Well this is interesting… to put it mildly…  Xcel’s Hiawatha Project, transmission through Phillips, is in the news.

A move to “delay its application… until it provides a more thorough analysis of the need an alternatives” and that if line is “needed,” to bury it under 28th Street is deemed “trying to get the council to adopt a position without public hearings or notice?”


Now Xcel claims the need for the Hiawatha Project is based on the “South Minneapolis Load Service Study,” but cannot or will not produce a copy of that study.  They say it is not completed yet… Oh, and so you’re wanting this line for what????

And then I find that there’s also a “South Minneapolis Electric Reliability Project” where they want to run a 345kV line from Hwy. 280 to the new Hiawatha Project substation.

As discussed, but not quite yet formally proposed, Xcel’s Hiawatha Project would have a substation somewhere near 28th & Hiawatha, and the line would go east through Prestigious East Phillips to near the old Honeywell site near 35W.

Don’t forget, there are three meetings coming up, one held by the community, and two others by Xcel:

Community Forum on Xcel’s Hiawatha Project

Sponsored by the Phillips Community Energy Cooperative, the Greenway Coalition, and others
Monday, January 12, 2009
At Plaza Verde
1516 East Lake Street
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

… and an Open House, another opportunity to dig into this project and find out what’s really going on:

Xcel Energy’s Public Open House on the Hiawatha Project
Thursday, January 15, 2009
At Plaza Verde, 1516 East Lake Street
Noon to 2:00 p.m.
and 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Search this site for “Hiawatha Project” for background information.


Minneapolis council diverts power-line issue

By STEVE BRANDT, Star Tribune

January 9, 2009

A preemptive effort by several Minneapolis City Council members to state a preferred route for a new Xcel high-voltage power line through south Minneapolis blew up Friday when their colleagues cried foul.

The trio of council members — Gary Schiff, Robert Lilligren and Cam Gordon — wanted the utility to delay its application to the state for the line and two related substations until it provides a more thorough analysis of the need and alternatives.

If no alternative emerged in that analysis, the trio said, the line should be buried beneath E. 28th Street.

But their resolution was shunted to committee after other council members chided them for trying to get the council to adopt a position without public hearings or notice.

“We have a responsibility outside an empty room,” Council Member Lisa Goodman said.

Xcel has said it plans to apply to the state to proceed with the project early this year, start work by late in the year and use the lines in 2010. It plans to present its review of substation sites and transmission line routes to the community this week.

The utility has said that increasing electrical loads in the Midtown area of south Minneapolis are taxing its current lines. It wants to construct an east-west high-voltage line in a corridor between E. 26th and E. 31st Streets, branching from its current line along Hiawatha Avenue.

Opponents charge that Xcel hasn’t done enough to prove the need or that demand can’t be managed by conservation. They express fear about the electromagnetic fields of such a line and some want it buried, which would raise costs considerably.


breaking news, more later…

Here it is in Huffington Post:

SECOND TVA SPILL: Dam Breaks at Alabama Coal Plant

Here we have in in the Tennessean:

Second TVA coal ash pond ruptures

By ANNE PAINE • Staff Writer • January 9, 2009

Alabama environmental officials were on their way as of 10:15 a.m.
Central Time to an spill at TVA’s Widows Creek coal-fired power plant in
northeastern Alabama.

TVA confirmed an ash-related spill at a second TVA plant, this time at
its Widows Creek plant in northeastern Alabama.

“I had heard that that’s the case,” confirmed Barbara Martocci, TVA
spokesman who was at the Kingston plant in Tennessee.

Scott Hughes, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Environmental
Management said, “The only thing we’ve got right now is that there was a
release from a gypsum treatment operation.”

“We do understand that some of the material has reached Widows Creek.”
The creek from which TVA’s coal burning plant gets its name, crosses the
plant property. Gypsum is one of the byproducts when special filters
capture and treat ash. It can be sold for use in wallboard, but markets
have been slow and it like more standard ash can build up in waste ponds.

“We’re in the process of gathering more info and getting a full report.”

Kingston is the scene of a TVA ash pond that ruptured: Early on the
morning of Dec. 22, more than a billion gallons of sludge flowed out of
the pond, damaging a dozen homes and creating environmental havoc along
the Emory River.

The Widows Creek Fossil Plant is located on Guntersville Reservoir on
the Tennessee River. It has eight coal-fired units and was completed in
1965. The plant consumes about 10,000 tons of coal a day. The ash from
that coal was in the pond that broke there.


Horse’s Ass Award to DNREC’s John Hughes and (not-soon-enough) outgoing Gov. Minner (can’t have Delmarva Power’s Todd Goodman thinking he’s the only one!):


Let’s think a bit here… why this settlement?  What would make it worth their while?


NRG has been belching pollution forever, violating federal rules, violating the Clean Air Act.  For years this has been an issue, Green Delaware at the head of the charge.  There’s been building attention and recently, Citizens for Clean Power filed Notice of Intent to Sue (below).  And now, at the last minute of the Minner administration, DNREC does a deal with NRG that is so slimy, rolling over in a way that is less than a slap on the wrist to NRG and which could be just barely enough to prevent a suit by Citizens for Clean Power.  And what if this had been filed at the END of November to put Markell on notice that he was expected to act, taking away that power to do an end run from Minner’s administration?

Here’s the 60 day notice filed on behalf of Citizens for Clean Power:

IRGS 60 day Letter November 6 2008

Here are some Green Delaware Alerts about NRG’s Indian River Power Plant:

Alert 631 – Delaware needs to stop burning coal

And from the Archives:

Green Delaware Alert 238 – Minner administration proposes reduced reporting of SO2 releases

Green Delaware Alert 302 – Where does Delaware’s mercury come from?

Green Delaware Alert 499 – What problems are fundamental?  Will our legislators tackle them?

Green Delaware Alert 506 – A decision time for power plant pollution in Delaware

For more from Green Delaware on NRG, go to www.greendel.org and search for NRG

From the News Journal yesterday and today:

DNREC settles with NRG over Millsboro plant

Millsboro pollution settlement stirs anger

This came over the wire today from Pat Gearity, Citizens for Clean Power, who have been leaning hard on NRG, that’s their mission:

Dear supporters of clean air:

Two months ago, CCP filed a 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue NRG’s Indian River Power Plant for over 5,000 violations of federal law from 2004-2008, including exceedances of nitrous oxide emissions and the opacity standard (a measure of particulate density discharged from the stacks).  By law, DNREC and Governor Minner were also notified.  Yesterday, DNREC announced its own lawsuit against NRG for the very violations CCP has alleged and that the agency has done nothing about since 2004.  Why did DNREC take this action exactly 60 days before CCP could file its lawsuit?  BY ENTERING INTO A TOKEN SETTLEMENT WITH NRG, DNREC AND JOHN HUGHES ALSO ATTEMPT TO BAR THE FILING OF CCP’S LAWSUIT.

On what basis did NRG Indian River solicit DNREC’s legal action to stop CCP’s impending citizen suit?  Under the Clean Air Act, “diligent prosecution” in a court by a state agency precludes a private citizen suit if the agency files before the citizen suit can be filed.

On his way out the door, John Hughes took care of NRG again.  Under a citizen lawsuit, IRPP could have been fined as much as $32,500 per violation and could have been ordered to pay additional funds to mitigate the environmental damage.  Instead, the Secretary and the Agency stepped in to try to stop us for $1.00 per violation and a few token changes, with no environmental mitigation penalties.

NRG’s profits from IRPP make it a mega-million $ “cash cow” for the company.  DNREC’s attempted interference with citizen’s rights is disgraceful.  Change is desperately needed at DNREC.  Please write Governor-elect Jack Markell at:  Jack Markell <campaign@markell.org> or call him at 302 672-6700. Ask him to appoint a Secretary who will put public health, safety and corporate accountability above industry profit.

Please forward this email to interested persons.  CCP’s 60-day Notice Letter to NRG is attached FYI.

Pat Gearity, Citizens for Clean Power


LEWES, DELAWARE, January 7, 2009 – Citizens for Clean Power charged today that the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is attempting to bar the filing of a private citizen lawsuit against the NRG-owned Indian River Generating Station (IRGS) for over 5,000 violations of the federal Clean Air Act since 2004, by filing its own lawsuit and pursuing only nominal penalties from the company.

On November 6, 2008, the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center, representing Citizens for Clean Power (CCP), provided notice of intent to sue NRG affiliate Indian River Power, LLC, the operator of the power plant (IRGS) in Millsboro, Delaware. On January 5, 2009, one week before CCP could file its case by law, DNREC filed its own lawsuit against Indian River Power. DNREC’s suit mirrors the charges made by CCP.  CCP’s notice letter charged that IRGS has violated provisions of the Clean Air Act, its Title V Operating Permit, and the emission limitations in various federal and state rules
and permits. The letter identified violations of state and federal opacity standards and nitrogen oxide standards from all four operating units at the plant. In its notice, CCP alleged that IRGS committed more than 4400 opacity violations and 771 violations of nitrogen oxide standards dating to 2004, and indicated the suit would seek financial penalties and injunctive relief to ensure future compliance.

“We have complained to DNREC about the pollution from this plant for years, but until our lawsuit approached, DNREC consistently declined to enforce the law,” William Zak, co-founder of Citizens for Clean Power, said. “Despite Indian River Power Plant being the biggest polluter in the state, DNREC has now essentially acted on the plant’s behalf to halt the meaningful deterrence and compliance-inducing injunctive relief we would seek through our suit,” Zak continued.

Each time that Indian River violated its permit and the underlying regulations a separate violation of the Clean Air Act occurred. Under a private citizen lawsuit, each violation can result in maximum civil penalties of up to $32,500.  Proceeding under state law, DNREC’s suit indicates it is authorized to seek financial penalties against the plant between $1,000 and $10,000 per violation. But the reality is
far, far lower. The filed Consent Order from DNREC, agreed to by Indian River Power, features a $5,000 penalty, along with other minor requirements.

“The pattern of opacity non-compliance at Indian River is so extensive that only significant penalties designed to deter future violations and an upgrade in particulate matter pollution controls will resolve the situation,” said Michael Fiorentino of Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center, Counsel to CCP. “At less than a dollar per incident, violating the Clean Air Act has never been this cheap.”

Zak was outraged by word of DNREC’s settlement. “It’s a major slap in the face to the public and particularly to the citizens of eastern Sussex County, who have been breathing toxic pollution from the Indian River plant for more than fifty years, with little or no advocacy by the one state agency charged with protecting them,” Zak said.



As Pat Gearity reports, they’re not done with this yet… stay tuned for the rest of the story!

Regarding the TVA coal ash slide on December 23 — this report wandered into my inbox today, and for inquiring minds, here’s the:

Kingston Fossil Plant Annual Ash Pond Dike Stability Inspection 2008

You’ll see some problematic areas highlighted in yellow.  Check this out!

Pennsylvania well goes BOOM!

January 6th, 2009

This is the kind of thing that Nancy Prehn gets worried about, living atop a 7 billion cubic foot gas storage dome… things that go boom in the night!  Yes, you guessed it, there’s natural gas drilling just down the road…

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO (and dig the cute “Mr. Sparky” ad)



Search For Cause of Well Explosion

Norma Fiorentino of Dimock Township looks over the big hole left on her property after an explosion in her well.

By Norm Jones

A mysterious explosion has left a woman from Susquehanna County without water and state officials scratching their heads.

Norma Fiorentino said her place near Dimock is bone dry thanks to an explosion in her well on New Year’s Day.  The woman believes drilling for natural gas in the area could be part of the problem.

Officials from Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection performed tests at the Fiorentino home on Monday, but it will take some time for them to get results back.

“DEP did take a sample of the water,” said an anxious Fiorentino.  “They’re going to get back to me in a couple of days on the water, whether I can drink it or not.  They think there might be gas in the water.”

Officials from Cabot Oil and Gas said they have never seen a natural gas operation thousands of feet away cause an explosion on a water well.  Workers from the company investigated the explosion but said they didn’t find any sign of natural gas. The same goes for area fire officials who also conducted tests on the Fiorentino property.

Norma Fiorentino said she isn’t satisfied with the negative test results.

“(You) just don’t have an explosion like that for nothing,” she said.  “I just want to know what caused it, and is it safe to stay here.”