HERC Burner info on KFAI

February 27th, 2012

Today at 9:00 a.m. , Alan Muller is going to be on Andy Driscoll’s Truth to Tell on KFAI, together with Rep. Frank Hornstein, Rep. Karen Clark, and Lara Norkus-Crampton, RN.

Listen here:

Listen Now


For more information generally, see Neighbors Against the Burner, and look for HERC.

Here’s from Andy’s Truth To Tell site:

Should Hennepin County garbage burner operator Covanta Energy be allowed to increase its burning volume by almost 20%?

State  and city permits currently allow Hennepin County and Covanta to incinerate 1,000 tons of Minneapolis and near-ring suburban garbage at the HERC (Hennepin Energy Resource Center) facility in the heart of downtown (in Target Field’s backyard, so to speak). Covanta and the county want to up that by 212 tons per day, the maximum the plant could handle.

Here’s what Hennepin County’s HERC page proclaims (boldface ours):

About 365,000 tons of garbage (1,000 per day) is burned at HERC to provide enough electricity for 25,000 homes each year. Electricity generated at HERC is sold to Xcel Energy. (Covanta labels the 33.7 megawatts they sell to Xcel Energy as “renewable”.)

Through the steam line, HERC provides enough steam for the annual natural gas needs of 1,500 homes to buildings in downtown Minneapolis and Target Field.

Residents and businesses in Hennepin County generate 1 million tons of garbage every year. Processing waste at HERC is an environmentally preferable alternative to landfilling waste.

More than 11,000 tons of ferrous metal are recovered every year at HERC and recycled.

Processing one ton of waste at HERC prevents the release of one ton of greenhouse gas emissions. Since HERC opened in 1990, processing waste has prevented the release of 3 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Is burning garbage really the best way to a) manage our waste without landfilling it? and/or b) generate electricity or other forms of energy? Whatever happened to the recycling, composting and reducing waste targets developed years ago now? Is this WTE – waste-to-energy – system the healthiest alternative?

Burned materials of all kinds pour pollutants into the air we breathe – and choke on, creating unprecedented percentages of respiratory problems in children and adults, especially adults with chronic health problems.

Lead, cadmium and other heavy metals are released into the air over Minneapolis and blow in different directions at different times of the year, settling in the systems of residents all around the Twin Cities. Remember, this is added to other burning and pollutants from other sources, including energy and manufacturing companies dotting the Metro.

Even with all the money generated for Hennepin County by this burning operation, can the health protection mandate of the county and the state justify such data as an 11.4% rate of children’s asthma in Minneapolis or 9.2% county-wide?

Two years ago, the Minneapolis Planning Commission bucked its own staff’s recommendation and turned down Covanta’s and Hennepin’s request for changing the city’s conditional use permit to allow for the increased burning. Covanta started to appeal that decision to the City Council, but could see the media coverage and count the votes on the City Council Zoning and Planning Committee and pulled it back to consult with the Pollution Control Agency about modifying THAT permit to burn.

Their appeal was coming up again in Minneapolis this month – now they’ve asked for another extension for that – to October. Anti-burning advocates and other environmentalists are pressing hard to keep any more garbage from being burnt there, insisting that all burning, not just the increase, is killing people. (Watch an interview between guests Lara Norkus-Crampton and Rep. Frank Hornstein.)



WOW,  it has been a wild week… a wild day.  At 11:58 a.m. today the Minnesota Court of Appeals said that Goodhue Wind Truth could file an Amicus Brief. For nearly four years now, I’ve represented Goodhue Wind Truth in its battle for siting standards protective of neighbors of wind projects, their farms, in this case their organic dairy farm, and it seems that the many bald eagles and a few golden eagles command more attention than the many people subjected to wind turbines too close to their homes.
Double WOW, the Public Utilities Commission said that AWA Goodhue has to go back to the drawing board and redo its Avian and Bat Protection Plan.

Goodhue Wind Farm Project Dealt Setback

And in the STrib:

Bald eagles won an unexpected victory Thursday when Minnesota utility regulators delayed a controversial wind farm near Red Wing for at least a year because the developer failed to produce an adequate plan to protect America’s national symbol and other flying creatures that could be harmed by the project.

Local residents who have been fighting the 48-turbine farm for years hugged each other and wiped away tears when the three-member Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted 2-1 to deny the company’s plan. They commended the commissioners for demanding that AWA Goodhue Wind, a company owned by Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens, provide better research on how many eagles and bats fly through or near the project site, which is prime hunting and nesting territory for the birds.

“I don’t think that the American people are ready to watch Minnesota’s nesting bald eagles be destroyed on behalf of a Texas millionaire,” said Mary Hartman, a local resident.

Company officials declined to comment when the hearing ended. Nor would local supporters of the wind farm, who rode up together on a chartered bus and wore Goodhue Wind hats.

The contentious 2 1/2-hour hearing was a reflection of the emerging conflict between the demand for clean energy and a growing realization that when wind farms are in the wrong place they can kill hundreds of thousands of birds and bats a year.

The controversy over the small wind farm near Red Wing has drawn national attention from conservation groups concerned about the design and placement of wind farms.

“This is one of the hottest fights in the nation,” said Kelly Fuller, wind campaign coordinator for the American Bird Conservancy.

Goodhue Wind has recently conceded that the project would probably harm an unknown number of eagles, and has started an application for a federal permit that would legally allow it to kill the birds. The permit is a new strategy by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to manage the often-lethal conflict between birds and turbine blades. Only one other wind project has applied — West Butte Power Project in Oregon — but no permits have been granted.

The decision to develop such permits is controversial among environmental and bird conservation groups. “The public cares deeply about bald eagles,” said Fuller. “I’ve never met anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to kill bald eagles. They are special birds.”

Even the utilities commissioners expressed some discomfort with the idea at Thursday’s hearing. Commissioner J. Dennis O’Brien called it “a license to kill.”

“Every fall I apply for a duck hunting license,” O’Brien said. “You will have a license to kill up to a specified number of eagles.”

Commissioner Betsy Wergin asked the company’s attorney how the number of eagle nests in their site survey could multiply so quickly since it first proposed the project.

“At the outset I recall one nest within a mile of the project,” Wergin said. “Now there are six. With the proliferation of eagles, do you think you will be allowed to get a permit?”

“We have seen more nests,” said Christy Brusven, the company’s attorney. “The eagle population is an American success story.”

But citizens who testified said that they believe the company had deliberately avoided conducting accurate surveys. They showed maps of the site footprint and the 10-mile radius around it with a dozen or more eagle nests, some of which were confirmed by state wildlife officials.

They also criticized the company’s bat monitoring survey. Brusven said the technology used to record bat calls failed about half of the time during the survey period, and as a result the count was inaccurate. She said the company would continue to monitor bats during construction.

But the commissioners said instead that they want the company to first do the survey research on bats and birds, and coordinate with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the federal permit. Then, they said, the company could re-apply in about a year.

The project faces obstacles on another front, as well. The citizens group has asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals to review an earlier decision by the PUC on setback rules. The commission overruled a Goodhue County ordinance that would have required the company to place turbines at least 2,700 feet from neighboring property lines.

Now, the appeals court will determine if the state has the right to overrule local governments on land use.

“This is a very important case,” said Daniel Schleck, the attorney representing the citizens group opposing the wind farm. “It’s an open-ended question on whether the state has the power.”



The Minnesota Appellate Court has granted Goodhue Wind Truth leave to file an Amicus brief.  We’ve got to narrow it down, but it’s been granted:

Order Granting Amicus and Expedited Argument and Disposition

Here are the specifics:

2.  The motion for leave to participate as amicus curiaeis granted.  As a condition of that participation, Goodhue Wind Truth shall serve and file an amended amicus brief by February 29. 2012.  The brief may be served and filed by mail, but if served by mail, a copy shall also be provided electronically (by facsimile or e-mail) to all counsel, to ensure that respondents receive that brief no later than 5 p.m. on February 29, 2012.  The amended brief shall not raise legal issues beyond those identified in relator’s brief (including the issue relating to siting standards included in Part II of the proffered brief) and shall not seek relief beyond the scope of this certiorari appeal.

Hey, we can do that!  With pleasure!!!

I gotta make some bread…

February 21st, 2012


At this ripe old age, I figured that it was time to take on bread, to move beyond cooking learned from Jaybird at the Seward Cafe.  I give good grill, but it’s time to make some bread!  For some reason, it felt beyond me.  But with all this CapX 2020 transmission taking up so much time and effort, a diversion was in order, the “new” house just wasn’t sufficient.  So when the kitchen came together enough to have a counter to work on, not just a depressing blue wall, it was time to get started on bread, and it’s motivation to finish the kitchen:


(Can you tell I made some beer bread?)  Found a couple of cabinets that are pretty much what I think was there before they ruined the kitchen, ordered a butcher block counter, and the Julia pegboard is out on the porch waiting to be cut.  Almost… and close enough for rock & roll.

Around New Year, I splurged on a mixer, and it’s been amazingly easy.  Only one failure, the soda/powder Cottage Cheeze Dill bread was flat as a pancake, but with yeast, like wow, I CAN DO IT, and punching and kneading is very therapeutic — TAKE THAT, XCEL!

Basic french bread is down, herb and cheeze, and ever since I’ve been going to Smokey Row, I’ve been wanting to make the Icelandic Almond Rolls and Cardamom Rolls.   So I threw caution to the wind, grabbed the first recipe on the google list (had to replace, link down, here’s from “The Great Scandinavian Baking Book):




Now, about those Cardamom Rolls…

Xcel’s in a bit of a bind…

February 18th, 2012

Xcel Energy’s Q4 Earnings Call Transcript

Of note for Minnesota, which needs all the property tax revenue it can get:

Ali Agha – SunTrust

Yes, and also one other clarification. Teresa, I think you mentioned the property tax deferral in Minnesota, you asked for that and you’ve assumed you’ll get it. Can you remind us how big of an amount that is?

Teresa Madden – Xcel

Yes, it’s $28 million and it’s both electric and gas. So even though it came out of the electric case, it’s for both businesses.

Demand is down down down and Xcel says they won’t need any more new generation until at least 2018.  Well DUH!  They filed an amendment to their IRP given that the situation is sooooooo bad.

2010 Resource Plan Update

Something I found interesting, aside from their projections of load growth that are down the toilet:

The most important information is fundamental data regarding the status of the economy and projections of economic growth.

And lack thereof:

We now expect 0.7% annual demand growth and 0.5% annual energy growth over the Resource Plan  horizon, down from 1.1% and 0.9%, respectively, included in our initial filing. The magnitude of the reduced forecast is such that it prompts us to reconsider some components of our Five Year Action Plan.

Which means:

We do not expect additional generation will be needed on our system until 2018.

Well DUH!  And that’s a full year after Mikey Bull had estimated at that big LS Power meeting in Chisago!  So I’d guess that if they’ll admit that, it’s really 2020 or further out.  And remember CapX 2020 is based on a 2.49% annual increase?  Right…

They had issued an RFP for wind, but they don’t need or want it now:

Currently we have significant installed generation and a bank of renewable energy credits that we can use to satisfy our renewable energy requirements. To the extent the PTC expires and wind prices increase as expected, we will be able to rely on our installed generation and banked RECs rather than adding uneconomic wind generation.



They also note that they’ve lost some wholesale customers, which is also noted in this week’s FERC filing, a Complaint against Xcel, where p. 11 of the complaint they state they lost 9 wholesale customers in Wisconsin and Michigan.  For more on that, go to NoCapX 2020:

CATFIGHT! Xcel and ATC go at it at FERC