Failed Suzlon turbine scattered on Minnesota snow

The PUC’s Wind Investigation looking at the MN Dept of Health – Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines report and setbacks is moving forward. Here’s the report that apparently got them thinking:

MN Dept of Health – Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines

The initial Comments are in.  To see them:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on eDockets
  3. Search for Docket 09-845

Reply Comments are due October 13th, and you’ll find reminders here!


Wind on the Wires” and AWEA are whining and crying in the press about unfair treatment to wind generators.   They do a deal with the devil to promote transmission and now are getting screwed — sorry, I won’t be hosting a pity party here!


AWEA and WOW’s FERC filing to protest MISO cost allocation proposal

To look at the full FERC docket, GO HERE TO FERC SEARCH PAGE, and search for docket ER09-1431.

“Wind on the Wires” is a subset of the Izaak Walton League – Midwest, not a separate organization.  Some background here:

Years ago, the Midwest Izaak Walton League, together with MCEA, ME3 (Fresh Energy) and North American Water Office, did a deal with Xcel, and a massive “Wind on the Wires” grant was announced a couple of days later.  The deal was to support a massive transmission buildout, specifically, to work to change state and federal law; to support transmission projects; to usher them through the legislature, state and federal administrative venues, to support at industry transmission planning groups; to support changes in rate recovery; to support changes in transmission need and siting criteria; and to allow transmission-only companies, all the things that Xcel wanted to roll out CapX 2020, JCSP, and whatever else is in their dreams.

Really… it’s all here:

Settlement Agreement – ME3, Waltons, MCEA, NAWO

$8.1 Million Wind on Wires grant from McKnight/Energy Foundation

Waltons 2007 Form 990, shows Beth Soholt, WOW Director & Matt Schuerger, Energy Systems Consulting, p. 19

This 2003 Settlement Agreement was in the Minnesota PUC’s TRANSLink docket, where Xcel wanted a transmission only company, not yet allowed in Minnesota.  For the docket, go to and then click on “eDockets” and search for docket 02-2152.  F”or the resulting legislation, some of it, see 2005 Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell.

So they jump through all those hoops and where are they?  What happens?


Back to Cost Allocation of Transmission.

Let’s see… there was one cost allocation scheme,  50-50 split between owner utilities and generators connecting.  Otter Tail Power objected and so the utilities changed it to a 90-10 split, and now “Wind on the Wires” and AWEA are screaming, whining and crying saying it has to go back.  This has to do with how the utilities characterize the purpose of the line, be it for “Reliability” or “Generation Interconnection” and how costs are apportioned are different.  In the CapX proceeding, the “Brookings line” was not declared, and the Fargo and LaCrosse lines were deemed “Reliability” but that’s absurd…

CapX’s Grover – Direct Testimony

CapX Application- Appendix D-5 – Cost Allocation

For “Baseline Reliability” projects here’s the cost allocation scheme:


For “Generation Interconnection” here’s the cost allocation scheme:


Ummmmm…  a little more background here now that we’re talking about interconnection… does anyone remember the name of that coal plant that Otter Tail Power just got permitted to build?  Oh, yeah, right, it’s BIG STONE II.   And what was the name of that big honkin’ coal plant that “suddenly decided” to produce electricity rather than syngas?  South Heart, yeah, that’s it.   See “South Heart coal gasification — Coal on the Wires.” Both plants strategically placed to use CapX 2020 transmission.  So what is the impact of this shift to Otter Tail Power and their Big Stone II project?

Here’s the Big Stone electrical link to CapX — it’s all connected:


Here’s new connector ND transmission announced April 3 — it’s all connected:


And of course, the big picture of CapX 2020 – click on it for a bigger picture to really appreciate those lines starting in the Dakotas:


Here’s an article from last week about their objections:

Wind industry protesting plan to pay for new lines

Cost-sharing proposal decried as threat to renewable energy goals

By Leslie Brooks Suzukamo
Updated: 08/14/2009 12:01:26 PM CDT

The emerging wind industry in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest could be shut down by the cost of connecting to high-voltage transmission lines if a proposal by the organization that controls the Midwest’s power grid goes through, wind advocates say.

The grid operator and some utilities say the wind industry is overstating the effect, but the long-simmering dispute over who should pay for new transmission lines boiled over Thursday.

If the matter can’t be resolved, the wind industry insists, Minnesota’s renewable energy goals would be at risk.

The Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, which covers 13 states and Manitoba, Canada, last month proposed changing the way costs are shared for new transmission lines. It wants to put 90 percent of the cost on energy generators, including the wind farms springing up across the Dakotas and southwestern Minnesota.

Previously, the cost has been split 50-50 between energy generators and transmission-line owners, typically utilities.

However, Otter Tail Power of Fergus Falls told the grid operator, known as MISO, recently that unless the sharing agreement is changed, Otter Tail would pull out of the system.

Wind farms in the Dakotas representing a total of 10,000 megawatts of electricity — a significant chunk of the power waiting to be added to the grid — wanted to connect to Otter Tail’s grid to reach Minnesota and the rest of the transmission system operator’s territory, said JoAnn Thompson,

Otter Tail’s manager of federal regulatory compliance and policy. Otter Tail consumers were going to have to pay half the cost of the new transmission, even though they would use almost none of that power, as it would be transmitted onward, she said.

“We support developing renewable energy but not at a substantially disproportionate impact to consumers,” she said.

The new cost-sharing proposal, which was submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval, would increase the cost of developing wind energy projects so much they would no longer be economical, wind energy advocates said Thursday.

The American Wind Energy Association in Washington, D.C., and Wind on the Wires, a St. Paul-based industry association, filed a protest Thursday with the energy regulatory commission opposing the proposal.

“If (the transmission system operator) loads up the cost (of new transmission) on the generators, we won’t get new transmission built,” said Beth Soholt, executive director of Wind on the Wires.

“So unless we get the cost of new transmission spread out more evenly in the MISO footprint, wind-energy development is going to come to a screeching halt.”

The changes also could throttle efforts to export wind energy from the Upper Midwest to the rest of the country, the American Wind Energy Association added.

The Upper Midwest has been dubbed “the Saudi Arabia of wind” because of the region’s gusty conditions, but unless big and expensive transmission lines are built, there is no way to get that power from the scores of wind-energy projects proposed for the isolated prairie to energy-hungry metro areas like the Twin Cities, Chicago and points east, American Wind Energy Association analyst Michael Groggin said.

But Xcel Energy, which must generate 30 percent of its electricity from renewable energy by 2025, says the impact will be temporary. Xcel on Thursday asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to require MISO to propose an alternative plan by April 1 next year, to be effective July 1, said Kent Larson, Xcel’s vice president of transmission.

MISO said it requested the shift in cost sharing to keep Otter Tail from bolting from the organization, which is voluntary. If Otter Tail pulled out, the wind farms in the Dakotas would have to pay higher rates to use Otter Tail’s lines as a bridge to the big cities anyway, said Clair Moeller, MISO vice president of transmission asset management.

A proposal by American Wind Energy Association and Wind on the Wires to spread the cost of new transmission to all MISO members would have caused utilities in the eastern part of the territory with no renewable-energy requirements to leave, Moeller added.

If members left MISO, the system of using the organization as a market to buy the cheapest electricity on the system would fall apart and rates would go up, Moeller said.

“So we were on the horns of a dilemma,” he said.

So if “Wind on the Wires” and AWEA object to “generator pays” transmission, where it’s the generator causing the need, then they’re now in essence advocating for a different scheme for Big Stone II and South Heart coal plants too.  Oh, good idea…

Here’s another one that turned up — WOW and AWEA sent out a raft of press releasees

Wind Industry Fights Midwest Transmission Proposal to Stay Alive

by Stacy Feldman – Aug 17th, 2009

The burgeoning wind industry in America’s Upper Midwest could be at risk of shutting down if a new transmission policy by a local grid operator goes through, according to a pair of wind advocacy groups.

Even worse — the plan could put the nation’s renewable energy goals in jeopardy.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and Wind on the Wires (WOW) have filed a protest with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to stop a proposal by the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) — one that would dramatically change the way costs are distributed for new transmission lines.

Specifically, the plan would force energy generators to bear a 90 percent share of new transmission costs in the region, wind farm developers included.

Currently, generators and utilities split the price paid, 50-50.

For the wind industry, that would be seen as a shame. Current plans for regional wind are grand. Developers want to build a wave of utility-scale wind farms, and get the ones that have already sprouted plugged in. In fact, a decent chunk of the power waiting to be added to the grid in the Midwest is wind.

But if FERC approves the proposal by MISO, which covers 13 states, those megawatts may have to keep on waiting. Here’s why:

“The proposed change would nearly double the cost for a wind plant to connect to the power system in the Upper Midwest, potentially forcing many wind plant developers to pull the plug on tens of billions of dollars of investment they have planned for the region,” said AWEA in a statement.

Simply put, wind would no longer be economical under the MISO scheme, and some projects that are waiting in the wings would be killed.

Without the planned turbines, states in the Upper Midwest, which include Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and the Dakotas, may struggle to meet their renewable energy goals and mandates, the AWEA says. America as a whole would be hard-pressed to reach the White House ambition of doubling the nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years sans the Upper Midwest, known as the “Saudi Arabia of wind.”

As AWEA and WOW see it, the MISO policy is “unworkable” for the wind sector because of this fact. It assigns nearly all of the costs of upgrading the grid to the next wind plant waiting in line to connect to it. It’s akin to

“requiring the next car entering a congested highway to pay the full cost of adding a new lane,” said WOW Director Beth Soholt.

The Upper Midwest isn’t alone on this issue. Transmission has become the major tripwire to America’s green-powered future.

One of the biggest hang-ups is over a cross-country transmission superhighway that would zap electricity from America’s midsection to the urban areas that need it. The plan carries a massive, multi-billion dollar price tag. Those in favor say it would move the nation toward a clean renewable energy future. Those against see it as a total waste of cash, a covert attempt to serve some of the dirtiest coal plants, giving them access to new markets through transmission.

And then there’s the big issue of cost: Who would pay for it?

The MISO proposal is a local version of that long-simmering cost dispute.

What’s clear is that loading up the costs on generators could price many wind farm plans out of existence. There’s also the issue of costs to electricity consumers. The price hike to generators that a shift to MISO’s cost sharing would bring would be passed onto certain Midwestern consumers. They’ll end up paying more for the transmission of wind, and may not even benefit, if it gets sent to neighboring states. That could stymie public support for new wind energy.

AWEA and WOW have an alternative vision — to more broadly distribute transmission-line investments “in a way that matches the broadly distributed benefits of building a stronger grid, such as improved reliability and reduced power prices.”

But MISO’s rationale for its policy suggests something else entirely — that wind shouldn’t be the only game in town in the Upper Midwest.

“We continue to focus on addressing the challenges of integrating large quantities of wind through ongoing work with our stakeholders and state officials. This work includes developing long-term transmission plans, cost allocation strategies and other market solutions that preserve and enhance the ability of all resources, including wind, to integrate and operate efficiently.”

FERC has not indicated whether it favors MISO’s proposal or would recommend changes.

In a ruling in June on the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), the agency sided with the wind industry, deciding to more broadly and fairly spread the cost of building new transmission to all users of the SPP electric grid.

SPP serves Kansas, and parts of New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, Missouri and Nebraska. In response to the decision, AWEA was hopeful for future transmission rulings:

“We hope other regions and the federal government will follow their lead and institute similar reforms so that we can begin to put the world-class wind resources that are currently stranded in rural parts of this country to use.”


Either way, it’s all the same, corporate whores who can’t get it up! Today, a little accountability.

Today Environmental Defense’s office in Washington D.C. was occupied and re-branded “Environmental Offense.” Yes, the office of ED was occupied by members of Global Justice Ecology Project, Global Forest Coalition, and Rising Tide North America and Rising Tide Ecuador. ED was scoured and tested by Green & Wash LLC, and awarded with a CRAP credit… Certified Realists for Atmospheric Privatization, that is…

First Hand Account of Environmental Defense Occupation

ED Update on It’s Getting Hot in Here

Today, Environmental Defense, tomorrow, the Izaak Walton League/Wind on the Wires? The Doris Duke Foundation? (Doris Duke just dumped $750k into National Resources Defense Council for Cap & Trade). The Joyce Foundation? I hope they understand that we know who they are and we know what they’re doing!

The office was taped off as a Global Warming Crime Scene:

Here is the full statement in technicolor from Dr. Rachel Smolker, daughter of one of the founders of Environmental Defense, Robert E. Smolker, taken from the Global Justice Ecology Project site:

My name is Rachel Smolker. When I was a child, growing up on Long Island, my father, Robert E Smolker, along with Charlie Wurster, Dennis Puleston and Art Cooley, used to sit around in the living room sipping their beers and discuss environmental issues. My father, an ornithologist, was observing the thinning of predatory bird eggshells caused by DDT, Rachel Carson’s seminal work on the impacts of pesticides was still relatively warm off the presses, and their were already many, many indications that virtually all ecosystems were in decline: the beautiful wetlands surrounding our island were contaminated and littered with garbage, fisheries were declining, and from afar, the drumbeat of deforestation, pollution, and climate change. Yes, way back then. Climate change was an issue very few knew anything about, but I would say it came as no surprise o those who spent time in the natural world and understood the delicate intricacies of ecological systems on a tiny blue speck of a planet, more or less accidentally blanketed in a thin and accommodating atmosphere.

I watched these men as they talked, sometimes seriously, sometimes with tremendous humor, and almost always with a deep sense of commitment and comeraderie. I was 10-12 years old, on the brink of puberty and frankly not all that much interested, but I respected them and as I grew up recognized the importance of this phenomenon, called EDF, which germinated out of the couches of my home.

My father and his friends celebrated their capacity to act together when EDF achieved bans on DDT in the early 70s. They brought lawyers and scientists and fundraisers and administrators and many others onboard and expanded the organization, experienced and overcame some growing pains and enjoyed a number of victories.

My father passed away in 1985. By that time, EDF had at least a few offices dotted around the country, and sizeable resources. The organization was, already, under the leadership of Fredd Krupp. Before his death, he complained to me that he “did not approve of the direction in which the organization was headed”.

Why? What was he foreseeing? I think I understand now:

EDF has swelled and mushroomed into the darling of the corporate world: advocating for “market incentives” to “encourage” corporations to stop their destructive practices, provided they do not cause “economic hardship”. Like the corporations you have befriended, you too have become entirely beholden to the gods of endless economic growth. The goal of protecting the environment has been relegated to the back seat.

EDF’s corporate partnership approach sounded friendly and sort of “new” back in the 80’s. Sure, perhaps there was some potential in trying to reform polluting practices “from the inside”. EDF proudly designed the market trading system for sulphur emissions causing acid rain, among numerous other accomplishments. That emissions trading model, hailed as a breakthrough in “harnessing market forces in service of environmental goals”, has now been carried over to the international arena and become the central approach to addressing global warming emissions.

Carbon emissions trading is now formally enshrined within the Kyoto Protocol, and within almost every state, federal and international initiative for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It has in fact become pretty much the only game in town.

You argue that it is the “least expensive” means of lowering emissions, allowing companies to avoid costly abatement by purchasing credits from others who could more easily reduce their emissions. A sort of “kinder gentler” approach to lowering carbon emissions.

But let me ask you. Is it working? Has it worked? Will it work fast enough? Is it in our best interests at this point to make things kind and gentle and inexpensive for these polluters? Is that our priority?

I would ask that you take a trip outside of Washington, put on your boots and jeans and anoraks: travel to the Arctic community of Kivalina and talk with the folks there who are filing suit against your bedfellows in the fossil fuel industry over the extermination of their community and their entire lifestyle. I say, you are guilty by association. EDF has become the mistress of murderers. While James Hansen and others suggest they should
be put on trial for their crimes against humanity, you would have us reward them!

You would have us reward them by turning the atmosphere into private property, dividing it into pieces and generously bequeathing the pieces as gifts to these corporate criminals. And in doing so, you provide them with a license to carry on with their dirty business and pretend to be doing something other than advancing their own profits. While they drill and mine and pump and plunder with one hand, the other is busy shaking hands with Fred Krupp. EDF has been the primary architects and advocates of “market approaches” which do nothing but pad the coffers of climate criminals while doing nothing to avert global warming.

EDF has turned itself into a corporate makeover facility. The most polluting companies on earth walk in here seeking advice on how to better paint themselves green. EDF does the paint job and then hands out free samples and an eternity’s worth of coupons for future cash-in. What comes out the other end is business as usual, and a few added digits on the organization‚s salary balance sheets.

I have two young children. I am not going to launch into a teary-eyed appeal to you about their future, don‚’t worry.

No: I am going to tell you something about being a parent that I think is relevant: When my children do something naughty, do I yell at them and take away some privileges? Or do I offer them a candy in exchange for halting their naughtiness? Welllll- some would advocate the candy approach, but what happens when they realize that the outcome of their naughtiness is to receive candy? Of course they can’t wait to be naughty again! That is your approach to dealing with polluting corporations; reward them with permits to pollute and a new paintjob.

That is why they are knocking down your doors. Your Climate Action Partnership? Well, no shit Sherlock – the dirtiest most polluting industries made windfall profits off the European Emissions Trading Scheme, which has been deemed completely ineffective if not counterproductive as a means of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

No wonder these corporations are eager to sign on to the CAP and have you championing such an approach! They know the climate change grim reaper is on his way. They see the writing on the walls. Would they prefer to be regulated and fined and forced to behave like proper citizens of the global community? Or would they prefer to hide behind some smoke and mirrors, receive permits to pollute, pass along the cost of purchasing those permits to their ratepayers if possible, and then rake in rewards for sort of maybe doing what they should absolutely for the sake of us all should be doing in any case? You provide them the means to enhance profits and paint themselves green at the same time! WoW!

We cannot pretend that handing out permits to pollute and then trading them around like baseball cards is even remotely related to seriously reducing emissions. It is a great get-rich-quick scheme for the brokers, marketers and financiers who enjoy playing games with my childrens‚ future, and it is a huge gift to the polluting criminals.

Offsetting emissions is a similar deceit, nothing but another fine arrangement of smoke and mirrors that allow some people to “feel good” while continuing to carry on business as usual. They provide a convenient way to sidestep and avoid real and necessary change. It is, without question, a lovely idea to provide funding to really good “quality” projects that hold promise of reducing emissions, but there are more straightforward ways to get there that do not require unfounded and unreliable measures of carbon flow, additionality, verifiability or permanence, and do not confuse fossil and biological carbon. We clearly
need to halt, not offset emissions, even where it is a hard thing, a very hard thing to do.

We are here today because we have simply had enough. In fact we reached that point quite a while ago, and since then have been gathering our courage and building the solidarity that is required to stand up for the very future of life on earth in the most effective, meaningful manner possible. It is a mightily sad state of affairs, when a group of dedicated activists, who are keenly aware of the dire crisis we are facing, must come to the offices of one of the world‚s biggest and most influential “environmental organizations” to protest. People you see before you have chained themselves to the gates of coal fired power plants and to the doors of the World Bank. They have stood up to corporate thugs and threats, they have put themselves in harms way to stand up for what is right and what MUST be done to protect the future of life.

We cannot afford to wait, or to fail, or to only half succeed at this point.

EDF: It is time to admit to the failure of the market based policies you are advocating: The Kyoto Protocol, the European Trading Scheme – these have failed us, and in the process have blinded and bedazzled so many that the real solutions to the crisis have fallen into the shadows where they are languishing. Now it is time to face the facts and turn every ounce of your substantial weight towards DEMANDING that your corporate bedfellows strip off their phony green veneer, halt the pillaging of our futures, and give REAL solutions to climate change their due opportunity. Yes it will be hard, yes it will force change upon the polluters. But the cost of inaction, or ineffective action, will be much, much greater.

The incoming administration has made it clear that they intend to adopt a cap and trade legislation, along with a suite of other questionable steps intended to address the crisis of climate change, including “clean coal,” nuclear energy and agrofuels. EDF as a massively influential organization will undoubtedly play a role in shaping this legislation. It is time to stop pandering to the corporate criminals. We can no longer make corporate profits a priority over swift and severe measures to avoid catastrophe. We can no longer concern ourselves with making it easy or less costly or any other such warm and fuzzy goodwill towards the corporations that are responsible for the destruction. We can no longer count on the magic of markets to achieve the deep, real, meaningful and essential changes that are needed.

EDF: I wish I could say I am proud of my own father’s legacy! But it is, sadly, the case that I have to apologize, offer disclaimers, make explanations when pronouncing my relationship to this organization. I can hear my father rolling over in his grave! EDF has strayed so far from his vision, from the mission of protecting and advocating for the environment, that it would now be completely unrecognizable to him. Were he to rise up from the dead, I can only hope that these plush digs and six figure salaries would convince him there is no relationship between the current manifestation of this organization and himself.

For me, it is deeply ironic that I find myself here today, taking action against this organization which so shaped my early world view, and which I have now come to see as a primary obstacle to averting planetary crisis: the architects and powerful advocates of extraordinarily dangerous and distracting policy advice.

I HOPE that the people working here will take a very deep look in the mirror and ask yourselves: are we REALLY doing the right thing? Are we true to our mission? To ourselves? To our children and to the future of life on this little blue speck?

CLICK HERE : Native Village of Kivalina and City of Kivalina – Complaint for Damages