Donate!!! Yes, you!! See that “PayPal” button up to the right? Join the challenge to transmission that they don’t need and we don’t want! No CapX 2020 has Intervened in the ITC Midwest MN/IA Certificate of Need, a public interest intervention focused on showing up to weigh in on the big picture issues (Important note, No CapX 2020 is aiding public participation, but not taking a position on route.).
I haven’t given out one of these in a long time, but here we go, the Horse’s Ass Award to Xcel Energy and Office of Administrative Hearings, based on the bias and double standards for participation and obstructions to intervention in the latest Xcel Energy rate case (PUC Docket GR-15-826).
Yes, Intervention in the rate case denied again:
And I quote:
Further, the Petition states that purposes for which No CapX 2020 was “specifically formed” (fn omitted) was to participate in dockets which are now closed, raising the question of why No CapX 2020 continues to exist.
H-E-L-L-O?!?!?! This rate case docket is all about shifting the CapX 2020 and MISO MVP 17 project portfolio transmission costs from one scheme to another. I specifically cited all the references to CapX 2020, MISO MVP, and transmission.
Intervention Petition II
Intervention Petition I
And in a parallel track, note the double standard in pleading.
- Note that Xcel has objected only to the Overland/No CapX 2020 intervention.
- Note that Xcel has not objected to those who participated in the “e21 Initiative” which is the basis for this rate case “multi-year rate plan” and transmission shift.
- Note how little the other “intervenors” say.
- Note they do not state their interests.
- Note they do not state how their interests are different from general ratepayers.
- Note they do not state how their interests will not be represented by OAG and Commerce.
OAH has approved Interventions of “The Commercial Group,” “Suburban Rate Authority,” and “City of Mineapolis.” I’m sure the approval of “Clean Energy Organizations” will soon follow, despite the lack of specific pleading and the apparent conflict with one “attorney” representing so many organizations that either have differing positions and interests, or which are adequately represented by other organizations and don’t need to intervene… funny how this double standard works…
Read the Petitions:
Check out each of these petitions. Look at the pleading, what’s stated, and as importantly, what is NOT stated. What are their interests? How are the “interests” different than general ratepayers in their class? How are their interests not represented by Office of Attorney General and/or MN Dept. of Commerce?
So what to do? Participating in the public hearing is not sufficient, and if that’s the limited offering, well, there’s no Discovery for a public participant. What’s next? Fight for the privilege of an unfunded intervention, as if there’s nothing else to do? The issues raised by Overland/No CapX 2020 will not be addressed otherwise. And thos overt quashing of participation is not consistent with the “public” in “Public Utilities Commission” and the Commission’s mandate.
Meanwhile, FERC just denied the 2010 Petition for Intervention too in the case regarding the cost allocation for these CapX and MISO MVP projects, yes, that took them 5 1/2 years to do, so why now? Check this out:
Odd that should come up now… naaaah, not really.
The rate case trudges on… I’d filed a SECOND Petition for Intervention, and Xcel has filed a SECOND objection:
Look how they’re framing this. The “Clean Energy Organization” intervenors claim essentially that because they’ve intervened before they should be granted intervention status before, and not much more. Most do not state a position, much less the specific interests in this rate case:
Does Xcel Energy hold the “Clean Energy Organizations” to the standards that they think Overland/No CapX must meet? Of cousre not. No objection to the “CEO” intervention. Different intervenors, different standards.
Check this objection:
Not relevant or appropriate? It’s Xcel that wants to switch Construction Work in Progress payments into the general rate case, it’s Xcel that brought up the CapX 2020 and MVP projects and Schedule 26A in its testimony. Benson Direct: CapX p. 8, 14, 17, 28, 39, 56-57 and Schedule 2 p. 3-4 of 11; MVP and Schedule 26A: p. 17, 58, 76-77, 87, 125-126. Burdick: CapX 2020 p. 28-29; and transmission generally throughout:
From Burdick’s testimony, it’s a basis for their theory of the case!
And Xcel again trots out the claim that “Petitioners fail to demonstrate that any alleged relevant interest they may have in this proceeding is not already represented by the other parties.” Xcel, please, demonstrate how they ARE represented by other parties? Commerce? The A.G.’s Office? Noooooo…
And what’s Xcel’s final objection to the Overland/No CapX 2020 Intervention?
There’s no mention of the many No CapX 2020 interventions granted, including the CapX 2020 Certificate of Need (06-1115); CapX Brookings-Hampton Routing Permit with U-CAN (08-1474); the CapX 2020 Fargo to St. Cloud Routing Permit together with NoRCA (09-1056); the Hampton-La Crosse Routing Permit with North Route Group (09-1448); and the ITC MISO MVP 3 Minnesota/Iowa 345 kV (12-1053). Xcel seems to have a difficult time with use of the word “with” in addressing those groups that have joined No CapX in these dockets which have interests represented by No CapX 2020. No CapX 2020 has been granted many more Petitions for Intervention than have been denied.
Today a FERC order came out addressing a Petition for Limited Intervention Out-of-Time made by No CapX 2020 and United Citizens Action Network, filed on May 20, 2010, nearly 6 years ago.
This was SO far back, 2010, back when the CapX Applicants and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission were ramming through CapX 2020 Certificate of Need BEFORE there was any cost allocation scheme solidified.
And it was at the time that MISO was hammering together the MISO MVP 17 project transmission Portfolio.
Now that CapX 2020 transmission rate recovery is before the Commission, the Minnesota PUC, FERC goes back into history to make sure that No CapX 2020 and United Citizens Action Network are not part of the discussion:
ER09-1431_Order Denying Reconsideration (denial of No CapX & U-CAN Petition on p. 8)
So this just happens to come up when cost allocation and recovery are at issue in the Minnesota PUC Rate case… and Xcel’s attorney is working so hard to keep us out of that docket.
So… are all of them in agreement on positions? Some were e21 Initiative participants, some were not. WOW openly is a supporter of transmission, so what position might they take in this rate case?
And then there’s their role in Xcel Energy’s e21 Initiative and their role in this:
I wonder what standards they’ll be held to…
Fresh Energy makes no mention of whether they’re rate payers and claims it “works in the public interest…” Oh my…
Sierra Club gives no indication which branch, office, or what. Is it Sierra national? Is it the NorthStar office? The Madison office? Inquiring minds would like to know.
Wind on the Wires, the Waltons spin-off, doesn’t address whether they’re ratepayers — and they’re an industry special interest group, a trade organization, “focused on prioritizing the delivery of large amounts of all types of wind energy to markets in the Upper Midwest, and represents members who produce wind power and technology who have a direct interest in energy rates at issue in this case,” as RECIPIENTS!
NRDC — their interest in this is??? Not at all clear.
MCEA as Intervenor, as “attorney” and its interest is? Again, not at all clear.
And are these entities setting up for a conflict of interest, or are they all in lockstep? Some participated in e21 and some did not. Some participated in transmission and some did not.
And this statement… “Without Petitioners’ continued participation in both dockets (the rate case and the alternate rate design, 15-662) it is more likely that the two proceedings will reach inconsistent outcomes due to divergent goals.” Please explain what the heck that means, and please, let’s get specific about the “divergent goals.”
And here’s one admission that is important in this “transmission driven” rate case:
By the same token, Petitioners are interested in supporting renewable energy expansion from sources of all scales, including transmission infrastructure to support such projects. To the extent that NSP is proposing grid modernization projects both in this rate case and in a parallel Commission docket, Petitioners will be able to add unique perspective on these proposals and their usefulness in meeting efficiency and clean energy goals. Grid modernization and transmission funding under this rate have a direct bearing on the legal rights of Petitioners’ members, as well.
Yes, please explain.
Apparently Judge Oxley did not like the Overland and No CapX 2020 Petition for Intervention in the rate case, late Friday the Order came out. It was denied, without prejudice. And yet interventions for Commercial Group, Suburban Rate Authority, and City of Minneapolis were granted…
… sigh… OK… fine…
Just filed at 12:01 a.m. Monday, January 25, 2016:
These transmission issues being raised about CapX 2020 and the MISO MVP 17 Project Portfolio are so important that I’m going to be persistent.
Here’s the schedule, from the First Prehearing Order:
On the way to Stephanie Henriksen’s Memorial Service today, along Hwy. 19 on the west side of Cannon Falls, I saw the CapX 2020 foundations in the ground, and Cor-Ten steel poles lined up, poised for installation. Dog, how depressing… On the way back, there was a big cement truck coming onto 19 from an access road, and we drove up Hwy. 52 and back and got an eyeful — Alan got some photos. The one above is on the north side of the Cannon River, and this one below is on the south side, on the Sandstroms’ property, that’s one of the shop buildings in the background:
Just a bit further south, it is to be right up against the school’s soccer fields.
To think that they’re doing this… how is this justified? And with no prior notice until moments before the public hearings at the very end of a couple year long process… OBSCENE!
Here’s the latest compliance filing in the 09-1448 docket, with photos:
Yesterday at the Xcel Energy rate case prehearing conference, Xcel’s attorney, Eric Swanson, stated that they’d be objecting to the No CapX 2020/Overland intervention. Just after that prehearing conference ended, their objection was filed:
Good idea, Xcel….
What do other Petitions for Intervention look like? What other Objections has Xcel made to Interventions? What do Petitions for Interventions that have been granted by an ALJ look like? Let’s compare…
Recently, Xcel Energy’s Chris Clark, who I’d been working in tandem with years ago when he was just lowly corporate counsel cohort opposing the legislatively mandated Power Purchase Agreement for the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project said, “I just don’t understand why the transmission side hates you so!” (rough, not exact quote).
Well, Chris, I guess you’re gonna find out.
I presume that this is just a way to eliminate anyone that they haven’t bought off in the course of that “e21 Initiative” where they “reached consensus” about wanting a business-plan based multi-year rate plan — many of the usual suspects were NOT present at that Prehearing Conference and there’d only been two Interventions filed prior to the Prehearing Conference, and only one filed since.
Yeah, great idea. I testified against that effort at both Senate and House committees, where the room was backed full of those who’d “reached consensus” and they were all S-I-L-E-N-T as Sen. Marty and Rep. Garofalo ushered that bill through. SHAME! Will they show up for the rate case, and what position might the take? Certainly not anything challenging the “Multi-Year Rate Plan.”
There was an interesting twist too. I’d brought up that under Minn. Stat. 10A.01, Subd. 2, participation on a rate case is deemed lobbying, and requires registration and reporting when/if the thresholds are met, and requested that this requirement be addressed in the Prehearing Order. The ALJ clearly knew nothing about it.
“Administrative action” means an action by any official, board, commission or agency of the executive branch to adopt, amend, or repeal a rule under chapter 14. “Administrative action” does not include the application or administration of an adopted rule, except in cases of rate setting, power plant and powerline siting, and granting of certificates of need under section 216B.243.
I’d noted in the discussion that the lobbying statute is typically noted in the Commission’s referral to OAH, and thankfully, on the record, I’d thought to look at that Order, and there it was, p. 7:
And I noticed that Eric Swanson was very, very quiet during that discussion. HE is the one who charged me with not registering as lobbyist in the Not-so-Great Northern Transmission Line case, as attorney for Minnesota Power. That was such a low budget virtually pro bono operation that there’s no way either RRANT or I would meet the thresholds for registering or reporting. That gambit of his was just more harassment, trying to limit legitimate critique of their project and process.
So now, for a response to that Objection to Intervention of No CapX 2020 and Overland…
Well, we all knew that… but in the LaX Tribune:
And this guy now sits as one of three Commissioners on the Wisconsin Public Service Commission?
Mike Huebsch was appointed on March 1, 2015, and disclosed a potential conflict on March 6, 2015:
… and of course…
He didn’t recuse himself.
SHAME! Mike Huebsch should be ejected from the Public Service Commission immediately.
AS you scroll down, keep in mind the tremendous job that the City of Onalaska did presenting their case in the Badger Coulee transmission docket (go HERE and search for docket 05-CE-142, and look for Onalaska filings).
Tuesday night, the Onalaska Plan Commission took up the revised Comprehensive Plan.
Here’s where you can check out the new Comprehensive Plan (search for “transmission” and you’ll find not much):
The current Zoning map (click for larger version):
Do you see any transmission lines on that map? Any pipelines on that map? The City doesn’t have a map of transmission lines, or pipelines, yet it’s a prominent feature of Onalaska, just drive up Hwy 35 or Hwy 53 and you’ll see what I mean. The City Land Use & Development Director said in the meeting that they don’t have one, it would be very difficult to put together and that this info can be regarded as “proprietary.” Not quite, it could be “CEII” information, but when you see it driving down the road, when you look at google and there it is, there’s no reason the City can’t draw a line on the map!
There’s a lot of transmission through Onalaska, lining both sides of the highways, in the middle of the city bottlenecked in-between the river and the bluffs (like Red Wing), and it runs right through the heart of the city. Here’s ATC’s “map” of transmission:
Here’s WI-PSC’s map:
Dairyland is wanting to tear down its old line on the west side of Highways 53 and 35 and virtually double the height of the towers and the capacity. That’s not updating or maintenance, that’s “tear down the old line and build a new one” construction.
NOW is the time, because there’s not yet a Dairyland application, and because Xcel’s line on the east side of Highways 35 and 53 is also old, they’re going to want to “upgrade” soon too. The routing of transmission through Onalaska in light of Wisconsin’s adoption of its Electrical Code which prohibits construction under a line, means that new construction should be carefully reviewed. And right now, rebuilding, tearing down and new construction of something much bigger, shouldn’t be allowed over and next to homes and businesses. What to do? It’s a narrow area with a lot of transmission! But this is what “planning” is all about. Looking into the future and figuring out what they want the City to look like, how they can address the extreme impacts of transmission, and if they can minimize or mitigate these impacts. Here’s an example of it running through people’s back yards, stars indicate pole placement in people’s back yards, and the white/red lines are access roads through people’s back yards!
On behalf of No CapX 2020, I sent the Planning Commission and City Council these comments:
At Tuesday’s meeting, there were few commenters, and they quickly wrestled with the issues raised, and sent it back to the Committee for consideration of transmission issues and impacts.
THANK YOU, ONALASKA PLAN COMMISSION!
I’m having a difficult time getting worked up about the PPSA Annual Hearing this year. It’s the time we have to tell the Commission what does and does not work with the Power Plant Siting Act. I’ve been at this for 20 years now, and it never ends, doesn’t change, so many of the same problems, over and over. It is SO hard for people to participate and while it got better for a while, when people stood up and leveled the playing field, and with Gov. Ventura’s active outreach to the public, well, can’t have that happen, so then NSP’s big buck lobbyists changed the laws to their advantage (2001) and then bought off the funded intervenors and they rewrote the laws together (2003 & 2005) and now the head of one of those funded intervenors, the Waltons, is at Commerce in charge of utility permitting (CoN and Route/Siting) and another on the Commission.
Oh well, it’s that time again… Let’s all put this on our calendar and once more, with feeling, tell them what we really think!
Notice of the Power Plant Siting and Transmission Line Routing Program Annual Hearing
Issued: November 6, 2015
In the Matter of the 2015 Power Plant Siting Act Annual Hearing
Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Docket Number: E999/M-15-785
Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) Docket Number: 60-2500-32901
Date: Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Time: 9:30 a.m.
Location: Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Large Hearing Room, 121 7th Place East, Suite 350, Saint Paul, MN 55101
Bad weather? Find out if a meeting is canceled. Call (toll-free) 1-855-731-6208 or 651-201-2213 or visit mn.gov/puc
The annual hearing is required by Minnesota Statute § 216E.07, which provides that:
Thecommission shall hold an annual public hearing at a time and place prescribed by rule in order to afford interested persons an opportunity to be heard regarding any matters relating to the siting of large electric generating power plants and routing of high-voltage transmission lines. At the meeting, the commission shall advise the public of the permits issued by the commission in the past year….
Note – No decisions about specific projects are made at the annual hearing.
Public Hearing Information
- Public hearings start on time.
- Arrive a few minutes early so you have time to sign in, pick up materials, and find a seat.
- Administrative Law Judge James LaFave will preside over the hearing.
- Public Utilities Commission and Department of Commerce staff members are available to answer questions about the Power Plant Siting Act processes and the projects.
- You may add verbal comments, written comments, or both into the record.
- Learn more about participating at a public hearing at http://mn.gov/puc/resources/meetings-and-hearings.jsp
- Judge LaFave will use information gathered at the public hearing and during the comment period to write a summary report for the Commission
Topics for Public Comment:
- Any matters related to the site permit process for large electric generating power plants and routing of high-voltage transmission lines.
Comment Period: November 6, 2015 through January 5, 2016 at 4:30pm.
- Comments must be received by 4:30pm on the close date
- Comments received after comment period closes may not be considered
Online Visit mn.gov/puc, select Speak Up!, find this docket (15-785), and add your comments to the discussion.
If you wish to include an exhibit, map or other attachment, please send your comments via eFiling (see below) or U.S. Mail.
Please include the Commission’s docket number in all communications.
Filing Requirements: Utilities and state agencies are required to file documents using the Commission’s electronic filing system (eFiling). All parties, participants and interested persons are encouraged to use eFiling: mn.gov/puc, select eFiling, and follow the prompts.
Important Comments will be made available to the public via the Public Utilities Commission’s website, except in limited circumstances consistent with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. The Commission does not edit or delete personal identifying information from submissions.
II.Overview of Programs
A. Public Utilities Commission – Facilities Permitting and Public Advisor
B. Department of Commerce – Energy Facilities Permitting Unit
C. Role of Other Agencies
III. Projects Reviewed
A. Projects Permitted in 2015
B. Pending and Anticipated Projects
C. Electric Facilities Subject to Power Plant Siting Act
1. Generating Plants
2. Transmission Lines
IV. Public Questions and Testimony
How to Learn More
Subscribe to the Docket: Subscribe to receive email notifications when new documents are filed. Note – subscribing may result in a large number of emails.
- Select Subscribe to a Docket
- Type your email address
- For Type of Subscription, select Docket Number
- For Docket Number, select 15 in the first box, type 785 in the second box
- Select Add to List
- Select Save
Full Case Record: See all documents filed in this docket via the Commission’s website – mn.gov/puc, select Search eDockets, enter the year (15) and the docket number (785), select Search.
Project Mailing Lists: Sign up to receive notices and opportunities to participate in other dockets relating to specific projects in which you are interested (meetings, comment periods, etc.). Contact email@example.com or 651-201-2234 with the docket number, your name, mailing address and email address.
Minnesota Statutes and Rules: The hearing is being conducted according to Minnesota Statute 216E.07. Minnesota Statutes are available at www.revisor.mn.gov.
Public Utilities Commission Public Advisor
Tracy Smetana – firstname.lastname@example.org, 651-296-0406 or 1-800-657-3782