Talking Turkey Turds

Carol Overland - Legalectric - 6 hours 28 min ago

Hot off the press from David Morris – ILSR, a demolition of the Benson Burner celebratory historical podcast about burning turkey shit. The ILSR podcast gets into some of the origin of the “biomass mandate,” the history of Fibrominn, Fibrowatt from England, and in Maryland, where chicken shit was polluting land and water.

Turkey Talk: Energy Policy and Thanksgiving (Episode 86)

I so well recall the hours and hours of testimony about turkey turds back in 1998, when state Sen. Steve Novak, chair of Minnesota’s Senate Energy Committee (and on of the orchestrators of the 1994 Prairie Island bill that pushed biomass as part of the deal to keep Prairie Island nuclear plant open) refused to let “our” bill be heard that would delete the alternate site mandate to site nuclear waste “in Goodhue County.” Burning turkey shit was ahead of our bill on the agenda, and so hours and hours and hours of testimony. Of the many, many “environmental” groups in Minnesota, ILSR was the ONLY one opposing this turdful idea, and in that 1998 session, David Morris testified in excruciating detail about why burning turkey shit was a bad idea, more than I ever wanted to know about turkey shit.

So glad to see this go:

Benson biomass power plant thunders to ground in explosive demolition

Fibrowatt was run out of Delaware when they wanted to burn chicken shit there, thanks to Alan Muller and Green Delaware. That was when I’d first heard from Alan, way back in 2002, warning about Fibrowatt as they pushed into Minnesota!

When Xcel filed for permission to get out of the turkey shit Power Purchase Agreement (PUC Docket 17-530), Alan Muller and I filed comments:

20179-135237-01_Overland CommentDownload 20179-135238-01_Muller CommentDownload 20179-135581-01_Muller2Download

Note that not one of the many funded “environmental” groups weighed in on this!

The Commission gave Xcel what it wanted, including $20 million to the City of Benson…

20181-139242-02_Order Approving Petitions, Approving Cost Recovery Proposals, and Granting VariancesDownload

WHY would the PUC reward Xcel this way? Cancelling the Xcel PPAs and shutting down that Benson plant, and also the Laurentian Energy Authority, that was good, but the pay offs? Doesn’t seem reasonable to me.

And while you’re at it, check this out from ILSR on a “renewable” issue here in Minnesota and elsewhere:

Report: Waste Incineration: A Dirty Secret in How States Define Renewable Energy

Categories: Citizens

FERC cuts transmission ROE largess

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Wed, 12/04/2019 - 9:40pm
Transmission over Red Wing’s new Memorial Park stone picnic benches

Since pre-CapX 2020, and lately in MISO’s MVP 17 project portfolio, it’s been clear that cost apportionment and return on equity were primary drivers of transmission. But for the massive return on equity to the transmission owners, would there have been, would there be, a transmission build-out?

And at last, there’s good news!!!

FERC applies new transmission ROE policy to MISO, slashes rate to 9.88%


Here’s the FERC Order:

E14-12-003_FERC ORDER_November 21, 2019Download

FERC originally approved a 12.38% ROE for transmission projects in 2003 (see Midwest Indep. Transmission Sys. Operator, Inc., 99 FERC ¶ 63,011 (2002)), There were two complaints filed by MISO customers, lots of them, saying the rates were unreasonable:

It was set for hearing in 2014… yes, 2014, five years ago:

EL14-12-000_Order Setting for Hearing 10-16-2014Download

And the timeframe that this was bubbling is a material factor. The FERC Order authorizing all these perks was 2006, when the CapX 2020 Certificate of Need was filed, when the Minn. Stat. 117.189 eminent domain provisions were passed in prelude to CapX 2020 condemnations, the big transmission build-out was beginning, waiting for the stars to align. And align they did, not just with Minnesota legislation, but federal legislation and agency Orders and rules.

FERC authorized that many other perks be made available to transmission owners, based on premises in its Order 679:

FERC Order 679 – July 20, 2006Download

The “incentives” included return on equity (established at 12.38% for MISO with the exception of ATC, set at 12.20%) in a series of decisions from 2002-2004), Construction Work on Progress, or CWIP (also covered in Minnesota statute), and a guarantee of recovery of costs of abandoned facilities. From Order 679’s table of contents, the list:

Have you ever heard of a transmission project abandoned? I can think of only a couple… the risk of that happening is not high.

And whew, did transmission project costs skyrocket (though I’d like to see the full chart 2006 to present!):

Beyond the rate of return on equity, here’s another example of a perk provided:

This Recovery of Costs of Abandoned Facilities “incentive” was approved for American Transmission Company (ATC) and ITC’s recently permitted (in Wisconsin) Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line.

* FERC Order Adopting Abandoned Plant Incentive – American Transmission Company (ATC) ER19-360-000Download * FERC Order Adopting Abandoned Plant Incentive – ITC Midwest LLC ER19-355-00Download

FERC established the rebuttable presumption for approval of “incentives” for a project:

The Commission established the process for an applicant to demonstrate that it meets this standard, including a rebuttable presumption that the standard is met if:

(1) the transmission project results from a fair and open regional planning process that considers and evaluates the project for reliability and/or congestion and is found to be acceptable to the Commission; or (2) a project has received construction approval from an appropriate state commission or state siting authority.[10]

From: T&D World, Before FERC Order 1000 There Was Order 679 $53 Billion and Counting, which notes that:

Projects granted FERC investment incentives under Order 679 have totaled more than $37bn since 2008, with an additional $16bn expected to be invested over the next five years.

2019-05895_Notice – Inquiry Regarding Download

The purpose and hoops to jump through to qualify for these “incentives” were laid out in the Notice – note the highlighted parts:

As far as “special risks or challenges” the FERC Notice stated:

Risks and challenges? Congestion? Let’s take a look at the MISO MVP 2011 Report and subsequent Triennial Reports — what are the so-called “benefits” of these projects? Risks? Do you see risks?

MISO’s MVP Triennial Reports show that the benefits to eastern Wisconsin, Zone 2, have consistently dropped since the 2011 MTEP MVP Portfolio Report, with sharply increasing benefit/cost ratio ranges focused on the western generating states in zones 1 and 3. See below, Figure E-3, Ex.-MISO-Ellis-3, MTEP 2017 Triennial Review, p. 8 (PSC REF# 364903) (to view primary documents in the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission docket, go to PSC DOCKET SEARCH and search for Docket 5-CE-146).   The economic focus of the MVP projects and the region-wide cost sharing makes them different from reliability justified transmission projects.  The benefit/cost ratio is greater, and on an increasing rather than decreasing curve, for those states to the west of Wisconsin, and decreasing curve in Wisconsin.  Is this project, much less the entire MVP 17 project portfolio good for Wisconsin?

Let’s walk through it step by step…

First, let’s look at the “value drivers.”  In the three graphs below, they are, from left to right in the graph, Congestion and Fuel Savings, Operating Reserves, Planning Reserve Margin, Transmission Line Losses, Wind Turbine Investment, and Future Transmission Investment.  Watch the changes over time. The ones underlined are particularly difficult to justify as “benefits” to Wisconsin – benefits to the “customers” and/or producers, but Wisconsin? These benefits are not accrued to ratepayers!

Let’s start with the 2011 Multi-Value Projects (MVP) Report published January 10,2012 following 2011 MISO approval, linked above. “Congestion and Fuel Savings” is on the left side, $12,404-$40,949, 20-40 year values in 2011 $million:

Note that “Congestion” is not a separate item. We have no way of knowing what the claimed “Congestion” benefits are! Also note the totals in the right-hand columns.

Now on to the MISO 2014 MVP Triennial Review, “Congestion and Fuel Savings” of $17,363 – $59-576:

And the MISO 2017 MVP Triennial Review, “Congestion and Fuel Savings” of $20,121 – $71,353:

See PUC Docket 5-CE-146, Ex.-MISO-Ellis-3, p. 4, 23((PSC REF# 364903).   And each year, the numbers are smaller and smaller — by the time Cardinal-Hickory Creek (C-HC) got before the Public Service Commission, in 2018, C-HC was the last project, the only MISO MVP project remaining for permitting. PSC staff analysis found that it was not certain that benefits would be provided, and that as engineering judgment, if the project were not built, and as the last of the MVP projects under consideration, if the project is not individually of much, or of no, benefit, the balance of MISO MVP Portfolio benefits may increase if not built.  Tr. at 1469.

In that Wisconsin hearing, Applicant’s attorney set up a witness with a discussion of the risk of the project, and basing the discount rate on claimed benefits:

Degenhardt’s testimony was reinforced by Direct on prompting by ATC’s attorney:

That didn’t make much sense to me, so I had to ask:

So he didn’t consider the impact of the “Abandoned Plant” incentive? Seems to me that would significantly reduce the risk, the whole point of it is to increase the ROE sufficiently to arguably be able to attract investors. ??? What is the risk of this project? That it couldn’t find financing, probably! Oh, right, the point is to have ROE sufficient to “attract capital.” So on its own, it wouldn’t.

And if the project did “attract capital” but nonetheless wasn’t built, they’re covered (for proposing a project that was not needed or not constructible?

ATC and ITC’s Orders to recover $$$ if the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project were abandoned:

ATC_Order_ER19-360-000Download ITC_Order_ER19-355-000Download

And the Applicants’ witness claims not to be familiar with the ATC and ITC FERC Incentive Orders?

Seems to me this perk should be considered in any discussion of risk. PSC Bacalao’s testimony, drawing on PSC’s Vedvik’s testimony, was about how to calculate the discount rate, whether it had been done correctly, that there were two ways to do it… whether incentives should be included in the calculation. Bacalao testified that depending on how Applicants’ used “incentives” in their calculations, in evaluating “risk,” in their FERC applications, there could be a problem:

06-21-2019 Tr. Bacalao Testimony WPSC Docket 5-CE-146Download

Again, the FERC Order 679:

FERC Order 679Download

What is the impact of FERC’s Order on the risk of these MVP projects? What is the impact of FERC’s Order on the cost of these MVP projects, even the CapX 2020 projects?

What is the impact of FERC’s Order on the utility attempt to shift from a cost-based rate calculation to a “business plan.” Methinks it’s a material impact. We shall see…

It seems to me one thing needed is to take a serious look at FERC’s presumptions, both for integrity AND for what impact the presumption’s blessing of MISO study and “approval” does to state jurisdiction. From FERC Order 679, the presumptions explained:

FERC Order 679 p. 34-37

3. Rebuttable Presumptions

57. As we discussed above, we will not adopt the variety of preconditions recommended by the commenters.  However, we are nonetheless required to make findings that a particular investment falls within the scope of section 219.  In making that finding, we have chosen to rely on existing processes to the extent practicable in determining whether a particular facility is needed to maintain reliability or reduce congestion.  We describe these processes below and find that, if an applicant satisfies them, its project will be afforded a rebuttable presumption that it qualifies for transmission incentives.  Other applicants not meeting these criteria may nonetheless demonstrate that their project is needed to maintain reliability or reduce congestion by presenting us a factual record that would support such findings.  Once we determine that the project is eligible for incentives, we would, as described below, consider whether the particular incentives being proposed are appropriate for the particular investments being made.    

58. The first rebuttable presumption we will adopt relates to regional planning.  Although we will not require participation in regional planning processes as a precondition for obtaining incentives, as section 219 does not require such a precondition, we believe that regional planning processes can provide an efficient and comprehensive forum through which those seeking to make transmission investments can have their projects evaluated to see if they meet the requirements of section 219.  Regional planning processes can help determine whether a given project is needed, whether it is the better solution, and whether it is the most cost-effective option in light of other alternatives (e.g., generation, transmission and demand response).  It does so by looking at a variety of options across a large geographic footprint; thus, regional planning can allow for a broad assessment of loop flows and impacts on neighboring systems.  Regional Planning also can serve as a forum in which states can readily participate.37  This benefit of a regional planning process is difficult to duplicate on a utility-by-utility basis.  It may prove difficult for applicants, on an individual basis, to timely gain access to all the information that might be required to make a showing that the project ensures reliability and/or reduces the cost of delivered power by reducing congestion.  The Commission expressly recognized the value of regional planning when it proposed to amend the pro forma Open Access Transmission Tariff of jurisdictional public utilities to require regional planning to ensure that transmission is planned and constructed on a nondiscriminatory basis to support reliable and economic service to all eligible customers in a region. 38  Consistent with our actions in that NOPR and our belief that power markets are regional in nature and that the transmission systems supporting those markets must be supported by regional planning, we will create a rebuttable presumption for projects that result from regional planning.  Thus, the Commission will rebuttably presume that transmission projects that result from a fair and open regional planning process that considers and evaluates projects for reliability and/or congestion and is found to be acceptable to the Commission satisfy the requirements of this Rule.39  In addition, the Commission will adopt the following other rebuttable presumptions.  We will also attach a rebuttable presumption that an applicant has met the requirements of section 219 if a proposed project is located in a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor or where a project has received construction approval from an appropriate state commission or state siting authority. 

Once more with feeling:

…the Commission will rebuttably presume that transmission projects that result from a fair and open regional planning process that considers and evaluates projects for reliability and/or congestion and is found to be acceptable to the Commission satisfy the requirements of this Rule.”

FAIR AND OPEN?!?! Hardly.

Now that they’re tweaked one of the perks, making ROE more realistic, more “reasonable,” it’s time to look at the others, and the foundational presumptions FERC makes in granting “incentives.” FERC, while you’re at it, consider the impacts of these federally granted “incentives” on state rate-making authority and state permitting authority.

Categories: Citizens

Art, Moles and Why We Need Plants: Three Book Reviews

My Northern Garden - Mary Schier - Tue, 12/03/2019 - 5:52am

I had a heck of a time coming up with a title for this post because none of the three books I’m reviewing exactly fall in the same category, even the category of garden books. What they have in common is the value (no, necessity) of experiencing and appreciating nature. Let’s take them in reverse ... Read More about Art, Moles and Why We Need Plants: Three Book Reviews

The post Art, Moles and Why We Need Plants: Three Book Reviews appeared first on My Northern Garden.

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Categories: Citizens

18,000 Refugee Admissions for FY 2020

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Wed, 11/27/2019 - 11:15am

Just in from Federal Register Public Inspections, due to be published on Friday:

2019-26082_Refugee Admissions Fiscal Year 2020Download

Facts matter. For those who can’t be bothered with clicking and reading, here it is:


Think about it… just 18,000…

Categories: Citizens


Carol Overland - Legalectric - Sat, 11/23/2019 - 9:14pm
The pilot of this plane was able to walk away without any injuries after crashing into power lines in Louisville Township, Scott County Sheriff Luke Hennen said.

In the STrib today:

Shakopee pilot crashes into high-voltage power lines, escapes without injury

By Liz Sawyer Star Tribune November 23, 2019 — 8:57pm

A Shakopee pilot is unscathed after crashing his small propeller plane into a cluster of high-voltage power lines in rural Scott County on Saturday afternoon.

Thomas Koskovich, 65, was flying south in his single engine Piper Cub when he became entangled, upside down, in the wires. Once power to the lines was cut, Shakopee fire crews pulled Koskovich safely from his cockpit. He was the sole occupant.

Xcel Energy remained on the scene, near a field on the 2500 block of 150th Street in Louisville Township, well into Saturday night working to extract the plane.

“This incident could have been much worse,” Sheriff Luke Hennen said in a statement. “We are grateful the pilot was able to walk away without any injuries.”


Per the Sheriff’s report, linked above:

Initial investigation indicated that the plane, a single engine prop Piper Cub was traveling south, hit a cluster of power lines and became suspended on a guideline, upside down.  Once the power line was de-energized, the pilot was rescued from the plane.  

Also from the Sheriff’s press release, another photo — the one at the top is from the Sheriff’s office too:

Amazing that the powerline can hold that plane up! Like WOW!

That pilot did a lot better than this moose (a totally separate incident). He was lowered back to the ground, but was injured and was put down. And yes, that’s REAL NEWS! Just ask snopes!

Categories: Citizens

Solar – a sunny winter day!

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Fri, 11/22/2019 - 12:13pm

Love it when this happens! Solar working even in this location. Sun will drop behind the bluff soon and behind Mary’s trees, but it still works. In summer, even late spring and early fall, it will be amazing! Well worth it!

Categories: Citizens

2018 NERC Long-Term Reliability Assessment

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Wed, 11/20/2019 - 3:42pm
From 2018 NERC 2018 Reliability Assessment, p. 21

I’m so far behind, but here it is, the NERC 2018 Long-Term Reliability Assessment. The 2019 NERC Report should be out soon, so it’s time to get caught up.

The NERC Long Term Reliability Assessments over time are stored HERE. Just scroll down and click on “Reliability Assessments.”

It comes out annually, but not consistently at the same time each year, and it seems that when there are significant changes, it’s delayed. The 1998 Reliability Assessment was the first one I used in a transmission docket, used mostly because it showed the reliability margin projections were adequate, not at all reason for the “we’re going to freeze in the dark in an incubator without a job” hysteria.

While we’re waiting for the 2019 NERC Report, let’s take a look at what the big picture looked like at the end of 2018:

The above is from the NERC Report, p. 22. This increase in solar is good news, and solar follows peak — YES, GOOD (but the way they’re going about it sure sucks, central station installations on prime agricultural land isn’t acceptable). Let’s be clear — the only way to reduce CO2 is through decreased combustion. See the green section for coal? Note how it’s staying the same over the next 10 years? Same goes for natural gas, increasing at about the same rate as solar. And hazardous/toxic emissions? Well, seems there will be an increase. And continued dependence on nuclear, that seems unchanging too.

Remember how CapX 2020 was predicated on 2.49% annual growth? Remember the May 11, 2005 Capx 2020 Technical Update ?

What a farce… here’s the reality of peak demand generally — 2.49% annually? Nope, check the NERC Report, p. 10:

And the Xcel Energy specific Peak Demand? This is from their SEC 10-K filings:

THIRTEEN YEARS LATER, we still haven’t met the 2006 peak. But in the meantime, we’ve built $2+ billion of CapX 2020 transmission lines that we don’t need. MISO is building $6.65+ billion in MVP (Multi-Value Projects) o which Minnesota ratepayers pay a significant percentage. These are transmission projects that we don’t need, projects built to facilitate bulk power transfer across the MISO region, economic based projects that have no benefit to us in Minnesota, no need for us, we’re a pass through state.

No need? For sure. Check these reserve margins (remember when MISO’s reserve margin was 15% and they said that would lower with the big transmission build-out? Now they’re saying 17% isn’t enough?):

How stupid can we be? Well, we’re finding out, and the bill is coming due.

Categories: Citizens

Why “Ground Factor” Matters

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Sun, 11/17/2019 - 2:54pm

Minn. R. 7030.0400 is the MPCA’s noise rule, setting standards for industrial noise. It was developed to limit industrial noise, from a noise source on the ground to a “receptor” on the ground. ISO 9613-2 was also developed to measure ground based noise reaching a ground based receptor.

Ex.-Forest-Schomer-9_ISO 9613-2Download

A primary input is the “ground factor” set to address conditions on the ground, the ground effect, between the noise source and the receptor:

While there may be some reflected sound reaching the “receptor” (that is such an obnoxious term for people!), the sound from a wind turbine with a hub height of 300 feet or more! That’s a direct path to the “receptor.” The ground, grasses, corn, trees, buildings, do not get in the way.

The ground factor to be used for wind turbines is ZERO.

Dr. Schomer stated this clearly and thoroughly in the Highland Wind docket in Wisconsin (PSC Docket 2535-CE-100).

Schomer_Pages from Transcript-Vol 4Download

The use 0.0 of ground factor for wind is standard practice, and that a 0.5 ground factor is NOT appropriate for wind because it’s elevated. This was inadvertently confirmed by Applicant’s Mike Hankard in the Badger Hollow solar docket, also in Wisconsin (PSC Docket 9697-CE-100):

Who cares? Well, it’s bad enough that in that WI PSC Highland Wind docket, when the applicants couldn’t comply with the state’s wind noise limit, they redid their noise “study” using the inappropriate ground factor of 0.5 to give them more compliant numbers — they moved the goal posts, garbage in, garbage out. They think they can do that in Minnesota too, and are trying oh so hard in the Freeborn Wind docket (PUC Docket 17-410).

Last September, 2018 that is, Freeborn Wind did a deal with Commerce, admitted to in its “Request for Clarification/Reconsideration” pleading:

Freeborn Wind requests the Commission clarify its Site Permit to adopt Section 7.4, as proposed by Freeborn Wind and agreed to by the Department and MPCA, in place of the current Sections 7.4.1 and 7.4.2, to both ensure consistency with the Order and avoid ambiguity in permit compliance.

Freeborn Wind’s September 19, 2018, Late-Filed proposal for Special Conditions Related to Noise outlines the agreement reached between Freeborn Wind, the Department and the MPCA on this issue. (fn. citing Late Filed—Proposed Special Conditions Related to Noise (Sept. 19, 2018) (eDocket No. 20189-146486-01).

In this deal, they put language in the permit that was a fundamental shift in noise monitoring, one for which there is no justification under the noise modeling standards, whether state or ISO 9613-2 — that of using a 0.5 ground factor.

The day before the Commission’s meeting, they filed for a “Special Condition,” and oh, was it special:


At the meeting, they presented a chart with made up numbers on it, not supported by any noise study:

This chart was shown for a few seconds at most, it was not provided in the “Late Filing” above, and there were no copies for parties or the public. Did Commissioners get a copy? Who knows…

The Commission then granted the site permit!!! There were a few rounds before we got to where we are today, with Xcel Energy acquiring the project, and with a new site plan, bigger turbines, and some specific site permit amendments. In its permit amendment application, Xcel Energy is now the owner of Freeborn Wind, and Xcel wants to use larger Vestas V120 turbines rather than the V116.

From testimony in the original Freeborn Wind hearing, and in an Affidavit submitted by Commerce-EERA’s Davis

7.         It is generally understood that turbine noise output increases with higher blade tip speeds… 
Aff. of Davis, EERA Motion[1], 20181-139379-01.[2]

In its permit amendment application, Xcel Energy is now the owner of Freeborn Wind, and Xcel wants to use larger turbines. In so doing, they have filed a noise study, Attachment E below, utilizing that 0.5 ground factor. Xcel’s claim is that they’re using a 0.5 ground factor because the permit specifies that:

Pages from 20198-155331-04_Attachment E_NoiseDownload



There’s a 3 dB(A) margin of error – even using Hankard’s numbers, look at the yellow lines right up against the homes, and look at the blue 50 dB(A) lines and how many homes are inside of those lines:

Turbine noise at the hub for the V120s can be maximum of 110.5 dB(A), and serrated edges provide an option to reduce noise (which Xcel says it plans on using for some turbines), per the Vestas spec sheet:

2_MW_Product_Brochure_Vestas 2MWDownload

Compliance? Modeling with the improper 0.5 ground factor doesn’t come close to demonstrating compliance, instead it demonstrates a high probability of non-compliance. It demonstrates that using the proper ground factor for wind, it won’t do the modeling, likely (assuredly) because the project cannot comply. Freeborn Wind could not demonstrate that it could comply with state noise standards as originally designed with the smaller wind turbines and the proper modeling ground factor, and now Xcel Energy wants to use larger turbines. Larger turbines are noisier… once more with feeling:

7.         It is generally understood that turbine noise output increases with higher blade tip speeds… 

And now we see, hot off the press, the Plum Creek wind project (PUC Docket WS-18-700), proposed by Geronimo

Vestas 150 and 162 turbines, 5.6 MW each! The noise for the V150 is a maximum of 104.9 dB(A), and for the V162 is a maximum of 104.9 dB(A), with “sound optimized modes available.” That’s in the brochure:

EnVentus_Product_Brochure_Vestas 150+162Download

They have provided a noise study, BUT, much is NOT PUBLIC:

201911-157475-05_Noise_Appendix BDownload

And I wonder why… well, it says that they’re not using a ground factor of 0.0. Look at p. 48 of the sound study above, deep breathe and take a peek:




They say it again on p. 62, elsewhere too:



Ayway, here are the sound study maps based on that bogus 0.7 ground factor – look how many homes are affected:

Geronimo gets the gong:

The applicants know exactly what they’re doing.

At least twice in the Freeborn record I have asked whether the Commissioners understand “0.5 ground factor” and “0.0 ground factor” and have been vigorously assured that yes, they do understand. And Commerce-EERA staff? You’re responsible for doing the footwork on these siting applications. Do you understand?

If they do not understand, or misunderstand, they’ve got some learnin’ and edumacation to do. If they DO understand, and are approving site permits knowing that the modeling is off, that ground factor is misused, they’re complicit. They’re knowingly afflicting those who have to live with the noise sound levels that exceed Minnesota state standards.

As we saw in Bent Tree, where the noise standard compliance is in question, it is Commerce’s job to do the noise monitoring and deal with the problem. Once a turbine is up, there aren’t many options other than “shut down the turbines” or “buy out the landowners.” How many landowner buy-outs do you think we need before it’s admitted there’s a problem? Why is it so hard to develop responsible, precautionary, and respectful siting? Why is there resistance? The costs of their failure to do so are… well… we may see exactly what those costs are.

Commissioners and Commerce staff, make sure you know how the state noise standard and ISO 9613-2 was designed, how it is to be used, and what ground factor means.

If you know what it means, and are siting turbines using 0.5 and 0.7, you are responsible.

Categories: Citizens

Preparing for your database lists to malfunction on occasion

Pegasus Librarian - Iris Jastram - Fri, 11/15/2019 - 3:49pm

If you’re like us, you have a LibGuides-based list of databases for your library, and it went down for a bit this morning. If you’re like me, this pretty much cripples you until the list is back up and running. This kind of downtime could happen no matter your platform, so if you’re like me you might also want to have an option available to get around your database list during downtime. Here’s what I came up with about a year ago and was happy to have in place this morning.

Each month I download a CSV file of our databases – LibGuides has a nifty “export all” option and I click that. Then I paste that data dump information into a hidden sheet on a Google Sheet that I’ve made available to anyone with a link. From that messy data dump, I built formulae onto a visible sheet in that Sheet (really, Google has GOT to get better about its names for apps so that I don’t have refer to a sheet on a Sheet). These formulae help me display a full alphabetical list of all of our databases, their descriptions, their base URLs (a note on that in a second), vendor, and whether or not they need proxy access from off campus. Basically all the formulae say are “if the corresponding cell on that base sheet is blank, don’t put anything here, but if there’s information there, then display it here.” It looks like this:


Then I use a slightly fancier formula to build a proxified version of that base URL into column dedicated to off-campus access. It goes like this:


Translated, that formula means “If the cell in Column F that says whether this database needs a proxy string is blank, leave this cell blank (this just makes for a cleaner spreadsheet without a lot of error cells where the formula is there even if there’s no database listed). If that proxy cell is set to YES, then put together our proxy string and base URL, and put the resulting URL here. If the proxy cell is set NO, just put the base URL here.”

Then I hid the Proxy check column (column F) because nobody really needs to see that if they’re using the spreadsheet. I just needed it for calculation purposes. (Sure I could have referred to that proxy check cell on the base sheet, rather than bring it to the visible sheet and then hide it, but sometimes I just feel like doing things easiest way that occurs to me in the moment. Don’t judge!)

Finally, I gave this back-up spreadsheet a nicer URL: And I posted this URL in places where librarians can find it when needed (such as our documentation for QuestionPoint cooperative librarians, our intranet, etc).

So now if our proxy server goes down (rendering our database list mostly useless), we can use the base URLs from this spreadsheet, at least from on campus or in combination with a VPN. It’s better than nothing. And if the whole database list goes down, we have access to all of our databases and their URLs from this list.

Edited to add: I forgot to mention that I’ve also built a script into Google Docs to unmerge cells. For whatever reason, exports from web-based products like Springshare tend to have random merged cells, which I don’t want. The only way I know of to get rid of these (other than looking for them all and then unmerging them individually) is via script.

So! In Google Sheets, click on the “Tools” menu and then “Script Editor” and then paste in the following:

function myFunction() { var breakRange = SpreadsheetApp.getActive().getRange('A:T'); for(;;) { try { breakRange.breakApart(); break; } catch(e) { breakRange = mySheet.getRange( breakRange.getRowIndex(), breakRange.getColumnIndex(), Math.min( breakRange.getHeight()+5, Sheet1.getMaxRows()-breakRange.getRowIndex()+1 ), Math.min( breakRange.getWidth()+5, Sheet1.getMaxColumns()-breakRange.getColumnIndex()+1 ) ); } } }

This will look at columns A through T (you can edit that in that second line if you need to) and unmerge any merged cells.

When you paste in a new export, just click “Tools” and “Script editor” and then the little “play” arrow to run the script, and it’ll unmerge all those merged cells for you.

Categories: Citizens

Our solar on a cloudy day

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Fri, 11/15/2019 - 11:25am

Is this cool or what?!?!?!

We can’t figure out what those big short spikes are, toaster was only used once. Furnace blower is the flat spikes every 20-30 minutes or so. What is it???

Later in the day, the sun came out, although this time of year, we’re below the bluff so it’s not direct:

That little spike mid-day was my little space heater here in the office, which I turned on for a minute or two to see what it looked like. I don’t know what that later spike was. And now the sun is way below the bluff, headed down. This looks pretty good considering that this is not an ideal location for solar.

Categories: Citizens

PJM’s 3Q State of the Market

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 11:43am

Here ’tis:

2019 Q3-State of the Market-PJMDownload

And dig this, from Introduction, p. 3, seems PJM is attempting to manipulate the market, and that’s not flying with Market Analytics, the entity that does the State of the Market reports:

… and this, also p. 3, decreasing revenues is putting it mildly:

This report bears reading, I know, in spare time, but this is REAL NEWS!

Categories: Citizens

Urbanists tweet about the roundabout

Betsey Buckheit - Thu, 11/14/2019 - 9:55am
Last week, the Strib ran an article about Northfield’s planned roundabout with tunnels for people biking and walking: Twitter responds As a result, one local urbanist ( founder, active with Strong Towns, Planning Commissioner, and good guy) tweets: In turn, famous walkability guy Jeff Speck chimes in: After a bit of back and forth, the …
Categories: Citizens

Tamarack copper-nickel exploration?

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Wed, 11/13/2019 - 9:52pm

Talon Nickel USA has filed with the DNR to rebore/reuse existing exploratory borings, from 2015, near Tamarack, MN.

Exploration Plan – Talon 11-6-19 SubmissionDownload

But it looks like they’re hanging their hat, and a lot more, on this project. A recent press release:

Talon Metals Update: Strategic Importance of the Tamarack High Grade Nickel-Copper-Cobalt Project to the Future of Transportation in the U.S.A.

And an even more recent press release, within the last week:

Talon Metals – Advancing the Tamarack Project: Upcoming Work Program and Initiative to Evaluate Producing Nickel Sulphates for the Battery Market

Here’s a presentation touting this project:

“Securing 21 [st] Century U.S. Supply Chains for EVs and Energy Storage”

A friend lives nearby, we were closer than I thought, and this is on a County Road just north of the planned mine:

Categories: Citizens

Filings on Freeborn Wind… Again! Again!

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Tue, 11/12/2019 - 6:10pm

This round is for comments on Xcel’s Permit Amendment Request:

201910-156851-01_Notice of Comment PeriodDownload

Here’s what we (Association of Freeborn County Landowners) filed:

Comment_Xcel Siting Contested Case_FINALDownload Affidavit and Exhibits A-J_In Support Of Comment Contested Case_FINALDownload

Quite a few comments were filed.

Reply Comments due November 19, 2019, one week from today!

Categories: Citizens

1945 Chateau Clos de Sarpe, St-Emilion Grand Cru

Duck Fat and Politics - Tue, 11/12/2019 - 9:41am
Like a prayer that rises from the quiet lips of an old penitent, there is no beauty as elegant as old wine, resurrecting the glory of the Caryatids on the Acropolis and sunlight shining through high windows of St John Lateran onto hymn singing incense swinging priests, and although in the nose of this wine we inherit those relics whose memories are wrapped in the passage of time, we notice too in a swoon the fragrance of plum blossoms when you fall in love for the first time and your senses vibrate and expand to feel all that can be felt at once, dissolving the boundary of everything you thought you knew but just learned is only the smallest fraction of what can be known because until now you didn’t know love, didn’t know the smell of her skin just below her ear on that soft spot where your own breath mixes with hers and you can taste the commingling in the very air she inhabits, and when we breathe the skin of our loved one and inhale this beauty through our pores, each soft fragrance delineated along the touch of her lips, her neck, the almost impossible space between our skin and souls and in that inhalation we remember a memory of this love right now, and if we are fortunate to fall in love when the earth has moved past the sun and begins its long reflection back into itself we remember the earth radiating its stored heat, the pulse of an almost forgotten summer whose bass notes reverberate through our hands limbs and everything else all entwined and warm with wool and smoke and crystal clear breath and we wonder how anyone could forget this feeling, this full embrace of the world we live in. And how is it that seventy years ago when the scourge of war gashed raw this earth, killing and rupturing so much of itself from each other and a now irretrievable past, how did it come to be in those first months of peace, when the sun without judgment still poured across the land and the wind and the rain blew and fell without discriminating on who or what received its beneficence, how is it that on a field that was worked by farmers long since dead, whose hands are unknown to us today, how is it that they picked these grapes and crushed them with a memory of a tomorrow that just arrived. Seven decades ago, after the fermentation and resting in barrels, these grapes were put into bottles and laid in their caves only to lie there day after day after week after year after decade and my parents were young and they died more than a decade ago and still this wine sat in its cave untouched by light or heat or vibrations and the only thing that touched it was time, unforgiving linear time that softens things that once were sharp and brings down democracies and dictatorships and my almost six decades are enveloped and held in that time and still there is nothing but long silent memories until today when a protester in Hong Kong was shot and dozens injured and meetings were canceled because roads were blocked and still I made it to this restaurant in this quiet hush of an early evening in fall when the sky is washed with a breeze and the tear gas has dissipated and a relic from the past is remembered and poured into a glass and how does time express itself over time, a simple grape whose merest flaws or imperfections could have destroyed it years ago, how does it manage with such elegance to layer itself upon this long arc and still hold within it the lightest blush of strawberries and a bed of earth deep mushrooms and roots that draw up from rocks as old as life their nutrient remains and hold these twin remembories of spring and fall together in balance, weaving the many summers and winters together with this one small vineyard, one single harvest at the beginning of a long peace? How?
Categories: Citizens

Khlong Toie Market - Bangkok, Thailand

Duck Fat and Politics - Mon, 11/11/2019 - 3:43am
Almost everywhere the ground is wet, and dirty grey puddles with debris dissolve any semblance of hygiene as wave after wave of people, motorbikes, dollies, styrofoam containers and woven bamboo baskets stream though this massive market in the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. Crossing the khlong – or canal – over a small bridge whose damp thick planks are saturated with the accretion of quantity, and entering the market whose boundary is loosely defined by a brackish canal that shames the Cuyahoga River with a viscous liquid that now fills its channeled, hardened banks, visitors find it hard not to be awakened by the intense smells of rot, filthy water, row after row of crammed caged chickens ducks geese and other fowl, the squawks and bleets obliterated by the regular thump of heavy cleavers dispatching birds on huge wood cutting boards – slices of tree trunks actually, where bird after bird is killed plucked singed gutted and prepared for sale, and just past them are the rows under red plastic awnings of every cut and piece of animal that can be eaten, between the stalls crammed tight with people and carts, the voices of women young and old calling out the prices for a kilo of limes, squash, beans, bunches of basil and lemon grass, bottles of honey from fertile Phetchabun Province, curry pastes and mangoes, watermelon, garlic, turmeric, bitter herbs and gourds, lumps of liver and mounds of gizzards, heaps of feet cleaned and ready for stews and curries and soups, and all this before you come to the tubs of eels turtles catfish and shrimp of every size, fresh dried and salted, piled over ice and fat white-fleshed fish with scales as thick as fingernails being scraped off by men in rubber boots who smoke and cough and talk all the while, girls sitting in a circle de-veining shrimp one after one after another for hours at a time, their wrists tattooed and hard as their weathered fingers fly through shrimp like an old nun’s fingers run through rosary beads, habit and meditation built into the repetition, and cats prowling the aisles thin and tattered, tails mostly missing and eyes alert ready to pounce on the rat that runs between stacks of crates, across the child’s feet who plays with a toy gun as the other children clamber on empty tables used earlier in the day for trimming roots and pulling off dead leaves, tidying up the produce before the rush of another day, hour after hour of noise and people and everything for sale, the coming and going from the far provinces of Thailand to feed the hungry capital. Old men lie asleep on a low platform surrounded by piles of dried noodles or bags of rice, a tired mother snores in a small chair with a television showing soap operas playing only for the toddler who lies curled up next to her, looking at the TV as well as her phone, and a young woman sits among stacks of plastic mixing bowls, wire baskets for frying fish and cooking noodles, charcoal braziers and hand-forged knives, soup bowls and metal spoons, enough goods to let a small town feed, and where does she find love and friends and a breath of fresh air, sitting long hours and when the rain falls and the mishmash of tin roofs and thick plastic sheeting fray or give way or end between two rows of goods, the aisle splashes with a steady stream of water, flip flops and rubber boots the only useful footwear, the pyramids of limes of all sizes splashed with rain and fresher looking than ever, and rough young men moving small loads of wholesale goods from one end of the market to the next, filling the rows with the urgency of the day’s wages, the bags of ice to be delivered up and down the rows to sellers of almost living things that depend upon the cold to keep them fresh, and sitting here and there in dark nooks are middle aged women and men with hand calculators and clipboards tallying purchases and sales, chainsmoking cigarettes in anticipation of the next day’s business, the floods in Trang or relentless heat in Roi Et, the sacks of rice secure and dry under the high corrugated roof, and another motorcycle delivering whatever is was they needed next, and he stops for a bite of grilled fish, the fish coated in a snowy layer of salt pure and simple grilled over charcoal, the sizzle and smoke and smell mixing with salted squid and crispy chicken legs, plumes of smoke sanctifying the hard and endless work of these huge numbers of people whose lives are spent in this labyrinth of life death and sustenance.
Categories: Citizens

Keystone pipeline shut down!

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Fri, 11/08/2019 - 12:08pm

Keystone XL Pipeline has been shut down by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation after it ruptured and covered part of North Dakota in oil.

Keystone pipeline oil leak Keystone Pipeline Spill Hardens Landowner Opposition to Proposed Expansion

Well, DOH! Here’s the DOT’s Order:


Bottom line, it’s shut down, with a laundry list of issues to address:

Do note that they’ve only shut down a “segment” of it, the part between the Edinberg Pump Station and the Niagara Pump Station, in North Dakota. Without that segment, however, well, there’s not much happening on the pipeline…

Categories: Citizens

Jessica Salinas, bad move…

Carol Overland - Legalectric - Fri, 11/08/2019 - 11:41am

Fraud, forgery, identify theft… not a good idea. SO glad you were not successful. Hope it gets even worse for you and that the police are knocking on your door soon!

Categories: Citizens
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