Under a meme “Raise your voice… before they raise your rates” on a friend’s fb page, the Center of the American Experiment goes off the rails.  They’re fixated on renewable energy as the driver of the Xcel Energy rate case and rate increase, but don’t want to bother with the facts.  Well, it is the Center of the American Experiment, after all…

There’s no posting of the public hearing schedule, and no links to send comments, so what’s the point?  Guess they just want to rant.  I posted info on the schedule, and info about the transmission driver, and surprise, they deleted my comments!

Time to trot out this old favorite:

In Grist today: Transmission Lies

And here’s CAE‘s take:

Renewable Mandate Drives New Increase in Utility Bills

Minnesotans continue to pay through the nose for one of the nation’s most expensive renewable energy programs. Electric prices rose by 12.5 percent here from 2007 to 2014, versus a 1.6 percent decline in the average price nationwide.

Today the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is taking public testimony in the Twin Cities on Xcel Energy’s latest request for permission to jack up ratepayers’ utility bills by another 9.8 percent over the next three years. The request follows five consecutive years of rate increases for Xcel ratepayers, which begs the question of why.

The liberal grassroots group American Association of Retired Persons is leading the charge against a rate hike that will cost average ratepayers an average of $132 more per year.  AARP took out an expensive ad in the Star Tribune this week urging members to show up in force and “raise your voice against another Xcel Energy rate increase” at the PUC hearings.

“AARP knows that when utility bills go up, it hurts Minnesota families, especially those on fixed incomes or struggling to make ends meet. That’s why we’re fighting make sure you only pay what’s fair and reasonable for reliable utility service.” (the quotes aren’t formatting correctly, hence “)

So far, so good. AARP’s website also offers an “easy online tool” to help seniors “share their comments and concerns directly with the PUC.” Of course, doing so automatically opts you in “to receive periodic text, picture and video messages” and “action alerts about the issues that matter the most to older Americans.”

But when it comes to educating AARP’s members on the root cause of the problem, the powerful senior citizens lobbying group gives its usually like-minded environmentalist allies and government supporters a pass.

There’s no mention of why its thousands of members’ utility bills have escalated higher and faster than in most other states, in line with the increase in Minnesota’s renewable energy mandate.

Yet Xcel Energy makes it clear that renewable energy costs are driving much of the rate hike on a website dedicated to the issue.

“We’re making improvements to our distribution and transmission systems for continued reliability, the ability to safely integrate new energy on our system and to continue to provide carbon-free nuclear energy. Those improvements require investments, so we’re also working with regulators to bring more predictability to your energy bills.”  (the quotes aren’t formatting correctly, hence “)

The predictability in our energy bills comes in the form of annual rate increases. And 28 percent of the increase can be directly attributed to “carbon-free energy generation” and “diverse energy,” according to the utility. Another 58 percent goes into the grid for transmission, distribution and technology upgrades, but it’s not clear exactly how much is directly tied to renewable energy development.

Minnesota residents might as well get used to it. If state regulators okay the proposed hike, Xcel customers will have seen their rates increase for eight straight years.


Above is the public hearing schedule for the Rate Case, which apparently CAE does not want published. IF YOU GO TO THE HEARING AND OFFER ORAL COMMENTS, ASK TO BE PUT UNDER OATH (swear or affirm) TO GIVE YOUR TESTIMONY EXTRA OOOOOOMPH!

And to send in written comments, here’s from the PUC blessed  Xcel Notice:




WOW… can you believe??  It’s not just me, it’s not just denial of Intervention of No CapX 2020.  See 20162-118122-01_Denial2_Overland-NoCapX Intervention.

Intervention as a party in this Rate Case is only open to those who sold out to Xcel Energy and it’s “business plan” agenda of e21.

This is the most recent Order in the Xcel Energy Rate Case:

Order Denying Intervention – SunShare & ILSR

Here are their Intervention Petitions:



To see the full Rate Case docket, go to the PUC’s Search Documents page, and search for Docket 15-826.

And the Order… Dig this, parroting Xcel’s objections:


And this, even worse, as if the interests of the “Clean Energy Organizations” who bought into, stumped for, and sat quietly during the legislative hearings about Xcel Energy‘s e21 Initiative are the same as the interests of SunShare and Institute for Local Self-Reliance – ILSR:


This is SO offensive.  There is no consideration that the perspectives are different, only statements that the issues, the concerns, are the same.

The late, great Myer Shark, rate case Intervenor extraordinaire, would spin in his grave at the limitations of participation in this rate case.

Myer Shark, Lawyer Who Fought Utility, Is Dead at 94

In the Matter of the Complaint by Myer Shark, et al …

LutherpostingNOTICE!!!  Landowners need notice if their land is affected!  Local governments and residents need notice if their communities are affected!  Yes, posting something can have an impact!

Notice is something that’s been an issue in utility dockets, and transmission proceedings particularly, for a long, long time.  It’s something we’re trying to address in the Minn. R. Ch. 7850 in our rulemaking advisory committee meetings over the last TWO PLUS YEARS!

Here are the latest Comments:

NoCapX_U-CAN_ Cover_8-25-2015


Why does notice matter?  Well, there’s this thing called “Due Process.”  Notice is a fundamental Constitutional Right.  It matters because “NOTICE” often doesn’t happen.  And it ties in with eminent domain, where land may Constitutionally be taken for public purpose projects with just compensation (and what is a “public” project?  What is “just” compensation?)  If you aren’t properly informed, have no notice, what does that do to your ability to participate?

In Minnesota, it’s a matter of law, clear, simply stated law:

The commission shall adopt broad spectrum citizen participation as a principal of operation. The form of public participation shall not be limited to public hearings and advisory task forces and shall be consistent with the commission’s rules and guidelines as provided for in section 216E.16.

Looking over posts and filings where this has happened, situations I’ve been aware of where landowners have been surprised at the last minute, too late to meaningfully participate in the proceedings, have filed Motions for Reconsideration, and have been to the Appellate Court on their behalf, it is SO frustrating.  Looking at the many times I’ve tried to intervene, to have intervention deadlines extended in case landowners want to stand up,   There’s no excuse.  People should not be surprised at the last minute with a utility attempt to run transmission over their land.

It happened recently in the Great Northern Transmission Line routing docket:

ALJ Order filed, no RRANT intervention

Can you believe Commerce EERA would file this?

Commerce EERA Responds… NOT!

It happened in CapX Brookings route and on CapX Hampton- La Crosse route:

  • Cannon Falls (CapX Hampton- LaX route) example to go around county park and DOT prohibited intersection area:

Cannon Falls Beacon – CapX in the news!

Dakota County resolution about CapX 2020


UPDATED Updated Minnesota Appeal Update

Initial Brief – St. Paul’s Lutheran School and Church and Cannon Falls Landowners

Reply Brief – Cannon Falls Landowners and St. Paul’s Lutheran School and Church

  • Oronoco(CapX Hampton – La X route) enters “new route” proposal without notice to its own landowners:

Oronoco Twp’s Exhibit 89

  • USDA’s Rural Utilites Service (CapX Hampton – La X) example:

RUS Reopens Comments on Hampton-LaCrosse

  • Myrick Route (CapX Brookings) example:

Myrick route withdrawn

Myrick Route & How to find things on PUC site

PUC chooses Belle Plaine crossing

  • This is important to understand the set-up, and now this notice was snuck in at the last minute due to Applicant and Commerce disregard for objections of DOT, DNR and USFWS.

That’s enough examples to get an idea of the problem… but there are more that I can trot out if necessary.  The notice provisions in Minnesota law and rule must be corrected.

Rebuttal comments were due on the Greenhouse Gas Rule.

Out of the entire state of Minnesota, the only rebuttal comments filed were filed by Alan Muller and moi.

Rebuttal Comments as of September 26, 2012

Pathetic – and proof that the MPCA’a notice was deficient, which the agency admits, and that the “usual suspects” in all things CO2 have abdicated and sat back, thumbs implanted, doing nothing.


From the OAH site:

Public Comments

Public exhibits that were received at the August 30, 2012, hearing, and comments that have been received by Judge Cervantes since August 30, 2012, will be posted below.

Agency Comments

Agency Exhibits


OAH Rulemaking Request for Comments

OAH Rulemaking Draft Changes

Well, folks, here we go, just got notice TODAY from Judge Lipman of the rulemaking at Office Administrative Hearings. Send Comments to:

Honorable Eric L. Lipman, Assistant Chief ALJ

P.O. Box 64620

St. Paul, Minnesota   55164-0620,

Electronic Mail: eric.lipman@state.mn.us

Here’s the “purpose” according to OAH (listed in numbers, not letters):

The purpose of these draft revisions to Parts 1400 and 1405 is to:

  1. streamline hearing procedures across different types of administrative proceedings;
  2. leverage the broader familiarity with contested case procedures to improve predictability in the hearing process for other types of cases;
  3. better reflect contemporary hearing practice and the technological changes occurring since September of 2001 (when the last revision of OAH’s procedural rules was completed); and
  4. improve predictability in the hearing process by more closely aligning OAH’s procedures with the General Rules of Practice of the District Courts.

I have a vested interest in this because I’d filed a Rulemaking Petition ages ago:

Overland – Petition for Rulemaking – OAH

That was March, 2011, IT TOOK A YEAR AND A HALF!

Here are a few things I hope you’ll look at — the parts cited with a page number are from the OAH Rulemaking Draft Changes:

  • Draft Changes, p. 2, definitions of Participant and Person – narrowing definition of person:

As proposed, on p. 4:

20   Subp. 6a. Participant. “Participant” means a nonparty who:
22  A. files comments or makes a formal appearance in a
23   proceeding authorized by the Minnesota Public Utilities
24   Commission, other than those commission proceedings that
25   are conducted to receive general public comments; or,
27   B. with the approval of judge, offers testimony or
28   evidence pursuant to part 1400.7150 or 1400.8605.

37  Subp. 8. Person. “Person” means any individual, business,
38   nonprofit association or society, or governmental entity.

As found in the PUC’s Rules, Minn. R. 7829.0100, Subp. 13 and 15:

Another in a trend of limiting participation by the public, QUESTIONING WITNESSES IS OUT – SAY WHAT????  See Draft Changes, p. 14-15 (see also p. 59-60):

45   Subp. 5. Participation by public. The judge may, in the
46  absence of a petition to intervene, nevertheless hear the

1    testimony and receive exhibits from any person at the
2    hearing, or allow a person to note that person’s appearance,
3    or allow a person to question witnesses, but no person shall
4    become, or be deemed to have become, a party by reason
5     of such participation.
Persons offering testimony or exhibits
6    may be questioned by parties to the proceeding.

Where then PUC’s rules provide for much more — check out current Minn. R. 1405.0800, which they want to just ELIMINATE!  It starts here:

7829.0900 PARTICIPANT.

A person may file comments in a proceeding before the commission without requesting or obtaining party status. A participant may also be granted an opportunity for oral presentations.

Here’s one of the really limiting changes that is NOT OK:

22 At all public hearings conducted in proceedings pursuant to
23 an order of the Commission parts 1405.0200 to 1405.2800,
24 all persons will be allowed and encouraged to participate
25 without the necessity of intervening as parties. Such
26 participation shall include, but not be limited to:
28 A. offering testimony or other material at the public
29 hearing;
31 B. questioning any agency official or agent of an
32 applicant who participates in the public hearing; or,
34 C. offering testimony or other material within the
35 designated comment period.
37 A Offering direct testimony with or without benefit of oath or
38 affirmation and without the necessity of prefiling as required
39 by part 1405.1900.
41 B. O offering direct testimony or other material in written
42 form at the public hearing or within the designated comment
43 period following the hearing. However, testimony which is
44 offered without benefit of oath or affirmation, or written
45 testimony which is not subject to cross-examination, shall be

given such weight as the administrative law judge deems
2 appropriate.
4 C. Questioning all persons testifying. Any person who
5 wishes to cross-examine a witness but who does not want to
6 ask questions orally, may submit questions in writing to the
7 administrative law judge, who will then ask the questions of
8 the witness. Questions may be submitted before or during
9 the hearings.

Comments are due by 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 31, 2012.  Guess they’re in no hurry here!

From the notice:

Written comments, questions, requests to receive a draft of the rules, and requests for more information on these possible rules should be directed to: Honorable Eric L. Lipman, Assistant Chief Administrative Law Judge, P.O. Box 64620, St. Paul, Minnesota, 55164-0620, Telephone: (651) 361-7900, Facsimile: (651) 361-7936, Electronic Mail: eric.lipman@state.mn.us; TTD users may call the OAH at (651) 361-7878.

Another odd thing from the notice, as this is a PRE-Rulemaking Comment Period:

NOTE: Comments received in response to this notice will not necessarily be
included in the formal rulemaking record if and when a proceeding to adopt rules is
started. The agency is required to submit for review only those written comments received in response to the rules after they are formally proposed. If you submitted comments during the development of the rules, and you want to ensure that those same comments are part of the later review, you should resubmit the comments after the rules are formally proposed.