Ah, yes, it’s that time of year again… remember this map, way back when, connecting existing coal plants to the proposed CapX 2020 system? (note the Mid-American coal plant built in 2007 over by Council Bluffs isn’t there, it’s at the green lines on the southwest side where transmission starts.)

It’s the Power Plant Siting Act Annual Hearing!

Here’s the full notice:

2017_Docket 17-18_Notice_201711-137509-01

And going back in history:

2000 Summary of Proceedings

2000 Report EQB

2001 Summary of Proceedings

2001 Report EQB

2002 Summary of Proceedings

2002 Report to EQB

2003 Summary of Proceedings

2003 Report to EQB

2004 Summary of Proceedings

2004 Report to EQB

2005 Report to PUC

2006 Report to PUC – Docket 06-1733

2007 Report to PUC – Docket 07-1579

2008 Report to PUC – Docket 08-1426

2009 Report to PUC – Docket 09-1351

2010 Report to PUC – Docket 10-222

2011 Report to PUC – Docket 11-324

2012 Report to PUC – Docket 12-360

2013 Report to PUC – Docket 13-965

2014 Summary Report– Docket 14-887

2015 Summary Report – Docket 15-785

2016 Summary Report — Docket 16-18

Here’s the summary of what I had to say last year, from the report above:

Does this sound familiar?

Meanwhile, we’re still waiting on the rulemaking, 12-1246, which addresses PPSA siting rules, Minn. R. Ch. 7850.  To see rulemaking docket, which ostensibly is to address the changes in the 2005 Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell, go HERE and look up rulemaking docket 12-1246.

I expect to reach the Public Utilities Commission before I drop dead.  But I’m starting to wonder.  The “12” in “12-1246” means the docket was opened in 2012.  This is 2017.  Good grief!

HERC at PUC on Thursday

November 13th, 2017

This Thursday, the Xcel Energy Petition to slash the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center Power Purchase Agreement.  It’s a pretty twisted thing…

Read all about it — check out the Public Utilities Commission docket:

Click “Search Documents” HERE and search for docket 17-532

Here are the Staff Briefing Papers_201711-137262-01

For example, Commerce noted that the power wasn’t needed:

And the PUC staff seems to have heard this, which notes the capacity surplus in the Briefing Papers above:

Followed by this:

Ummmmmmmm, it’s both!

And it gets curiouser and curiouser… Again from the Briefing Papers:

And some validation of concerns raised:

So what will the Commission do?  It seems their knickers are in a bunch and it’s not at all clear…

Here’s the Neighbors for Clean Air page for HERC:

HERC page and links via Wayback Machine

And check out Alan Muller’s powerpoint from the successful challenge to attempt to increase garbage burning:

HERC_Power Point

There was an announcement in April, 2016, of  the “HERC Clean Power Plan Coalition” with multiple groups joining to shut down HERCSierra Club North Star Chapter, MPIRG, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Community Power, St. Joan of Arc, etc.

HERC?  SHUT IT DOWN!

 

 

Electricity glut?  It’s all over the U.S.  It’s not just in MISO’s Midwest that there’s an energy glut, it’s also PJM, which is the market that Midwest electricity producers have their eyes on.  PJM is TRANSMISSON and ELECTRIC MARKETING.  And North American Electric Reliability Corporation, NERC, verifies it’s EVERYWHERE!

Just in, Monitoring Analytic’s 3rd Quarter report that includes the summer peak:

2017 Q3 State of the Market – Monitoring Analytics

Here’s the bottom line, found on p. 120:

The PJM system real-time peak load in the first nine months of 2017 was
145,635.9 MW in the HE 1800 on July 19, 2017, which was 6,541 MW, or 4.3
percent, lower than the peak load in the first nine months of 2016, which was
152,176.9 MW in the HE 1600 on August 11 ,2016.

And just a few pages later, p. 123 (note losses are now treated differently, after they got onto the transmission build-out for export, shipping from any Point A to any Point B)(note also how MW exports incorporated into “Load plus Exports” has increased):

So while you’re mulling that over, consider the 2016 NERC Reliability Assessment:

2016 NERC Reliability Assessment

This is the chart I’ve been trotting out for what, 19 years now? Reserve margins, showing that there’s plenty of electricity to go around (p. 44 of NERC Report above) (click for larger version):

Not only is MISO far ahead of what’s needed, even for reserve margins, but look at PJM here, more than twice what’s needed to cover reserve margins.

We can easily reduce coal generation NOW. What’s the hold up? Oh, right, marketing dreams… marketing dreams that we’re paying for, that transmission build-out that no one needs and no one wants, and their plans for even morePlanning meetings open only to a select few!

Activists have been fighting against the “Hennepin Energy Recovery Center” (HERC) and other garbage incinerators for decades.

But in no other U.S. state, except perhaps Florida, does the garbage incineration industry have its hooks so deep into government and politics, so it’s been a long struggle.

We need to demand that our Minneapolis mayoral and City Council candidates pledge now to phase out or shut down one of our dirtiest local polluters.

Hennepin County’s HERC garbage burner is a dirty old 1980s cash cow, located in the North Loop neighborhood in downtown Minneapolis, next to the Twins Stadium.

HERC is one of Minneapolis and Hennepin County’s worst air polluters. About 75 percent of the garbage going in is generated in Minneapolis.

The health-damaging smokestack emissions total close to 1.5 million pounds per year and include dioxin (a major carcinogen and key component in the toxic Agent Orange herbicide), mercury, lead, fine particles, carbon monoxide, other heavy metals, and dozens of other hazardous pollutants. Depending on weather conditions these emissions impact many city neighborhoods and beyond. These poisons cause or exacerbate asthma, bronchitis, strokes, heart attacks,cancer, and many other serious health problems.

Minneapolis residents, especially poorer residents, are the main victims of HERC air pollution, as has been shown by the maps produced by state Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Minneapolis) and others. These maps were prominently displayed at Minneapolis Planning Commission meetings and at City Council meetings during deliberation and rejection of expanded HERC burning, and are available on line and from Clark.

Despite a sophisticated public relations effort and an abundance of “alternative facts” by Hennepin County, Covanta, and others, our burned garbage doesn’t magically disappear and isn’t “converted into electricity.” Some call incineration “landfilling in the sky.”

The remaining ash is toxic and is taken to a special local ash dump.

Two key problems, which are connected, obstruct progress of Minneapolis towards being a truly (as opposed to rhetorically) clean, healthy and sustainable city.

One is the chokehold that Xcel Energy has on officials and policies, leading to ever-increasing electric rates (while the wholesale price of electricity drops) and near-meaningless “partnerships” rather than real moves towards cleaner energy.

The other is our friend the HERC.

On the face of things the key bad actor behind the HERC is Hennepin County, owner of the burner and joined at the hip to the garbage incineration industry.

But the less obvious nexus of these two evils is that Xcel itself is in the garbage burning business, owning and operating dirty old burners in Red Wing, Mankato and French Island in Wisconsin. We don’t know of any other major electric utility in the garbage burning business, except for Great River Energy, also in Minnesota.

Xcel’s three company-owned burners very likely produce the most expensive and unhealthy power on its system, except, perhaps for purchased dirty-burner power.

We now have unusual leverage to help phase out or shut down HERC:

The HERC generates a little electricity, which is sold to Xcel under a “Power Purchase Agreement.” Xcel Energy has opened a docket at the Public Utilities Commission, (E002/M-17-532) for consideration of extending the HERC Power Purchase Agreement – which expires at the end of 2017 – at a much lower price.

Our leverage at this time

The HERC “PPA” with Xcel expires at the end of 2017. Since electricity sales are a significant revenue source for garbage burner operators, we have here a great opportunity to save money and improve public health by allowing the HERC PPA with Xcel to expire at the end of December.

As noted above, there is a docket about this before the MN Public Utilities Commission. I have submitted comments and Neighbors Against the Burner has petitioned to intervene. Xcel’s proposal is to extend the contract but at a reduced rate. Neighbors against the Burner is looking towards no extension “at any rate.” This would be a strong push towards a HERC shutdown.

Four years ago, before the last cycle of Minneapolis municipal elections, that proposal to burn more garbage at the HERC became an election issue. The Sierra Club, MPIRG (Minnesota Public Interest Research Group) and others worked doggedly against the expansion scheme with the result that after the elections it was clear that there were not the votes on the City Council to approve more burning.

A mayor was elected who said she opposed more burning and supported Zero Waste objectives. The expansion proposal was withdrawn, resentfully, by Hennepin County, which told Minneapolis to collect “organics.”

Now, however, we are in another Mpls election cycle and the silence about the HERC and better waste management is deafening.

In April 2016 an anti-HERC coalition of multiple groups was loudly announced, but nothing ever came of it.

Sierra Club, for example, didn’t even include a HERC or Zero Waste question in its candidate recent questionnaire.

Recently the city rolled out a feeble “Zero Waste Plan” draft.

As election day draws near, what do the rest of the mayoral and council candidates have to say about HERC, Xcel, “Zero Waste” and a truly green, sustainable and healthy Minneapolis?

What’s happened? Hard to be sure, but:

Both Xcel and Hennepin County are extraordinarily effective at lobbying and getting their way, as is Covanta, the contract operator of the HERC. Some would say they are all skilled manipulators of “alternative facts” in their attempts to greenwash a dirty old dinosaur of a garbage burning plant, a relic of the 1980s.  Hennepin County has told the Public Utilities Commission in wants to burn at the HERC for at least twenty more years.

As with many issues today, now is the time to stand up. Now, before the election, is the time to let candidates know what you think and for candidates to declare what they think.

Critical Infrastructure Month?

November 3rd, 2017

Did you know that November 2017 is Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month?

Proclamation – Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month_2017-24278

I find it unnerving when tRump says things like:

Our critical infrastructure also faces threats from capacity-induced strain, terrorist attacks, accidents, pandemics, space weather, and cyberattacks. To confront these diverse challenges systematically, we must take steps to enhance our Nation’s economic, intellectual, and technological leadership. My Administration will help our businesses invest in needed capital and research and development by reducing burdensome regulations and enacting comprehensive tax reform.

These aren’t exactly issues, it’s worked up hype.  The language about “capacity-induced strain, terrorist attacks, accidents, pandemics, space weather, and cyberattacks” is a problem because there is not “capacity-induced strain,” and in fact, Xcel Energy whines that the grid is only 55% utilized, a point raised in its e21_Initiative_Phase_I_Report:

(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).

There’s been one “terrorist attack” on infrastructure, the California substation:

Sniper attack on California power grid may have been ‘an insider’

Also note the phrase “capacity-induced strain,” which is all about market, but then again, we know that the market is the driver for this massive transmission buildout:

ICF – MISO Transmission Benefits Analysis

Who benefits? Utilities benefit big time.  Those producing the glut of electricity that will be shipped from any Point A to any Point B; those building the transmission to ship it; and those providing transmission service.  Who pays? Ratepayers and landowners and taxpayers (taxpayers? Yes, check the latest House bill for utility deductions for interest expenses and faster depreciation of expenses.  And it came out in the last rate case that Xcel Energy hasn’t paid much in the way of taxes since 2008.Campbell p 22

What will happen to this latest energy bill? We shall see…