Carol Overland - Legalectric

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Carol A. Overland, Overland Law Office -- Utility Regulatory and Land Use Advocacy
Updated: 1 hour 5 min ago

Goodhue County Board Special Election

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 4:26pm
Photo by “Jonathunder

Special County Board meeting TOMORROW, 9 a.m.

We now have an official vacancy for District 1 on the Goodhue County Board that will need to be filled via a special election. Scott Safe took over when Ron Allen took a leave of absence for treatment for leukemia. Ron Allen died recently, creating a statutory vacancy and now Scott Safe is no longer in that position.

Safe stepping in for Allen during cancer treatment

Obituary – Ronald C. Allen

Commissioner Ron Allen remembered as good listener, caring friend

TOMORROW at 9 a.m., the County Board will meet to determine whether to appoint someone in the interim (again) or leave it vacant until the special election.

Special elections are only allowed on specific dates, the first possible one in August (May 14 is apparently too close to schedule), August 13th, 2019.

If they want to appoint someone to fill the vacancy until the special election, there are some rules… including:

Before making an appointment to fill a vacancy under subdivision 4, the county board must hold a public hearing not more than 30 days after the vacancy occurs with public notice given in the same manner as for a special meeting of the county board. At the public hearing the board must invite public testimony from persons residing in the district in which the vacancy occurs relating to the qualifications of prospective appointees to fill the vacancy. Minn. Stat. 375.01, Subd 5 (in part).

I don’t recall the circumstances, yes, I wasn’t paying attention, and I should have, this is my county district! I do recall being surprised someone was appointed, and having no say in that appointment. But there is a problem: The statute puts a 90 day limit on an appointment where Board member is unable to serve (Minn. Stat. 375.01, Subd. 3), and in this case, it began December 1, 2018, and would have ended March 1, 2019. That didn’t happen.

Goodhue, we have a problem.

Tomorrow’s morning should give us a clue as to what will happen.

I vote for the temporary appointment and to have the election in August. That and $0.50…

Categories: Citizens

Mueller Report – Hard Copy

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 1:42pm

Hot off the press from the Harvard Bookstore. Get yours, just $18.95 + $7 shipping priority. (617) 661-1515.

Just what I need, more to add to the 3 Public Service Commission orders filed last Thursday… lots of reading!

Categories: Citizens

Convoluted conflations don’t help…

Sun, 04/21/2019 - 2:38pm
Comparison of wind and tobacco is apples and oranges

The Center of the American Experiment is at it again, dodging the legitimate issues and emphasizing the non-issues and flat out misrepresenting. It’s distractivism… Janna Swanson has it right in her STrib LTE:

“If President Trump said that industrial wind turbines cause cancer, that is unfortunate, because it downplays the real negative impacts that do come with living next to or within an industrial wind installation.”

It’s like the billboards CAE pasted across southern Minnesota, in the Freeborn Wind territory, going on about the “high cost of wind.”

That’s demonstrably false, which anyone involved in energy can see by the PPAs and overnight costs in any docket. Why were CAE’s costs inflated in their “study?” Because they included the PPA cost PLUS the overnight cost — really, read the study, the words and between the lines — that math doesn’t work.

What’s conflated about the Rosenquist/CAE piece below? What’s convoluted about the piece below? Simple: Causation and coal.

  1. It drives me crazy when people repeatedly use the word “cause” and “causation,” regarding in this case, wind noise, and in others, EMF. Yes, it’s a logical result of applicants who have promoted use of those words in utility administrative proceedings (“Dr.” Mark Roberts always submits testimony that causation is not proven, but why? Causation or not isn’t a siting criteria!), but it’s most unfortunate that so many have bought into this framing and spent good money on experts fighting this non-issue, in administrative permit proceedings and in district court eminent domain proceedings (i.e., the distractivism of the Cedar Summit focus on EMF diversion to causation, rather than reasonableness of concern, in an eminent domain proceeding, and despite expert witnesses and much discussion at the hearing, the judge was clear that causation was NOT an issue, see para. 15.). We ran up against that in every transmission docket, in every wind docket, and most recently, the Freeborn Wind docket. Earth to Mars, causation is NOT at issue in an administrative permitting docket — that’s NOT a personal injury suit! It is not helpful to go on and on about causation. Remember the tobacco cases — yes, that is a good comparison — because they’re so different. Those cases were tort cases, where causation is at issue — this is not. The two landowner families in Bent Tree were bought out after Commerce’s contracted noise studies showed probably “exceedences” of noise (notice how PUC staff also tries to frame it as causation issue?) over the state noise standards (Minn. R. 7030.0400) and the PUC approved the buy-out agreement. Causation is for tort actions — administrative permitting has zero to do with causation (click for explanatory link). Really… It’s that simple. This is why it’s important for an applicant to demonstrate that they can comply with the noise standards, and why in the Freeborn Wind docket, it’s a problem that the PUC is allowing them to avoid that public pre-construction review.
  2. Coal… S-C-I-E-N-C-E. DOH! Do some research before publishing something like this. Speaking in ignorance about coal and “black lung” (Thing of the past? Ask those suffering from it, those many who are still alive.) and the toxic nature coal mining and coal burning and the waste of both., not to mention overflowing coal impoundments, and the coal ash rule which tRump administration is gutting. Everyone in Minnesota should be aware of the mercury fish consumption restrictions/warnings for every body of water tested in Minnesota. Coal burning emissions include (consider any externalities docket), from the EIA:
ESeveral principal emissions result from coal combustion:

So, here we go… Kristi Rosenquist in a Center for the American Experiment post:

Guest Column: ‘Wind Turbine Cancer’ – Is President Donald Trump Crazy? Maybe Not.

Energy, Environment on April 18, 2019 Print

The following article is a guest column by Kristi Rosenquist, a Grassroots Citizen Activist in Minnesota:

When President Trump said, “The noise [from wind turbines] causes cancer,” the reactions were immediate. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley called Trump’s statement “idiotic.”  Democratic Presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders mocked Trump in a Bernie 2020 video – standing alongside a road in Iowa with wind turbines in the background. And, no discussion of wind energy, no matter how minor, would be complete without the comparison to “dirty coal:” “A power source that does cause many health problems, including cancer, is coal, an extremely dirty fuel…,” Said Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine.

Thousands of rural residents with direct knowledge and experience with wind turbines had a different response.  Rural Iowa resident Janna Swanson, President of the Coalition for Rural Property Rights, expressed what I saw as the most common reaction – matching my initial reaction – in her response published in the StarTribune (but not in the Des Moines Register to which she also submitted).

“If President Trump said that industrial wind turbines cause cancer, that is unfortunate, because it downplays the real negative impacts that do come with living next to or within an industrial wind installation.

Rural residents the world over have complained of headache, vertigo, dizziness, sleeplessness, chest tightness and tinnitus from turbines being sited too close to their homes. In contracts wind companies … freely admit that turbines can …“cause or emit noise, vibration, air turbulence, wake, and electromagnetic and frequency interference.”

On further reflection, I think Trump was only partially wrong by using one very important word – “cause.” What turbine noise does most consistently “cause” in rural communities across the globe is sleep deprivation.  What does sleep deprivation cause?

“…The extensive and longstanding peer reviewed published clinical research detail[s] the known interconnections and associations between chronic sleep deprivation,  [and] immune suppression resulting in increased …malignancies (cancers)….  [Observation of these] health problems worsening with exposure to wind turbine noise is not surprising to clinicians …when they understand the way infrasound and low frequency noise ….are known to affect health….” Testimony to the Appeals Tribunal of the State of Victoria, Australia by Dr. Sarah Laurie, MD. 

Getting enough sleep is important for overall health and may be related to cancer risk:

“From a biological perspective, there are a lot of good reasons for us to suspect that insufficient sleep, chronic sleep debt or short sleep duration could have an impact on the development of cancer….” Amanda Phipps, an epidemiologist and researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle quoted in U.S. News and World Report

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has been quite clear and consistent in their statements to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) about wind turbine noise and health. In turn, the PUC has been quite consistent in ignoring MDH’s advice as they issue “certificates of need” and “site permits” to industrial wind complexes in Minnesota.

“…It is unknown whether reported health impacts are direct health effects or indirect stress impacts from annoyance and/or lack of sleep resulting from turbine noise….” “…Health impacts from wind turbine projects should be acknowledged, and provision should be made to mitigate these effects for residents within and near proposed project areas.” (PUC Document ID: 20176-132804-03; pages 59-61)

“…Low frequency [wind turbine] noise is primarily a problem …in …homes, especially at night.” “The most common complaints are sleeplessness and headache.” “The Minnesota nighttime standard …appears to underweight penetration of low frequency noise into dwellings.” The PUC should “…evaluate the low frequency noise component.”Public Health Impacts of Wind Turbines 5/22/2009. 

In 2016, when I and other citizens met with MDH Commission Ed Ehlinger to discuss the negative health impacts of wind turbines, one of the other citizens said that the wind industry acts a lot like ‘Big Tobacco.’ Both the tobacco industry (in the past) and the wind industry deny their product causes any health problems thereby forcing sick people to individually attempt the very expensive and very high legal bar of proving “medical causation.”  Ehlinger agreed that’s “a good comparison.”

I asked Ehlinger, “How many reports of people sick from wind turbines do you need to receive at MDH before you are obligated to act?”  He responded, “I’m never obligated to act unless forced to do so by the Governor or the legislature.”  I notice that Ehlinger was forced to resign when he failed to act on thousands of reports of neglect and abuse in Minnesota care facilities.

I can’t find a clear distinction between Senator Grassley’s position on industrial wind energy and that contained in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal – their stated motivations are different, but their policy proposals look similar. August 7, 2018 was a busy day for Grassley with two Townhall meetings that both featured discussion of Iowans opposed to wind energy, and a private photo-op with Alliant Energy and the American Wind Energy Association to receive AWEA’s ‘Wind Champion Award.’

I notice they didn’t hold the Wind Champion Award ceremony at Alliant’s Bent Tree Wind project – where Alliant had just finalized the buy-out of Minnesotan’s homes that are no-longer inhabitable due to wind turbine noise. Bernie and Cheryl Hagen are just one sample of people who;s home was bought by Alliant energy after years of sleep deprivation and low-frequency noise after the Bent Tree Wind facility began operation (MN PUC docket ID 08-573).

Bernie Sanders apparently failed to notice the significant wide-spread hatred of wind turbines in rural Vermont that resulted in a significant noise limitation in Vermont’s wind turbine siting rules in 2017.

Mark me ‘Safe from coal cancer,” Jonathan Chait. I’m not a coal miner. The only coal cancer I’m aware of might be from coal miners without sufficient respiratory protection. I thought “black lung” was a thing of the past? Union of Concerned Scientists claim coal plants cause cancer through emitting arsenic that gets into drinking water in concentrations high enough to cause cancer….  I think if that claim had any medically provable credibility, one of the well-funded faux-environmental coal-hate groups would already have successfully sued a coal-fired power plant that “caused” arsenic cancer.

Perhaps Grassley, Sanders, and Chait believe that rural residents are suffering from a “global hallucination event.” The Minnesota Legislative Energy Commission held a hearing on wind energy and health.  I asked expert witness Dr. Mariana Alves-Pereira what she thought about wind developers’ repeated assertions to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that their turbines don’t cause the health problems that people report.  Dr. Alves-Pereira said, “Unless everybody’s going through a collective hallucination around the world, I don’t see how that statement can be upheld scientifically.” (Oct. 19, 2017 audio; Dr. Alves Pereira testimony starts at 23 minutes)

I think Sherri Lange, CEO of the North American Platform Against Wind Power, sums this up beautifully:

  • Do stress and lack of sleep contribute to the development of cancer? Yes.
  • Does wind turbine noise raise stress levels and interrupt sleep? Yes.
Categories: Citizens

Badger Hollow Orders

Fri, 04/19/2019 - 10:22am

Yesterday all the Badger Hollow Orders were issued by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. Here they are:

FINAL ORDER 9697-CE-100 (CPCN)Download FINAL ORDER 9697-CE-101 (XmsnDownload FINAL ORDER 5-BS-228 (Acquisition)Download

As of yesterday’s release, there are 20 days to file a Petition for Rehearing, soooooo, lots to do in the next 3 weeks!

Categories: Citizens

Another ICE detention center tanked!

Thu, 04/18/2019 - 8:49pm

YES! The City of New Richmond, WI, had received a zoning change request to allow an ICE detention facility in that town. WHAT?!?! After the one in Pine Island, MN, went south, this was most disturbing to see another pop up. Here’s the short version:

The full press release:


This is the best news today, well, there is that other report released… OK, it’s a toss-up, but THIS IS VERY GOOD NEWS!

Here’s the city analysis of the proposal, and note that after the project proposer read it, they withdrew the application. Scanning the review, the findings are that in each instance, for each section, it “does not meet Evaluation Criterion…” Well, that’s pretty clear.

Good, leave, tail between your legs, SCOOT, don’t let the door hit you on your way out:

Categories: Citizens

No obstruction…

Thu, 04/18/2019 - 11:34am

Mueller Report is released, quite redacted. But there are choice parts:

I predict much worse things in his future…

No obstruction because people wouldn’t follow his orders! Now that’s an interesting twist… the intent was there, but fails on the execution. SNORT!

It’s too big to upload, trying to reduce. In the meantime, here’s a direct link:

And a searchable version:

And from Joshua Frank: Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”

Categories: Citizens

Homework for Thursday with David Schultz

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 3:18pm

Remember, David Schultz will be here Thursday for an ethics presentation, sponsored by the City of Red Wing! David Schultz in Red Wing on roles, open meeting, and conflicts

Thursday, April 18th

6 pm at the Sheldon Theatre

Here’s your homework — get to it and come with your questions:

Red Wing Ethics Training April 18, 2019Download Gifting – SchultzDownload
Categories: Citizens

tRump promoting COAL! And crude oil and natural gas…

Fri, 04/12/2019 - 3:08pm

Here is is, hot off the Federal Register:

2019-07656-EO 13868 Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic GrowthDownload

The point of this is to push crude oil and natural gas production, to do what it takes to get it to market (regardless of risks); to revise (gut) the Clean Water Act; to renew leases on federal lands that are now on hold; whether there are “trends” in energy investments and whether proxy voting and regulations should be changed; and to determine whether states’ exercising of their rights is a “barrier” to the national energy market.

There’s a lot between the lines, but in essence, the plan is to put tRump energy policy over states’ and sovereign rights, to put market over safety and environmental concerns. The “market” has already decided, so how does he think this will operate, and what of the cost of these market manipulations?

Categories: Citizens

Massive agenda at PSC tomorrow, and we’re at the tail end!

Wed, 04/10/2019 - 8:47pm

Here’s the agenda, Badger Hollow and the acquisition docket, #28, 29 and 30!!!

PSC Agenda 4-11-2019Download

Watch it here: LIVE WEBCAST Starts at 9:30 a.m.

Categories: Citizens

Xcel’s IRP

Wed, 04/03/2019 - 2:28pm

Alan Muller and I went to a meeting last night about Xcel Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan – coming soon to a Public Utilities Commission near you! Here in Minnesota, it’s expected to be filed July 1, 2019. Right now they’re filing a lot of documents in the prior IRP, PUC Docket 15-21. To search it go to PUC SEARCH PAGE and search for “year” 15 and docket 21. After they file their 2019 IRP, it will be given a new docket number and filings will be in that docket.

Here’s their presentation from last night:

Xcel Presentation-4-2-2019Download

I found this slide particularly troubling because of the overstatement of demand:

Reality, well, they say “existing resources” are at 10,000MW and peak demand at 9,400 or so… but, peak demand from Xcel’s SEC 10-K filings:

There are indeed issues with Xcel and its forecasting, almost always overstated. Remember the CapX 2020 “forecasts” of a 2.49% annual increase? Here’s Xcel’s forecast from the last IRP, Docket 15-21 (as above), p. 45 of 102:

What is Xcel doing to reduce peak? There’s a statutory requirement to reduce demand by 1.5% annually, so don’t think it’s going up anytime soon.

What is Xcel doing to shift the useage from peak to off peak?

And one thing that really sticks in my craw… Sherco 3. The turbine crashed/blew up/fell apart, and did a lot of damage. Sherco 3 was down for 22 months, and we did just fine without it. BUT Xcel proposed, and the PUC agreed, to rehabbing Sherco 3 at tremendous cost to us ratepayers. Now it’s back in service, and they’re agreeing to shut down Sherco 1 and Sherco 2 in the future, and then shut down Sherco 3 further out. Why did this happen? Why spend all that money to rehap Sherco 3, when we likely didn’t need it then, and THEN shut down Sherco 1 & 2. Why wasn’t Sherco 3 left closed, and then shut down Sherco 1 and 2 in the future? Why revive Sherco 3?

I also don’t at all like the way they call nuclear “carbon free” because it is NOT, look at the fuel cycle, and look at all the other problems. Nope, not OK.

And what is Xcel doing to partner with local governments, big box stores, warehouses, apartment buildings, over parking lots, to get solar on thousands of acres of rooftops?

What is Xcel doing to get PV solar, hot water solar, and simple solar heaters on every residence?

And what is Xcel doing to put up solar on brownfields, such as closed sand mines, closed coal plants, closed turkey-shit plants, closed garbage burners (Red Wind did put up solar at its closed incinerator site, but its small, need MORE!)?

Sooo, here we go. Xcel is trying to get everyone on board so there will be no serious challenges to their IRP, just as they did with e21 Initiative (what a load that was… grrrrrrrr).

Categories: Citizens

Contact A.G. Barr daily!

Thu, 03/28/2019 - 5:53pm
Look, he’s flashing signs too…

Every day until it’s released, take 2 minutes and send A.G. Barr a simple missive:


Call the Department Comment Line: 202-353-1555 or use their Contact Form:

While you’re at it, send a missive here too, every day:

Categories: Citizens

Published today – FERC Inquiry – Transmission

Thu, 03/28/2019 - 2:28pm

In today’s Federal Register:

Inquiry Regarding the Commission’s Electric Transmission Incentives Policy


Initial Comments are due June 25, 2019, and Reply Comments are due July 25, 2019.

So what’s this about? My guess, big picture, is that they’re rethinking the wisdom of subsidies of transmission, these incentives that have, well, incentives, to build transmission that isn’t needed. We’ve got enough! The claimed purpose of “incentives” was to benefit consumers by “reducing cost of delivered power by reducing transmission congestion” and “promoting capital investment” and “providing an ROE that attracts investment…” FR 11762. Well, they sure did that! Utilities and transmission owners can make a lot more ROE by investing in, building transmission, than they can selling electricity, and that’s not considering providing transmission service, that’s separate.

FERC does ask some specific questions, my favorite section is about “risks and challenges.” FERC can provide a guarantee of ROI if the project doesn’t go forward, as they’ve done for Cardinal-Hickory Creek (is this anything more than a financing leg-up?). For example:

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

Where’d that Dairyland one go?

FERC is also asking questions about benefits, but in this case, they don’t ask the question most important — who gets the benefits? The “benefits” claimed in MISO’s MVP 17 project portfolio, of which the CapX 2020 Hampton-La Crosse line was one, Badger Coulee was another, and right now, the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission project is one to take a close look at. First, from MTEP 2012:

And where are we today, or more currently? Let’s look at the MTEP17 MVP Triennial Review:

The categories are absurd… BENEFITS?

And in the Badger Coulee proceeding at Wisconsin’s PSC, the Applicant’s Henn admits that the benefits accrue to the utilities, and any benefits to Wisconsin ratepayers are not distinct or identifiable — shame MISO’s Schedule 26A and MM of the MISO tariff didn’t get in that record:

I mean, the savings of the project are to our interconnected utilities. How they pass those savings on to the ratepayers is, you know, within their tariff and pay structures and things of that nature. So, you know, I personally can’t speak to, you know, to a direct savings of any magnitude to the ratepayers of Wisconsin or, in fact, the ratepayers throughout the MISO footprint. to a direct savings of any magnitude to the ratepayers of Wisconsin or, in fact, the ratepayers throughout the MISO footprint.

Henn. Tr. Vol. 8, p. 9, l. 13-20. DOH!

It’s about time FERC took a look at this.

Remember, Initial Comments are due June 25, 2019, and Reply Comments due July 25, 2019.

Categories: Citizens

DEIS for Cardinal-Hickory Creek

Thu, 03/28/2019 - 8:45am

Comments are due Sunday, April 14, 2019 (11:59!):

Here’s the DEIS in full:

DEIS_NarrativeDownload DEIS_Appendix_A_Maps_Part 1Download DEIS_Appendix_A_Maps_Part 2Download DEIS_Appendix_B_Impact Table-Proposed RoutesDownload DEIS_Appendix_C_RUS RoutesDownload DEIS_Appendix_D_Typical Structure DiagramsDownload DEIS_Appendix_E_PC Publications and InformationDownload DEIS_Appendix_E2_UndergroundDownload DEIS_Appendix_F_Supplemental Info_Easement K_Avian Risk ReviewDownload

Note the “need” section beginning on p. 49. It’s dependent on MISO — yes, that MISO, the one that blessed the so dramatically overstated “need” for the CapX 2020 build-out… the MISO that claims “need” when its LMP Coutour map is nearly always a bright or dark blue! The MISO that is all about “market” which has nothing to do with “need.” This section takes it back to “Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative” (hard to tell their mission, eh? But we know it was all about coal). If they’re going to go back to the history of this big transmission build-out, methinks that, particularly in Wisconsin, they should go back to the Wisconsin Reliability Assessment Organization (WRAO) Report that laid out the wish list of the transmission build-out.

Now, head to p. 80, Section 3.9, entitled “Applicants’ Alternatives to the Proposed Project.” This section presents ONLY the APPLICANTS’ alternatives, they get to determine what is or is not an alternatives, the parameters. Show me where it says in the WI statutes or rules that it only the APPLICANTS’ choice of alternatives to be considered?

Folks, we’ve got a lot of work to do…

Categories: Citizens

David Schultz in Red Wing on roles, open meeting, and conflicts

Tue, 03/26/2019 - 12:48pm

This just came over the wire — and I so look forward to this presentation. OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, and I sure hope every city-connected person attends!

On Thursday, April 18th, beginning at 6 pm at the Sheldon Theatre, Professor David Schultz will come to present on three topics including:

  • The role of staff versus the role of the elected official/volunteer
  • The open meeting law
  • Conflict of interest as it relates to state law

Professor Schultz is a renowned educator and is considered an expert in these areas.  He is a Politicial Science professor at Hamline University and a law professor through the University of Minnesota Law School.  Links to his biographies from his respective universities are listed below.

Schultz’ Bio:

This training is a result of feedback we have heard from commission members who want to know more about these topics, and attendance is strongly encouraged.  This is an excellent opportunity to get your questions answered and increase your understanding and effectiveness as a commission member; we hope to see you there.

Categories: Citizens