.32 per MWh versus $38.24per MWh. Of the $10.92 per MWh decrease, 41.5 percent was a result of lower fuel costs. Other contributors to the decrease were the dispatch of lower cost units, decreased load and lower markups (2019 SoM,Intro, p 3).

Once more with feeling –wholesale energy costs and prices are DOWN, DOWN, DOWN, yet rates are going UP, UP, UP. DOH! It’s because, like Xcel, utilities are changing their business plan. They’re not making the money anymore on selling electricity, and can make a LOT more by building infrastructure that we don’t need and charging us ratepayers for it. Transmission costing billions; the rebuild and start up of Sherco 3 after 22 months off-line, and then announcing shut down of 1 & 2; the rebuild of Monticello costing twice the estimate; request to PUC to sell surplus Sherco and King plant generation on MISO market (just how is running it for sale elsewhere consistent with cutting CO2?!?!?)…

Another thing I do see is that the Capacity Market is deemed “Not Competitive,” and this has been a documented problem since 2007. DOH! Yet it continues.

Vol 1, Intro, p. 8

If it’s not competitive, why hasn’t the market structure been changed? After all, it’s all about “let the free market decide,” and where it’s not competitive, that isn’t happening, eh? As Marketing Analytics states, “Structural market power is endemic to the capacity market.” From a wiki definition of endemic, “In epidemiology, an infection is said to be endemic in a population when that infection is constantly maintained at a baseline level…” Houston, methinks we have a market problem…

More to follow, but wanted to get these tidbits out there.

Photo by moi

Here’s the bill everyone’s talking about:

Comments? It’s important to let them know what you think. Here’s the contact info for the Senate Energy Committee (LINKED HERE).

In last week’s Rochester Post Bulletin, about the Senate Energy and Utilities Finance and Policy Committee meeting in Rochester:

Senators take heat on waste-burning energy