The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission rulemaking for Minn. R. Ch. 7849, Certificate of Need, and 7850, Routing and Siting, is slowly moving forward. Here are the final drafts up for review before they go to the Commission for a rubber stamp and release for general comment:

20173-129606-02_Draft 7849

20173-129606-03_Draft 7850

Final initial comments on drafts were due on Monday and here they are, in alphabetical order:

20175-131641-01_Commerce DER

20175-131640-01_Commerce EERA

20175-131687-01_Goodhue Wind Truth – Marie McNamara

20175-131650-01-1_Great River Energy

20175-131683_ITC Comments and Attachments

20175-131698-01_Just Change

20175-131686-01_NoCapX – U-CAN – NRG & GWT

20175-131675-01_Wisconsin Power & Light

20175-131688-01_Xcel Energy

Reply comments are due by 4:30 p.m. on May 31, 2017.  eFiling is preferred!  If you need to register to eFile, GO HERE!  It’s easy, quick, and makes filing a breeze.  Get to work — there’s a lot here to comment on!

Looking forward to catching up with Ted Nace soon in San Francisco.  He’s author of Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy — get your copy HERE.

Alan Muller and I had the good fortune of meeting him through our “no coal” work and the “No New Coal Plants” list that was instrumental in stopping so many coal gasification plants across the U.S., including Minnesota’s Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project (see also www.camp-site.info)and the NRG coal gasification plant proposed for Delaware.  He wrote this Orion article about that coal gasification fight (a couple things are off — hey, Ted, it’s an ORANGE crate!!):

Orion-Stopping Coal in its Tracks – Ted Nace – JanFeb 2008

And from that, he also also wrote:

Climate Hope: On the Front Lines of the Fight Against Coal

Check these out, you can find them reasonably priced at www.abebooks.com.  Support your independent bookseller!

gasification_schematic

After this election, there are so many things to be concerned about, so many reasons to be utterly horrified… a Muslim database, Trump’s fraud trial to begin November 28th, promise of mass deportations, sharp increase in hate crimes, assaults and threats on the street and in the schools (and online, oh my!).  Trump’s “100 Days” plan was out in October, and has many points, full of words to decode, including a ‘clean coal’ reference, showing he’s clueless, just clueless:

Trump’s Contract with the American voter — the First 100 Days

In the 2nd and 3rd debate, Trump used those two words that have deep meaning to me, “clean coal,” because of Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project here in Minnesota, and because of the NRG proposed IGCC plant in Delaware, both of which were defeated after a long protracted fight.  There is no such thing as ‘clean coal.”

mesabaone

Coal gasification is one thing that my coal-plant designing Mechanical Engineer father and I had some bonding moments over, going over EPRI coal gasification reports from the 80s and the Mesaba application…  And I had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside my father’s boss’s son, who is also an engineer, formerly with NSP/Xcel, who knew what a bad idea coal gasification is.  Oh yeah, we who fought these projects have learned a lot about coal gasification, “carbon capture and storage,” and will not go there again (see Legalectric and CAMP – Citizens Against the Mesaba Project sites for more info).  We know it doesn’t work.  And experience with the few projects that did go forward, what a mess, cost overruns beyond the wildest SWAG estimate, inability to get the plant running…  Trump, don’t even think about it:

IGCC – Pipedreams of Green & Clean

IGCC, coal gasification, is nothing new.  And despite its long history, it’s a history of failure, failure to live up to promises, failure to operate as a workable technology, and failure to produce electricity at a marketable cost, failure to produce electricity at all!  On top of that, it’s often touted as being available with “CO2 capture and storage” which it is not.  That’s a flat out lie.  Check this old Legalectric post:

More on Carbon Capture Pipedream

A key to this promotion is massive subsidies from state and federal sources, and selection of locations desperate for economic jump-start, so desperate that they’ll bite on a project this absurd, places like Minnesota’s Iron Range, or southern Indiana, or Mississippi.  The financing scam was put together at Harvard, and this blueprint has been used for all of these IGCC projects:

Harvard I – 3 Party Covenant

That, coupled with massive payments to “environmental” organizations to promote coal gasification, and they were off to the races.

Joyce Foundation PROMOTES coal gasification

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation & IGCC – WHY???

VP-elect Mike Pence should know all about coal gasification, he’s from Indiana.  Indiana is coal generation central, and has had a couple of IGCC projects planned, construction started, and built.  Indiana’s Wabash Valley plant is a perfect example, a small IGCC plant that was built, and after it was “completed,” took 22 on-site engineers to keep it running, now and then, at a greatly reduced capacity.

Wabash River Final Technical Report (it was “routinely” in violation of its water permit for selenium, cyanide and arsenic)

When they tried to sell the Wabash Valley plant recently, of course no one wanted it:

Wabash Valley coal gasification plant closing!

And another Indiana plant, with huge cost overruns that never started operating:

Rockport coal gasification plant dies – Indianapolis Star

Coal News: $2.8B coal gasification plant in Indiana canceled

And then there’s Edwardsport IGCC plant, also in Indiana, what a disaster:

Edwardsport plant not at promised capacity

Settlement won’t be the last word on controversial Indiana coal plant

Duke Energy Edwardsport Plant Settlement Expanded

The original settlement in September was a response to the plant’s rising operating costs while failing to meet performance expectations.

In the new agreement, Duke Energy agrees not to charge customers for $87.5 million of the operating costs of the Edwardsport plant, $2.5 million more than the original agreement.

And note that problems with Edwardsport tie in to similar problems with the Kemper IGCC plant in Mississippi:

Indiana ‘cease fire’ could provide a model for Mississippi regulators

Yes, in Mississippi, the Kemper IGCC plant is proving to be a problem, and yes, folks, note the Obama promotion of IGCC — after all, Obama is from Illinois, a coal state, and had lots of support from coal lobbyists.  Check this detailed NY Times article:

Piles of Dirty Secrets Behind a Model “Clean Coal’ project: Mississippi project, a centerpiece of President Obama’s climate plan, has been plagued by problems that managers tried to conceal, and by cost overruns and questions of who will pay.

The sense of hope is fading fast, however. The Kemper coal plant is more than two years behind schedule and more than $4 billion over its initial budget, $2.4 billion, and it is still not operational.

The plant and its owner, Southern Company, are the focus of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, and ratepayers, alleging fraud, are suing the company. Members of Congress have described the project as more boondoggle than boon. The mismanagement is particularly egregious, they say, given the urgent need to rein in the largest source of dangerous emissions around the world: coal plants.

Trump, just don’t.

Nuclear? I don’t think so…

November 6th, 2010

birdie-eveninggrosbeak

A little birdie sent this about “our Stevie,” former Minnesota Asst. A.G. Steve Corneli, now a Senior V.P. at NRG, is in the news.

Corneli said nuclear is established and the existing fleet of nuclear reactors provide the lowest cost power currently on the grid, but there hasn’t been a new plant built in roughly 30 years.
“We actually think that nuclear power has the potential to be the real foundation of clean energy technology,” he said.

corneli-nrg-vice-president.jpg

Steve Corneli — he was the one who “clarified” that nuclear stranded costs (BIG BIG $$$$ which Northern States Power was claiming were due in the event of deregulation which they were fighting for) was really stranded ASSETS!  Yes, dear readers, you’ve heard this before, but if you haven’t read this report, from the dark ages of 1997, please do, because incorporating this shift in perspective on stranded costs can free your soul!

Corneli on Stranded Assets

And you may remember that dreadful idea on his watch that NRG should put an IGCC (coal gasification) plant in Delaware at its Indian River site with THIS, below, as a site plan, I kid you not:

nrgsiteplan.jpg

Oh, my, that instills confidence, doesn’t it!

And so what’s he up to now?  He’s pushing nuclear power, and next to him, there’s the Obama administration pushing nuclear power… and they wonder why we’re “disappointed?”

nrgclinton

The fate of nuclear power after midterm elections

Posted on 11/03/2010

by Brian Wheeler, Associate Editor, Power-Gen Worldwide

In the largest shift of power since 1948, Republicans took over the U.S. House on midterm election night. And the nuclear industry could benefit from the Republican takeover as part of the clean energy legislation.

In a statement released the morning of Election Day, Don Gillispie, CEO of Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc., said that if Republicans won, the other big winner would be nuclear power. Well, we do know that Republicans have won the House and have made up ground in the Senate as well, even though Democrats still hold the majority.

Historically there has been more support from Republicans for nuclear power. But Steve Corneli, senior vice president of market and climate policy for NRG Energy, said there is an increasing awareness from Democrats that nuclear power can be an important part of energy independence and a zero-carbon emission future.

Michigan representative Fred Upton, like many Republicans, is a supporter of nuclear power in the U.S. Upton is also a strong contender to head the House Energy and Commerce Committee; the committee that sees over the national energy policy.

“Through a greater commitment to nuclear, we have a unique opportunity to cut greenhouse gases, provide stability to our electrical supply and create jobs,” Upton told Reuters.

John Boehner (R-OH) is expected to take over as the new Speaker of the House and is also a strong proponent of nuclear power.

“The new Congress will be more pro-nuclear than any Congress we’ve seen in decades,” said Gillispie.

And President Obama continues to promote nuclear power, too.

“There’s been discussion about how we can restart our nuclear industry as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing greenhouse gases,” Obama said during a speech the day after the midterm elections. “Is that an area where we can move forward?”

As of now, that seems to be possible. The White House has requested an additional $36 billion in federal loan guarantees for new nuclear plants and it seems that Republicans are likely to support the measure, even with a big focus during the campaign on reducing government spending.

But Corneli said the interesting part is that the important policy measures that are needed to help jump start the nuclear renaissance are the ones with the lowest cost to federal treasury, and those are the federal loan guarantees, “which really don’t cost the treasury anything.”

“Essentially it is self-financing,” he said. “It seems like the stars could be lining up right now for a boost in nuclear power development.”

Corneli said nuclear is established and the existing fleet of nuclear reactors provide the lowest cost power currently on the grid, but there hasn’t been a new plant built in roughly 30 years.
“We actually think that nuclear power has the potential to be the real foundation of clean energy technology,” he said.

Gillispie seems to agree.

“When the history of nuclear power is written, Nov. 2, 2010 will be a major turning point for the industry,” said Gillispie. “It will mark the beginning of a dramatic resurgence for nuclear power.”

horsesassaward

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!):

minner-hughes-cropped

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

nrgclinton

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

CITIZENS DECRY DNREC ATTEMPT TO PREVENT PRIVATE LAWSUIT AGAINST INDIAN RIVER POWER PLANT

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.

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