BOOM! at Xcel’s Black Dog plant

September 22nd, 2010

An “ignition event” in the coal hopper, more commonly called an explosion and fire… Three firefighters on the scene were injured when it blew after they arrived.

This’ll be old news, but I’ve been incommunicado for a while, lost in the mountains of the Northwest, where there is no cell, no internet… what a concept!


Photo by Bill Klotz, Finance & Commerce (Fair Use!)

An interesting quote:

“I would say it’s pretty significant,” said Behnken, gesturing toward the Black Dog plant from a nearby park. Though reporters were not allowed closer access to the plant, it was apparent from a distance that the explosion’s force far exceeded initial references to it as a small explosion in a coal bin.

Here’s some video from KARE 11 with shots of the exterior damage:

In the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

3 firefighters hurt in blast at Xcel Energy coal plant in Burnsville

Workers noticed smoldering coal bin

By Emily Cutts and Deepta Holalkere
Pioneer Press
Updated: 09/21/2010 11:47:43 PM CDT

Three Burnsville firefighters were injured Tuesday morning at a power plant fire and explosion that shook local residents out of bed.

The fire started in a smoldering coal bin at Xcel Energy’s Black Dog power plant in Burnsville, the company said. As fire crews tried to extinguish the flames, a blast in the bin rocked the plant.

Two of the firefighters were treated at the scene for minor burns and returned to fighting the fire. A third was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul with a leg injury, said Burnsville police Sgt. Jef Behnken.

“I heard a boom and then a bigger boom,” said Nancy Caneff, who lives nearby. Caneff was in bed when the blasts — the second strong enough to shake her bed — happened.

Firefighters put out two relatively small fires at the plant by 2 p.m. Tuesday but remained on site through the afternoon to handle hot spots, Xcel spokesman Tom Hoen said.
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Xcel, STOP IT!

August 26th, 2010


It’s one of those mornings, had a long bath in the bestest tub in the world, then got the doggies fed and out and pooped, and ready to commence work, fired up the machine, got maybe two emails opened and suddenly… SILENCE and DARKNESS (it’s dark on the side of a bluff).  No computer, no light, no ceiling fan… There goes Xcel again, they know I’ve got work to do, and they sent out their terrorist army.


NOT… it was a squirrel.  Alan hear the fuse on the distribution pole across the street go, and saw something drop, I said, “it’s a squirrel.”  Damned if it wasn’t a squirrel he saw fall, a brave soul who gave is life to Xcel to bring everything to a halt this a.m.  Power is back.  And neener, neener, neener, neener, Xcel, I got to office in Prestigious West Red Wing withwireless, Greek Strata and unlimited coffee.


Xcel is trading a bunch of paper for a bunch of money, 21,850,000 pieces of paper to be precise.  How much money is that?  Seems to be $469,775,000,  or $408,500,000, gross, or $396,245,000 net to Xcel, depending on what numbers you look at, or what they sell at!

Xcel’s 424B2 filed with SEC August 4, 2010

What will they do with it?  According to the prospectus, and an article written about it:

“Xcel Energy intends to use any net proceeds that it receives upon settlement of the forward sale agreement described above, or from the sale of any shares to the underwriters to cover over-allotments, to repay outstanding commercial paper and make capital contributions to its operating subsidiaries.”

Here’s an article from Marketwatch:

Xcel Energy Announces Pricing of Common Stock

Doesn’t this have the feel that they’re desperate for cash flow?  We know they can’t get their construction capital to build the Brookings transmission line, and they’re hot to trot both about PUC ordained rate recovery, which they did not get and their Motion for Reconsideration (PUC Docket 09-1048) went nowhere.

Here’s Seeking Alpha’s Xcel 2Q Earnings Call Transcript!

Seeking Alpha Xcel 2Q Earnings Call Question & Answer

And a choice answer snippet from the Q&A:

Ben Fowke

Transaction transmission will be a very big part of our capital profile as you get to the middle and latter part of the decade it’s a result of all the years of efforts we’ve already put into project like CapEx 2020. It takes a very long time to get these things done.


Xcel Energy, or Northern States Power, whichever, has filed its brief in the Routing docket for the Hiawatha Transmission Project.

Xcel/NSP Post-Hearing Brief

Xcel/NSP Proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusions

Also filed is Notice that the transcripts are now available at local libraries, a big help because the cost is prohibitive, they’re not free here as they are in WI or available via FOIA as they are in New Jersey (called OPRA there):

Notice – Transcripts are in the libraries

Which states:

I write to advise that the transcripts for the evidentiary hearings held in the Hiawatha Transmission Project routing proceeding on April 12 – 21 and April 26 – 30, 2010, have been placed in the following libraries: East Lake Library, Hosmer Library, Franklin Library, Central Library, and Roosevelt Library. We have also provided an extra copy to the Central Library with a request that it forward it to the Nokomis Branch once renovations are complete. The transmittal documents are enclosed.

So those of you writing briefs now know where to go!!!!

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.