L-CCMR survey

June 9th, 2008

There’s a simple little survey on the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources – LCCMR page that you should fill out.  From the site, “the LCCMR is seeking ideas and advice on how future money from the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund should be spent.” so here’s a chance to weigh in:

2008 Citizen Input Form

Always the party poop, I note that public participation is always important, but this is the place for LEADERSHIP and a Citizen Survey won’t exactly provide that!  I would think that anyone paying any attention should have a clue what people think!  But what do I know…

IGCC goes overseas

June 9th, 2008

IGCC – coal gasification — it’s getting around…

There are some interesting posts on the majari blog from  “the #1 portal for Indonesian engineering students.”

IGCC: Technology Overview

IGCC: Major IGCC Sections (2)

I imagine there will be more.  These are well done, getting some of the major points, but overly optimistic about IGCC.  Given that IGCC is tanking in the US, I’m sensing a promotional effort by those in the US invested in IGCC to ship this pipedream technology overseas.  Why?  Because we know how they’ve been trying to infiltrate those IGCC tentacles all over the US — lots of advertising and promotion with zilch about the problems, zilch about the emissions, zilch about water usage and contamination, zilch about high and now skyrocketing costs.  And note this advertiser on the site, it’s the “Clean Coal, America’s Power” routine, with their classic image:

And there are others too.  The financing in the US was a creative scheme, putting together federal and state doles, cutting equity required of utilities/developers, and shifting the risks and burdens to the ratepayers.

William G. Rosenberg, Dwight C. Alpern, Michael R. Walker, Deploying IGCC In This Decade with 3Party Covenant Financing, Vol. I, May 2005 Revision, John F. Kennedy School of Government, particularly pps. 1-21.

So what I’m seeing is an unworkable technology chasing/making development opportunities overseas, where word may not have gotten out about the problems with IGCC.  And what an opportunity for World Bank!  And then there’s the Mesaba Project and Excelsior Energy’s Julie Jorgensen’s experience in World Bank:

Julie Jorgensen CV

A couple specific examples she provides:

  • Founded a Latin American infrastructure development fund in partnership with the International Finance Corp., a World Bank affiliate, and another independent power producer.
  • Advised foreign governments on energy policy in conjunction with World Bank and U.S.A.I.D. initiatives.  Participated as expert panelist in Baltic States energy policy conference sponsored by the U.S. Energy Association in Riga, Latvia.

Funny how this works — a report is important and it keeps “disappearing.”

So here it is:

EPRI – Feasibility Study for an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle Facility at a Texas Site

A little light reading on a hot and muggy day…

Here’s another study I want to get out there again, can’t find it in the “Library” here, so here it is:

Booz Allen Hamilton – Coal-Based Integrated Coal Gasification Combined Cycle: Market Penetration Recommendations and Strategies

Booz Allen Hamilton – Coal-Based IGCC: Market Penetration – Appendices

A win without justice… Kandiyohi’s Midtown Burner is dead — at the Phillips site. That’s a very good thing. But there’s bad news too — it appears a deal was struck and that it may rear its ugly head somewhere else in Minneapolis, SE Minneapolis to be precise. Kandiyohi better not even think about it. That’s one outcome that is not acceptable.

One aspect of the “victory” is legislation about an important issue, analysis of cumulative impacts of a project. This is a statewide issue, as evidenced in the MSI and PolyMet permitting on the Range. In this case, however, language requiring analysis of cumulative impacts of proposed facilities was crafted into language so narrow that only the Kandiyohi Midtown Burner would be affected. The quote from Rep. Karen Clark in the STrib said:

“We’re happy that it’s not going to be in the Phillips neighborhood,” said state Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, who helped pass the law requiring study of cumulative pollution in the area. “We’re not taking a position on where it should go.”

How about just saying NO! “Not taking a position on where it should go” but authoring legislation saying anywhere but here… What about impacts of the very real pollutants spewing from an incinerator ANYWHERE? What’s wrong with this picture? Another community in Minneapolis may have been targeted.

Here’s the language of the bill, now SF 3056, Sec. 34, or Chapter 357:

The agency may not issue a permit to a facility without analyzing and considering the cumulative levels and effects of past and current environmental pollution from all sources on the environment and residents of the geographic area within which the facility’s emissions are likely to be deposited, provided that the facility is located in a community in a city of the first class in Hennepin County that meets all of the following conditions:
(1) is within a half mile of a site designated by the federal government as an EPA superfund site due to residential arsenic contamination;
(2) a majority of the population are low-income persons of color and American
(3) a disproportionate percent of the children have childhood lead poisoning, asthma, or other environmentally related health problems;
(4) is located in a city that has experienced numerous air quality alert days of dangerous air quality for sensitive populations between February 2007 and February 2008; and
(5) is located near the junctions of several heavily trafficked state and county highways and two one-way streets which carry both truck and auto traffic.

And we know that Kandiyohi Development Partners will do just about anything to keep this afloat, but if, indeed, “the firm did suggest the South East Industrial Area between the Prospect Park and Como neighborhoods as one possible site,” get ready for another round!

I wonder what the SE Como Neighborhood Improvement Association thinks of this idea?

Here’s the STrib report:

No burner in Phillips neighborhood
The developer of a proposed wood-burning power plant says it gave up on the Minneapolis site in exchange for city help in locating another renewable energy facility.

By STEVE BRANDT, Star Tribune

June 6, 2008

The developer of a proposed wood-burning power plant in the Phillips area of south Minneapolis announced Friday that it is dropping efforts to build it on a city-owned site.

Kandiyohi Development Partners said that it was taking that step in light of city promises to help find another site for an unspecified renewable energy facility.

The announcement was a victory for the activists from the Hiawatha-Lake area who had fought the plant on the grounds that the area already had too much pollution. It also recognized the barriers posed by recent legislation requiring added studies before a state permit could be issued for that site, as well as the city’s move to cancel its sale of the land.

The developer met Thursday with Council Members Gary Schiff and Scott Benson, but Schiff said no explicit commitment was made to help Kandiyohi find another site for producing power.

However, he said the firm did suggest the South East Industrial Area between the Prospect Park and Como neighborhoods as one possible site. Another generating facility has been proposed near there to supply power to the Rock-Tenn paper recycling facility in St. Paul.

Kandiyohi said that with more than $2 million invested in planning for the electrical and steam-producing generator, it deserved more clarity early in the project from the state and city, especially regarding environmental challenges in the Phillips area. Among the investors is Council Member Lisa Goodman, a friend of Kandiyohi’s principals.

“We’re happy that it’s not going to be in the Phillips neighborhood,” said state Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, who helped pass the law requiring study of cumulative pollution in the area. “We’re not taking a position on where it should go.”

Schiff said Kandiyohi expressed an interest in avoiding areas with the high childhood asthma rates that plague Phillips and other areas of high poverty.

Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438

Here’s an article with a quote that says to me that they were having trouble at the MPCA — from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal:

Friday, June 6, 2008 – 5:12 PM CDT

Kandiyohi axes plan for wood-fuel plant in South Minneapolis

Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal – by Sam Black Staff Writer

Kandiyohi Development Partners has scrapped plans for a new $80 million energy facility in South Minneapolis, but it isn’t giving up on finding another location in the city.

In response to an RFP by the City of Minneapolis, Kandiyohi had pitched a plan to build a renewable energy facility that would be called Midtown Eco Energy at the site of a garbage transfer station in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.

The facility would have reused a former city incinerator at Hiawatha Avenue and Lake Street that closed in the 1970s.

Today the Minneapolis-based firm pulled the plug on its plans due to “concerns raised by the Phillips community regarding the impacts of decades of environmental and land use policies of the City and the (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency) on air and land pollution,” Kandiyohi said in a statement.

The project had come under fire by some residents in the neighborhood and lost the support of some members of the city council in recent weeks as Kandiyohi approached a March 31 deadline to complete its purchase of city land.

The project became a political hot potato when it was reported that investors in the deal included former DFL activist Michael Krause and Kim Havey, a former city official who ran the city’s Empowerment Zone office. Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Goodman is also an investor in Kandiyohi, although she didn’t vote on the project when it came before the city council in 2006.

Kandiyohi has already invested more than $2 million in the project, which would have burned clean wood wastes and some agricultural byproducts.

Kandiyohi plans to look for an alternative site for a renewable energy facility that would add “green collar” jobs and renewable energy to the city.

Otter Tail Corporation’s Corporate Governance Page

Otter Tail’s David Sasseville (Lindquist & Vennum) said that they had no objection to administrative of their filings of June 3, 2008. What else did he have to say? Here’s his missive after I filed the mncoalgasplant.com Motion for Disclosure & Commission Notice; Exhibit A – Otter Tail Power 8k filing to, duh, have the filing disclosed and for Official Notice by the Public Utilities Commission:

This reply is submitted on behalf of the Big Stone II Applicants, and that project’s lead developer, Otter Tail Power Company. Ms. Overland’s communication to the Commission and the parties in the Big Stone II transmission docket regarding Otter Tail’s filing yesterday was inappropriate and unnecessary. Otter Tail has not formed a holding company and has not reorganized. Rather, it merely filed applications yesterday in Minnesota, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, North Dakota and South Dakota for permission to form a holding company. The SEC filing referenced by Ms. Overland merely reflects the fact that Otter Tail is seeking permission to form a holding company. Whether that ultimately occurs, and whether and how Otter Tail’s organizational structure changes, will be resolved in the context of the FERC, SDPUC and NDPSC dockets, and the MPUC docket that was created yesterday (No. PA-08-658). Under no circumstances will yesterday’s filing have an impact on the Big Stone II docket, or on Otter Tail’s ability to proceed with its obligations and commitments in that docket. Otter Tail’s filing is available electronically at the PUC’s web site. In addition, Ms. Overland and/or MNCoalgasplant.com may add their names to the mailing list in the docket to receive future filings in the matter. David L. Sasseville Lindquist & Vennum P.L.L.P. 4200 IDS Center 80 South Eighth Street Minneapolis, MN 55402 612/371-3237 612/371-3207 (fax)

Yes, the filing is NOW available on the PUC eDockets site. Go to www.puc.state.mn.us and then to “eDockets” on the left, and then to “Search Documents” and search for 08-658. Inappropriate and unnecessary? When the parties are making final arguments in the Big Stone II case and Commission is making a decision, it’s fully appropriate to nail down disclosure and notice by the Commission … sigh… and here’s my response:

Mr. Sasseville and all: It is my belief and the purpose of this Motion that: 1) this filing should be formally disclosed within the Big Stone II proceeding by Otter Tail Corporation/Otter Tail Power (as of your missive, it now has been acknowledged); and 2) this filing should receive Official Notice in the Big Stone II deliberation by the Public Utilities commission. It is unknown whether there will be any impact, and the Motion does not address substantive issues of the reorganization nor suggest that substantive issues be addressed in the Big Stone docket, just that it should be disclosed and receive Official Notice of the Commission. Carol A. Overland for mncoalgasplant.com

To which he responded:

Ms. Overland: Your email implies that the Otter Tail filing portends something the Commission should be aware of, but isn’t, and that such information is a matter of actual or potential significance to the proper determination of the Big Stone II Transmission Certificate of Need and Route Permit proceeding tomorrow. While these implications are unfounded, the Big Stone II Applicants, including Otter Tail, have no objection to the Commission taking administrative notice of any and all docket filings in matters before it, including Otter Tail’s June 3, 2008 filing, and assigning whatever weight to those filings it believes is appropriate.

Well, that’s good, “the Big Stone II Applicants, including Otter Tail, have no objection to the Commission taking administrative notice of any and all docket filings in matters before it, including Otter Tail’s June 3, 2008 filing…” which is the entire point! Get it out there in the open…

Otter Tail Corporation’s News Release Page – do you see a press release about this filing?

…so then I says:

Mr. Sasseville – My concern, again, is twofold, first, that Otter Tail disclose the fact of the filings to the Commission and the parties (I do not believe this had been done prior) and it should be in the record, and second, that the Commission take administrative notice of these filings. That’s all. Because you state that “the Big Stone II Applicants, including Otter Tail, have no objection to the Commission taking administrative notice of any and all docket filings in matters before it, including Otter Tail’s June 3, 2008, filing,” I trust that disclosure and a statement that Otter Tail has no objection will occur.. Thank you for your statement of Otter Tail’s position. Carol for mncoalgasplant.com

And so what happened at the deliberation, what’s happening right now? Who knows… Was this addressed? Who knows…