Carol Overland - Legalectric

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Carol A. Overland, Overland Law Office -- Utility Regulatory and Land Use Advocacy
Updated: 1 hour 45 min ago

Senate Energy Committee Webcast 12 noon!

5 hours 33 min ago

Here’s Dr. Arjun Makhijani’s Powerpoint from this afternoon:

Arjun Makhijani draft slides for Minnesota Senate E and E Committee 03-03-2015

12 noon!  Nuclear Senate bills!  Tune in to the Senate Webcast – Environment and Energy Committee

Flash Media
Windows Media – Closed captioned 

12 p.m. – Live Senate Environment and Energy Committee

Agenda:
S.F. 306 (Kiffmeyer) Nuclear power plant certificate of need issuance prohibition elimination (for discussion only and consideration for possible inclusion in omnibus energy bill).
S.F. 536 (Anderson, B.) Monticello new nuclear-powered electric generating unit construction authorization (for discussion only and consideration for possible inclusion in omnibus energy bill).

Categories: Citizens

NUCLEAR?!? What is the Minnesota Senate thinking?

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 12:39pm

That’s “our” reactor, the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, here in Red Wing, it’s within the city limits (which were expanded to include the plant).  I represented Florence Township from 1995, when Xcel, f/k/a NSP, applied to put nuclear waste in Florence Township under the “alternate site mandate,” and that went on, and on, and on, until they finally withdrew their application at the NRC in … what, 1999?  2000?  That’s one I thought would never end.  But that’s the thing about nuclear, it’s never over.

QUICK — CONTACT THE LEGISLATORS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS MISSIVE.

There are two bills before the Senate Environment and Energy Committee TOMORROW:

  • SF306 is simply worded, deleting the Minn. Stat. 216.243, Subd. 3b prohibition of new construction of a nuclear plant and changes it to “Additional storage of spent nuclear fuel” and over the previous language that states: “Any certificate of need for additional storage of spent nuclear fuel for a facility seeking a license extension shall address the impacts of continued operations over the period for which approval is sought.”  It’s authored by Kiffmeyer, coauthored by Dahms and Anderson.

So we have a blanket repeal of the nuclear construction prohibition, and a specific opening for a Certificate of Need for a nuclear generator at the Monticello site.

Authors contact info is linked above, and emails for Senate Energy committee members and the authors are also listed below.

Whether it’s targeted as a replacement for the Fukushima Daiichi style GE plant, or whether it’s to add and operate a second reactor, WHY?

First, there’s no need.  There is a glut of electricity, as our friend, Xcel’s Ben Fowkes said, when they could no longer keep up the GROW GROW GROW fiction.  Here’s the Seeking Alpha transcript of the XEL Earnings Call, January 31, 2013. 

So I think the economies are in decent shape across all our jurisdictions. Doesn’t necessarily mean it translates to high sales growth. And that’s consistent with our forecast. I mean, we’re not anticipating that we’re going to see a tremendous rebound in sales, even as the economies start to improve. I mean, I think, that’s our new normal, frankly.

For last year:

Finally, NSP-Minnesota sales increased six-tenths of a percent driven by growth in the number of residential and small C&I customers and usage increases in the small C&I class.

From Xcel’s IRP (Docket 15-21), p. 45 of 102:

And here’s what they had to say about that (note they do NOT go back further than 2011, so we don’t get to see the 2000-2010 numbers):

We forecast a period of relatively flat growth such that our median base peak will increase only 0.4 percent in each year of the planning period…

That chart is NOT consistent with the 2014 SEC 10K filing, which shows a 2014 peak demand of 8,848 MW (info below is linked, see p. 9 at 10-K link):

Capacity and Demand   Uninterrupted system peak demand for the NSP System’s electric utility for each of the last three years and the forecast for 2015, assuming normal weather, is listed below.                             System Peak Demand (in MW)   2012   2013   2014   2015 Forecast NSP System 9,475     9,524     8,848     9,301  

That lower number is consistent with the downward trend of the 2014 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment, now showing growth rates at lowest levels on record (note that it has NEVER been close to the CapX 2020 “forecast” of 2.49% annually):

And here’s the picture for MISO from the 2014 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment:

2014 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment, p. 38 (or p. 46 of 115 pdf).

Also from the 2014 SEC 10-K link:

So we don’t “need” it, there’s no talk of a new nuclear plant in their recently filed IRP.  So why???

And the “WHY?” may be clearer when taken into context with last week’s hearing at House Energy, where the intent, in part, behind legislation there was to make Minnesota an exporter of energy.  Again, WHY?  Why make the state an exporter of energy?  And if we do what would that do for our rates here?  How does that fit with Xcel’s well funded plan to institute its e21 Initiative, and how does that fit with Xcel’s desire to use ratepayer money to find other market options?  The House bill would let natural gas plants be built without a Certificate of Need, whether by an IPP or regulated utility, with the key being that they are selling into the MISO grid, and not for Minnesota native load.

But nuclear is SO expensive!  First, there’s an immediate example of nuclear construction cost overruns right here in Minnesota, at the Monticello nuclear plant, where they went way beyond what was approved in the Certificate of Need:

Xcel management blamed for cost overruns at Monticello

So what was that about?  Costs more than doubled, increased by a factor of 2.33!!!  From the article:

The project to extend the plant’s life and increase power output ballooned from an estimated $320 million in 2008 to $665 million when it was completed last year. However, the final price tag likely will rise to $748 million, including construction-in-progress financial costs.

And let’s look at new construction, the first new nuclear plant in the US in 30 years:

C&U disputes Southern Co. claim for $247 million in penalties for cost overruns at Plant Vogtle

The cost punchline on the Vogtle plant?  Southern, Westinghouse and CB&I are already in court over previous cost overruns on the project, which is currently expected to cost $14.5 billion.

Here’s that other project:

Shaw Power Group, Westinghouse, face cost issues at S.C. project.

The cost punch line here?  The NRC is expected to act soon on the Summer license. Summer is projected to cost about $9 billion.

Building new plants?  Well, NEI has some info, BUT it’s outdated, nuclear has not caught up, and this is the most current I can find on the site (HERE’S THE WHOLE REPORT):

So please explain — why would anyone want to build a new nuclear plant?

  • There is no need.
  • They cost so much that it’s unreasonable to even consider, and is the definition of imprudent!

Why are Reps. Kiffmeyer and Anderson trying to make this a possibility?  Is this for real?  Is it a diversion from some other issue?

CONTACT INFO FOR LEGISLATORS:

To contact the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, go to COMMITTEE LINK, because many MN Senators have form access, not direct emails.  Boo-hiss…  Here are the emails listed, but go to link to see the buttons for the Senators with form access only:

sen.john.hoffman@senate.mn; sen.david.osmek@senate.mn; sen.michelle.benson@senate.mn; sen.david.brown@senate.mn; sen.lyle.koenen@senate.mn; sen.julie.rosen@senate.mn; sen.bev.scalze@senate.mn; sen.matt.schmit@senate.mn; sen.bill.weber@senate.mn

Senate authors: sen.mary.kiffmeyer@senate.mn; sen.gary.dahms@senate.mn; sen.bruce.anderson@senate.mn

SF306 is authored by Kiffmeyer, coauthored by Dahms and Anderson, click names for links!

SF0536 is authored by Anderson only.

HF338 is sponsored by O’Neill ; Newberger ; Garofalo ; Howe ; Baker ; McDonald ; Nornes, click names for links!

Categories: Citizens

US DOT Rail Study — HERE IT IS!!!

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 5:37pm

Recently there was an AP article that flew around the country that mentioned the massive numbers of derailments projected, but the study was not linked in any of the articles I’d found, and oh was I looking.  Then I went searching around, made a few phone calls, and FINALLY, out of the blue, it appeared in my inbox today.

Who cares about some government study?  Well, with info like this, I do, and so glad to get it.  How’s this for starters:

And this, a chart of projected damages forecasted:And, drum roll please…. HERE’S THE STUDY:

U_S_DOT_PHMSA_-_Draft_Regulatory_Impact_Analysis_-_Hazardous_Materials_Enhanced_Tank_Car_Standards_and_Operational_Controls_for_High-Hazard_Flammable_Trains_Notice_of_Proposed_Rulemaking

 

Categories: Citizens

URGENT – TOMORROW – HF 341 in Committee!

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 10:01am

Tomorrow the House Jobs Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee will take up HF 341, see also SF 237, to provide an exemption from Certificate of Need for natural gas plants that sell power into the MISO market.

SAY WHAT?!?!?!

The Power Plant Siting Act, specifically Minn. Stat. 216E.04, Subd. 2(2) already gives natural gas plants a free ride by allowing “alternate review,” which is “review lite.”  For example, the “Simon Says” 325 MW natural gas plant that had been planned for Waseca would have been built.  The 700-800 MW Sunrise River Station by the Chisago sub would have been built.  WHY?  Should a community be subject to living with a HUGE natural gas plant without regulation?  Nope, no way, no how.  Plus who will pay for the transmission interconnection, and how will that be regulated, both “need” and routing… and then there’s eminent domain!  What’s the impact on Minnesota utilities and their service territory?

The biggest problem?  If it’s not regulated by the PUC, who handles it?  Counties.  What county has the expertise or resources to review and permit a power plant?  Most likely it’s as in Freeborn County, where they cut and pasted the project APPLICATION and called it an EIS!  Really!  Or look at Chisago County and the Sunrise River natural gas plant.  That’s not something that should be thrown at a local government.

Here are the Authors’ emails — contact them today:

rep.chris.swedzinski@house.mnrep.jason.metsa@house.mn, rep.dave.baker@house.mn, rep.marion.oneill@house.mn

Here are the Committee member emails — contact them today:

rep.pat.garofalo@house.mn, rep.dave.baker@house.mn, rep.karen.clark@house.mn, rep.dan.fabian@house.mn, rep.bob.gunther@house.mn, rep.melissa.hortman@house.mn, rep.jason.isaacson@house.mn, rep.sheldon.johnson@house.mn, rep.bob.loonan@house.mn, rep.jason.metsa@house.mn, rep.jim.newberger@house.mn, rep.marion.oneill@house.mn, rep.peggy.scott@house.mn, rep.erik.simonson@house.mn, rep.dennis.smith@house.mn, rep.chris.swedzinski@house.mn, rep.bob.vogel@house.mn, rep.jean.wagenius@house.mn, rep.jim.knoblach@house.mn

Please let them know how important it is that we continue to regulate natural gas plants.  A power plants is large, expensive infrastructure with large, costly impacts, and should only be built when and where needed, after a full Certificate of Need and Siting review.

Here’s an example of how it went in Waseca when they tried to bootstrap a larger plant onto an already approve very small plant — short version?  It didn’t go:

Blooming Grove Township — Sen. Dick Day shows his true colors

And in Chisago County where they tried to ram through a HUGE plant on the Sunrise River and pull out large amounts of water — short version?  It didn’t go:

LS Power’s Sunrise River plant voted DOWN!

Lent Twp voters say NO! to LS Power

LS Power’s Sunrise River Energy in the news

Report on Monday Chisago meeting

500+ give LS Power a piece of their mind

What about the Mesaba Project which has a site permit good until 2019, and which couldn’t demonstrate either “need” or that it would provide reasonably priced electricity — under this bill, a large natural gas plant could go up on that site without any further review!  More info HERE on Mesaba Project!

That’s what communities think of having a natural gas plant using their water, making noise, being lit up 24/7, and all for the profit of some absentee corporate owner:  Thanks, but NO THANKS!

Here’s the agenda for tomorrow:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

12:45 PM

Room: 10 State Office Building Chair: Rep. Pat Garofalo Agenda: Overview of natural gas issues in Minnesota.If you wish to testify on HF341, please contact Committee Legislative Assistant, Jonathan Fortner, at jonathan.fortner@house.mn. Bills: HF341 – (Swedzinski): Requirement to obtain certificate of need prior to construction of a natural gas plant generating electricity that is exported from the state eliminated. Here’s the full text of HF 341:
Categories: Citizens

Google Earth & Susquehanna-Roseland Xmsn

Sat, 02/21/2015 - 1:20pm

New Jersey gets a bad rap, people here in the Midwest have no clue.  People think of New Jersey, and they think of Newark (which has its good points, I really enjoyed officing there during the Susquehanna-Roseland hearing) which is a mess, vacant buildings all over the place, TALL vacant buildings…

And that’s where the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is, rolling a cart full of boxes back and forth from the R.Treat (right) to the BPU (big black glass smudged building under “Aug 2012″) in the snow was a joy:

Anyway, there’s more to New Jersey than that.  New Jersey where the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line crossed is B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.  It’s a lot like northern Minnesota, granite and pine trees, stunning.  Turns out my mother spent time there in the Army, and afterwards she worked at the Franklin Hospital, I think owned by the Franklin nickle mine.

Google Earth maps are now showing the summer’s construction of the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission project, and… OH… MY… DOG…

Here are photos from Stop the Lines in 2013 of new access roads through the Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, Lake Hopatcong, NJ to build this monstrosity:

And just google that park for another perspective:

And the view from Headley’s Overlook and Lake Hopatcong:

Here’s Lake Mohawk, another example of bizarre transmission routing:

From Stop the Lines:

And at the heart of Stop The Lines resistence:

How’s that for a depressing photo?  That’s Highview in Newton, NJ, and that’s a 500 kV AC line, TRIPLE BUNDLED (it originally was QUAD bundled, but that was over-reach beyond belief, and hey dropped it), HUGE capacity line, HUGE.  Oh, and that’s the same configuration as the GNTL line.   AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!  Look how close it is, and if ice coated lines and towers meet high wind, what happens if these crumple like others we’ve seen?

Check out these solar panels, house on Marksboro Road.  The one just north has a roof full too, not just that garage!

Here’s where it crosses Mt. Holly Rd. and you can see what the construction does to this field:

Here’s a view of the Picatinny Arsenal, thanks to Stop the Lines, and the tower is 215′ tall, the transmission towers through here will be ~25 feet shorter than this:

And yes, this is the transmission line that goes over the Delaware Water Gap and the Appalachian Trail!  Here’s on the eastern side, NJ side, of the Delaware Water Gap:

DOH!  The Delaware Water Gap is one of the country’s few Wild and Scenic Rivers (like our own St. Croix River):

Just the place for transmission! Enough… transmission sucks.

One of the perks of the job and being in the neighborhood was that I got to hear Phil Woods at the Deer Head Inn, he lives right around the corner.  That must have been 2009, maybe 2010.  His relatives on the Charlie Parker side came in from the east, place was packed, and as Ed Berger would say, “way outside.”

 

Categories: Citizens

Coal gasification loses even more support

Sat, 02/21/2015 - 10:51am

Thanks to Charlotte for finding this.  My Google Alerts disappeared and now I’m the last to know!

For the Excelsior’s Mesaba Project, the carbon capture and storage was a farce, the project plan took it to the PLANT GATE, and a small percentage of it at that.  A scam:

IGCC – Pipedreams of Green and Clean

And McClatchyDC says the POTUS is taking a “step back” from coal gasification.  ‘Bout time for this coal state Pres. to admit the obvious reality that this is NOT “the way forward for coal.”

The White House walks away from clean coal

How can they write a headline like that and not put the quotes around “clean coal.”

Categories: Citizens

A “boil water advisory” for oil in water supply?

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 10:41pm

What are they thinking?  A boil water advisory?

Water Service Restored, Investigation Continues After Train Derailment

Categories: Citizens

Washington State & Buy the Farm

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 10:32am

OH HAPPY DAY!!!!

Washington State is working on “Buy the Farm,” based on Minnesota’s law, which is an option for landowners facing condemnation for a transmission line to force the utility to buy them out, to “Buy the Farm.”  A bill was introduced last Monday in the Washington State House:

House Bill 2047

It’s been referred to House Judiciary — here’s the page for status of bills:

CHECK STATUS OF HOUSE BILL 2047 HERE

Is this exciting or what?!?!  Each state where transmission projects are proposed should get going and enact “Buy the Farm.”  I’ve had a request to pass this around far and wide, so here goes!

Minnesota’s “Buy the Farm” law is, so far, the only one in the nation that provides and option for landowners to force the utility to buy them out, rather than just condemn a small easement.  This allows landowners to get out from under a transmission line. Here’s Minnesota’s Buy the Farm:

Minn. Stat. 216E.12, Subd. 4. Contiguous land.

(a) When private real property that is an agricultural or nonagricultural homestead, nonhomestead agricultural land, rental residential property, and both commercial and noncommercial seasonal residential recreational property, as those terms are defined in section 273.13 is proposed to be acquired for the construction of a site or route for a high-voltage transmission line with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more by eminent domain proceedings, the owner shall have the option to require the utility to condemn a fee interest in any amount of contiguous, commercially viable land which the owner wholly owns in undivided fee and elects in writing to transfer to the utility within 60 days after receipt of the notice of the objects of the petition filed pursuant to section 117.055. Commercial viability shall be determined without regard to the presence of the utility route or site. Within 60 days after receipt by the utility of an owner’s election to exercise this option, the utility shall provide written notice to the owner of any objection the utility has to the owner’s election, and if no objection is made within that time, any objection shall be deemed waived. Within 120 days of the service of an objection by the utility, the district court having jurisdiction over the eminent domain proceeding shall hold a hearing to determine whether the utility’s objection is upheld or rejected. The utility has the burden of proof to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property elected by the owner is not commercially viable. The owner shall have only one such option and may not expand or otherwise modify an election without the consent of the utility. The required acquisition of land pursuant to this subdivision shall be considered an acquisition for a public purpose and for use in the utility’s business, for purposes of chapter 117 and section 500.24, respectively; provided that a utility shall divest itself completely of all such lands used for farming or capable of being used for farming not later than the time it can receive the market value paid at the time of acquisition of lands less any diminution in value by reason of the presence of the utility route or site. Upon the owner’s election made under this subdivision, the easement interest over and adjacent to the lands designated by the owner to be acquired in fee, sought in the condemnation petition for a right-of-way for a high-voltage transmission line with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more shall automatically be converted into a fee taking.

(b) All rights and protections provided to an owner under chapter 117 apply to acquisition of land or an interest in land under this section.

(c) Within 120 days of an owner’s election under this subdivision to require the utility to acquire land, or 120 days after a district court decision overruling a utility objection to an election made pursuant to paragraph (a), the utility must make a written offer to acquire that land and amend its condemnation petition to include the additional land.

(d) For purposes of this subdivision, “owner” means the fee owner, or when applicable, the fee owner with the written consent of the contract for deed vendee, or the contract for deed vendee with the written consent of the fee owner.

+++++++++++++++++

 

 

Some Buy the Farm background:

(from No CapX 2020)

Here are some photos I took yesterday of the CapX 2020 transmission project being constructed at White Bridge Rd. over the Zumbro River — UGLY UGLY UGLY, it’s ugly wherever it goes.

From KAAL-TV, filmed yesterday near Pine Island and Oronoco:

Locals Sound Off on CapX 2020 Project

A long-time energy activist recently called “Buy the Farm,” Minn. Stat. 216E.12, Subd. 4, MY statute.  And in a way, it is… For at least 15 years now, since the Chisago and Arrowhead Project, its been a constant mantra.  I’ve been raising “Buy the Farm” in the administrative dockets, the courts and the legislature.  If I had a dollar for every “Buy the Farm” flyer I’ve handed out at transmission line meetings and hearings, every mile driven across Minnesota, every hour greeting attendees, every legislator hounded, I’d never have to work again.

Buy_the_Farm Flyer

In 1999, World Organization for Landowner Freedom went to the Appellate Court after Minnesota Power filed for an exemption of its Arrowhead Transmission Project at the Environmental Quality Board and the exemption was granted by the EQB.  Minnesota Power requested this exemption because the line was so short it was exempted from a Certificate of Need, so what the heck, let’s try to get it exempted from Power Plant Siting Act’s Routing requirements as well… and they did.  One “unintended consequence” was that because it was exempted from the Power Plant Siting Act, landowners affected by the project were not able to elect “Buy the Farm” because it is part of the Power Plant Siting Act.  But of course, I don’t think that was “unintended” at all.

What did the court say to our argument that the landowners didn’t receive notice that exemption would mean they couldn’t elect Buy the Farm?  Well, can you spell “raspberries?”

Due process challenge to notice to landowners

In eminent-domain proceedings for projects subject to the siting act, landowners can elect condemnation and compensation for owner’s entire fee interests.   See Minn. Stat.  116C.63, subd. 4 (2000) (take-the-whole-farm option).  WOLF argues that due process requires that notice to landowners should have included notice that if an exemption is granted, the take-the-whole farm option will not be available to them.  The siting act is unambiguous, however, and provides all the notice required that the take-the-whole-farm option does not apply to projects exempted from the act.  MP complied with the specific application-for-exemption notice requirements in the siting act.  See Minn. Stat.  116C.57, subd. 5 (2000).  No one challenged the sufficiency of notice to landowners in the proceedings before the board.  We find WOLF’s argument on this issue meritless.

Ja, tell that to the landowners under the 345 kV line… (and btw, sufficiency of notice WAS raised).

In 2001, when the legislature changed the definition of “High Voltage Transmission Line” to a transmission over 100 kV, utilities realized it would mean lines such as the SE Metro line or the Chisago Transmission Project would be affected, so they went to the legislature to get the threshold for Buy the Farm raised to 200 kV.  There was strong resistance, we stormed the Capitol, showed up and testified, but they won, lined up their toady legislators and got it through.  The result?  Landowners under all of these 69 kV “upgrades” to 115 kV and 161 kV are not able to elect the “Buy the Farm” option, despite it now being categorized as “High Voltage Transmission.”

Then the utilities began their transmission build-out, and massive it is.  Having to comply with “Buy the Farm” would greatly increase their construction costs, though they are required to sell BTF land acquisitions within a few years.  And over a decade later, in the St. Cloud area, with the first of the CapX 2020 projects to wind through the courts for condemnation, Xcel fought kicking and screaming against landowner elections of Buy the Farm and demands for relocation compensation.  Jerry Von Korff led the charge for landowners and No CapX 2020 and United Citizens Action Network filed an Amicus brief.  Xcel lost:

Buy the Farm — A Win For The Home Team!

That decision, for the landowners fighting for their right to elect Buy the Farm and for an award of relocation expenses, was a big slap upside the head for those utilities trying to limit landowner compensation — Xcel fought it through the Appellate Court and all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court — losers again:

Minnesota Supreme Court Opinion – Court File A11-1116

Did they learn?  Naaaaaaaaaah… and here they go again, with another great win for landowners in the District Court:

Minar Order_Buy the Farm

This decision establishes yet another point on the “Buy the Farm” line showing that landowners do have rights, and can elect the Buy the Farm option.

What’s particularly important in this case is that the judge recognized that it’s NOT about the substantive issues of EMF, that causation is not at issue in an eminent domain condemnation proceeding (anymore than it is in an administrative permitting proceeding, but see Power Line Task Force v. Public Utilities Commission (2001) for the appellate view on EMF and the PUC’s responsibility for safe electricity), that experts are utterly irrelevant and should be disregarded and really, shouldn’t have been admitted — that framing by Xcel is distraction:

If only the Public Utilities Commission and the Administrative Law Judges working these cases would get that message.

The trend continues… Buy the Farm is the law in the state of Minnesota.  Utilities, get used to it.  If you want to take land, pony up.

Will Xcel challenge this District Court decision?  We shall see, and if they do, we’ll have Amicus “pen” in hand to again join the fracas in support of landowners.

 

Categories: Citizens

Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 11:37pm

It’s that time again, time for the “Book of the Day!”  Today it’s:

Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do (and What It Says About Us)

And you can get it at the library or pretty cheap at the abebooks link above!

Perfect for those of us who love the road but can’t get out there as often as we’d like.  Part policy, part psychology, with lots of SOLs!  (that’s SNORT out loud)

There are some great snippets in here.  A favorite part is about traffic calming, what works, what doesn’t.  There was this problem with people going too fast through a deer crosswalk, and they put up signs, and, well, who pays attention.  Sign didn’t slow them, sensors with flashing lights when deer were present didn’t slow them, one thing that did get their attention was that someone dumped a deer carcass by the road, that got them to slow down!

Other ideas to slow traffic down, speed bumps (which tend to speed people up!), put a kids bike by the side of the road, a weird sculpture, “a ‘Street Reclaiming Chair,’ a bright throne of sorts, in the middle of a local street and then, wearing a large colorful crown, chat with passing drivers who, not surprisingly, have slowed.”  And of course, topless Danish models holding speed-limit signs.

Factoids like: The US pays about 1/2 of the fuel taxes of drivers in Canada, 1/4 that of the Japanese, and 1/10 of the English.  Adjusted for inflation, the fuel tax brings in less revenue than it did in the 1960s.  YES, INCREASE THE GAS TAX!!!

Lots on street and highway design.  Can’t get enough!

 

Categories: Citizens

Degasify Bakken BOOM crude NOW! No more explosions!

Mon, 02/16/2015 - 7:02pm

STOP SHIPPING NOW!  DO NOT SHIP ONE MORE DROP OF BAKKEN CRUDE UNTIL IT’S DEGASIFIED.  NOT ONE DROP, BY RAIL, BY PIPELINE, BY TANKER TRUCK, BY BARGE, NOT ONE DROP UNTIL IT’S DEGASIFIED!

News Reports:

Governor declares state of emergency after oil train derails, sets house ablaze

West Virginia Train Derailment Sends Oil Tanker Into River

Crude Oil Train Derails in Fayette County, WV

WCHS Updates

From Bakken.com: CSX oil train derails in W. Virginia, 14 cars on fire

It’s happened again, another Bakken BOOM! train derailment and explosion.  And where did the wreck happen?  BOOMER BOTTOM, West Virginia… really!  At least 14 cars are reported derailed, one went into a  home and blew up, destroying the home.  Water supply is drawn from the river and has been shut off, oil on the river is burning. Route 61 has been shut off at the Montgomery bridge.  Power is off because flames melted powerlines.   Two towns evacuated, one person hospitalized so far, no deaths reported yet.

How many explosions; how many homes, businesses, riverbanks must be burned and leveled; how many people must die before the DOT puts its foot down?  DEGASIFY!  How long are we going to take this?

This is not rocket science.  Bakken oil is exceedingly, dangerously volatile, much more so that typical crude.  It MUST be degasified before it is transported by any means, by pipeline, by rail, by truck, NO, DO NOT SHIP, it’s an explosion waiting to happen.

Here’s the DOT letter regarding degasifying:

1_2_14 DOT Rail_Safety_Alert

I hope you’re as pissed off about this as I am — and remember, it’s better to be pissed off than pissed on.  Please take a few seconds and dash off a note to our Senators and Representatives to demand that Bakken crude be degasified before it’s shipped, starting NOW!

Send a simple message to all federal Senators and Representatives:

Shipping this Bakken oil without degasifying it first is TOO DANGEROUS.  IMMEDIATE MORATORIUM on shipments of Bakken oil, not one drop to be shipped until it is degasified, whether by rail, pipeline, truck tanker, or barge, not one drop moves until its degasified.

In Minnesota:

EMAIL SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR

EMAIL SEN. AL FRANKEN

CongressCritters HERE. 

Minnesota Representatives — name is linked to their site:

District Name Party Room Phone Committee Assignment 1 Walz, Timothy J. D 1034 LHOB 202-225-2472 Agriculture
Armed Services
Veterans’ Affairs 2 Kline, John R 2439 RHOB 202-225-2271 Armed Services
Education and the Workforce 3 Paulsen, Erik R 127 CHOB 202-225-2871 Ways and Means 4 McCollum, Betty D 2256 RHOB 202-225-6631 Appropriations 5 Ellison, Keith D 2263 RHOB 202-225-4755 Financial Services 6 Emmer, Tom R 503 CHOB 202-225-2331 Agriculture
Foreign Affairs 7 Peterson, Collin C. D 2204 RHOB 202-225-2165 Agriculture 8 Nolan, Rick D 2366 RHOB 202-225-6211 Agriculture
Transportation

Here’s the quick message I sent — so simple:

Another Bakken BOOM! train has exploded in West Virginia.  These trains go through Minnesota every day, here in Red Wing every day, and look what happens!  They explode.   All Bakken crude must be degasified before shipment by ANY means.  Please get on this today and introduce a bill requiring degasificaiton of Bakken crude before shipment.

Take a few minutes and just do it.  NOW!

And in the meantime, here’s an insurance industry take:

‘Degassing’ North Dakota Crude Before Shipping Among Safety Ideas

Categories: Citizens

e21 Planning Meeting announced

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 7:23pm
 Hot off the press — Notice of a Commission Planning Meeting:

Notice_20152-107344-01

The meeting details:

2:00 p.m. on Thursday February 26, 2015

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

121 – 7th Place East, Suite 350, Large Hearing Room

St. Paul, MN  55101

Here we go — the PUC has announced a “planning meeting” for this e21 Initiative based on the filing of Xcel Energy last month. What filing?  Well, this one:

Letter & e21 Initiative Report_201412-105629-01

Here’s what the PUC says they’re going to do at that meeting:

Why is the Commission going along with this to the extent that they are?  Well, they do have connections, and for sure PUC Commissione Nancy Lange, who is listed as Advisory Committee on the Citizens League e21 promotional group, should NOT be participating at the Commission, in discussions or by voting (see Appendix B, p. 1, of the Citizens League Policy Framework to Optimize Efficiency of the Electrical Energy System_Phase2):

Citizen’s League’s mighty presumptuous charge from this report, to recommend e21 and draft legislation!!!

Charge-to-Electrical-Energy-Phase-3

And remember, Xcel, in its letter they asked the Public Utilities Commission for a meeting:

Throughout this e21 filing they say, repeatedly, that this is a “package,” and the consensus depends on this being a “package,” which is reminiscent of the “it’s a deal, a package deal, and it’s a good deal” of the 2005 Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell.  We saw how that “good deal” worked, how it worked for the public, and who it was “a good deal” for.  Disgusting…

But that big red flag is not all — they also asked that no Comment Period be scheduled:

Thus, we respectfully request that the Commission delay initiating a comment period to allow for additional collaboration prior to the start of a formal proceeding.

Really!  Because clearly some stakeholders are more stakeholders than others, I filed a Petition for Intervention to get a foot in the door and notice of festivities:

Legalectric-Intervention

So if you’re wondering what all this means, that it’s a little obfuscated between the lines, come on down to the Public Utilities Commission Planning Session.  If you want to make comments either file them or bring written ones to hand out, because there’s no set time for public comments:

2:00 p.m. on Thursday February 26, 2015

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

121 – 7th Place East, Suite 350, Large Hearing Room

St. Paul, MN  55101

Categories: Citizens

Xcel Energy’s IRP “Stakeholder” meeting

Tue, 02/10/2015 - 10:42am

Today is the Xcel Energy “stakeholder” meeting for “stakeholders” at the PUC.  For the IRP docket, CLICK HERE and search for PUC Docket 15-21.

Here are their scenarios:

Regulatory process and timeline.  January 2 filing, 900 pages, and today between that filing and March 16, 2015 filing.  That March 16 filing will be next piece and will complete filing of plan to Commission, then forward with Information Requests and stakeholder meetings, and then PUC decision within next year or so, depending on what’s happening in stakeholder process.  Three components:

1) CAPCON Order (capacity acquisition process)

  • Aurora Solar
  • Calpine combine cycle expension
  • Black Dog 6 Natural gas

2) Increase small solar forecast

3) Sherco Retirement Scenario

  • Sherco 1 & 2 retirement in 2020
  • Sherco 1 retirement in 2020, Sherco 2 retirement in 2023 (based on capacity acquisition process, retirement, etc. scheduling)

For questions about the IRP, contact Jim Alders  james.r.alders@xcelenergy.com

This is on the heels of last night’s meeting of “Citizens League Electric Energy” group.  From the Citizens League site:

And notes from committee meetings:

The January 26 meeting isn’t posted, but I scanned them in and will post later.  They had a charge of the “committee” in the Phase 2 Report to support Xcel Energy’s “e21 Initiative” below:

Charge-to-Electrical-Energy-Phase-3

That charge contained this specific direction:

Really, this is what it says:

… the Citizens League Study Committee will be asked to draft both a statement and legislation to direct the Public Utilities [Commission] to convene this public dialogue with the support of external stakeholder efforts.

So we shouldn’t have been surprised…  That charge was pretty much fulfilled and presented to the group last night, BUT the good news is that in addition to Alan and my objections to that endorsement of the “e21 Initiative,” there were several long-time Citizens League members who objected to the way that this was done and the endorsement of the e21 Initiative.  (I’ll insert the draft when I get back)

Short version, the Draft was soundly rejected.  WHEW!

And for those concerned about this e21 Initiative, Intervene!!! Yes, Citizen’s League, that’s something YOU can do!

Just filed Petition for Intervention in Xcel’s e21 Docket February 4th, 2015
Categories: Citizens

Just filed Petition for Intervention in Xcel’s e21 Docket

Wed, 02/04/2015 - 11:14pm

Yes, I’ve filed this under “Energy” “Disaster” because it’s a train wreck of a proposal, and I cannot believe people would buy into this… or sell out into this.  What, you say?  e21!

102115_e21_Initiative_Phase_I_Report_2014

In December, Xcel filed this, and I swear, this was the heading:

REQUEST FOR PLANNING MEETING AND DIALOGUE ROADMAP FOR SUPPORTING THE e21 INITIATIVE

“Roadmap for SUPPORTING?”  Really…

So what is it?  It’s a lot of whining about how hard it is to be a utility and that things are changing.  Ummmmm… yeah.  As if Xcel didn’t know that?

It feels to me like it’s another whack at “restructuring,” a/k/a deregulation, and a “we’re too big to fail” argument.  And as before with “restructuring,” everyone’s getting in line, jumping on the bandwagon.

Listen to this recommendation:

(J)1. Encourage the use of, and give additional weight to, settlement agreements among parties, as long as the Commission determines that the agreements are in the public interest.

Really…

And now that we’ve permitted and built all this excess transmission capacity, they’re whining about under-utilization… can you believe it?  Check this recommendation:

(N) Identify and develop opportunities to reduce customer costs by improving overall grid efficiency.  In Minnesota, the total electric system utilization is approximately 55 percent (average demand divided by peak demand), thus providing an opportunity to reduce system costs by better utilizing existing system assets (e.g., generation, wires, etc.).

This sounds like the best opening to get into the CapX and MVP dockets and get them revoked.  Give me a break…

So I just filed this, we’re gonna do what we can:

Legalectric and Muller – Petition for Intervention

Why file for intervention?  Well, this thing is all about stakeholders, and argues that, hey, look, all the stakeholders agree so just do it.  Ummmm… right… and just who are the stakeholders?  Those who have made those agreements with them in the past that got us right where we are today, DOH! What a fine mess you’ve gotten us into… let’s not do it yet again!

 

Categories: Citizens

A few of transmission’s paid shills

Wed, 02/04/2015 - 1:14pm


How many of these does it take to buy support for these transmission projects ripping across the Midwest?  Not all that many…

For Center for Rural Affairs, “Clean Energy” means “transmission.”  Look at their site:

“Clean Energy”

And of course Wind on the Wires has always been all about transmission.

So here’s an update on just a few of transmission’s shills from the McKnight Foundation Climate and Energy grants page, and note, this is JUST 2014:

 

Center for Rural Affairs

Lyons NE

to engage local communities in establishing environmentally responsible siting for clean energy transmission in Wisconsin and Iowa, and to co-support the RE-AMP Rural Communities Caucus leader and staff coordinator

http://sustainableagriculture.net Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy Year Approved: 2014 Grant Amount: $150,000

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Clean Wisconsin, Inc.

Madison WI

for general operating support

http://www.cleanwisconsin.org Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy Year Approved: 2012 Grant Amount: $75,000

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Fresh Energy

St. Paul MN

to expand Midwest Energy News’ reporting on Minnesota’s transition to a clean energy economy

http://www.fresh-energy.org Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy Year Approved: 2014 Grant Amount: $75,000

to support collaboration on Minnesota energy policy communications

http://www.fresh-energy.org Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy Year Approved: 2011 Grant Amount: $50,000

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

RENEW Wisconsin, Inc.

Madison WI

to support the expansion of Midwest wind power through clean energy transmission

http://www.renewwisconsin.org Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy Year Approved: 2014 Grant Amount: $20,000

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Rockefeller Family Fund, Inc.

New York NY

to support RE-AMP efforts to promote policies that combat global warming

http://www.rffund.org Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy Year Approved: 2013 Grant Amount: $5,000,000

to support RE-AMP efforts to promote policies that combat global warming

http://www.rffund.org Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy Year Approved: 2010 Grant Amount: $4,225,000

to support RE-AMP efforts to promote policies that combat global warming

http://www.rffund.org Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy Year Approved: 2008 Grant Amount: $2,000,000

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Wind on the Wires

St. Paul MN

to support work on Midwest transmission policy and planning

http://www.windonthewires.org Program Area: Midwest Climate & Energy Year Approved: 2014 Grant Amount: $250,000
Categories: Citizens

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