Doesn’t this guy ever quit?  New legislation with new option, wanting to change the law to allow a “biomass” plant on the Mesaba Project site.  WHAT?  Aren’t they paying attention to the Laurentian Energy Authority’s unworkable “biomass” projects in Hibbing and Virginia, the “biomass” plants that don’t have enough feedstock and so are burning coal?  Did they forget that the MPCA has only issued one woody biomass permit, for Laurentian (Hibbing and Virginia) and that that permit was violated, so extremely that the MPCA issued fines and reworked the permit?

LEGALECTRIC POST: Laurentian “biomass” Air Permit Draft (second time around)

LEGALECTRIC POST: “Biomass” violates air permit – fines likely


Thanks to a little birdie for the heads up on this.


Here’s the change, hidden in Senate File 2101:

2101Today, say NO to lines 191.4 – 191.19 of Senate File 2101.

Xcel demand down, down, down

September 28th, 2014


I’ve been saying this for so many years, that electric demand is down, down, down, and instead, Xcel Energy (and all the others) have been saying it’s going UP, UP, UP (even though Mikey Bull said years ago that they wouldn’t need power for a while), and they’re applying for and getting Certificates of Need for all these permits for utility infrastructure that are obviously designed to market and sell the surplus, and the Public Utilities pretends to be oblivious (I say “pretends” because I cannot believe they’re that unaware and uninformed.).

This is a must read:

Xcel Compliance Filing_CN-13-606_20149-103251-02

Here’s the short version from Xcel:


2024 is expected to be about what it was back in 2007, the industry peak year.  DOH!  But note this — there’s a “small capacity surplus in 2016.”  DOH!

And given the surplus which we’ve known has been present and looming larger, that’s why they then ask for withdrawal of the Certificate of Need for the Prairie Island uprate because it isn’t needed (and really, that was just what, 80 MW or so?  Or 80 MW x 2 reactors, 160 MW?).  If they don’t need that small uprate, why on earth would they need so much more?


But what do I know…

Hollydale Transmission Line was clearly not needed, and they withdrew that application…

CapX 2020 transmission was based on a 2.49% annual increase in demand, and for Hampton-La Crosse in part supposedly based on Rochester and La Crosse demand numbers, yeah right, we know better, but that was their party line.  Again, DOH, it didn’t add up to needing a big honkin’ 345 kV transmission line stretching from the coal plants in the Dakotas to Madison and further east, but who cares, let’s just build it…

ITC MN/IA 345 kV line — the state said the 161 kV should be sufficient to address transmission deficiencies in the area, but noooooo, DOH, that wouldn’t address the “need” for bulk power transfer (the real desire for the line).

Here’s a bigger picture of the bottom line (I’m accepting this as a more accurate depiction, not necessarily the TRUTH, but close enough for electricity), keeping in mind that these are PROJECTIONS, and that they’re adding a “Coincident Peak adjustment” which should be included in the “peak” calculations):

Xcel Resource Need Assessment 2014

Notice the only slight reduction in coal capacity, just 19 MW, nuclear stays the same, a 320 MW decrease in gas, a 128 MW reduction in Wind, Hydro, Biomass, which I hope includes garbage burners and the Benson turkey shit plant , slight increase in solar of 18 MW, and Load Management also a slight increase of only 80 MW.  This is Xcel Energy with its business as usual plan, which has to go.  We can do it different, and now is the time.

Will someone explain why we paid so much to uprate Monticello, and paid to rebuild Sherco 3?


From the archives:

500+ give LS Power a piece of their mind

October 20th, 2009

2012 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment

May 7th, 2013

PJM Demand is DOWN!

November 15th, 2012


Well, a busy couple of days.  Mark Roberts, M.D., Exponent, toady for whatever project developer has the dough to pay him, made appearances in Goodhue, Minnesota for a hearing on the Goodhue Wind project, and in Wausau, Wisconsin, for an open house for a proposed biomass plant.  How much of a toady is he?

Dig this, he was “Corporate Medical Director of BP.”  Yes, our friend British Petroleum!


Wednesday, he was here in Goodhue, a puppet for the developers.

Here’s a link to the rest of the story: Goodhue Wind Truth

Thursday, he’s in Wausau, WI, a puppet for the developers.

Here’s a link to the rest of the story: Saving Our Air Resource, opponents of that Wausau biomass plant.

From Faux News 55:

Here’s from the Wasau Daily Herald:

Rothschild residents preview Biomass plant plans

By Kathleen Foody • Wausau Daily Herald • July 23, 2010

OTHSCHILD — The mood at the open house hosted by We Energies on Thursday about a proposed biomass plant in Rothschild was calm, though discussion about the project has become heated.

About 110 residents attended the sessions, one each in the afternoon and evening, at the Holiday Inn in Rothschild. Staff from We Energies and Domtar stood near displays and video monitors, explaining the plant plan and its effects on the community.

The proposal to burn woody biomass as fuel to create electricity for sale by the Milwaukee energy company and steam to power the Domtar paper mill is pending before the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. Since the plant was proposed in September 2009, We Energies has tried to get ahead of critics with direct mailings, community meetings and door-to-door consultations.

Many residents who attended the Thursday meetings said they were undecided or in favor of the $250 million project and felt satisfied with answers to their questions about air quality, jobs and traffic around the plant.

“I want to make sure it’s safe. My grandkids attend (Rothschild Elementary School) across the street (from the mill),” Andy Champine of Weston said. “I walked in neutral to get the facts.”

Barry McNulty, a spokesman for We Energies at the event, said the company was pleased with turnout and the questions posed.

“No one particular issue stood out,” he said. “Residents asked very similar questions (as at the February open house), and we tried to give them a better understanding of what we do and how we do it.”

Rob Hughes, a member of Save Our Air Resources, a citizen group that has opposed the plant, said he applauded the open house events. But he’s not satisfied with We Energies’ responses to his requests for specific information on air quality if the plant is constructed.

“They had a doctor there saying this is good, but thousands of doctors have signed on to a letter (in Massachusetts) saying these plants are bad for people’s health,” Hughes said.

Hughes was referring to the Massachusetts Medical Society, and its December decision to oppose three biomass plants, citing respiratory problems that air pollution can cause or worsen. The organization also asked state governments to discourage the construction of biomass facilities.

STrib pulls biomass expose

June 26th, 2010

The STrib had posted a thoughtful, balanced piece about the problems with “biomass,” actually discussing some of the problems with biomass — and biomass is a burning issue here in Minnesota.  And then, with the blink of an eye, it’s GONE… GONE… GONE!

Benefits or Boondoggle?


Here it is, with a related NYT blog post:

Net Benefits of Biomass Power Under Scrutiny

Q & A: Woody Biomass Pros and Cons

And in full so it can’t be disappeared, from the New York Times:

Net Benefits of Biomass Power Under Scrutiny

Published: June 18, 2010

GREENFIELD, Mass. — Matthew Wolfe, an energy developer with plans to turn tree branches and other woody debris into electric power, sees himself as a positive force in the effort to wean his state off of planet-warming fossil fuels.

“It’s way better than coal,” Mr. Wolfe said, “if you look at it over its life cycle.”

Not everyone agrees, as evidenced by lawn signs in this northwestern Massachusetts town reading “Biomass? No Thanks.”

In fact, power generated by burning wood, plants and other organic material, which makes up 50 percent of all renewable energy produced in the United States, according to federal statistics, is facing increased scrutiny and opposition.

That, critics say, is because it is not as climate-friendly as once thought, and the pollution it causes in the short run may outweigh its long-term benefits.
Read the rest of this entry »


Really, that’s what they said at a meeting where the operators of the Hibbing “biomass” plant were confronted with all the problems, dust, noise, neighbors fed up and bringing in the evidence.  This is the plant that was violating its air permit and was fined and shut down,
but of course air permit limits were INCREASED and it reopened.
GRRRRRRRRRR.  And when they were told to clean it up, given a deadline, they said:

“I think we need to sit down and prioritize these things and get our butts going,” said Fena.  “We should be able to tackle some of these issues, like some of the noise, right away. If we can’t, we  should be shot.”

Thanks to Charlotte Neigh for sending this in.  Let’s keep an eye on this one!  Ready… aim…

Commission vows to take action on dust, noise

Meeting draws more complaints from neighbors

by Kelly Grinsteinner
Assistant Editor

— Members of the Hibbing Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will have
just more than one month to devise a game plan on how to be better

The commission will hold another public forum, as it
did Monday evening, to address concerns raised by its neighbors about
fugitive dust and noise coming from the facility. The meeting will be
held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 14.

“We may not have a resolution,
but we will have a plan of attack,” Jim Fena, the commission’s newest
member, promised the room of more than 30 frustrated nearby residents.
“It will be top priority. We need to make progress on this, and do more
than give lip service.”

In the meanwhile, some analysis will be conducted on the fugitive dust
wiped up by neighbors and presented to the commission on Monday.

Kathy Nyberg handed over two black rags that were once blue. She has
used the rags to wipe her window sills.

“This can’t be healthy,” she said. “I clean. I get this. It’s in my house. I
breathe it. It’s going into my body, into my lungs. It can’t be

Linda Johnson said she
hoses down the swing set and scrubs the slide before she lets her
grandchildren use it. The fugitive dust and ash, she claims, has also
pitted the windshield of her vehicle and ruined the cover to her hot

Gerry Wyland showed photos — ash and coal dust on his home,
in the alley and even on his kids. The snapshot of children showed
their legs looking all muddy, but there was no mud, he noted.

“You are supposed to control this from happening,” he challenged the
commission. “You need to find a better way to suppress this.”

Mandy Gherardi spoke about how her children have endured allergies and
respiratory infections, which she feels may be attributed to the
utility’s fugitive dust and dirt.

“It’s something that’s going off in my head,” she said. “Something
needs to be done.”

Colleen Hall said she and her son suffer from asthma. They can’t hang out in
the back yard because of the fugitive dust and she is embarrassed to
entertain at home, she said.

“Everything is so filthy,” she added. “I can’t clean it. We can’t sell
it. We’re stuck.”

Several others spoke about putting new siding on their homes and making
improvements to their properties only to be discouraged when they find
soot, dust and grime everywhere.

“Are you going to help us clean?” Marianne Just asked the commission. “We all are rate payers,
but these are additional expenses out of our own pockets.”

Just gave the commission a bag of clothes filled with soot that she had
wiped from her glass table top over the period of a week.

Many neighbors agreed that the problem has compounded over the past three to
four years, which coincides with the Biomass project. HPU officials
also confirmed that the volume of coal and ash they have been burning
has nearly tripled.

Fena credited that to becoming more of an electricity-generating facility, a switch from the utility’s prior
years of producing mainly steam.

HPU is contractually obligated to produce so much electricity, be it by burning wood or coal. And the
utility is forced to burn more coal when the Biomass is down or when
wood supply is short.

“Because the process requires so much more, there will also be that much more dust and noise,” said Fena.
“We’re aware of the situation and aware of the rub. Now we have to deal
with it.”

Several neighbors talked about the noise annoyances, including the banging of gates on trucks, exhaust noise when two of the boilers run simultaneously and about a safety valve popping on and off
at night.

Bob VonAlman said the noise is so distracting that he can barely hold a conversation in his backyard. Jason Johnson said he hears trucks jake braking at unreasonable hours of the morning.

Linda Johnson imitated the irritating noise she hears coming from the plant.

“It’s sad when you wake up dreaming of WD-40,” she said.

HPU General Manager Jason Fisher outlined the steps the HPU has taken to
cut down on fugitive dust since December. Those efforts have included
installing belt cleaners on wood handling belts, enclosing one side of
the coal storage hut and installing spray nozzles on the coal-ash
handling system to wet the ash during unloading. He also said they
currently have a cost estimate for a hood for the receiving area.

In terms of noise, the utility has installed cameras to monitor trucks
unloading at the HPU to ensure drivers are doing their part to cut down
on noise. Fisher said that “has gotten better.”

The utility has also “made some corrections” to the safety valve on the wood boiler to
help alleviate that “gun shot sounds,” according to Fisher. They also
have a cost estimate for a baffle system for the stack of the combined

Chair John Berklich and Commissioner Gary Kleffman
commented on how surprised they were to hear so many, including some
new, complaints.

“I wish we would have known this to be able take some action,” said
Kleffman. “…We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Residents were encouraged to call the utility when the noises happen and when
they have complaints. In contrast to his predecessor, Fisher was
acknowledged by the neighbors for returning their phone calls and being

Neighbors first aired their concerns during a similar meeting that took place in mid-December. A couple of those parties had petitioned its commission at their regular meetings for
some time, but felt as though they had gone unheard.

Larry Schloesser has been vocal on the issue for some time. He’s lived across
the street for more than 30 years and said it’s never been so bad. He
advocated for building a wall about the entire facility.

“Keep yours on your side of the street, and I’ll keep to my side of the
street,” he said.

Rick Johnson has been along-side Schloesser advocating for something to be
done. He acknowledged that some things had been done, but said the big
problems aren’t fixed.

He accused Berklich and Kleffman of lip service, and asked when the commission was “going to admit this Biomass thing is a failure?”

Other suggestions offered by the neighbors included dismantling and moving Biomass, buying out homes surrounding the utility, paying to clean homes and talking with companies like Excel and Minnesota Power to relax contracts to cut back on the facility’s current capacity.

Several comments were made that HPU needs to determine whether the fugitive dust is posing a health risk, which could be more costly in the long-run if it is.

The meeting was the first time Fena was on the receiving end of the complaints.
After listening to the many grievances, he vowed that the utility would
address some of the issues immediately.

“I think we need to sit down and prioritize these things and get our butts going,” said Fena.
“We should be able to tackle some of these issues, like some of the noise, right away. If we can’t, we should be shot.”

Kelly Grinsteinner can be reached at kelly.grinsteinner@mx3.com.
To read this story and comment on it online go to www.hibbingmn.com