Freeborn Wind & Bent Tree in the STrib

Carol Overland - Legalectric - 7 hours 18 min ago

Yes, Minnesota, impacts of wind turbines are real, and you’re going to have to deal with it.

“I want quiet and dark nights, not the noise and red flashing lights on top of wind towers,” she said. “We did not choose to live out here to be next to an industrial park.”

Here’s the proposal for Freeborn Wind with sound modeling (See Figure 6 Application, Siting_Initial Filng_Figures1-17_20176-132804-02), and consider, Minnesota standards for setbacks are that it much comply with MPCA noise standard PLUS 500 feet — the 500 feet is not built into this map (click for larger version):

Shadow flicker? Commerce admits in its Comments that there are homes affected beyond what is allowed by county ordinance  (See Figure 8 Application, Siting_Initial Filng_Figures1-17_20176-132804-02) (click for larger version):

Wind project in southern Minnesota gets pushback Wind turbines increasingly important to state’s power supply, but some opposition is fierce By Star Tribune staff November 17, 2017 — 11:03pm

GLENVILLE, Minn. – The vista from Dorenne Hansen’s kitchen window features corn and soybean fields specked with barns and tree groves. It may also one day include three wind turbine towers and a power line — though not if she can help it.

Hansen and other residents are fighting to stop the Freeborn Wind Farm project in Freeborn County southeast of Albert Lea.

“I want quiet and dark nights, not the noise and red flashing lights on top of wind towers,” she said. “We did not choose to live out here to be next to an industrial park.”

Wind farms commonly generate some local antipathy as they grow both in number and economic importance to the energy industry, but the Freeborn project has sparked a higher level of opposition. It has been intense enough to prompt Freeborn Wind’s developer, Invenergy, to move more than half the project — 58 turbines — across the border to Iowa.

“Iowa loves it,” said Dan Litchfield, senior manager for Chicago-based Invenergy, which is developing Freeborn Wind for Xcel Energy. As far as state permitting, “the Iowa portion of the project is done,” Litchfield said. In Minnesota, Freeborn Wind has sparked a fight before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

There are issues over the proximity of wind turbines to some houses. And opponents of the project are concerned about unwanted noise, potential health effects, visual pollution and declining property values.

Litchfield said it’s a “myth” that wind farms cause ill health, and the Freeborn project will “comply with the law” as far as noise levels and distances between houses and turbines.

Both sides agree on one matter: Poor perception of an existing wind farm in Freeborn County, the Bent Tree project north of Albert Lea, has helped feed opposition to Freeborn Wind.

Complaints against Bent Tree by some local residents prompted the PUC to take the uncommon move of ordering a noise study. The results in late August showed that Bent Tree exceeded noise levels at certain times.

Quality of life at issue

The Freeborn Wind project is part of a building boom in an industry that has already made great strides in Minnesota.

The state is the seventh largest U.S. wind power producer, with more than 2,300 turbines dotting the countryside, particularly in the wind-rich southwest, according to the American Wind Industry Association.

The industry has flourished with rising demand for clean energy coupled with falling prices for equipment and federal tax breaks for wind projects. Wind has been a economic boon for some farmers and rural landowners, too: Leasing land for turbine sites can generate well over $10,000 of income annually.

But it’s been anathema for some rural residents, a quality-of-life issue that can provoke hard feelings. Some property owners leasing cropland live out of state or otherwise outside of a wind farm’s footprint. “They get the cash and don’t have to deal with what we have to,” Hansen said.

Hansen is a 56-year-old retiree who lives near Glenville, where she and her husband raise beef cattle on a hobby farm. She’s the fourth generation of her family to live in southeastern Freeborn County. Hansen says she’s relatively fortunate — the closest turbines to her house would be well beyond the minimum setback required by state regulations.

Yet fighting Freeborn Wind has become a cause for Hansen, and several area homeowners have joined her. The PUC has received at least 15 letters of opposition from Glenville residents.

Hansen showed the Star Tribune a petition signed by 465 people who live in Freeborn Wind’s footprint and who oppose the projects. They far outnumber supporters, she said, wielding color-coded maps to prove her point. “If we got to vote, this would be over.”

Litchfield, however, notes that a July 2016 poll of 300 voters in all of Freeborn County — conducted for Invenergy — showed that 79 percent supported having wind farms in the county. “There are a lot of people in Freeborn County who want the project,” he said.

The Bent Tree effect

Invenergy, which has developed 82 wind projects, began work on Freeborn Wind in 2008. By the end of 2009, the company had lease agreements with Minnesota landowners for more than 30,000 acres. But Invenergy couldn’t find a buyer for the project’s electricity.

In September 2016, the company finally got a deal: It would develop Freeborn Wind and sell the project to Minneapolis-based Xcel, the nation’s largest wind-energy utility. At the time, Freeborn Wind entailed 200 megawatts of power production in Freeborn County. (A megawatt is 1 million watts).

But when Invenergy applied to the PUC for a permit in June, the project had shrunk to 84 megawatts in Freeborn County; the rest had been shifted to Worth County, Iowa. Litchfield said Invenergy was able to lease the land it needed in Iowa in just nine months.

In Freeborn County, lessors were opting out: Invenergy had 17,435 acres under lease in Freeborn County in June, 42 percent less than it had in 2009.

Leases signed back then began expiring in 2015 and 2016, and some landowners chose not to renew. Hansen’s family was one of them. Back in 2010, Hansen and her three siblings — who together own 155 acres — voted 3-1 to sign a lease with Invenergy. She was the holdout. Seven years later, the vote flipped: 3-1 against.

One big change in the interim was the Bent Tree Wind Farm, which began producing electricity in 2011. “I never wanted [Freeborn Wind], and then add in the Bent Tree project and the colossal mess of that,” Hansen said.

Bent Tree, owned by Madison, Wis.-based Alliant Energy, features 122 wind turbines in the northwestern part of Freeborn County. (Litchfield said that Freeborn Wind’s turbines will not be as close together as Bent Tree’s.)

Three residents who live within Bent Tree’s footprint repeatedly complained about turbine noise. The Minnesota Department of Commerce found that the complaints were “unresolved and substantial,” and potentially violated site permit conditions, according to an August 2016 PUC order. The Commerce Department recommended a noise study of Bent Tree, and the PUC concurred.

The study found that noise exceeded maximum decibel levels seven times at one of two testing locations and nine times at the other. “Wind induced sound,” birds chirping and leaves rustling “appear to be the primary contributor to the exceedances,” the study said. The role of wind turbines alone would require further tests, it concluded. So a second study is on tap, this one isolating wind sound.

Alliant said in a PUC filing that another study isn’t necessary, noting that the number of noise violations was small and that they could be explained by “meteorological conditions and wildlife activity.”

In a statement to the Star Tribune, Alliant said it believes Bent Tree “remains in compliance with noise standards. We work hard to be a good neighbor and look forward to working with the (PUC) and others to demonstrate our Bent Tree Wind Farm continues to be fully compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.”

Noise and ‘shadow flicker’

Dave Langrud, 54, of Alden was one of those who repeatedly complained to regulators about Bent Tree. Langrud owns a wood-flooring business and lives with his wife and youngest son in an old farm house that he’s restored and expanded.

“I stuck a lot of money into this,’’ he said, noting the home’s extensive cherry woodwork. “I would never have done it if I knew the windmills were coming to town.”

About 10 turbines are within three-quarters of a mile of his house, he said. The closest is 1,150 feet away. “We can hear them inside our house — whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. It’s hard to fall asleep and you don’t get a restful sleep,” Langrud said. “When I go out of town, I start catching up on my sleep.”

Langrud said he also often gets “dull headaches,” which he believes stem from the turbines. And his property — including the inside of his house — is prone to “shadow flicker,” a condition caused by the casting of shadows by turbine blades. “It drives you nuts,” he said.

Shadow flicker, which primarily occurs in mornings and evenings, is a common concern of wind-farm opponents. And sleeplessness and headaches are the most common complaints about wind farms from nearby residents, according to a 2009 study by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Wind farms have also drawn complaints about inaudible infrasound, or low frequency sound, which can pass through walls easier than higher frequency noise and can also be accompanied by vibration, the health department study said.

The health department has not updated its report. But James Kelly, an environmental surveillance manager at the department, said he’s “unaware of any significant studies that would cause us to rethink the statements we made in 2009.”

Langrud has made video and audio recordings of the turbines’ effects, and he’s had a few families from southeastern Freeborn County — wary of the Freeborn Wind project — visit his home.

“I said, ‘Take a look around, hang out as long as you want and see if you want to live here.’ ”


Here’s the Bent Tree project – click for larger version:


Categories: Citizens

Public Poetry at the Northfield Public Library

Rob Hardy - Rough Draft - 12 hours 35 min ago
In early August, the director of the Northfield Public Library, Teresa Jensen, asked me to write a poem to be displayed prominently in the atrium of the Northfield Public Library. She wanted something that would capture the essence of the library as a place of knowledge and stories, a community gathering place, and a democratic institution. I wrote a poem in five stanzas of four lines each. The first four stanzas consist of three lines in English and a concluding line in Spanish. The final stanza translates each of the Spanish lines into English.

On Friday, November 17, 2017, the poem was installed at the public library. The plastic films were designed, created, and installed by Graphic Mailbox in Northfield. Here's the Northfield Public Library's Facebook post unveiling the new poem:

And here's the text of the poem:

This is where we come for windows on another world,and where we find mirrors to look at ourselves. This is the house we have built to house our histories. Esta es la puerta que se abre a nuestra vida común.
Here is the end of our search, and the start of our journey.Here is the map and the transport and the destination,here the main-traveled roads and the road not taken. Aquí está el camino que hacemos caminando juntos.
Here the stars are named, and still retain their mystery.Here there are dragons curled over their hoard of words.Here is what we know, and what can only be imagined. Este es el lugar donde se reúnen todas nuestras historias.
This is where we compose the poetry of a more perfect unionand learn to harmonize with the better angels of our nature. Here is our faith in each other and our common purpose. Este es un lugar de bienvenida a todas y todos.
This is the door that opens on our common life.Here is the road that we make by traveling together. This is the gathering of all our stories. This is a place where all are welcome.

Thanks to Mar Valdecantos for making corrections to my Spanish. 
Categories: Citizens

HERC at PUC on Thursday

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 7:34pm

This Thursday, the Xcel Energy Petition to slash the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center Power Purchase Agreement.  It’s a pretty twisted thing…

Read all about it — check out the Public Utilities Commission docket:

Click “Search Documents” HERE and search for docket 17-532

Here are the Staff Briefing Papers_201711-137262-01

For example, Commerce noted that the power wasn’t needed:

And the PUC staff seems to have heard this, which notes the capacity surplus in the Briefing Papers above:

Followed by this:

Ummmmmmmm, it’s both!

And it gets curiouser and curiouser… Again from the Briefing Papers:

And some validation of concerns raised:

So what will the Commission do?  It seems their knickers are in a bunch and it’s not at all clear…

Here’s the Neighbors for Clean Air page for HERC:

HERC page and links via Wayback Machine

And check out Alan Muller’s powerpoint from the successful challenge to attempt to increase garbage burning:

HERC_Power Point

There was an announcement in April, 2016, of  the “HERC Clean Power Plan Coalition” with multiple groups joining to shut down HERCSierra Club North Star Chapter, MPIRG, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Community Power, St. Joan of Arc, etc.




Categories: Citizens

Mountain Bike Skills Network Patreon page launched

Mountain Bike Geezer - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 1:13pm

My 1-minute video announcing my new Mountain Bike Skills Network Patreon page:

Some background:

I took a much-needed, two-week tent camping vacation with my wife to the Grand Canyon last month. I came back refreshed and ready to examine what I wanted to do with the Mountain Bike Skills Network (MTBSN) community in the next year.

One thing is clear to me: the MTBSN Community is a gem and my #1 goal is to help it become more useful to current members while it continues its organic growth.

To help this happen, I started investigating the ‘creator’ features of Patreon. What’s Patreon?

“Patreon is a membership platform that makes it easy for creators to get paid.”

I’ve recently become a Patreon patron of:

I liked what I saw of Patreon and how these guys use it. My MTBSN Patreon page went live last night.  A screenshot:

The post Mountain Bike Skills Network Patreon page launched appeared first on Mountain Bike Skills Network.

Categories: Citizens

Are We in for a Real Winter?

My Northern Garden - Mary Schier - Mon, 11/13/2017 - 6:43am
As I write this, it is Nov. 10 and the temperature outside is about 15 degrees. That’s cold, man! Even for Minnesota in late fall. The rather sudden drop in temperatures over the past couple of weeks has many gardeners wondering if we are in for a “real winter,” meaning one with lots of cold … Related posts:
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  2. Two Things You Did Not Know about Japanese Beetles I’m one of the fortunate few Minnesota gardeners who —...
  3. More than Six Months of Gardening in Minnesota? Yep. This past week, I picked basil in my garden and...
Categories: Citizens

PJM Market and U.S. electricity glut

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Fri, 11/10/2017 - 3:07pm

Electricity glut?  It’s all over the U.S.  It’s not just in MISO’s Midwest that there’s an energy glut, it’s also PJM, which is the market that Midwest electricity producers have their eyes on.  PJM is TRANSMISSON and ELECTRIC MARKETING.  And North American Electric Reliability Corporation, NERC, verifies it’s EVERYWHERE!

Just in, Monitoring Analytic’s 3rd Quarter report that includes the summer peak:

2017 Q3 State of the Market – Monitoring Analytics

Here’s the bottom line, found on p. 120:

The PJM system real-time peak load in the first nine months of 2017 was
145,635.9 MW in the HE 1800 on July 19, 2017, which was 6,541 MW, or 4.3
percent, lower than the peak load in the first nine months of 2016, which was
152,176.9 MW in the HE 1600 on August 11 ,2016.

And just a few pages later, p. 123 (note losses are now treated differently, after they got onto the transmission build-out for export, shipping from any Point A to any Point B)(note also how MW exports incorporated into “Load plus Exports” has increased):

So while you’re mulling that over, consider the 2016 NERC Reliability Assessment:

2016 NERC Reliability Assessment

This is the chart I’ve been trotting out for what, 19 years now? Reserve margins, showing that there’s plenty of electricity to go around (p. 44 of NERC Report above) (click for larger version):

Not only is MISO far ahead of what’s needed, even for reserve margins, but look at PJM here, more than twice what’s needed to cover reserve margins.

We can easily reduce coal generation NOW. What’s the hold up? Oh, right, marketing dreams… marketing dreams that we’re paying for, that transmission build-out that no one needs and no one wants, and their plans for even morePlanning meetings open only to a select few!

Categories: Citizens

Microfilm Whimsy

Pegasus Librarian - Iris Jastram - Thu, 11/09/2017 - 12:57pm

Last year one of our microfilm reader/scanners bit the dust, and we know that our ancient analog reader/printer is one service call away from the junk yard. And oddly enough, our microfilm gets fairly regular use here, so being down to one machine was going to be a pinch. So now, as of last week, we have a new machine.

Our dear old T-Rex

Gemini wasn’t exactly this, but it was a lot like this. (Image from here.

This means that we had to come up with a name for our machine, of course. We’ve been naming our machines for at least the last decade when a former colleague said that our first reader scanner should be called Gemini, because it looked like twins.

Then I said our ancient analog machine should be called T-Rex, because it’s ancient but powerful and a fan favorite.


My first year here, we got a fancy new machine that had a silhouette that reminded me of Yoda meditating on a rock, so we called it Yoda. This machine was also mostly a mystery to all who tried to use it, not least because it had no less than 7 on/off switches. Plus a light made to look like a mouse, but wasn’t a mouse, and was actually completely unnecessary unless you were looking at opaque microcards. But nobody could ever remember that. So being simultaneously powerful and utterly mysterious also fit with its name.

You can see Yoda sitting on a rock, right? Right??

Time passed. At some point Gemini was beyond support. And eventually we got a new machine.

Our next machine reminded one of our campus IT folks of the character Crazy Frog, and the name stuck.

And now, as of last week, we have this new machine which looks almost exactly like Crazy Frog, but it isn’t Crazy Frog, and it will be taking over for both deceased Yoda and (eventually) T-Rex. So we spent some quality time this week naming it, and we ended up merging ideas from another campus IT person and from a librarian in my department. The new name? Yandu-Bot. It’s a robot version of a Yandusaurus. It merges the old and the new. It’s way more automated and powerful than our other machines. And as an added bonus, because it has the letters Y and D in that order in its name, the desktop systems administrator doesn’t have to make any changes to the computer and related systems it’s hooked up to, which all have the letters YD for Yoda.

Categories: Citizens

HERC – from Muller, in the Daily Planet

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Tue, 11/07/2017 - 8:15am

The Hennepin Energy Recovery Center is located near downtown Minneapolis. Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Activists have been fighting against the “Hennepin Energy Recovery Center” (HERC) and other garbage incinerators for decades.

But in no other U.S. state, except perhaps Florida, does the garbage incineration industry have its hooks so deep into government and politics, so it’s been a long struggle.

We need to demand that our Minneapolis mayoral and City Council candidates pledge now to phase out or shut down one of our dirtiest local polluters.

Hennepin County’s HERC garbage burner is a dirty old 1980s cash cow, located in the North Loop neighborhood in downtown Minneapolis, next to the Twins Stadium.

HERC is one of Minneapolis and Hennepin County’s worst air polluters. About 75 percent of the garbage going in is generated in Minneapolis.

The health-damaging smokestack emissions total close to 1.5 million pounds per year and include dioxin (a major carcinogen and key component in the toxic Agent Orange herbicide), mercury, lead, fine particles, carbon monoxide, other heavy metals, and dozens of other hazardous pollutants. Depending on weather conditions these emissions impact many city neighborhoods and beyond. These poisons cause or exacerbate asthma, bronchitis, strokes, heart attacks,cancer, and many other serious health problems.

Minneapolis residents, especially poorer residents, are the main victims of HERC air pollution, as has been shown by the maps produced by state Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Minneapolis) and others. These maps were prominently displayed at Minneapolis Planning Commission meetings and at City Council meetings during deliberation and rejection of expanded HERC burning, and are available on line and from Clark.

Despite a sophisticated public relations effort and an abundance of “alternative facts” by Hennepin County, Covanta, and others, our burned garbage doesn’t magically disappear and isn’t “converted into electricity.” Some call incineration “landfilling in the sky.”

The remaining ash is toxic and is taken to a special local ash dump.

Two key problems, which are connected, obstruct progress of Minneapolis towards being a truly (as opposed to rhetorically) clean, healthy and sustainable city.

One is the chokehold that Xcel Energy has on officials and policies, leading to ever-increasing electric rates (while the wholesale price of electricity drops) and near-meaningless “partnerships” rather than real moves towards cleaner energy.

The other is our friend the HERC.

On the face of things the key bad actor behind the HERC is Hennepin County, owner of the burner and joined at the hip to the garbage incineration industry.

But the less obvious nexus of these two evils is that Xcel itself is in the garbage burning business, owning and operating dirty old burners in Red Wing, Mankato and French Island in Wisconsin. We don’t know of any other major electric utility in the garbage burning business, except for Great River Energy, also in Minnesota.

Xcel’s three company-owned burners very likely produce the most expensive and unhealthy power on its system, except, perhaps for purchased dirty-burner power.

We now have unusual leverage to help phase out or shut down HERC:

The HERC generates a little electricity, which is sold to Xcel under a “Power Purchase Agreement.” Xcel Energy has opened a docket at the Public Utilities Commission, (E002/M-17-532) for consideration of extending the HERC Power Purchase Agreement – which expires at the end of 2017 – at a much lower price.

Our leverage at this time

The HERC “PPA” with Xcel expires at the end of 2017. Since electricity sales are a significant revenue source for garbage burner operators, we have here a great opportunity to save money and improve public health by allowing the HERC PPA with Xcel to expire at the end of December.

As noted above, there is a docket about this before the MN Public Utilities Commission. I have submitted comments and Neighbors Against the Burner has petitioned to intervene. Xcel’s proposal is to extend the contract but at a reduced rate. Neighbors against the Burner is looking towards no extension “at any rate.” This would be a strong push towards a HERC shutdown.

Four years ago, before the last cycle of Minneapolis municipal elections, that proposal to burn more garbage at the HERC became an election issue. The Sierra Club, MPIRG (Minnesota Public Interest Research Group) and others worked doggedly against the expansion scheme with the result that after the elections it was clear that there were not the votes on the City Council to approve more burning.

A mayor was elected who said she opposed more burning and supported Zero Waste objectives. The expansion proposal was withdrawn, resentfully, by Hennepin County, which told Minneapolis to collect “organics.”

Now, however, we are in another Mpls election cycle and the silence about the HERC and better waste management is deafening.

In April 2016 an anti-HERC coalition of multiple groups was loudly announced, but nothing ever came of it.

Sierra Club, for example, didn’t even include a HERC or Zero Waste question in its candidate recent questionnaire.

Recently the city rolled out a feeble “Zero Waste Plan” draft.

As election day draws near, what do the rest of the mayoral and council candidates have to say about HERC, Xcel, “Zero Waste” and a truly green, sustainable and healthy Minneapolis?

What’s happened? Hard to be sure, but:

Both Xcel and Hennepin County are extraordinarily effective at lobbying and getting their way, as is Covanta, the contract operator of the HERC. Some would say they are all skilled manipulators of “alternative facts” in their attempts to greenwash a dirty old dinosaur of a garbage burning plant, a relic of the 1980s.  Hennepin County has told the Public Utilities Commission in wants to burn at the HERC for at least twenty more years.

As with many issues today, now is the time to stand up. Now, before the election, is the time to let candidates know what you think and for candidates to declare what they think.

Categories: Citizens

Daily Tanka: The Road

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Sat, 11/04/2017 - 6:55pm

The Road
The road was really
A trail for logging machines
Dad picks his way through
Mud, water, rocks, windfall trees
Deeper into the forest

Categories: Citizens

Daily Tanka: The Route Out

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 6:50pm

The Route Out
The rough camp road starts
Just before Aunt Mayme’s house
After the curve where
Grandpa had his wreck, after
Selma’s farm, the bar, the church

Categories: Citizens

New Publication: Commentary on Selections from Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica

Rob Hardy - Rough Draft - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 2:37pm
In 2014, I started work on a commentary on Selections from Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica for the Dickinson College Commentaries series. Three years later, the commentary has gone live on the DCC website. The commentary, with grammatical and historical notes, vocabulary lists, and accompanying maps, images, and essays, is accessible for free by anyone who wants to read Bede's wonderful Latin and learn about Anglo-Saxon Christianity. The commentary would not have been possible without the contributions of Austin Mason (Carleton College) and Christopher Francese (Dickinson College). Other contributors include: Bret Mulligan (Haverford College), Sasha Mayn (Carleton College ’18), Bard Swallow (Carleton College ’18), Martha Durrett (Carleton College ’18), William North (Carleton College), and the participants in the 2016 Dickinson College Latin Workshop.
Categories: Citizens

Critical Infrastructure Month?

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 11:02am

Did you know that November 2017 is Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month?

Proclamation – Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience Month_2017-24278

I find it unnerving when tRump says things like:

Our critical infrastructure also faces threats from capacity-induced strain, terrorist attacks, accidents, pandemics, space weather, and cyberattacks. To confront these diverse challenges systematically, we must take steps to enhance our Nation’s economic, intellectual, and technological leadership. My Administration will help our businesses invest in needed capital and research and development by reducing burdensome regulations and enacting comprehensive tax reform.

These aren’t exactly issues, it’s worked up hype.  The language about “capacity-induced strain, terrorist attacks, accidents, pandemics, space weather, and cyberattacks” is a problem because there is not “capacity-induced strain,” and in fact, Xcel Energy whines that the grid is only 55% utilized, a point raised in its e21_Initiative_Phase_I_Report:

(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.). (e21_Initiative_Phase_I_Report, p. 11).

There’s been one “terrorist attack” on infrastructure, the California substation:

Sniper attack on California power grid may have been ‘an insider’

Also note the phrase “capacity-induced strain,” which is all about market, but then again, we know that the market is the driver for this massive transmission buildout:

ICF – MISO Transmission Benefits Analysis

Who benefits? Utilities benefit big time.  Those producing the glut of electricity that will be shipped from any Point A to any Point B; those building the transmission to ship it; and those providing transmission service.  Who pays? Ratepayers and landowners and taxpayers (taxpayers? Yes, check the latest House bill for utility deductions for interest expenses and faster depreciation of expenses.  And it came out in the last rate case that Xcel Energy hasn’t paid much in the way of taxes since 2008.

What will happen to this latest energy bill? We shall see…

Categories: Citizens

Daily Tanka: Preparation

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Thu, 11/02/2017 - 6:50pm

First, load the Scout
With hot dogs and buns, pancake
Mix, milk, and bacon
Did we ever bring any
Fresh fruit or vegetables?

Categories: Citizens

Daily Tanka: The Hunting Camp

Blowing and Drifting - Christopher Tassava - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 6:45pm

The Hunting Camp
Is our hunting camp
Still standing in the real woods?
Head toward the Big Lake
Then bump east down the fireroad
To the clearing on Mud Creek

Categories: Citizens

Advanced quiz: 3/4 pedal stroke technique

Mountain Bike Geezer - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 12:17pm

Watch this video by Ryan Leech:

Aand then take my SurveyMonkey 3/4 pedal stroke quiz to see if it helps your understanding of his instruction:


Join the discussion in the MTBSN Community (Facebook Group) here.

The post Advanced quiz: 3/4 pedal stroke technique appeared first on Mountain Bike Skills Network.

Categories: Citizens

Center of the American Experiment – Conflatulence!!

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Mon, 10/30/2017 - 12:37pm

These folks drive me crazy!  Katherine Kersten has been on my list since the 80s when she wrote an editorial in the STrib about student loans, praising the Reagan cuts to student loans, and major decreases in income limits for “need based” student loans, just at the time I was winding up my BA and trying to get into law school.  Who paid for her legal education?  Anyway, yeah, obviously we don’t see eye to eye on anything, but this latest blather from them goes beyond a difference of opinion, to a too frequent spewing of conflatulence. And when I see this, yeah, I get on a rant too, it’s kind of disjointed, so I’ll be reworking soon.  These claims are so insidious, because the facts do take some digging and some sifting.  Add to that there is so much misinformation going on about transmission, about the Clean Power Plan…  GRRRRRRRRRR…

Check this out:

Energy Policy in Minnesota: The High Cost of Failure

Yeah, this CAE thing is going around, it’s arrived in my inbox via clients working on wind projects, it’s arrived via a transmission person from ND who put it on my facebook page via a WindAction post, which cut and pastes another “reporters” blog about the CAE “Report.”  Playing “telephone” and we know how that goes… So let’s go straight to the horse’s … well, the other end.

This CAE “Report” is taking multiple things, trying to patch together an argument they want to make, but the patches aren’t holding.  This comes on the heels of another report that found its way into my inbox with the claim that wind is very expensive, that it costs about 8 times the PPA cost because it’s intermittent, and because of that, they added in cost of power to cover when wind isn’t blowing (ummmm, you only pay for what you use, at the PPA price, DOH!).

Point by point in the “report” from CAE, they claim:

Minnesota has lost its advantage on electricity

That’s true! But sorry, CAE, it’s not because of wind.  Rates have gone sky high in Minnesota for a couple of reasons. 1) Wholesale deregulation allowing sales from any Point A to any Point B, and 2) Transmission for coal and whatever else, from every Point A to every Point B.  It is NOT 3) Wind is higher priced, because it is not.

Reason one that are rates are as high as Illinois rates?  The economics of deregulation aren’t rocket science.  When you have something to sell, you sell to the highest bidder. If someone else wants it, then they have to pay the going rate.  A good resource on how we got to where we are is “The Economics of Regulation: Principles and Institutions,” by Alfred E. Kahn.  It’s a major tome, but hey, just read Chapter 2, the chapter on electricity, “The Traditional Issues in the Pricing of Public Utility Services.  Then, go back and read the introduction, where it gets into building more capacity than is needed, and the burden on ratepayers when utilities go overboard, particularly relevant when we get to the next point, that of overbuilding, and also consider the 105+ coal plants proposed but not built, including many coal gasification plants (i.e., Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project here in Minnesota and the NRG plant in Delaware, both of which I helped tank.  The Mesaba Project provided much needed details about the technical problems and economics of coal gasification and the impossibility of carbon capture and storage that doomed any project from the get-go. IGCC – Pipedreams of Green & Clean), and the economic and technological disasters of the new Vogtle and V.C. Summer nuclear plants,  and two coal gasification plants in Edwardsport , Indiana (coal gasification off more than on, often down completely) and Kemper IGCC in Mississippi (over $7 billion and now burning natural gas) that got off the drawing board but are economic disasters with ratepayers holding the bag.

Take a look at the cost of electricity, in real time:

FYI, here’s some wallpaper for ya, with the MISO Market LMP price in real time (keep in mind, this is spot market, so prices higher than PPA prices):

Check this slide from FERC info on EIA page:

What? Delivery costs?  Oh, TRANSMISSION!!  (full story from EIA HERE)

Note also, from the same EIA post, the shift away from Power Purchase Agreements that came with the decrease in demand electricity glut:

Now, let’s move on to 2) Transmission for coal and whatever else may happen to be there, from every Point A to every Point B.

When you’re thinking about this, and about all the whining about shutting down coal plants, remember that the older very high priced to operate coal plants are being shut down.  What about other plants?  If all, if the majority, of coal plants were shut down, what would that mean for the transmission system?  This is important — if those plants were shut down, there would be lots of room on the transmission system.  But they didn’t. Instead, they built this huge transmission overlay called CapX 2020, at a cost of over $2 BILLION, and are now building the MISO 17 project MVP Portfolio (see MVP Dashboard  — now up to $6.6 BILLION).  MISO is now talking about a Regional Transmission Overlay above those (click on the maps in the link, AAACK!).  Check the 20170131 EPUG Preliminary Overlay Ideas List. Get your pocketbook ready to pay for this. And for your nightmares, piece by piece:

In the process of getting from any Point A to any Point B, we’ve overbuilt transmission to the point that Xcel Energy is whining that the grid is only 55% utilized.

(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.). (e21_Initiative_Phase_I_Report, p. 11).

OK, let’s look at “any Point A to any Point B.”  Where does this CapX 2020 that started the big transmission build-out start and where does it end (keeping in mind it began with WIREs and WRAO released in 1998, they’ve built almost all of those proposed then)?

Well, fancy that.  It starts in the coal fields of the Dakotas, at the major coal plants fueled by the neighboring coal mines.  Oh, and look, it goes east to the Madison ring and off to Illinois… huh… funny how that works…  Now, think about what it means for “pass through” Minnesota!

How about the MISO 17 project MVP Portfolio, again, now priced at over $6.6 BILLION (it was $5.24 billion when approved by MISO):

And the addition of the capital costs of these projects to the rates has not been adequately considered.  Xcel admits in its latest rate case initial filing (15-826), now water over the dam, that it’s transmission driven.  In the CapX 2020 cases that No CapX 2020 intervened in, the Certificate of Need and multiple routing dockets, we were not able to raise rate issues, consistently and adamantly told that no, that can only be addressed in rate cases.  Was Center of the American Experiment there? Nope.  They were just agitating to get people to comment, but no substance. Maybe if they’d read the rate case dockets, they’d have some credibility, but nooooooo.

Look at PUC Rate Case Docket 15-826, and the one before it, 13-868. What is driving Minnesota’s price is not wind (it’s much lower PPA price than any other resource) but transmission. We’re now paying for CapX 2020 transmission and the MISO MVP 17 project portolio (an apportioned share). Transmission ROI is 12.38%, though it’s in a fight at FERC which will lower it to maybe 9+%, which is much more than they get on electricity because price is so low. We are also now paying for rebuilding the Sherco 3 coal plant which was down for two years after the turbine went wild and blew up, and that rehab was over budget (2 years that power wasn’t needed, but rebuilt it anyway and we’re paying!). And the Monticello nuclear plant rehab and uprate which cost twice as much as they thought (and so because of too high cost and lack of need, they started but then cancelled the same at Prairie Island here in Red Wing). (the electric market is so bad, prices so low, that Xcel is wrangling to have its “business plan” determine rates, not cost! And they want to focus on building things to get that ROI which is a lot higher.) Center of the American Experiment is not a credible source, they do this sort of thing all the time to advance their agenda, and don’t dig into the facts.  WindAction latches on to this, without looking for details, facts. That comes out in the rate case.

I tried, both individually and on behalf of No CapX 2020 to intervene in the most recent rate case (15-826) because CapX and MISO MVP transmission is the driver, and got into quite a testy fight with the ALJ, Judge Oxley.  He was so extreme in his resistance, worked so hard to exclude No CapX, beyond anything I’ve ever seen before.  When I presented at the public hearing, he refused to allow cross examination of the witnesses, said he wouldn’t require their witnesses to be present at the hearing, and started yelling at me, all on the record, and it looked like he was about to start crying, eyes red and watery, shaking visibly. It was so bizarre.  Details here – particularly the Denial #2_Overland-NoCapX Intervention where he declared NO, NO intervention in a very pissy way, and despite this being the rate case, and throughout the CapX 2020 dockets (all 5 of them over 8 years!) and ITC’s MISO MVP Line 3, where we were repeatedly prohibited from addressing rate impacts, nope, no intervention in the rate case:

Encourage public participation? Yeah, right… February 10th, 2016 Public participation? Tough in Xcel rate case July 14th, 2016

And here’s an interesting tidbit exposing Xcel’s failure to pay taxes, in essence a public subsidy of Xcel:

Xcel Energy Rate Case — taxes & xmsn rider June 27th, 2016

From my NoCapX2020 site:

Xcel Rate Case in CapX territory Well, look who’s intervened in the rate case!

Also, note how CAE goes into a spiel about wind “subsidies” but they don’t address that ALL forms of generation are subsidized, with nuclear getting the most expensive of all, coal second (and shall we get into subsidies for failed IGCC/coal gasification? OH MY DOG!). I have no time for these “subsidy” arguments when there’s no charge to remove ALL subsidies for energy across the board.  They also talks about wind needing coal as “backstop.” Ummm, no, that’s natural gas. Coal can’t ramp up and shut down quickly. Natural gas can and does.  Shame, they should know better… Coal as “backstop.” Good grief. And on top of that, they try to argue that the cost of backup power for intermittent should be considered as part of the cost of intermittent?  Oh, right… tell that to the natural gas plant operators, tell that to those negotiating PPAs for intermittent power!  What a hoot!  FYI, no, it doesn’t work that way.

And here’s a simple way to clairfy — think about what it would mean if they shut down the coal plants, as we keep hearing about… would we need ANY new transmission?  And think about what we’re paying in our utility bills to shuffle this power eastward.  Which we’ll get back to further down, and now, on to the next point:

Minnesota’s energy policy primarily promotes wind power.

Yeah, that’s true, wind and solar.  For years wind has been a “least cost” option, as declared by the Dept. of Commerce and the Public Utilities Commission, as they do the Integrated Resource Planning and review of Power Purchase Agreements.  But don’t forget when talking about energy policy, the massive promotion and subsidization of coal gasification, which even with all the push, couldn’t make it.  It was tossed out of the PUC based on the outrageous costs, despite the state subsidies from several sources, and federal bankrolling, grants, and subsidies (for more info, search here for “Mesaba” and “IRRB,” “Mesaba” and “DOE” and just “Mesaba” and scroll through. There’s a lot, that was a 5+ year fight.).

CAE states that there will be only “modest increases in solar,” and that’s way off, both for commercial and residential.  Watch!  FULL DISCLOSURE: My father designed the solar at the Minnesota Zoo (which was hot water, they didn’t know much about that in early-mid ’70s and produced way too much, was taken down, and the pieces parted out across Minnesota — Ralph Jacobson, IPS knows more about that.).  Solar is best because it produces on peak, is storable, particularly at a residential level, and it’s right where load is.  Why isn’t every big box in Minnesota covered with solar?

Minnesota has also policy-wise, or unwise, pushed biomass, which has been an economic disaster and Xcel Energy has cut the “biomass mandate,” and is trying to get out of the PPAs for biomass plants that they don’t own, and working to slash the price at the HERC garbage incinerator. Biomass, high priced as it is, however, is a very small percentage of total generation.

Minnesota energy policy also focuses on conservation and efficiency.  Conservation is by far the cheapest, because if you don’t use it, it doesn’t cost a thing!

And look at Xcel Energy demand over the years:

It’s Xcel Energy’s, and the utility industry world’s, “new normal,” as Xcel’s CEO Ben Fowkes calls it.  Here’s their 2017 3Q powerpoint that came out with their 3Q investors call: CLICK HERE!  New capital investment of $1.5 billion and “Targeted ownership” = “Steel for Fuel” plan, making money off capital costs, and significant decrease in fuel costs.  Base capital plan of $19 billion = ~5.5% rate base growth — that’s the point! Making money in a way that’s not dependent on selling electricity.  And slide 10, Minnesota’s 0.5% DECREASE in sales, overall Xcel 0.2% growth.  The “new normal.”

Minnesota’s energy policy is falling on its own terms, as it has not achieved a significant reduction in CO2 emissions.

True, but…  This is an area of conflatulence.  State policy promoting wind DOES NOT EQUAL reduction of CO2 — it only equals building wind.  Building billions of MW of wind will not decrease CO2 emissions.  Closing coal plants will.  Stopping burning will.  That’s the only way.

Minnesota has not closed all, or even most, its coal plant generation.  We have only closed some of the older coal plants that are not economical to run.  Look at Sherco 3, a plant that had a major turbine failure and fire and was off line for nearly two years and was rehabbed to the tune of over $200 million.  With that plant off line, CO2 emissions would have been greatly reduced, were in fact greatly reduced, but the Clean Power added those emissions back in for their modeling!  WHAT? Here’s the poop on that:

Look at how the “adjusted” Minnesota’s baseline levels due to Sherco 3 being out for nearly 2 years:

The EPA examined units nationwide with 2012 outages to determine where an individual unit-level outage might yield a significant difference in state goal computation. When applying this test to all of the units informing the computation of the BSER, emission performance rates, and statewide goals, the EPA determined that the only unit with a 2012 outage that 1) decreased its output relative to preceding and subsequent years by 75 percent or more (signifying an outage), and 2) could potentially impact the state’s goal as it constituted more than 10 percent of the state’s generation was the Sherburne County Unit 3 in Minnesota.  The EPA therefore adjusted this state’s baseline coal steam generation upwards to reflect a more representative year for the state in which this 900 MW unit operates.

Clean Power Plan Final Rule (PDF p. 796 of 1560).

… sigh… much ado about nothing.  But remember, it’s not binary.  Wind isn’t “replacing” anything.  Wind is added on top of the existing generation, of which we have a surplus before it’s even added.  Once more with feeling, WIND ISN’T REPLACING ANYTHING! We could shut down those coal plants now and wouldn’t miss them, but then the utilities couldn’t sell the surplus generation, couldn’t make money providing transmission service from Point A to Point B, and couldn’t make money on capital costs of transmission with a much higher return for building transmission than for selling electricity.

Here’s more on that, from a study released when they were working to get the transmission scheme rolling.  The purpose of MISO Midwest Market — where ever would I get the idea that the purpose of it is to displace natural gas with coal generation?

ICF MISO Benefits Analysis Study

Well, look at pps. 14 and 83:

RTO operational benefits are largely associated with the improved ability to displace gas generation with coal generation, more efficient use of coal generation, and better use of import potential. These benefits will likely grow over time as:

• Reliance on natural gas generation within the Midwest ISO footprint grows as a result of the ongoing load growth and a general lack of non gas-fired development over the last 20 years. This may increase the scope for potential savings from centralized dispatch in future years.

• Tightening environmental controls and the resulting greater diversity in coal plant fleet variable operating costs will make optimization of coal plant utilization more important in future years.

• Tightening supply margins throughout the Eastern Interconnect over the next three to five years increase the importance of optimizing interchange with neighbors such as PJM, SPP, and others.

• Transmission upgrades which could increase the geographic scope of optimization within the Midwest ISO footprint.

Again, the purpose, to sell from any Point A to any Point B.  That’s what it’s all about!  It has nothing to do with displacing coal with wind, and it has nothing to do with taking coal off line, shuttering plants, and it has nothing to do with reduction of CO2 through reduction of burning to generate electricity.

To satisfy Minnesota’s renewable energy standard, an estimated $10 billion dollars has been spent on building wind farms and billions more on transmission.

When talking about costs, True, lots has been spent on building wind farms.  However, until very recently, utilities have not been spending those billions of dollars, the wind developers and wind companies have, and utilities are buying the energy via Power Purchase Agreement, and not spending the billions of capital costs, instead letting the independent power producers do it.  There’s a big difference there between PPA and capital costs, and CAE does not acknowledge it, and does not acknowledge that we’re being billed for PPA costs and not capital costs in most instances.

Billions on transmission, yes, that’s true, as above, but that transmission is not for wind.  It’s for wheeling their surplus power through Minnesota and out of the state, whatever power is there, and remember, those lines start at the coal plants!  Again, check the ICF MISO Benefits Analysis Study to see why they want to build all this transmission.

$10 billion capital cost spent building wind farms? Compare with the $29 BILLION cost of building two nuclear reactors, 2,200 MW, at Vogtle, which will never run. Building generating plants of any sort costs money.  The failed Mesaba Project coal gasification plant was expected to cost, at last estimate by DOE, over $2.1 billion, for 663 MW.  Failed Kemper IGCC 582 MW for $7.1+ billion. As of year end, 2016, there was over 3,500 MW of installed wind capacity.  $10 billion capital cost?  Cost comparison anyone for construction of generation?

I want people to know that relying on pieces like this is not a good idea!  Sending around these “reports,” i.e., the CAE “report” with its many misstatements about things where the authors they should know better, is not helpful because it’s a false spin, FAKE NEWS from the masters of misrepresentation.  This rate issue and cost of generation, the decreasing demand and increasing conservation, and transmission for coal is something I’ve been enmeshed in for a long, long time, and I can’t let stuff like this slide.

Categories: Citizens

Cooking in the Children's House--#2 Orchard Applesauce

The Children's House - Wed, 10/11/2017 - 2:39pm

Apple HarvestO down in the orchard'Tis harvest time,
And up the tall ladders the fruit pickers climb.
Among the green branches
That sway overhead
The apples are hanging
All rosy and red.
Just ripe for the picking,
All juicy and sweet.
So pretty to look at
And lovely to eat.--Helen Leuty

One of the great pleasures of fall here in the Midwest is a trip to the apple orchard. It is our tradition to take the first field trip of the school year to a local orchard and then come back and make delicious from scratch applesauce. This process--literally orchard to snack table--gives the children a real sense of how one of their favorite foods is created.
First stop is a tour of the apple orchard
then inside to the sorting areawith a peek at the pie and cider making

and the cold storage room!this orchard has a donut machine...
and lets each child take home a bag of apples!

Back at school we get to the applesauce making--As it cooks it spreads an aroma of cinnamon apple deliciousness throughout the school. What a wonderful fall tradition to share with each other. Yum!
Applesauce8 apples                    ¼ t salt½ cup water¼ t nutmeg½ cup sugar½ t cinnamonQuarter apples, remove cores and cook in skins in water. Stir in sugar, salt, and spices and simmer one minute longer. Adjust sugar for sweetness of apple. Apple StarIt is very beautiful to take an apple and cut it across the middle because throughout the center you find the shape of a star. You cut apples into very thin slices this way and give them to the children and they eat around the center star.
Apple FactsWhat you don’t know about apples will seldom hurt you a bit. Sure, there are experts who know and use certain varieties for certain dishes, and you will too. But all apples are good to eat out of hand depending on your taste for sweet or tart, soft or firm. And there are many varieties good for all purposes. A few of these are:McIntosh                       JonathanIda                                  CortlandFor pies and baking:Northern Spy               Wine sapWealthy                         Rome BeautyBaldwin                         SpartanFor lunchboxes and salads:Red & Golden Delicious             Honey crisp3 medium apples=1 pound3 medium apples (peeled & sliced)=2 ¾ cups1 average apple=80 calories             


Categories: Citizens


Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 4:25am

Teams — like the markets — tend to fluctuate from year to year, which is also why [Edmonton Oilers forward Milan] Lucic had a pretty sensible take on the season that lies ahead. Optimism abounds, but wariness is never a bad thing either, he believes.

“At the end of the day, you have to be cautious a little in case of overconfidence and over expectations,” he said. “I went through that in Boston. Sometimes, you just expect to be there and that doesn’t get it done.

“Getting it done gets it done.”

-Eric Duhatschek, “Milan Lucic Holds Court on Oilers’ Chances, Leon Draisaitl, and Cam Talbot’s Workload,” The Athletic, 9-19-2017


Categories: Citizens


Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Wed, 09/20/2017 - 3:22am

I’m fading out of sight
My wheels are the only sound
Runnin’ at the speed of light
I can’t slow down

Out on the open road
Racing to beat the night
No matter where I go
Guess I’ll get there all right

So why don’t I understand
What’s trippin’ me up
It used to be a simple thing

I can’t hold on, I can’t return
Time to let go, start to live and learn

I took the one way flight
Too high to see the ground
Now I know how long it takes
A heart to come down

Why don’t I understand
What’s trippin’ me up
Oh, it ought to be a simple thing

I can’t hold on, I can’t return
Rivers will run, bridges will burn
I’m not sure just how
But there’s no lookin’ back now

I can’t hold on, I can’t return
Rivers will run, bridges will burn
I’m not sure just how
But there’s no lookin’ back now

I can’t hold on, I can’t return
Rivers will run, bridges will burn
I’m not sure just how
But there’s no lookin’ back now

No lookin’ back now
No lookin’ back now
No lookin’ back now

-Michael McDonald, “No Lookin’ Back,” No Lookin’ Back (1985)

Categories: Citizens


Tom Swift - Untethered Dog - Tue, 09/19/2017 - 7:44pm

Wisdom is Revealed
Through Action, Not Talk

Don’t declare yourself to be a wise person or discuss your spiritual aspirations with people who won’t appreciate them. Show your character and your commitment to personal nobility through your actions.

-Epictetus, Manual for Living (1994, Sharon Lebell translation)

Categories: Citizens
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