Time out!

September 15th, 2020

There’s a lot to be said for taking a “Time Out!” First trip of the year was up to Tettegouche for solstice, and it was too crowded and people were uniformly non-observent of COVID precautions. After that, we declined two camp hosting gigs, no way was I up for dealing with people and cleaning and stocking bathrooms in that situation.

I am on several camping lists, one of which is the North Dakota State Parks, which sends out a list of weekend sites available. Little Missouri State Park ALWAYS had sites. It looked interesting, was a horse camp with 2 assigned corrals for each site (!) so I called, and horses aren’t required. So I grabbed the best site starting after Labor Day – 13e!

Site 13e in the background, from the road into the park (photo taken by someone in my camping group who was there the week after I’d booked our reservation.
on the way…
Flaring at sunset…
Flaring in the distance – 15+ visible at night.

Sunset, right? Well, it is that time, but that’s an oil well flare. The campground was surrounded by oil wells (satellite view here).

North Dakota oil production on the upswing again but may plateau this fall

Some nights, they were audible, both a sound like a jet taking off and a very high pitched whistle. That was countered by the coyotes yipping and howling at sunset and an hour before sunrise.

Little Sadie loves to travel, and she’s learned to be cool around strangers and wildlife.

We took a trip to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, South Unit one day, North Unit the next. Campgrounds are closed at both. From the looks of it, the wildlife is benefiting from not having people around.

The picnic ground was FULL of buffalo!

The buffalo walking along the road found a snake, and stomped it but didn’t kill it, and they took turns checking it out, the snake opened its mouth wide, hissing, they’d dance away, and come around again for a look-see. It was as if it was bison school, to learn how to recognize danger and what to do about it.

And the joys of zooming on the internet!

Association of Freeborn County Landowners had filed a Complaint against Public Utilities Commissioner John Tuma and Chair Katie Sieben:

AFCL files Complaint against Tuma & Sieben

They filed their response and shipped it off to Office of Administrative Hearings for an investigation (note statute says “hearing” … oh well…):

AFCL Complaint forwarded to OAH for hearing

Here’s the result, hot off the press:

There’s no requirement of public participation? Minn. Stat. 216E.08, Subd. 2. And parties? No mention. What’s the point of being a party? And following that Office of Legislative Auditor report, guess it doesn’t matter, no one is paying attention.:

Public Utilities Commission’s Public Participation Processes – OLA-Report

Notice of a new topic on the agenda isn’t required? Yeah, I guess the notice statutes don’t matter.

Talking to a participant is not ex party contact? The County is indeed a participant…

Next step is that it goes to the Commission to rubber stamp it.

Who cares? Listen to this:

Lot of filings in preparation for the first hearing on Association of Freeborn County Landowners’ MERA suit against the PUC. At this time next week, it’s off to the races!

First, the Motions to Dismiss:

PUC FilingsMotion to Dismiss:

NSP and Plum Creek Wind Filings – Motion to Dismiss

Buffalo Ridge and Three Waters Wind Projects’ FilingsMotion to Dismiss

AFCL Response to Defendant and Defendant Intervenors Motions to Dismiss

Next, Motion for Temporary Injunction:

PUC Filings re: Injunction

NSP – Plum Creek Filings re: Injunction

PJM’s “independent” Monitoring Analytics (don’t know how independent it really is) has released its State of the Market report for the first two quarters of 2020, and there are some most interesting observations in this report. First, here’s the report:

The intro is astounding for the admissions about the electric market, decreased demand, and coal’s role:

That’s from page 2 of the PJM 2Q SoM Report.

Much of this new world is due to COVID, but the changes you see were in the works prior to COVID, which hit primarily starting 2nd Quarter. Demand has been lessening for a long time (the big increase circa 2003-2005 was when PJM territory expanded). Note that unlike MISO, it’s not strictly summer peaking, three peaks were in winter!

The histrionic squeals of “freezing in the dark on a respirator without a job” … or is it “in an incubator without a job,” either way, those fears did not materialize, and with the billions of dollars in transmission based on those hyped-up fears, where are we now? Another day older and deeper in debt…

And if you need wallpaper, do put up the LMP maps:

PJM: https://www.pjm.com/library/maps/lmp-map.aspx

MISO: https://api.misoenergy.org/MISORTWD/lmpcontourmap.html (something weird is going in MISO, the entire upper half is YELLOW!

AFCL v. PUC & others

August 5th, 2020

On June 10, 2020, Association of Freeborn County Landowners filed a Complaint against the Public Utilities Commission and four wind projects: Freeborn Wind, Plum Creek Wind, Buffalo Ridge Wind and Three Waters Wind:

AFCL brought this suit under MERA, the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act, which gives anyone standing to sue, and sue we did, seeking:

  • A declaratory order that the state’s permitting of Large Wind Energy Conversion Projects is not in compliance with the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act;
  • A declaratory order that the Public Utilities Commission has not complied, and must comply, with the mandate of Minn. Stat. §216F.05 to develop rules for environmental review of wind projects;
  • An order that the Public Utilities Commission promulgate rules for wind siting and environmental review;
  • A remand for additional proceedings as required by law and the Commission’s rules. 
  • AFCL also seeks a temporary injunction pending these directives and actions by the Commission.  Minn. Stat. §116B.10.

All the Defendants have brought Motions to Dismiss, and today I received reams of paper with their arguments:

Filings from the PUC:

Filings from NSP & Plum Creek:

Filings from Buffalo Ridge Wind and Three Waters Wind:

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Onward toward the Motion Hearing on September 2, 2020! Lots of reading and writing to do in response to these, and lots of writing to do for our Motion for Temporary Injunction!