The GALL of GRE’s Kaul!

April 30th, 2009


Will Kaul, VP of GRE, let loose in response to David Morris’ opinion piece a few days ago.  What a doozy!  How dare he!  Talk about out of touch with reality!  Maybe he’d better ask a few of the thousands who showed up and commented on this insane series of transmission projects across Minnesota known as CapX 2020.

You can call him and tell him what you think.   Will Kaul @ GRE (763) 241-2380!


Will Kaul: Citizens have plenty of input on utilities

The facts on three new power lines came out in dozens of public events.


Last update: April 30, 2009 – 11:05 AM

The above quote, “to be a formal intervener, an individual or group simply had to sign up,” is false, and the utmost in arrogance. Kaul … read more sure wasn’t at the CapX proceeding that I was at, and it looks like he hasn’t read the transcript. If he had, he’d know that a couple weeks into the hearing, the judge issued an Order to Show Cause to two intervenors, the Prairie Island Indian Community and United Citizens Action Network to explain why they shouldn’t be booted out! Prairie Island Indian Community said they’d withdraw and maybe intervene in the siting docket. U-CAN, landowners in the route corridor, succinctly told the judge they had every right to be Intervenors, there were no requirements for level of participation, and btw, they were in the middle of condemnation proceedings for the MinnCan pipeline (another of her dockets and recommendations!) and didn’t have resources to do much in CapX. The judge then graciously allowed them to remain in the proceeding. Electric use is down, down, hence NoCapX 2020’s Motion to Reopen (November and last month), and soon, Motion for Reconsideration and then appeal. The forecasts are old, 2004-2005, and Xcel admits in its SEC filings that 2007 and 2008 saw declining beaks, SIGNIFICANTLY declining peaks, over 11% in just two years rather than their 2.49% increase, 1.5% increase, or whatever other number was dreamed up for the occasion. Those two years alone push any claimed need for this project way out there in time. And even if there was the “need” that they claim, the physical conductor is way over-spec’d, many many times what’s necessary for even the most generous forecast, and then they have the nerve to upsize it, doubling it, with zero justification! “The PUC upheld the recommendation of the judge…” Of course, they’re supporting MISO’s economic dispatch, rather than ratepayer interests, rather than the public interest. It’s time for a shake-up, not the usual shake-down. Yes, the many pages of transcripts, testimony, exhibits reflect the facts, but the ALJ recommendation and PUC decision do not reflect those facts or the purpose and reality of CapX 2020. From the utility squeals, it’s clear David Morris hit a nerve by being right on target.

An April 24 opinion piece by David Morris (“If it’s citizens vs. utilities, utilities win”) criticized the process state regulators use to review and approve new transmission lines and questioned whether Minnesotans had an opportunity to participate in the recent proceedings concerning three 345-kilovolt lines proposed by CapX2020, a group of 11 utilities.

The piece also made a rather bizarre comparison between sports stadiums and electric transmission lines. Electricity is an essential service that every Minnesotan depends on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The state regulatory process encourages public participation. It requires an independent review to ensure that utilities’ plans undergo a thorough and comprehensive vetting.

In the CapX2020 case:

•The Minnesota Department of Commerce held 10 public meetings, and an administrative law judge held 19 public hearings. Any interested citizen could attend and speak.

•To be a formal intervener, an individual or group simply had to sign up.

•The utilities hosted more than 100 public meetings and made more than 150 public presentations about the projects.

Following that extensive review, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously that the three lines are needed. The decision upheld the recommendation of an administrative law judge, who reviewed thousands of pages of testimony and public comments and conducted seven weeks of evidentiary hearings and three weeks of public hearings.

Among the points the utilities made:

•Since the last major transmission system upgrade in Minnesota 30 years ago, much has changed. Electricity consumption has doubled, as has the number of electricity customers. Communities such as St. Cloud, Alexandria, Rochester and the Twin Cities have experienced significant growth and are facing serious electricity reliability issues.

•Despite today’s economic slowdown, electricity use is projected to continue growing, particularly peak electricity use.

•The transmission system must be designed to withstand the loss of one line by instantaneously transferring power to other lines.

•Minnesota has the most aggressive renewable energy standard in the country, requiring that 25 percent of electricity be from renewable sources by 2025. The Buffalo Ridge in southwestern Minnesota is one of the country’s greatest wind resources. Transmission lines are required to move that energy to customers.

The CapX2020 transmission lines aim to ensure that Minnesota communities continue to enjoy reliable electricity service and that the state’s renewable-energy mandate is met. The regulatory process aims to ensure that citizens have a say in determining whether the lines are needed and where they should be routed.

Will Kaul is vice president of transmission for Great River Energy and is chairman of the CapX2020 organization.


WASHINGTON, D.C. — This morning, at “Coffee and Potica” or Minnesota Morning with Senator Amy Klobuchar, who should be there but Tom Micheletti! Yes, Excelsior Energy’s Tom Micheletti was there.  And he was there on the eve of the DEADLINE, the day before the PUC said it would pull the plug on Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project.

The legendary Alan Muller, Green Delaware, was in Amy’s office this morning too!  He got there, and “the only other person I knew in the room was Tom Micheletti.”   Too weird.   And here I had to stay home and dogsit.  DAMN!  I could have used the aerobic exercise of duking it out with Tom again.

Sen. Klobuchar’s energy staffer, Charlie Moore, said he wasn’t in on the conversation between Micheletti and Klobuchar’s chief of staff, Alan said they were huddled together for quite a while.  Moore also said that he didn’t know that there was a May 1 deadline.  Oh, really?  Not good.  It’s bad enough that we have to worry about what Micheletti might be saying, but now we’ve also got to be concerned about what he isn’t saying.

And sorry, no photo, yes, I’m MOST disappointed, oh well… but there’s a photo of Sen. Klobuchar with Alan in his Neighbors Against the Burner shirt.

Will it happen?  Will they pull the plug?  They sure better, they’ve been stalling long enough.

Here’s Excelsior Energy’s filings in their attempt to keep the PUC from FINALLY pulling the plug on the Mesaba Project:

Excelsior Energy’s Last Gasp – Motion April 27 2009

So let’s just let this thing die.  Xcel doesn’t want it, the Minnesota municipal utilities don’t want it, the PUC doesn’t want it, and sure doesn’t want it and neither does Citizens Against the Mesaba Project.

Microsoft PowerPoint - PJMDOCS-#418679-v1-TEAC-5-9-2007-part-one

Day before yesterday, New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities met to make determinations on the Motions for Intervention of a large number of parties.  Stop the Lines, of course being one!  They’d objected to our Intervention:

PSEG Response to Intervention Motions

PSEG Response to Escrow Motions

… but had no objection to my Pro Hac Vice… go figure.  And the feeling I had from the BPU is that they were honestly encouraging interventions.  SO, what happened?

State: 17 groups may intervene in PSE&G’s power line proposal

By Colleen O’Dea • Daily Record • April 27, 2009

All 17 groups that sought to be part of the hearing process on Public Service Electric and Gas Company’s proposed transmission line project may do so, the state Board of Public Utilities decided today.

Meeting in Newark, the board also directed PSE&G to meet with the intervening parties – several municipalities, environmental organizations and citizens groups – to negotiate an agreement on the establishment of an escrow account from which the groups could pay for expert witnesses.

“Super,” is how Dave Slaperud of the 300-member Stop the Lines, one of six groups the utility had sought to bar from intervening in its application to add 500 kilovolt lines along a 46-mile transmission corridor from Pennsylvania through Morris County to Roseland, described the BPU’s decision.

“We would have been really surprised if we had been denied intervener status,” said Slaperud. “There are so many of us living along the line who are affected and not all the municipalities are getting involved in the process.”

Among the government bodies that are involved are East Hanover, Montville, Parsippany and Byram townships and the Montville Board of Education. Interveners are allowed to request discovery documents, cross examine witnesses and present their own expert testimony.

And more:

Groups cleared to speak at powerline hearings

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Well, Jeremy Kalin is not happy with me, but I don’t see that amendments to the Tax Omnibus bill does it.   He says that all the local governments are covered in a Tax Omnibus amendment (Tax Omnibus is HF 2323, HERE) and that they must have a Host Fee Agreement.  But what I see is one amendment that is GOOD language I’ve been passing out since 2005, except for one serious problem — where I had “Host Fee Agreement” it says “site agreement.”  Color me a lawyer, but that’s not the same thing.  Here’s that amendment, 272.0275 below.  If it said “Host Fee Agreement” or “Agreement for payment in lieu of taxes” I’d be over the moon with joy, but this could mean anything and does not address payment of taxes.   What do you think?

103.8 Subdivision 1. New plant construction after January 1, 2010. For a new
103.9 generating plant built and placed in service after January 1, 2010, its personal property
103.10 used to generate electric power is exempt if an exemption of generation personal property
103.11 form, with an attached siting agreement, is filed with the Department of Revenue. The
103.12 form must be signed by the utility, and the county and the city or town where the facility is
103.13 proposed to be located.
103.14 Subd. 2. Definition; applicability. For purposes of this section, “personal property”
103.15 means tools, implements, and machinery of the generating plant. The exemption under this
103.16 section does not apply to transformers, transmission lines, distribution lines, or any other
103.17 tools, implements, and machinery that are part of an electric substation, wherever located.
103.18 EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment.

The language they put in that’s LS Power specific does offer protections, but given there are three lines into the Chisago sub, and a new one just announced going east into Wisconsin, I don’t see that any limitation of transmission routing would be effective.

Here’s the LS Power specific language, one sentence is now two (para.5 & 6), and there’s an added paragraph that it must be in a county with an essential services and transmission services ordinance (geeee, I wonder who helped write that?).  A signed “development agreement” does not address personal property taxes.  So I’m not satisfied (I know, always the bitch, but there it is, this isn’t enough, doesn’t have the right language).

1.29 Sec. 5. Minnesota Statutes 2008, section 272.02, is amended by adding a subdivision
101.30to read:
101.31 Subd. 92. Electric generation facility; personal property. (a) Notwithstanding
101.32subdivision 9, clause (a), attached machinery and other personal property that is part of
102.1an electric generation facility that exceeds 150 megawatts of installed capacity, does
102.2not exceed 780 megawatts of summer capacity, and that meets the requirements of this
102.3subdivision, is exempt. At the start of construction, the facility must:
102.4(1) be designed to utilize natural gas as a primary fuel;
102.5(2) be owned by an entity other than a public utility as defined in section 216B.02,
102.6subdivision 4;
102.7(3) be located within five miles of two or more interstate natural gas pipelines;
102.8(4) be located within one mile of an existing electrical transmission substation with
102.9operating alternating current voltages of 115 kV, 345 kV, and 500 kV;
102.10(5) be designed to provide electrical capacity, energy, and ancillary services;
102.11(6) have satisfied all of the requirements under section 216B.243;
102.12(7) have executed an interconnection agreement with the Midwest Independent
102.13System Operator that does not require the acquisition of more than one mile of new
102.14electric transmission right-of-way within the county where the facility is located, and does
102.15not provide for any other new routes or corridors for future electric transmission lines in
102.16the county where the facility is located;
102.17(8) be located in a county with an essential services and transmission services
102.19(9) have signed a development agreement with the county board in the county in
102.20which the facility is located. The development agreement must be adopted by a two-thirds
102.21vote of the county board, and must contain provisions ensuring that:
102.22(i) the facility is designed to use effluent from a wastewater treatment facility as its
102.23preferred water source and will not seek an exemption from legislative approval under
102.24section 103G.265, subdivision 3, paragraph (b);
102.25(ii) all processed wastewater discharge will be colocated with the outfall of a
102.26wastewater treatment facility; and
102.27(iii) penalties will be paid to the county for harm to any aquifer or surface water as a
102.28result of construction or operation and maintenance of the facility; and
102.29(10) have signed a development agreement with the township board in the township
102.30in which the facility is located containing provisions ensuring that noise and visual
102.31impacts of the facility are fully mitigated. The development agreement must be adopted
102.32by a two-thirds vote of the township board.
102.33(b) Construction of the facility must begin after March 1, 2010, and before March 1,
102.342014. Property eligible for this exemption does not include electric transmission lines and
102.35interconnections or gas pipelines and interconnections appurtenant to the facility.
103.1(c) The exemption granted under this subdivision is void if the Public Utilities
103.2Commission issues a route permit for an electric transmission line connected to the
103.3electric substation nearest the exempt facility on a route where no electric transmission
103.4line currently exists.
103.5EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective the day following final enactment.


Why do elected officials do things like this?  Who are they representing?  Why would they give away a source of much needed local revenue for local governments?  Why would they do that without any kicker for the affected local governments making the sacrifice of hosting a HUGE electric generating facility?  Why would they put a for-profit independent power producer above their constituents?  Why would they let a corporation off the hook, at the same time that millions of taxpayers are lined up at the mailbox?  What makes this corporation special?


H-O-S-T   F-E-E   A-G-R-E-E-M-E-N-T ???

Is it that difficult?

Did they bother to look at Minn. Stat. 272.02 to see how exemptions are done?

Yes, there’s a new power plant planned for Chisago County, and

Rep. Jeremy Kalin and Sen. Rick Olseen, joined by  Rep. Rob Eastlund and Rep. Bob Dettmer, have introduced a bill to exempt LS Power’s 855MW gas plant from utility personal property taxes.  And by this bill, they’re screwing their constituents.  How?  There’s no requirement in the bill that the local governments (Chisago County, Lent Township and the school district) approve this exemption AND there’s no requirement in the bill that there be a Host Fee Agreement.

Here’s the bill, SF 1671 and HF 2317:

1.1  A bill for an act
1.2  relating to taxation; providing a personal property exemption for an electric
1.3  generation facility;amending Minnesota Statutes 2008, section 272.02, by
1.4  adding a subdivision.

1.6      Section 1. Minnesota Statutes 2008, section 272.02, is amended by adding a
1.7  subdivision to read:
1.8      Subd. 90. Electric generation facility; personal property. Notwithstanding
1.9  subdivision 9, clause (a), attached machinery and other personal property which is part
1.10  of an electric generation facility that exceeds 150 megawatts of installed capacity, does
1.11  not exceed 780 megawatts of summer capacity, and that meets the requirements of this
1.12  subdivision is exempt. At the time of construction, the facility must:
1.13    (1) be designed to utilize natural gas as a primary fuel;
1.14    (2) not be owned by a public utility as defined in section 216B.02, subdivision 4;
1.15    (3) be located within five miles of at least two interstate natural gas pipelines;
1.16    (4) be located within one mile of an existing electrical transmission substation with
1.17  operating alternating current voltages including each of 115 kV, 345kV, and 500 kV;
1.18    (5) be designed to provide electrical capacity, energy, and ancillary services and have
1.19  satisfied all of the requirements under section 216B.243; and
1.20   (6) have executed an interconnection agreement with the Midwest Independent
1.21  System Operator that does not require the acquisition of more than one mile of new
1.22  electric transmission right-of-way within the county where the property is located.
1.23  Construction of the facility must be commenced after March 1, 2010, and before
1.24  March 1, 2014. Property eligible for this exemption does not include electric transmission
2.1  lines and interconnections or gas pipelines and interconnections appurtenant to the
2.2  property or the facility.
2.3  EFFECTIVE DATE.This section is effective for assessment year 2009 and
2.4  thereafter, for taxes payable in 2010 and thereafter.

As someone said today, “They’re telling us that all the plants get exemptions.”  To which I said, “Yes, and are they telling you that most also require that local governments approve it, and that they get a Host Fee Agreement?”  And of course, the answer was: NO!  Local governments need to know that there is an option that they’re not being told about, and an option that would provide serious financial benefits at a time when local governments are really hurting.

Where to go for guidance?  Look no further than language found in other exemptions, in Minn. Stat. 272.02:

Jeremy, Rick, add this language, quick before you take away revenue that they sorely need:

To qualify for an exemption under this subdivision, the owner of the electric generation facility must have an agreement with the host county, township or city, and school district, for payment in lieu of personal property taxes to the host county, township or city, and school district.

Or from the Cannon Falls Invenergy gas plant:

To qualify under this subdivision, an agreement must be negotiated between the municipal power agency and the host city, for a payment in lieu of property taxes to the host city.

This is something we learned in Goodhue County, dealing with the Prairie Island nuclear generating plant, these are for-profit independent power producers, and they have to pay their fair share.  If they’re exempted, there must be a requirement that they pay their fair share to the county, township and school district to compensate them for hosting the plant.

Here’s a memo from Goodhue County’s former Auditor, Brad Johnson, who is now the head financial honch at the School District, still hot on the trail of that utility personal property tax:

Brad Johnson letter – Invenergy Peaking Plant, Goodhue County

Here’s a Resolution from Scott County showing how to do it, how to stand up on your hinders when faced with a corporation with its slimy hand out, or rather, its slimy hand in your pants pocket (hand in your pants, perhaps?):

Scott County Xcel Resolution

OK, Chisago County, Lent Township, and the school district, it’s YOUR turn.  Rep. Kalin and Sen. Olseen, it’s YOUR turn.  Step up to the plate, stand up for your constituents!

Meanwhile, I’ll keep looking for those Goodhue County and Scott County Host Fee Agreements.



MOES page for Hiawatha Project

Now take a look at this map for the FULL plan, well, at least a larger picture, than what they’re disclosing for the Hiawatha Project.  Here’s the map, and note carefully, from B-C is what they’re calling the Hiawatha Project.  tHIS SECTION IS FOR XCEL’s PAM RASMUSSEN, WHO HATES IT WHEN I PUBLISH THIS MAP, SO I’VE GOT TO BE VERY SPECIFIC WHERE THIS INFORMATION IS COMING FROM AND WHAT CONSTITUTES THE “HIAWATHA PROJECT” and as far as Xcel is disclosing, the applied for Hiawatha Project is “B-C” of this map.  Look below to see where the rest comes from!


Here’s the NM-SPG meeting minutes reporting on the A-B link, the 345kV line from a new substation on Hwy 280 (A) to the new Hiawatha Project substation (B).

Minutes – NM-SPG meeting July 24, 2008

Then there’s “Hiawatha Project” from B-C.

For C, D and E, see the “Minnesota Transmission Owners” 2007 Biennial Transmission Plan, where they list these extension alternatives:

Alternatives. Initial investigation and scoping discussions have led to the development of three potential alternatives:

(1) Construct a new 115 kV line from a new Hiawatha Substation along Highway 55 to a new Oakland Substation near Lake Street and I-35W. The line would then continue south to a new Highway 62 Substation near Highway 62 and Nicollet Avenue. The line would continue to its final termination at a new Penn Lake Substation near I-494 and Sheridan Avenue.

(2) Similar to Option 1, but the final 115 kV line would stretch from Highway 62 Substation to the existing Wilson Substation near I-494 and Wentworth Avenue.

(3) Construct two smaller 115 kV loops with new 115 kV lines running from Hiawatha to Oakland to Elliot Park and a second loop from Penn Lake to Highway 62 to Wilson.

Section 7 of Biennial Transmission Plan, go to Section 7.5 and all the way down to 3rd and 4th to last pages:


Another point to note:  the Hiawatha Project is WAY over spec’d.  This is a double circuited ACSS 795kCmil conductor — see what that means and compare it with the claimed 100MW need in the FUTURE!

Ex. 35 – conductors – from SW MN 345kV docket

And now, for today’s STrib article:

Will burying power lines in Midtown bury city, users with $12.6 million bill?

Xcel Energy prefers to route transmission lines along the Midtown Greenway; public officials question the fivefold cost increase of putting them underground.

By STEVE BRANDT, Star Tribune

Last update: April 27, 2009 – 11:27 PM

If Xcel wanted buried power lines along this corridor, they should have expressed that when the greenway project was in the planning … read more stages. They could have accomplished this with a substantially reduced cost. Poor foresight on their part is not the responsibility of the city.

Xcel Energy has told state regulators that it wants its controversial twin high-voltage power lines through the Midtown area of Lake Street in Minneapolis to run along the rim of the Midtown Greenway.

But the utility told the Public Utility Commission that the line could be run either overhead for $3 million or underground for $15.6 million. If it’s the latter, either the city or electrical users in Minneapolis should pay the extra $12.6 million cost, Xcel said.

Some city and Hennepin County elected officials said the proposal represents an opportunity for state regulators to consider a paradigm shift in assessing those costs and whether the utility should bear the expense of installing a new underground line in an urban area. That’s because the lines would penetrate a dense urban area, unlike more typical routing through rural or developing suburban areas, said Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff.

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