Breakfast on Xcel

May 14th, 2008

Here’s Dave Sparby telling us about Xcel’s plans — he’s now “acting President and CEO of NSP-Minnesota.” And to think I remember when he was a mere attorney, Xcel’s inhouse counsel.

Today was Xcel’s annual breakfast with “community leaders” in Red Wing, so despite a very late night (where’s the coffee!), I got to the St. James Hotel just in time for to miss the line and have breakfast on Xcel! There was room at a table with the Goodhue County solid waste crew, and I did a good job of hitting the leg of the table and dumping coffee all over, but Alan had a good discussion with them about burning garbage, an appetite stimulating subject, but food for thought.

Mike Wadley was there of course, looking like quite the old fart these days, but that’s what serving a sentence with Micheletti will do for ya. He’s back in the saddle at Prairie Island, and one thing in his spiel that was interesting was that NMC will soon disappear and they’ll all go back to Xcel. I’ve been wondering about that, because the purpose of Nuclear Management Company was to house nuclear when it was spun off in deregulation, which never happened, THANK DOG! They spun off operations of the MN plants and also WI and IA to NMC in 2000, I intervened in that, and they intended to spin off ownership, but deregulation didn’t happen so they didn’t, and now all but the Xcel nuclear plants have disappeared from NMC operation. This will probably require another NRC proceeding, and I guess another intervention… sigh… but he’d bribed me with deck chairs before, and he’s getting the hang of it — today he says, “How ’bout a couch?!?” (proof they’re monitoring the mic and peeking in the windows, Krie’s torn up my 9′ long pink leather “doggie bed,” her station to monitor goings on across the street, it’s in pieces and I’ve got to do something). OK, Mike, I’ll take one rugged couch covered in indoor/outdoor carpeting, but it must be preapproved by Krie and Kenya!

A big deal in this is relicensing of Prairie Island nuclear generating plant, and that application is in, and again, THANK YOU to Mike Wadley, Chris Clark and Jim Alders, whoever it was who did cough up an application for me. It’s making for interesting reading.

They had question answer time, and I asked that, given the new IRP says that “For capacity planning and RES compliance planning purposes, we rare assuming that Red Wing and Wilmarth will be retired at the end of 2012,” whether they’d be closing it or selling it. Oh my, gues who farted in the elevator again. They were backpeddling, oh, NO, it doesn’t say that… uh-huh, right… well, guys, take a look at p. 6-7 and the top of 6-8 and you tell me. They will provide the commission with an update in the next IRP. I look forward to seeing it and hope that this thing is out of my neighborhood. Once more with feeling:

For capacity planning and RES compliance planning purposes, we are assuming that Red Wing and Wilmarth will be retired at the end of 2012.

So, on that happy note, time to move on to lunch — and thanks to Dave Sparby for taking the time to chat about a host of thorny issues that we’ll be duking it out about over the next few years! CapX anyone?

Here’s the Salem & Hope Creek reactors on the Delaware River, just across from Port Penn. Doesn’t flooding shut down nuclear plants?

Kent County is evacuating coastal communities… Delaware City, just north of Port Penn, is several inches deep on the main drag through town, and the trailer park is flooded worse.

From today’s STrib – better check the News Urinal too (below):

Evacuations in progress in coastal Delaware;tides, rain, flooding communities
Associated Press

May 12, 2008

KITTS HUMMOCK, Del. – Delaware officials say evacuations are in progress in flooded coastal communities.

Allen Metheny, assistant director of emergency management in Kent County, says rescuers are evacuating as many of the coastal communities as they can. High tides and heavy rains have flooded roads, requiring the assistance of the Delaware National Guard and the Delaware State Police in the evacuation operation.

Metheny says the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is also providing assistance.

And here’s from the Delaware News Journal:

Storm knocks down trees, cuts power; evacuations ordered along Del. Bay

By DAMIAN GILETTO and JAMES MERRIWEATHER • The News Journal • May 12, 2008

A major storm that brought heavy rain and high winds overnight felled trees and knocked out power across the state, and forced boat evacuations of coastal residents along the Delaware Bay.

In Kent County, the Emergency Management Division of the Department of Public Safety posted a mandatory evacuation order for Kitts Hummock and Pickering Beach along the Delaware Bay. Bret Scott, a county spokesman, said that, as of 8 a.m., about 150 residents had been evacuated from Kitts Hummock and that most of the county’s coastal communities were experiencing flooding.

The Kitts Hummock Fraternal Order of Police Lodge and the Little Creek Fire Hall were pressed into service as emergency shelters, Scott said.

“We continue to monitor the flooding, and we have concerns about all low-lying areas of the county,” Scott said. “We have flooding in all our coastal communities. It’s just worse in some areas than others.”

Residents who need assistance should call 911.

At Kitts Hummock, emergency responders were taking evacuees to the Little Creek Fire Hall.

Anthony Willing waited near the evacuation zone to find out whether his father had been evacuated.

“I don’t know if they took him out – I’m down here to find out,” Willing said.

He said that the water level there was about halfway up the side of a car, and that he had seen 250-gallon fuel tanks floating in the water.

James Mariana said his father, mother and dog were evacuated from the area by boat at around 6 a.m.

The evacuations over a wide area included places like Woodland Beach and Bowers Beach, an official with the Kent County fire board said.

Jeff Howell, of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, says his crew had extricated about 80 people this morning.

At Bowers Beach, the flow was more than two feet above the height of a dock.

In Dover, the St. Jones River jumped its banks and broke a record for flow on this day.

But at Dover Air Force Base, even during 40- and 50-mile-an-hour gusts, crews are out mowing the grass and doing routine checks of cars entering the base – opening the hoods and having people step out of their vehicles.

Lake Forest School District reported buses were unable to reach some flooded areas.

Carol Cathell of the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center reported localized flooding, “lots of power outages” and wires and trees down. Among other damage, a power pole fell on a house in Gumboro, part of a roof was blown off a house in Frankford and Mountaire, the poultry processor, lost the roof of a storage building at its Millsboro location.

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory until 4 p.m., with gusts reaching 56 mph overnight at New Castle Airport.

In Delaware City, water several inches deep made travel difficult on Del. 9.

At the Del. 9 and Del. 72 intersection, a traffic light was partially knocked down, low enough to obstruct high vehicles.

Delmarva Power is reporting that more than 24,000 customers are without power in Delaware and Maryland, according to the company’s website..

More than 10,000 of the outages are in New Castle County.

The Delaware Electric Cooperative, which serves mostly Kent and Sussex counties, is reporting about 250 customers without power, down from 1,300 earlier today.


ALJs Recommend that Big Stone II transmission Certificate of Need and Routing Permit be denied.

Can you believe it??? Here’s Recommendation:

ALJs Recommendation — Denial of Certificate of Need & Routing Permits


In the St. Paul Pioneer Press with “Comment Opportunity”:

A reversal on coal plant

Here’s the STrib article:

Judges deliver major setback to Big Stone II project

Nothing in Sioux Falls Argus Leader yet…

In the Forum Newspapers with Comment Opportunity:

Willmar Tribune: Judges say Reject Big Stone request

Worthington Daily Globe: Judges say Reject Big Stone request

Forum Newspapers that don’t allow comments (why not?!?!?!)

Nothing in the Bismarck Tribune yet

Fargo Forum: Decision setback for plant

There’s a post on Gristmill, but it’s not coming up…

On MPR today:

Judge delivers setback to Big stone II

The next step is that the parties submit “Exceptions” to the Recommendation (our issues with it, the things we’d want to see different), and then it goes before the PUC. It usually takes at least a month. The PUC can accept the Recommendation, Deny the Recommendation with specific reasons why, or somewhere in between, as they did with Mesaba, accept parts, deny parts, and so there’s no way to tell what might happen. is a limited intervenor in this docket, because Excelsior Energy had intervened and was arguing that the Big Stone utilities should buy Mesaba Project electricity instead of building that plant.

To see the entire PUC docket, go HERE and then search for Docket 05-619.

This Recommendation of DENIAL is certainly a problem for Big Stone II. Without transmission, it won’t go anywhere, but then again, there’s always CapX 2020! Remember where CapX 2020 goes? Look at this SW map — why, that would work just fine! But nooooooooo…

How can it be?  The IGCC coal gasification project from hell, the zombie that lives on and on and on that even its developers, Excelsior Energy, don’t even dare bring before the PUC tomorrow, this boondoggle got yet another perk from the IRS!  $133.5 in tax credits!  WHATEVER ARE THEY THINKING?

Here’s the press release:

IRS grants Mesaba Project $133.5 million in investment tax credits

Pass the barf bag…


Promotion of IGCC and coal gasification takes a bizarre twist! What will the DOE think of next!

The DOE has announced their new FutureGen program, which focuses on Carbon Capture and Storage, but wait… read it… they say that the project has to be designed to capture 90% of CO2 emissions, but also say that it must capture and sequester ONE MILLION TONS ANNUALLY. OK, folks, let’s do the math… slowly ‘cuz I’m a math idiot. Using Mesaba as an example, 600MW produces at least 5.4 million tons annually, and so 90% of that is 4.89 tons annually. Under FutureGen, they’d have to capture, transport and store 1 million. OK, now what about the 4.89 tons minus 1 million = 3.89. We’re missing 3.89 tons that they’ve captured. So what is this? Why, it’s a fancy-schmancy CO2 CAPTURE AND RELEASE PROGRAM!!!

Here it is, straight from the horse’s… ummmmmm… nevermind (in tribute to Eight Bells, no horse’s ass awards for a while) Here’s what their press release says:

DOE’s draft FOA also requires that at least 50 percent of the energy output of the project’s energy conversion system must be used to produce electricity; the project must produce at least 300 megawatts (MW) gross electricity output; and the project must be located in the United States. In addition, the projects must be designed to achieve a goal of approximately 90 percent capture of carbon content in the syngas or flue gas and must achieve a minimum capture rate of 81 percent. Under the draft FOA, projects must also remove at least 90 percent of the mercury emissions based on mercury content of the coal, at least 99 percent of the sulfur emissions based on sulfur content of the coal, and reduce nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions to very low levels.

To ensure safe and permanent sequestration, DOE requires a number of monitoring and verification performance requirements for FutureGen project(s), including quantifying and assessing CO2 capture, transport, and storage aspects for the duration of a 3-5 year demonstration of a least one million metric tons of CO2 injected per year in a saline formation; monitoring the plume(s) of injected CO2 for a minimum of two years after cessation of the injection demonstration, with the results of the monitoring reported to DOE; and developing information necessary to estimate costs of future CO2 management systems.

What will they think of next? I sure hope they’re not thinking of a way to give Excelsior even more $$$$$$!

Oh, and before I forget — Greenpeace has joined the radical fringe organizations like the Department of Energy’s NETL and Wall Street in noting that Carbon Dioxide Capture and Sequestration ain’t happen’ anytime soon:

Greenpeace – False Hope

So, take that, FutureGen!