Last trip 2020 – Mirror Lake

October 1st, 2020

Last of the trips for 2020, last of TWO, that’s it, just two this year! Thanks, COVID!

Mirror Lake State Park books up as soon as sites are reservable, and when the parks opened up again, this was the only time “our” site in the Cliffwood loop was open. Weather was great, cool but not cold. But we did hit more parks than Mirror Lake. Usually when here, we head to Madison, do some visiting, but everything’s closed, so we instead went to the state parks that were close. Good weather until we went to Devil’s Lake State Park, and the wind blew and rain came crashing down just after we got there:

And the next day, went to Rocky Arbor State Park. We’d been there before, once in summer and the bugs were so bad, couldn’t stick around. This late in the fall it was just right, sunny and NO BUGS, though the park was closed. We parked at the gate and hiked up the hill to the campground, wanted to check it out, and yes, you can find a rocky arbor or two here:

The campground is HUGE, and apparently VERY busy in the summer. Doesn’t really appeal to me because it’s so near the highway, lots of road noise, more than Mirror Lake!

Most of the sites are large and spaced well with foliage between sites, and these big sites are more common in Wisconsin than Minnesota.

From the campground, we headed down to the boggy part, down the stairs to the buggy part, and they were GONE!

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!

OLA Report on PUC

July 27th, 2020

Hot off the press from the Office of the Legislative Auditor, its report:

In short:

And it’s in the STrib:

Minnesota’s state watchdog agency dings utilities commission on dealings with public

“Free marketers,” duck and cover. And utilities, contractors, get ready… Just in, for Public Inspection, will be released Monday:

The gist of it is that utility infrastructure and equipment should not be coming in from other countries, particularly “adversaries.” Threat? What threat?

From the E.O., p. 2-3:

I further find that the unrestricted acquisition or use in the United States of
bulk-power system electric equipment designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of foreign adversaries augments the ability of foreign adversaries to create and exploit vulnerabilities in bulk-power system electric equipment, with potentially catastrophic effects. I therefore determine that the unrestricted foreign supply of bulk-power system electric equipment constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States, which has its source in whole or in substantial part outside the United States. This threat exists both in the case of individual acquisitions and when acquisitions are considered as a class. Although maintaining an open investment climate in bulk-power system electric equipment, and in the United States economy more generally, is important for the overall growth and prosperity of the United States, such openness must be balanced with the need to protect our Nation against a critical national security threat. To address this threat, additional steps are required to protect the security, integrity, and reliability of bulk-power system electric equipment used in the United States. In light of these findings, I hereby declare a national emergency with respect to the threat to the United States bulk-power system.

WHAT?!?!

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