Carol Overland - Legalectric

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Carol A. Overland, Overland Law Office -- Utility Regulatory and Land Use Advocacy
Updated: 55 min 48 sec ago

What MISO says about low wind generation in extreme cold

Sat, 02/09/2019 - 1:24pm

There’s been a lot of speculation about the low wind production during the low-low temps at the end of January.  Turns out there’s an issue not anticipated by MISO that they’re going to have to deal with.  I heard it first from a little birdie who heard it while in a flock…

And now from a bigger birdie with primary info from the horse itself: Turbines apparently have a -22F degree or so automatic shutoff, so when it was way cold, they shut off.

Unidentified temperature cutoff thresholds challenged
wind forecasting in morning of Jan 30. Unexpected
shutoffs led to a large deviation from planned output.

Ummmmm, that’s a problem.  Here’s the MISO update on that:

20190207 MSC Item 04 Jan 30 Max Gen Event317407

And from my “good friends” at Center of the American Experiment, who got it twisted again:

Bitter Cold Shows Reliable Energy Sources Are Critical

Twisted?  What’s wrong with that?  Well, their focus is that it was an intermittency issue, which it was not.  As above, it was that shut-off at -22!  And note the part in their post about “unforeseen.”  And THAT is the problem, because the -22 cut-off was not integrated into the MISO modeling, plans, and that was a surprise, and they’re going to have to figure that one out.  It’s possible, probable, and now apparently likely that we will have another -22 degree spell in the foreseeable future.  So get with it, MISO!

And natural gas.  I keep thinking about that CenterPoint natural gas underground storage dome.  7 billion cubic feet at least.  There’s a lot of gas in storage.  Are they relying on pipelines, and does that reliance take into account the many newer natural gas plants?  Does Xcel share/buy from CenterPoint, take advantage of the storage?  What is the impact of so many electric generators fueled by natural gas?  They did recently do a lot of natural gas pipeline work on that primary north/south line running north from Waseca, was that a capacity expansion… upgrades or maintenance ??

Categories: Citizens

Solar Rulemaking Petition DENIED!

Wed, 02/06/2019 - 2:50pm

Here we go again…  On January 24th, Wisconsin’s Public Service Commission denied the Petition for Rulemaking filed by Jewell Jinkins Intervenors, where we’re trying to get them off the dime and promulgate some solar siting rules.

Petition for Rulemaking_JJI_Solar_FINAL

Here’s their written order, just out today, with some bizarre statements:

PSC Order_2-6-2019- Denial of Rulemaking Petition

Bizarre statements?  Yup, here’s one, the grand finale:


As Bob Cupit would say that I say, “GIVE ME A BREAK….”

Categories: Citizens

Minnesota? Quite “healthy” old farts here!

Sun, 02/03/2019 - 3:46pm

For those of us “at a certain age,” some things to consider.  Lee Schafer’s article in the STrib brought up a few articles about where Minnesota fits into the mix, and that the usual suspects of states to go to for retirement (often AZ for those of us west of the Mississippi, and FL for those on the East Coast) may not be so hot.  Cost of living in AZ sure is high and the climate sure sucks!

America’s Health Rankings – 2018 Senior Report

But what about Minnesota?  The United Health Foundation’s study put Minnesota pretty high, #4, but last year we were #1.  Click for larger version:

The considerations, above, are ones that make sense to me.  For instance, looking at rates of volunteerism of those 65 and over, isolation and sense of community:

… looking at rates of “excessive drinking” for those over 65 — hey, MN, we were #48 on the list, tied with Hawaii, and above only Wisconsin!  WHOA, folks, consider that! Click for larger version:

And the one that I need to deal with (much easier with mostly resolved plantar fascitis) — I can be a woman of substance in other ways, eh?

And Delivery of Home Meals (Meals on Wheels?!?):

Here’s Schafer’s column today in the STrib — you can check out the other linked studies here:

The best spot to retire might not be the warmest
Categories: Citizens

I remember when…

Tue, 01/29/2019 - 8:45am

Oh come on, folks, it’s not that cold. -7 right now in Red Wing. At the risk of sounding like an old fart, I remember when… I remember in the 60s those -30 mornings penguin-walking a mile to school in Michelin Man costume.

And I’d rather forget those awful mornings in the 70s, so glad to have that long muskrat coat, I appreciated each and every dead muskrat.  And 1974 for sure was awful, living in an unheated attic, and trying, and failing, to start the car, a personal emergency.  Piglet, my ’64 Galaxie just couldn’t do it.

Early 80s, changing the oil in my van because I’d flooded it beyond hope. What hell that was…

And in 1994, when my new Dodge Colt froze up!  How did that happen?  Caught it overheating as it was warming up, and lucky to get it to the shop and thawed out. WHEW, too close.

But as you well know, climate has changed. I kept telling Alan Muller that winters are not “normal” here, little snow, and not -30 or worse. Now and then, we do get reminders (click photos for larger versions).

Categories: Citizens

Badger Hollow solar in the STrib

Sun, 01/27/2019 - 10:22am

Badger Hollow solar is in the news.

Badger Hollow is central station solar — what a bad idea.  Plan is to get a permit, and turn around and sell project to utilities.  BUT they’re only selling 1/2 of it, don’t have target for remaining half!  Lock us into utility control for 30-50 years?  Spend money on transmission interconnection construction, network upgrades, and transmission service (added to cost of solar!), and connecting into new unneeded high voltage transmission a la Cardinal-Hickory Creek?  AAAARGH.  The state should require brownfield siting.  Nuclear and coal plant sites!  Every government building, schools, hospitals, town halls!  Partnerships with big box retail, covering the roof of every Walmart would put a huge dent in need.  Hasn’t there been news of abandoned silica sand mines?  There ya go, another siting option.  But it’s all about control, utilities want to be the ones owning and selling and more than that, utilities want to get the higher returns for construction capital costs.  Yes, just follow the money.  SHAME!

p.s. “BIG” — this project is 300 MW, covering 2,500-3,000 acres of prime farmland, biggest in Midwest, and one of biggest in the nation.

Big solar project splits farmers and clean energy proponents

By SARAH WHITES-KODITSCHEK of Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and Wisconsin Public Radio. Associated Press January 27, 2019 — 12:10am

MONTFORT, Wis. — Bob Bishop is a 61-year-old farmer living in dairy country in southwestern Wisconsin. Today he is helping his two sons pull a downed tree off of a fence line, stepping through piles of cow manure and corn stalks as he drags the branches into the big claw of a skid loader.

Soon, the family will stop raising dairy cows because the industry is in trouble. In 2018, Wisconsin lost 638 dairy farms because of falling milk prices. And the Bishops, who farm in Iowa County, still carry debt from when hog prices tanked in the 1990s.

Yet a rare opportunity has come the Bishops’ way. For at least a generation, the family would receive double or more the market rental rate on about 650 acres to be used for a giant solar power project. The Badger Hollow Solar Farm would be the largest such project in the Midwest.

“This was a good answer for the lagging ag economy … This provides us an excellent looking future, a very bright future we’ll say,” Bishop said.

His son Andrew Bishop, 29, wants to raise a family here and have something to pass along. Renting out about one-third of their land for the project, most of it now used to grow corn and soybeans, will help the farm stay in business, Andrew Bishop said.

“I’d like my kids to take over running my farm someday,” he said. “I have to have the financial future in front of them to make it viable.”

Invenergy’s Badger Hollow Solar Farm is one of the largest solar utility projects planned for cropland anywhere in the country. Most large-scale solar arrays have been built in the desert Southwest, where both land and sun are plentiful.

In Wisconsin, the 300-megawatt project, which the company says could power about 77,000 homes, is envisioned for 3,500 acres of prime agricultural land. It is dividing the area’s farming community, pitting neighbor against neighbor in the county of about 24,000 people. The Bishops are among several local farmers who plan to lease a checkerboard of parcels between Cobb and Montfort to Invenergy.

Some residents who vocally oppose the project generally support renewable energy; some of them even have their own solar panels generating power for their rural homes. But because of the size of the project — nearly 5.5 square miles — they fear the area will become a “solar wasteland.”

Invenergy is based in Illinois and has 135 wind, solar and natural gas projects around the United States, Europe, South America and Canada, with proposals to build elsewhere.

Badger Hollow is slated for completion in 2023, pending approval by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. It plans to use 2,200 acres of the site for up to 1.2 million solar panels.

The company was attracted to Iowa County because of the availability of flat, cleared lands, nearby transmission lines, low environmental risk and community support.

“This is an opportunity to generate electricity locally, generate jobs locally, tax revenue locally, and support local farmers,” said Invenergy’s renewable energy manager, Dan Litchfield, adding the project could bring $1.1 million in annual tax revenue to the county.

And the project would help Wisconsin — which is heavily reliant on coal and behind most states in solar power generation — to shift to cleaner energy.

Wisconsin Public Service Corp. and Madison Gas & Electric plan to purchase interests equivalent to half of the plant’s generating capacity. Public utilities cannot easily build such a project themselves. State law requires them to show a need for such development, whereas private companies are not obligated to meet this standard.

As the sun sets over recently harvested fields, Litchfield walks near a sample of the native grasses that would be used as ground cover. The plants would help replenish soils and provide habitat for birds and insects such as bees, around the solar panels.

The panels will face east in the morning and tilt throughout the day to catch the most sun. They will transfer power to machines called inverters. Underground power collection lines will carry the energy to an overhead line, which will send it to the power grid.

Litchfield points to a property on the horizon, about 4 miles from the Badger Hollow project office, where he hopes to place rows of dark glossy solar panels, 15-feet tall, in a spot where rows of corn and soybeans normally stand.

Litchfield said the project will be visually unobtrusive, and the farm’s inverters would make only a low humming noise.

“As far as energy generation technologies go, I think it’s as low impact as it gets,” he said. “We’re not burning anything, we’re not stockpiling ash, we don’t create odors.”

Alan Jewell and Richard Jinkins sit at a round table drinking tea in Jewell’s living room. Exposed stone lines the interior walls of his roughly 160-year-old farmhouse.

Both men are farmers who trace their heritage in this area back generations. Jinkins said his family purchased farmland before Wisconsin became a state in 1848, and his son hopes to become a fifth-generation farmer.

Jewell and Jinkins both have family land next to acres leased for the solar project. They have joined the formal process at the Public Service Commission to intervene in the Badger Hollow case.

They love this countryside for its scenic beauty and feel the solar project would change that.

“This is an ugly, ugly mark on the land,” Jewell said. “Why am I having to have this thrust upon me?”

They say too much high-quality farmland needed for food production would be tied up in energy generation, and they fear more of their neighbors will move away because of the project’s unsightliness.

To Jinkins, utility-scale solar is a threat to Wisconsin’s farming legacy.

“If I want to rent land, if my son wants to farm, there’s just so much farm near our property, right? It doesn’t turn over that often. It doesn’t come up for sale,” Jinkins said.

Jewell said he is for renewable energy, but he thinks it should happen on an individual scale. People like him, who are not a part of the project, will live with the downsides but no benefit, he said. Jewell and Jinkins are also among residents critical of the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek power line planned to run near the solar project.

Wisconsin has no siting rules specific to solar projects. And Jewell said the proposed local restrictions for the project are inadequate. An operating contract with Iowa County requires 50 feet between the project and property lines of non-participating owners or any public road. It also requires a 100-foot setback from any dwelling of a non-participating property owner.

Jewell’s attorney, Carol Overland, requested the Public Service Commission create solar siting rules that would include a required environmental review of large solar projects. After opting to conduct an initial environmental assessment, commission staff concluded that there would be a low probability of harm.

“The proposed project is not expected to significantly affect historic resources, scenic or recreational resources, threatened or endangered species, or ecologically important areas,” the assessment found.

Tom Content, executive director of Citizens Utility Board, noted that MG&E and WPS also plan to buy a 1,300-acre solar project at Two Creeks in Manitowoc County.

Content said the commission should conduct a “more holistic and thorough review” of whether these projects are needed — and how much ratepayers should be required to pay for them. The utilities say acquisition of this solar capacity would lower rates. An expert for CUB, which intervenes in utility cases to protect ratepayers, says it is possible the cost of electricity could go up.

“We’ve had a concern that utility profits in Wisconsin have been too high for a long time,” he said, noting that Wisconsin has the 13th highest electric rates in the country. “Any time you build something, rates go up.”

Jewell said he also wants more oversight, someone to further weigh the trade-offs of such an unprecedented use of agricultural land for a solar utility.

“To an accountant, it’s dirt,” Jewell said. “To somebody that works with land and feels it’s a partnership … it’s not an element to buy or sell, it’s an element to respect.”

Michael Vickerman, policy director of the nonprofit Renew Wisconsin, which promotes renewable energy, said solar power has been slow to catch on here.

He hopes 2019 will be a “breakout” year for solar. In the unlikely scenario that all 15 of Wisconsin’s proposed solar projects are approved, along with several proposed wind projects, renewable energy would provide about 20 percent of the state’s power by 2025, Vickerman says.

As of October, renewable energy, including hydroelectric, provided about 8 percent of the state’s utility-scale electricity generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Coal-fired plants produced 51 percent of Wisconsin’s electricity, followed by natural gas at 29 percent, nuclear power at 11 percent, and other sources.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Wisconsin ranks 40th nationwide in the generation of solar energy. Currently, the state has about 100 megawatts of solar power generation. The proposed Badger Hollow project would provide three times that amount.

Solar power has finally become a low-cost option for replacing fossil fuels, Vickerman said; that is why large utilities are now investing in it.

“Solar is homegrown. Solar is clean. Solar is dependable, and solar is economic,” Vickerman said. “When you add all those characteristics together, you have a pretty compelling argument for expanding our use of solar.”

The Public Service Commission has scheduled March 6 oral arguments on whether the utilities should be allowed to purchase the extra solar capacity by investing $389.7 million in Badger Hollow and Two Creeks.

Said Vickerman: “We embrace solar from a large installation in rural Wisconsin to rooftop solar, whether it’s a big box store or somebody’s house — we think it’s all good.”

The nonprofit news outlet Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism provided this article to The Associated Press through a collaboration with Institute for Nonprofit News.

Categories: Citizens

Roger Stone Arrested

Fri, 01/25/2019 - 10:56am

What delightful news to wake up to — Roger Stone indicted and arrested!

REAL NEWS – PRIMARY DOCUMENT ALERT:

Roger Stone_Indictment_012419

 

Categories: Citizens

Coal Ash – yes, it’s a problem

Sun, 01/20/2019 - 3:08pm

 

What happens to coal ash?  It’s shoveled out, brought to a “ash disposal facility” where it goes into the ground, and from there???  We’re finally learning that it often leaches into the ground, down into the groundwater. Thanks to EarthJustice for posting the raw data — no plants listed for Minnesota:

Scroll down for their newer reports.

It’s not news, though, and has been the subject of research for a long time, this study from 1980:

Effects of Coal-Ash Leachate on Ground Water Quality

What did they look for and find?

So yeah, this is something to be concerned about…

There are coal ash and other ash “disposal facilities” everywhere, usually very close to where the ash is generated, here in Red Wing we have an ash dump, ash from two old coal burners at the NSP/Xcel garbage burners on the south end of town, and a now closed city garbage burner, visible on the map above, at the lower right corner of the black striped “Water Tank Mound Area” and beyond, that complex there.  The City garbage burner was closed not long ago (YEAAAAA!!!), but the NSP/Xcel former coal burners, now garbage burner, remain burning.

(The Air Permits for those 2 burners have been expired for a decade or more, but that’s another story, covered before and to be covered again, but not today.)

The coal ash and garbage ash has been piling up for decades.  A couple of years ago there was a city and Xcel scam launched here in Red Wing, “ash mining.”

Alan Muller on Red Wing’s garbage ash “mining”

April 30th, 2016

December 7 – Red Wing Ash Mine Open House

December 1st, 2016

MPCA’s THREE Red Wing Ash releases today

December 5th, 2016

Lab USA Ash Mining – PCA says “No EIS needed”

April 7th, 2017

Comments on Red Wing Ash “Mining” Project

April 15th, 2017

Having some experience with ash issues, there’s been recent reports about utility disclosures of ash contamination:

EarthJustice – Coal Ash: Reports & Publications (Texas, Georgia, West Virginia)

Where are details for Minnesota?

Categories: Citizens