There’s a problem with not having a dog in the fight, and that is that I’ve not been tracking what’s going on in the Hiawatha Project Certificate of Need docket, or more correctly, what’s NOT going on.  OH MY!  Look what I just learned!


Yup, really, here’s the notice:

PUC’s Notice of Comment Period

That was sent out in early March, setting the deadline for Initial Comments as March 31, 2011, and Reply Comments for April 29, 2011.

This Certificate of Need is going through the “informal process,” something arbitrary set up by the PUC and MOES, with no rules, and oh, it is going weirdly.  Here’s the PUC Order authorizing the “informal process” that was issued in February:

Order of PUC establishing “informal process”

Let me see if I understand this.  The Environmental Report is not done, in fact it’s not yet begun, the Scoping Comments were due yesterday, April 6, 2011.   And the notice for the Scoping of the Environmental Report notes that there will be a public hearing on need, as required by the statute and rules, after the Environmental Report is released.

… but the initial Comment period is closed, the Reply comment period ends April 29, 2011, and all of that will be over before the Environmental Report is done and before the “Public Hearing.”  HUH?  This makes no sense.

Worse, the only party to file comments by the March 31, 2011 deadline was MOES!  There were how many intervenors in the Routing docket, and they raised such a stink about the need for a Certificate of Need proceeding that they rammed through a bill requiring it, and now that it’s begun (and now that their $90k was line-item vetoed by Pawlenty) they are all absent, not a one has bothered to show up and submit a single Comment.  Give me a break!  What does it take to put a comment in?  And not one… and a few have submitted letters saying they won’t be intervening, notably the large funded intervenors:

Letter from Hennepin County, City of Minneapolis and Midtown Greenway Coalition, stating they have no intention of intervening

…sigh… gee, I wonder why they’re not intervening…

Anyway, here’s what MOES has to say, and remember this is the beginning, not nearly the end:

MOES – Comments and Recommendation

So once again, let me see if I understand this.  MOES has submitted Initial Comments recommending that this Certificate of Need be approved, and is basing that on the Application, and to support that Recommendation, using demand data from 2006, and using the Chisago Project record from 2007 as the basis for saying that a determination regarding undergrounding should be made in the routing docket.  Really, that’s what it says, PLEASE read it!


Look what Xcel filed on January 6th, 2011, as a “Supplemental Filing” replacing their “Appendix B, Figure 7, Monthly Demand and Capability” chart (click to enlarge):


Compare that “Net Peak Demand” with the original chart — there’s a LOT more capability than demand… but hey, we knew that:


So can you believe this MOES Recommendation to grant the Certificate of Need?  Where are my waders…


MOES clearly has not taken this chart into account showing a 10-15% decrease in demand.  Plus MOES is not taking into account any Comments because theirs were filed on the first deadline!  They’re taking everything Xcel says in its application and presuming it’s fact!  Even the 55MW need claim based on 2006 data.  HELLO?!?!

A Recommendation should come at the end of the process, not the beginning.  DUH!

Well, here we go… Reply Comments due April 29, 2011.

Duck and cover!



Underground Xcel’s Hiawatha Project transmission.  That’s BIG, it’s good news, except for one thing — “Who pays?” is still a question:

ALJ Heydinger’s Recommendation for Xcel’s Hiawatha Transmission Project

Problem is, cost allocation isn’t dealt with specifically, only explained, so no recommendation regarding that.


If the PUC went ahead, would it be spread across the Metro area, the full Xcel rate base, or???

For the SE Metro, and for the Chisago Transmission Project, if they cities would have agreed to shoulder the cost, undergrounding was no problem.  But that’s not feasible for a city to pay.  So now what?  Will the PUC actually order undergrounding, with a broad rate base recovery?


Xcel Energy”s Hiawatha Transmission Project is sticking in my craw again.  I’m having one of those “Xcel is evil” kind of days.  Xcel is hiding reliability information under a claim of “Security.”  How absurd can they get?  Don’t they get that if I was going to blow up substations, a) I don’t need their stupid info to do it, and b) I would have done it a long time ago?  Earth to Mars, that’s not my M.O.  But noooooooooo…

I’ve been looking at Xcel’s SAIDI, SAIFI and CAIDI distribution reliability reports, one of the things I’m happiest about in the 2001 legislative session.  Minn. Stat. 216B.029. Why?  Because Xcel’s Scott Zima testified at the public hearing for the Hiawatha Transmission Line Project that the claimed “reliability” problems did not show up in their SAIDI, SAIFI and CAIDI reports.  WAS ANYONE LISTENING?

What is SAIDI, SAIFI and CAIDI?  They’re distribution reliability indices.  Here are definitions stolen from Rochester Public Utilities 2009 Electric System Engineering & Operations Report:


SAIDI is defined as the average duration of interruptions for customers served during a specified time period.  Although similar to CAIDI, the average number of customers served is used instead of number of customers affected.

The unit of SAIDI is minutes.  A common usage of SAIDI is: “If all the customers on the distribution system were without power the same amount of time, they would have been out for _________ minutes”.


SAIFI described the average number of times that a customer’s power is interrupted during a specified time period.  “SAIFI-short” is calculated using the number of customers affected by momentary interruptions (such as brief breaker or recloser operations).  “SAIFI-long” is calculated using the number of customers affected by sustained interruptions.

The units for SAIFI are “interruptions per customer”.  A common usage of SAIFI is: “On the average, customers on the distribution system experienced _______ interruptions”.


CAIDI is the weighted average length of an interruption for customers affected during a specified time period.

The unit of CAIDI is minutes.  A common usage of CAIDI is:  “The average customer that experiences an outage on the distribution system is out for ___________ minutes.”

Here’s some background info about SAIDI, SAIFI and CAIDI reports from Edison Institute:

State of Distribution Reliability – 2005

Here’s the Minnesota rule about reporting SAIDI, SAIFI and CAIDI:


Subpart 1. Annual reporting requirements.

On or before April 1 of each year, each utility shall file a report on its reliability performance during the last calendar year. This report shall include at least the following information:

A. the utility’s SAIDI for the calendar year, by work center and for its assigned service area as a whole;
B. the utility’s SAIFI for the calendar year, by work center and for its assigned service area as a whole;
C. the utility’s CAIDI for the calendar year, by work center and for its assigned service area as a whole;
D. an explanation of how the utility normalizes its reliability data to account for major storms;
E. an action plan for remedying any failure to comply with the reliability standards set forth in part 7826.0600 or an explanation as to why noncompliance was unavoidable under the circumstances;
F. to the extent feasible, a report on each interruption of a bulk power supply facility during the calendar year, including the reasons for interruption, duration of interruption, and any remedial steps that have been taken or will be taken to prevent future interruption;
G. a copy of each report filed under part 7826.0700;
H. to the extent technically feasible, circuit interruption data, including identifying the worst performing circuit in each work center, stating the criteria the utility used to identify the worst performing circuit, stating the circuit’s SAIDI, SAIFI, and CAIDI, explaining the reasons that the circuit’s performance is in last place, and describing any operational changes the utility has made, is considering, or intends to make to improve its performance;
I. data on all known instances in which nominal electric service voltages on the utility’s side of the meter did not meet the standards of the American National Standards Institute for nominal system voltages greater or less than voltage range B;
J. data on staffing levels at each work center, including the number of full-time equivalent positions held by field employees responsible for responding to trouble and for the operation and maintenance of distribution lines; and
K. any other information the utility considers relevant in evaluating its reliability performance over the calendar year.

Subp. 2. Initial reporting requirements.

By March 30, 2003, each utility shall file its SAIDI, SAIFI, and CAIDI for each of the past five calendar years, by work center and for its assigned service area as a whole. If this information is not available, the utility shall file an explanation of how it has been tracking reliability for the past five years, together with reliability data for that period of time. If the utility has implemented a new reliability tracking system that makes comparisons between historical data and current data unreliable, the utility shall explain this situation in its filing.

Statutory Authority: MS s 216B.81

Xcel has to file these reports annually.  And since Xcel’s Mr. Zima’s testimony that the reliability problems they claim as the basis for need for the Hiawatha Project are NOT reflected in the SAIDI, SAIFI and CAIDI reports (WAS ANYONE LISTENING?), I spent some time looking at the annual reports filed this year:

Xcel’s Initial Filing – Docket 10-310

Xcel’s Initial Filing – Docket 10-310 – Attachment D – Part 1

Xcel’s Initial Filing – Docket 10-310 – Attachment D – Part 2

And there’s another older docket where similar information was recently filed:

Xcel’s Annual Filing – 02-2034 – Part 1

Xcel’s Annual Filing – 02-2034 – Part 2

Xcel’s Annual Filing – 02-2034 – Part 3

To search these dockets,go to and click on “Search eDockets” and then plug in the docket numbers.

And here’s an example of what’s wrong with this picture – look at the crudely whited-out Feeder Line column:


Who cares?  Well, I do… why?  Because when they say that the distribution system is such a problem that they need a big honkin’ shiny new transmission line, and then one of their engineers testifies that this distribution “reliability problem” they’re whining about and inflicting an oversized transmission “solution” on a community about ISN’T showing up in the SAIDI, SAIFI and CAIDI distribution reliability reports, that’s a problem.  IS ANYONE TRACKING THIS?  It’s not rocket science, it’s basic vetting of their claims!

Looking at their letter in the filing in Docket 02-2034, there’s this amazing statement:

Security Data

The raw reliability data provided with this filing includes “security data” as
defined by Minn. Stat. § 13.37, subd. 1(a). Xcel Energy believes that some of the
raw data on the disks and/or that has been eFiled could be manipulated to reveal
the location and size of certain facilities
that have been summarized in the
Monthly Report. The public disclosure or use of this information creates an
unacceptable risk that those who want to disrupt the electrical grid for political
or other reasons may learn which facilities to target to create the greatest
For this reason, pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 13.37, subd. 2, we have
excised this data from the public version of our filing.

p. 5,  Xcel’s Annual Filing – 02-2034 – Part I (emphasis added).

Excuuuuuse me?

The public disclosure or use of this information creates an unacceptable risk that those who want to disrupt the electrical grid for political or other reasons may learn which facilities to target to create the greatest disruption.

What a load o’ crap. It is so illogical — those they’re having problems with aren’t necessarily, and probably just AREN’T, the ones to target to create the greatest disruption!

So I calls up Xcel, I do… and leave a message with Bria Shea because Jody Londo who signed the cover letter with the “Security” note was not in, explaining what info in what dockets I’m looking for and that I’m wanting to sign a confidentiality agreement to get it.

But noooooooooooo, guess again.  I get a call back from someone in “Legal” (I didn’t know they had an Illegal department) and here they are making a bogus argument about PUBLIC disclosure, and I’m asking for disclosure with a confidentiality agreement.  She wants to know if I’m a party, which I’m not, there are no parties in these dockets.  And even if a party, even with a confidentiality agreement, no, because it’s a SECURITY issue.  Oh, yeah… right… I’m a terrorist, wanting their “feeder line” information to take out electricity to some select target…  Guess she’s been talking to Mike Krikava, thinking only a terrorist would want to enter a 2005-MAPP map into a transmission proceeding.  That’s as wacky as a judge thinking it’s appropriate to do a transmission proceeding without a map entered in as evidence!

So now I get to “evaluate my options.”  It’s possible to do some triangulation with the reports and with the Attachments to Xcel’s Hiawatha Project Application, but… sigh… we all know what their concern is — that someone might read it and make some sense of it, and understand what it means.


An indication of how much ground we’ve lost over the last 30 years…

Wednesday I filed to have Judge Heydinger disqualified:

Overland Affidavit and Exhibits

And today, summarily denied:

Order – not an April Fools joke!

Here are a few snippets, well, the meat of it:

With respect to the allegation that ALJ Heydinger has restricted public participation in this hearing, the Chief Administrative Law Judge finds that Ms. Overland has not demonstrated bias. Minn. R. 1405.1400 states that “the administrative law judge shall indicate the procedural rules for the hearing.” In her prehearing orders, ALJ Heydinger has indicated the procedural rules and has not restricted any member of the public from presenting evidence or argument, nor has she prevented any person from being represented by counsel. What she has done is provide for procedures that will allow a complex, multi-party hearing to be held in an orderly and timely manner.

Specifically, ALJ Heydinger has set rules for parties to this action with respect to cross-examination at the hearing. Minn. R. 1405.1400 allows the ALJ to determine the sequence of cross-examination. The ALJ has in no way limited the right of the public to appear or present testimony. In attempting to set orderly and timely procedural rules for testimony and cross-examination by parties, the ALJ is not “raising the bar” for the public.

All parties in every case are expected to be present during the entire hearing.  This is a reasonable and very standard requirement. This requirement is for the protection of the rights of the parties. In order for them to follow the proceeding and have the opportunity for cross-examination, they must be present. Nevertheless, ALJ Heydinger has recognized that since there are so many parties to this matter some may not be able to be present at all times. She has, therefore, allowed the parties to request a leave to be absent if necessary.

Ummmmmmm, aren’t parties members of the public with a specific interest in the proceeding?

And this regarding bias and prejudice regarding “need” for the transmission line:

The other claim of bias is based in the alleged “determination of need” for the transmission project by ALJ Heydinger. As pointed out in Ms. Overland’s affidavit, this is not a Certificate of Need Hearing. The Notice and Order for Hearing issued by the Public Utilities Commission on June 2, 2009, identified the issues in this matter as whether the proposed high voltage transmission line met the routing criteria set out in Minn. Stat. § 216E.03.  ALJ Heydinger has not made any determinations or recommendations with respect to any aspect of the substance of this case at this point. She has, as is proper in a route case, asked parties to indicate in their pre-filed testimony what their preferred route is.  Requesting this information does not constitute a determination of need by the ALJ.  Nothing in the pre-hearing orders prevents the public or the parties from expressing their views on the need for this transmission project.

A couple days ago, Judge Heydinger, who is presiding in the Xcel Hiawatha Transmission Project routing docket, issued an Order to Show Cause, demanding they comply or be booted out of the proceeding!

Here’s the March 29, 2010 Order to Show Cause

There were two problems that just shouldn’t go unchallenged.  First, she PRESUMES need, by ordering, in a Prehearing Order, that Intervening parties choose their “preferred route.”

Here’s the December 7, 2009 Prehearing Order

HUH?  “PREFERRED ROUTE” presumes that the route is needed, it requires parties to say “Stick it THERE!” which pits communities against each other, pits interests against other interests, it is just not right.  Why?  It’s going a step too far, it’s putting the cart before the north end of a horse headed south.  Need has not been proven in this case.  There is no Certificate of Need.  Heydinger’s presumption of need shows bias and prejudice in favor of Xcel.  It shows acceptance that the design of this project as proposed, the size, type and timing, is appropriate.  It shows acceptance of the proposer’s claim that this is the full project, which is contrary to studies revealed in Discovery and out in the public realm (on this blog, too!).   None of this has been demonstrated or found as fact in this docket.  There is no basis in the record or in law for that presumption.

And then, the following day, she issued a “letter” (not an Order) about “Hearing Arrangements” requiring that each intervening party be present every day, EVERY day, for the Evidentiary Hearing that’s likely to last three weeks.

Here’s the March 30, 2010 Letter – Hearing Arrangements

This hearing may be a bit much (compared to Arrowhead WI with 37 intervenors and 63 witnesses???) but imagine what it’s like for the Intervenors who are not funded, not represented, struggling along as best they can.

To see the full Hiawatha Transmission Project docket, go to and then “Search eDockets” and then search for docket 09-38.

The rules say that “any PERSON” can file an affidavit of prejudice to disqualify a judge, so I did:

Overland Affidavit and Exhibits

So my question for all the Intervenors already in this — why are you all just sitting silent and letting these Orders and presumptions go unchallenged?