CapX 2020 — It’s over, it’s done, all but the cost recovery

20140512_161838_resized

CapX 2020 at Highway 61 south of Wabasha

Monday, they had their CapX 2020 Love Fest at the Hampton substation, and I didn’t even get an engraved invitation.  It’s a depressing point in time — 12 years on this project — and they got all they wanted, in some places not where they wanted it, but it’s up, and so many people affected.  Having it routed somewhere, anywhere, is what they cared about, and supposedly it’s now “in-service,” though I wonder.  Is it time to have a big bonfire of all the boxes of files?

This was about the Minnesota portions, but South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin is permitted as well, the superhighway from the coal fields of the Dakotas to Madison and beyond.  Yeah, I could have camped out and crashed the party, but I had another commitment, so couldn’t spend the day hanging out waiting, watching.  Maybe I should have…

capx_hrl_energized_20160926_113428-medLeft-to-right: Mark Kotschevar, Rochester Public Utilities; Dave Geschwind, Southern MN Municipal Power Agency; Teresa Mogensen, Xcel Energy; Chris Kunkle, Wind on the Wires; Ben Porath, Dairyland Power Cooperative; Priti Patel, MISO; Tim Noeldner, WPPI Energy. From CapX Press Release

How much was “Wind on the Wires” (f/k/a Izaak Walton League) (and many other orgs?) paid for their promotion of transmission?

In the press:

STrib (is it really $2.1 billion?  Any recent reports?):

Last Minnesota leg of $2.1 billion electricity mega-project done

From WKBT (video here):

CapX2020 transmission line completed

And Wisconsin Public Radio:

Collaborative Utility Project Connects Electric Transmission From South Dakota To Wisconsin

Rochester Post-Bulletin:

Drone patrols the power line

It’s up and running — get out those gauss meters and check it out.

20140512_161913_1_resized

CapX 2020 at Hwy. 61 looking towards the Mississippi

Xcel Rate Case in CapX territory

Filed under:PUC Docket,Rate Case - Transmission — posted by admin on July 20, 2016 @ 11:16 am

CapX

Next week, the Xcel Energy rate case public hearings are in St. Cloud and Red Wing, both in areas hard hit by CapX 2020.  Southern Minnesota was also hit with the ITC MN/IA project, which is the northern part of MVP 3, and the Badger-Coulee line from La Crosse to Madison was the northern part of MVP 5.  Xcel ratepayers will be hit with a portion of the full MISO MVP 17 project portfolio.

This rate case is driven by Xcel’s desire to recover costs of transmission, that is openly admitted by Xcel Energy, and transmission cost shifting is a part of Xcel’s request.  What about the MISO MVP portfolio and what we’re going to pay for that under the FERC approved MISO tariff?

For some odd reason (e21_Initiative “consensus”) the “environmental” and “policy” groups that work hard on turnout for hearings are absent… I guess abdicating on the rate case is part of the consensus, eh?  Very few people are turning out for these hearings.  And without a strong public outcry, what will happen?

earings

Show up at the hearings!  To file written comments, eFile them in PUC docket 15-826 or….

Notice_Comments

And you should also know that two PUC Commissioners were fundamental in pulling that e21_Initiative and e21 “consensus” together, Matt Schuerger and Nancy Lange.  From Mike Bull, who reports on how it began:

So I reached out from Xcel to Rolf Nordstrom at the Great Plains Institute and Nancy Lange then at CEE (now a Minnesota PUC commissioner), to start putting the e21 project together. Rolf and I worked to put a strong core project team together – CEE, Great Plains, Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, George Washington University Law School and consultant Matt Schuerger.

Time for Nancy Lange and Matt Schuerger to recuse… it’s overdue.

Again, this rate case is transmission driven.  At issue in this rate case are considerations of what costs will be foisted on ratepayers, i.e., should Minnesota ratepayers have to pay for transmission THROUGH Minnesota, to points elsewhere, should Xcel ratepayers pay for transmission THROUGH Xcel territory to other service areas, should Xcel ratepayers pay for transmission for market access, for market transactions, which is a private purpose not having anything to do with serving Xcel customers.  And Xcel is specifically asking that transmission cost recovery be shifted from current Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) and AFUDC.   Those of you affected by CapX 2020 know the price you’ve already paid, and this rate case is adding insult to injury.

CapX 2020 is specifically named in testimony in this docket, for example, in Ian R. Benson’s testimony, n p. 8, 14-15, 17, 23-30, 39, 55-60, and discussed thoroughly throughout:

2C2_Xmsn_Benson_201511-115335-03

And from the Application, these two snippets, and note that the Brookings and Fargo projects are key “Minnesota pass-through” transmission lines — and why these and not the Bemidji-Grand Rapids and/or the Hampton-La Crosse lines?

TCR1

TCR2

Here’s the gory details of Lange and Schuerger’s involvement (from e21_MikeBull_Center for Energy and Environment) — as noted above.  Schuerger was a conslutant on this, so his involvement is even more damning…

The e21 Initiative started as little more than a glimmer in my eye a couple of years ago, when I was a Manager of Policy and Strategy for Xcel Energy.  I’d just come back from a meeting at the Edison Electric Institute about the impact of various dynamics – low load growth, increasing infrastructure investments, deeper penetrations of distributed resources – on the current utility business model. In general, rates were going to rise under the current model far faster as a result of those forces, and utility revenues become more uncertain.

Those dynamics were later chronicled in the Disruptive Challenges report issued by the Edison Electric Institute in January 2013. I realized that it was important for Xcel to try and get out ahead of the curve.

So I reached out from Xcel to Rolf Nordstrom at the Great Plains Institute and Nancy Lange then at CEE (now a Minnesota PUC commissioner), to start putting the e21 project together. Rolf and I worked to put a strong core project team together – CEE, Great Plains, Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, George Washington University Law School and consultant Matt Schuerger. We then compiled a terrific group of stakeholders who together represent much of what constitutes the public interest – low income customer advocates, small and large business representatives, utilities, environmental organization, cities and other public entities, and regulators. Beginning last February, this group of 25-30 stakeholders met monthly for day-long sessions that were wonderfully facilitated by Rolf and Jennifer Christenson, his colleague at GPI, toiling together deep in the weeds of utility regulation.

It was an honor to work with all of them, as we coalesced around the set of consensus recommendations detailed in the report.

And what about the limited interventions in this matter, regular intervenors being tossed out:

Order Denying Intervention_Sunshare & ILSR

Order Denying Intervention #1 – Overland & No CapX 2020

Order Denying Intervention #2 – Overland & NoCapX 2020

That second denial of Intervention is a little over the top!

Further, the Petition states that purposes for which No CapX 2020 was “specifically formed”22 was to participate in dockets which are now closed, raising the question of why No CapX 2020 continues to exist.

In the Certificate of Need CapX proceeding, we were repeatedly told that rate recovery for the transmission projects were only an issue for a rate case, and as above, in the rate case, CapX 2020 is specifically named in testimony in this docket, for example, in Ian R. Benson’s testimony, n p. 8, 14-15, 17, 23-30, 39, 55-60, and discussed thoroughly throughout:

2C2_Xmsn_Benson_201511-115335-03

… sigh… and I can’t find that any party has filed testimony regarding CapX 2020 and the MISO MVP 17 project portfolio other than Xcel!!!  But maybe that’s also a part of the e21 consensus, eh?

More Denial of Intervention in Xcel Rate Case

Filed under:Cost Recovery,FERC,Laws & Rules,Rate Case - Transmission — posted by admin on May 3, 2016 @ 11:35 am

gavel

WOW… can you believe??  It’s not just me, it’s not just denial of Intervention of No CapX 2020.   See 20162-118122-01_Denial2_Overland-NoCapX Intervention.  Intervention as a party in this Rate Case is only open to those who sold out to Xcel Energy and it’s “business plan” agenda of e21.

This is the most recent Order in the Xcel Energy Rate Case:

Order Denying Intervention – SunShare & ILSR

Here are their Intervention Petitions:

ILSR_Intervention_20164-120145-01

SunShare_Intervention_20164-120144-01

To see the full Rate Case docket, go to the PUC’s Search Documents page, and search for Docket 15-826.

And the Order… Dig this, parroting Xcel’s objections:

Order1

And this, even worse, as if the interests of the “Clean Energy Organizations” who bought into, stumped for, and sat quietly during the legislative hearings about Xcel Energy‘s e21 Initiative are the same as the interests of SunShare and Institute for Local Self-Reliance – ILSR:

Order2

This is SO offensive.  There is no consideration that the perspectives are different, only statements that the issues, the concerns, are the same.

The late, great Myer Shark, rate case Intervenor extraordinaire, would spin in his grave at the limitations of participation in this rate case.

Myer Shark, Lawyer Who Fought Utility, Is Dead at 94

In the Matter of the Complaint by Myer Shark, et al …

Put on your waders — CapX 2020 Report!

CapXCap1

It’s out, the report from U of M Humphrey School of Public Affairs about CapX 2020, headlining it as a “Model for addressing climate change.

Transmission Planning and CapX 2020: Building Trust to Build Regional Transmission Systems

Oh, please, this is all about coal, and you know it.  This is all about enabling marketing of electricity.  In fact, Xcel’s Tim Carlsbad testified most honestly that CapX 2020 was not for wind!  That’s because electrical energy isn’t ID’d by generation source, as Jimbo Alders also testified, and under FERC, discrimination in generation sources is not allowed, transmission must serve whatever is there.  And the report early on, p. 4, notes:

Both North and South Dakota have strong wind resources and North Dakota also has low-BTU lignite
coal resources that it wants to continue to use. New high-voltage transmission lines are needed to
support the Dakotas’ ability to export electricity to neighboring states.

See also: ICF-Independent Assessment MISO Benefits

Anyway, here it is, and it’s much like Phyllis Reha’s puff piece promoting CapX 2020 years ago while she was on the Public Utilities Commission, that this is the model other states should use:

MN PUC Commissioner Reha’s Feb 15 2006 presentation promoting CapX 2020

So put on your waders and reading glasses and have at it. Here’s the word on the 2005 Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell – Chapter 97 – Revisor of Statutes that gave Xcel and Co. just what they wanted, transmission as a revenue stream:

CapX_Xmsn2005

And note how opposition is addressed, countered by an organization that received how much to promote transmission.  This is SO condescending:

HumphreyCapXReport

… and opposition discounted because it’s so technical, what with load flow studies, energy consumption trends, how could we possibly understand.  We couldn’t possibly understand… nevermind that the decreased demand we warned of, and which demonstrated lack of need, was the reality that we were entering in 2008.

XcelPeakDemand2000-2015

And remember Steve Rakow’s chart of demand, entered at the very end of the Certificate of Need hearing when demand was at issue???  In addition to NO identification of axis values, the trend he promoted, and which was adopted by the ALJ and Commission, has NOT happened, and instead Xcel is adjusting to the “new normal” and whining that the grid is only 55% utilized in its e21 and rate case filings.  Here’s Steve Rakow’s chart:

rakownapkindemand

Reality peak demand trajectory was lower than Rakow’s “slow growth” line, in fact, it’s the opposite from 2007 to present.  Suffice it to say:

ManureSpreader

Xcel’s bogus demand forecast basis for CapX

arrowdownRemember Xcel’s CapX 2020 peak demand projections of 2.49% annual increase?  How wrong can they be?  And how unjustified was their basis for a Certificate of Need for CapX 2020?  And how are they held accountable for those gross misrepresentations?  But now it’s time to pay, and who will pay?  This is why the rate case in progress, PUC Docket 15-826, is so important.

On the other hand, I love it when this happens… Xcel Peak Demand is again DOWN!  There’s a trend, and it’s called decreased demand.  Demand has yet to exceed the 2007 peak, and now it’s 8 years…

XcelPeakDemand2000-2015

Here’s the Xcel Energy SEC 10-K filed a couple days ago:

2015 – Xcel Energy 10-K

Is it any wonder they want to get away from a cost based rate a la their “e21 Initiative” scheme?  Particularly now that the bill for CapX 2020 is coming due and their newest rate case (PUC Docket GR-15-826) is now underway?

And the specifics, and note how they inexplicably forecast a 2016 peak of 9,327, which is based on a “normal weather conditions” assumption:

2015-Xcel Peak Demand Chart

Encourage public participation? Yeah, right…

Filed under:FERC,Laws & Rules,Rate Case - Transmission — posted by admin on February 10, 2016 @ 12:01 pm

horsesassaward

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:

20162-118122-01_Denial #2_Overland-NoCapX Intervention

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.

aghast

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.

dohHere’s what has gone before…

Intervention Petition II

Xcel objection to second petition to intervene

Overland-NoCapX_Intervention Petition 2

Intervention Petition I

20161-117574-01_Order Denying Intervention Petition 1

No CapX 2020_Response to Xcel’s Objection

20161-116957-02_Xcel’s Objection to Intervention

NoCapX 2020 and Carol A. Overland_Intervention Petition Packet

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:

Petition to Intervene of the Commercial Group

Petition to Intervene of Suburban Rate Authority

Petition to Intervene 0f City of Minneapolis

Petition to Intervene 0f “Clean Energy Organizations”

Petition to Intervene of MN Chamber of Commerce

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:

FERC Order – Docket ER09-1431 (p. 8)

Odd that should come up now… naaaah, not really.

booted-out

Xcel Energy objects AGAIN! Of course…

Filed under:Rate Case - Transmission — posted by admin on February 2, 2016 @ 4:48 pm

MVP portfolio map

The rate case trudges on… I’d filed a SECOND Petition for Intervention, and Xcel has filed a SECOND objection:

Overland-NoCapX_Intervention2_FINAL

Xcel Energy’s SECOND Objection to Overland/No CapX 2020 SECOND Petition to Intervene

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:

Clean Energy Organizations” – Petition to Intervene

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:

objection1

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:

Burdick1

Burdick2

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?

Lastly...

Lastly2

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.

CapX & MVP cost allocation and a stroll down memory lane…

Filed under:Cost Recovery,FERC,Rate Case - Transmission — posted by admin on @ 1:58 pm

ferclogo

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.

FERC Intervention-NoCapX & U-CAN  FERC Docket ER09-1431

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.

CapX

And it was at the time that MISO was hammering together the MISO MVP 17 project transmission Portfolio.

MVP portfolio map

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.

 

Well, look who’s intervened in the rate case!

Filed under:Cost Recovery,FERC,Rate Case - Transmission — posted by admin on January 26, 2016 @ 6:20 pm

doh

Fresh Energy, Sierra Club (national?  Northstar Chapter?  ??), Wind on the Wires, NRDC, MCEA have joined together under MCEA to intervene in the Xcel Energy “transmission driven” rate case.

CEO+Petition+to+Intervene

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:

Letter & e21 Initiative Report_201412-105629-01

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.

 

 

2nd Petition for Intervention in Xcel Rate Case

Filed under:Cost Recovery,PUC Docket,Rate Case - Transmission — posted by admin on January 24, 2016 @ 11:15 pm

gavel

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…

20161-117574-01_Order Denying Intervention

… sigh… OK… fine…

Just filed at 12:01 a.m. Monday, January 25, 2016:

Overland-NoCapX_Intervention2_FINAL

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:

schedule


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace