Rochester Editorial

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on December 24, 2007 @ 6:33 am

A few days off after hearings all over the state — that’s just what was needed, so I headed up north, but it didn’t quite work out as planned.  And now that I’m back, there’s a big pile of “catch-up” waiting.  Here’s an interesting start, an editorial from the Rochester Post-Bulleting, interesting because it weaves all over, though expressing a salient point:

Unfortunately, the three lines being proposed by CapX 2020, a coalition of electrical utilities that includes Rochester Public Utilities, the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency and Dairyland Power Cooperataive of La Crosse, won’t be much of a boost to clean-energy proponents.

There’s no indication that the proposed lines, including one that would run from a substation near Hampton, Minn., to Rochester, would carry a significant amount of electricity produced by wind or any other alternative energy source.

Here’s the full text — see if this makes more sense to you…

Opinion
Editorial: Power-line plan at junction with renewable energy


12/20/2007 8:00:58 AM

Ideally, any new high-voltage power lines built in Minnesota would go through areas where wind turbines are expected to dot the landscape. As has been described in several stories in the Post-Bulletin in recent weeks, many wind-energy projects and proposals are lined up, waiting for an opportunity to connect to the nearly maxed-out power grid.

And, given that Minnesota’s Renewable Standard requires utility companies to produce 30 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, there should be a sense of urgency in getting wind-energy projects online.

Unfortunately, the three lines being proposed by CapX 2020, a coalition of electrical utilities that includes Rochester Public Utilities, the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency and Dairyland Power Cooperataive of La Crosse, won’t be much of a boost to clean-energy proponents.

There’s no indication that the proposed lines, including one that would run from a substation near Hampton, Minn., to Rochester, would carry a significant amount of electricity produced by wind or any other alternative energy source.

That’s not the only bad news on the energy front. The much-heralded energy bill that is making its way toward President Bush’s desk no longer contains a requirement that utilities nationwide produce 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. The Senate, facing a veto threat from the White House and heavy lobbying from utility companies, stripped the proposal out of the bill.

Where do these developments leave southeastern Minnesota?

Sitting pretty, actually.

For now, there might be less growth for Minnesota companies that build solar collectors or components for wind turbines. But with half the states in the country already having created their own clean-energy mandates, investment in this technology will continue to expand despite the federal government’s inaction.

Furthermore, the energy bill requires ethanol use nationwide to reach 36 billion gallons a year by 2022. That’s nearly six times the current production capacity, and 21 billion gallons of that fuel is to be produced from non-corn sources. Minnesota already has a serious stake in ethanol, and our region’s almost infinite potential to produce switchgrass, prairie grass and wood chips should keep us thoroughly in the mix as the industry evolves.

The power-line issue is more problematic, but with Xcel Energy required to add 2,600 megawatts of new wind energy to its grid by 2020, we have every reason to believe that expansion of lines into the windy regions of southern Minnesota is inevitable, as is an increase in the use of local, community-based wind energy.

Until that happens — and even after it happens — we have to take comfort in the fact that today’s coal-burning plants are much cleaner than they were 10 years ago.

But that might be small consolation to people who will live near a high-voltage line.

2007 MAPP Load and Capability Report

Filed under:Reports - Documents — posted by admin on December 20, 2007 @ 10:03 am

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Here’s an important report — save it for a snow day, curl up with a pot of raspberry tea, and take a look at forecasts straight from the horse’s mouth.

MAPP 2007 Load and Capability Report

Look at the generation each utility has, look at their individual projections, and check out the MAPP projections.  This is the same “region” that CapX calls “region” when claiming need.

Also, look at NSP’s Integrated Resource Plan, just out.  Note that they’ve withdrawn their 375MW “need” in 2015:

Xcel IRP Home Page  (download sections)

That should keep you all busy…

Senate District 25 – CapX 2020 target

Filed under:Upcoming Events — posted by admin on @ 8:16 am

There’s an election happening in Senate District 25, and the CapX 2020 transmission corridor goes right through it!  Is anyone paying attention?  They’d better!  Over 70,000 landowners got notices, and many in Senate District 25 were among them.  There was a meeting in the District at the Arlington Community Center about CapX on Tuesday.

Are any of the Senate candidates even aware?

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The candidates are Ray Cox (R) and Kevin Dahle (DFL) and Vance Norgaard (IP).  Ray Cox voted for the 2005 Transmission Bill from Hell (Energy Ominous Bill) that opened the door wide open for Xcel to march these transmission lines through Minnesota.  Ray will claim we “need,” parroting CapX, but ask him to back it up and watch what happens!   Dahle’s position?  Generally, the DFL is as guilty as the R’s in toadying for Xcel, but Dahle hasn’t taken a position that I’ve heard.  Norgaard hasn’t either.   There’s a debate tonight.  ASK THEM ABOUT IT!  And if they make the claim that it’s for wind, you know what to do!!!!  ASK THEM WHAT THEY’LL DO TO STOP IT!!!

NAWO & ILSR’s appeal was dismissed

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on December 18, 2007 @ 10:06 am

Happened a while ago, but it wasn’t on the radar…  NAWO & ILSR had appealed a PUC Order, but it wasn’t the final decision – PRIMARY DOCUMENTS HERE.  That appeal was booted out, and the dismissal showed up in Xcel’s filing yesterday of Excelsior Energy’s challenge of a PUC Order in the Mesaba Project docket (IGCC coal gasification plant proposed for Taconite, MN)

Dismissal of Appeal

So enough of this diversionary nonsense — let’s get down to challenging CapX on NEED!

“A river is not a corridor”

Filed under:Upcoming Events — posted by admin on @ 8:40 am

Today’s meetings:

Tuesday, December 18

12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
Arlington Community Center
204 Shamrock Drive
Arlington, MN 55307

6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
Grandpa’s Event Center
31846 65th Ave. Way
Cannon Falls, MN 55019

And don’t forget the Prehearing Conference, today at 2:00 p.m.,  before ALJ Beverly Heydinger, at the PUC, in the Large Hearing Room, 3rd Floor, 121 – 7th Place East, St. Paul.

=============

Notes from last night’s meeting in… where was it… in Olivia:

In every big utility proceeding, there are these choice tidbits, in Arrowhead, it was “It’s all connected” from Don Jones’ testimony (Will Trevor noticed these too, I’d often see him snickering and writing, let’s face it, you have to do something to keep sane in a two month long hearing!); in Mesaba, “We are not liars” (nothing more need be said about that one).

So, here’s the first one for CapX, you heard it here, and I heard it straight from the horse’s … errrrrr… mouth during a discussion of siting criteria:

“A river is not a corridor.”

Now, I know that a river WAS a corridor for a GRE 69kV line, near Longville, where they mowed down trees along the riverbank and put in a transmission line. That was under county jurisdiction, and not state, and the county didn’t see any problem with it, the DNR got feisty in their initial comments, but then backed off and let it go… it’s good to know that won’t happen here.

Tim Carlsgaard blew it yesterday trying to keep the aura that this is a “Minnesota” project. People were asking about the endpoints of the line, questions unprovoked by anyone I know, and I got tired of it, and raised the issue of the maps they had in front of the room, which showed only Minnesota. I asked whether it’s correct that they’d just applied for the North Dakota CapX and whether it goes into WI from LaCrosse, and he pointed to the map and said that “It’s in our Application, it starts at a substation in Fargo…” and then went on to describe the Minnesota starting and ending points, diverting from the bigger picture. GRRRRRRRRRRRRR….

Here’s the bigger picture:

capx2020map.jpg

Obviously it’s only about transmission in Minnesota… they wouldn’t be claiming local Minnesota need and running a bunch of lines from the Dakota fields for export, would they????

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ER Scoping Comments due 1/14

Filed under:Laws & Rules — posted by admin on December 16, 2007 @ 11:51 am

So what’s an ER, why do I want to Comment? Because this is the way to get some consideration for system alternatives. They’re not looking at specifics of routing so much as environmental impacts of massive transmission construction and what alternatives there are. This is not binary, it’s important to get them to examine whether system alternatives offer partial mitigation of claimed need. So have at it!

DoC Notice – Scoping Comments for Environmental Report

To submit written comments, DUE BY JANUARY 14, 2008, send to:

David Birkholz

Department of Commerce

85 – 7th Place E., Suite 500

St. Paul, MN 55101

david.birkholz@state.mn.us

In a Certificate of Need proceeding, an Environmental Report is prepared, not to be confused with an “Environmental Impact Statement” which is part of the Routing docket (in MN, need and routing are separate proceedings, though they can be done at same time). The Environmental Report is nominal, but important (rules citations are all clickable links, here’s link to entire chapter for all):


7849.0230 ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT.

Subpart 1. Draft report. If the application is for an LHVTL, the information submitted under parts 7849.0240, 7849.0260, and 7849.0290 to 7849.0340 must be designated by the applicant as its “draft environmental report” and distributed in accordance with part 4410.7100, subpart 5.

Subp. 2. Written responses. The applicant shall submit written responses to the substantive comments entered into the record of the proceeding before the close of the public hearing on the application. The written responses must be entered into the record and be available to the administrative law judge in preparing the recommendation on the application.

Subp. 3. Final report. The draft environmental report, written comments, and the applicant’s written responses to comments comprise the “final environmental report,” which must be distributed in accordance with part 4410.7100, subpart 5.

Subp. 4. Notice of final report. On completing the final environmental report, the commission shall have published in the EQB Monitor, published by the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, a notice indicating completion.

Subp. 5. Supplements. The applicant must prepare a supplement to the final environmental report if the tests described in part 4410.3000, subparts 1 and 2, are met and a certificate of need proceeding on the proposed facility is pending.

STAT AUTH: MS s 216A.05; 216B.08; 216B.2421; 216B.243; 216C.10

HIST: L 1983 c 289 s 115; 12 SR 2624

What’s in an “Environmental Report?”  Not much…

Minn. R. 7849.7050 Process for an Environmental Report Preparation

Minn. R. 7849.7060 Environmental Report Content

And it gets confusing from there… if you go to 4410.7100, it says “repealed, renumbered 7850.0200” and if you go there it refers back to 4410.7100, saying “Repealed, 28 SF 951.” So much for distribution “in accordance.” Then there’s 4410.3000… if the tests in subparts 1 and 2 are met, then the applicants must prepare a supplement, but subparts 1 and 2 do not have any tests, thresholds… those are in subpart 3, so WTF? Looks to me like there’s never a supplement. Here’re Subparts 1, 2 and 3:

4410.3000 SUPPLEMENTING AN EIS.

Subpart 1. Applicability. An RGU shall supplement an EIS by preparing a supplemental EIS document in accordance with this part.

Subp. 2. EIS addendum. An RGU may make minor revisions to a final EIS by use of an EIS addendum. An EIS addendum may not be used to make revisions required under subpart 3. The addendum shall be distributed to the EQB, to any person who received the final EIS document, and to any other person upon written request. The EQB shall publish notice of the availability of the addendum in the EQB Monitor.

Subp. 3. Supplement to an EIS. An RGU shall prepare a supplement to an EIS under any of the following circumstances:

A. whenever after a final EIS has been determined adequate, but before the project becomes exempt under part 4410.4600, subpart 2, item B or D, the RGU determines that either:

(1) substantial changes have been made in the proposed project that affect the potential significant adverse environmental effects of the project; or

(2) there is substantial new information or new circumstances that significantly affect the potential environmental effects from the proposed project that have not been considered in the final EIS or that significantly affect the availability of prudent and feasible alternatives with lesser environmental effects;

B. whenever an EIS has been prepared for an ongoing governmental action and the RGU determines that the conditions of item A, subitem (1) or (2), are met with respect to the action; or

C. whenever an EIS has been prepared for one or more phases of a phased action or one or more components of a connected action and a later phase or another component is proposed for approval or implementation that was not evaluated in the initial EIS.

But then again, “anyone” can ask for a supplement, but this isn’t an EIS, it’s an Environmental Report, and hey, the EGB doesn’t exist anymore, they have nothing to do with electrical issues, Certificates of Need, routing dockets, it’s all Commerce, so ??? But here’s that part:

Subp. 4. Request for supplement to an EIS. Any person may
request preparation of a supplement to an EIS by submitting a
written request to the RGU containing material evidence that a
supplement is required under subpart 3. A copy of the request
must be sent to the EQB. The RGU shall make a decision on the
need for a supplement within 30 days of receipt of the request,
and shall notify the requesting person and the EQB staff of its
decision within five days. If the RGU denies the request, the
notice must explain the basis for its decision and respond to
the issues raised by the requesting person. If the RGU orders a
supplement, its basis for the decision must be incorporated into
the supplement preparation notice.

Here’s what’s required for a Certificate of Need, note that the burden of proof is on the applicant:

Minn. Stat. 216B.243

Subd. 3. Showing required for construction. No proposed large energy facility shall be certified for construction unless the applicant can show that demand for electricity cannot be met more cost effectively through energy conservation and load-management measures and unless the applicant has otherwise justified its need. In assessing need, the commission shall evaluate:

(1) the accuracy of the long-range energy demand forecasts on which the necessity for the facility is based;

(2) the effect of existing or possible energy conservation programs under sections 216C.05 to 216C.30 and this section or other federal or state legislation on long-term energy demand;

(3) the relationship of the proposed facility to overall state energy needs, as described in the most recent state energy policy and conservation report prepared under section 216C.18, or, in the case of a high-voltage transmission line, the relationship of the proposed line to regional energy needs, as presented in the transmission plan submitted under section 216B.2425;

(4) promotional activities that may have given rise to the demand for this facility;

(5) benefits of this facility, including its uses to protect or enhance environmental quality, and to increase reliability of energy supply in Minnesota and the region;

(6) possible alternatives for satisfying the energy demand or transmission needs including but not limited to potential for increased efficiency and upgrading of existing energy generation and transmission facilities, load-management programs, and distributed generation;

(7) the policies, rules, and regulations of other state and federal agencies and local governments;

(8) any feasible combination of energy conservation improvements, required under section 216B.241, that can (i) replace part or all of the energy to be provided by the proposed facility, and (ii) compete with it economically;

(9) with respect to a high-voltage transmission line, the benefits of enhanced regional reliability, access, or deliverability to the extent these factors improve the robustness of the transmission system or lower costs for electric consumers in Minnesota;

(10) whether the applicant or applicants are in compliance with applicable provisions of sections 216B.1691 and 216B.2425, subdivision 7, and have filed or will file by a date certain an application for certificate of need under this section or for certification as a priority electric transmission project under section 216B.2425 for any transmission facilities or upgrades identified under section 216B.2425, subdivision 7;

(11) whether the applicant has made the demonstrations required under subdivision 3a; and

(12) if the applicant is proposing a nonrenewable generating plant, the applicant’s assessment of the risk of environmental costs and regulation on that proposed facility over the expected useful life of the plant, including a proposed means of allocating costs associated with that risk.

Subd. 3a. Use of renewable resource. The commission may not issue a certificate of need under this section for a large energy facility that generates electric power by means of a nonrenewable energy source, or that transmits electric power generated by means of a nonrenewable energy source, unless the applicant for the certificate has demonstrated to the commission’s satisfaction that it has explored the possibility of generating power by means of renewable energy sources and has demonstrated that the alternative selected is less expensive (including environmental costs) than power generated by a renewable energy source. For purposes of this subdivision, “renewable energy source” includes hydro, wind, solar, and geothermal energy and the use of trees or other vegetation as fuel.

Now look at the rule, and the subtle shift of the burden of proof — the rule conflicts with the statute:

7849.0120 CRITERIA.

A certificate of need must be granted to the applicant on determining that:

A. the probable result of denial would be an adverse effect upon the future adequacy, reliability, or efficiency of energy supply to the applicant, to the applicant’s customers, or to the people of Minnesota and neighboring states, considering:

(1) the accuracy of the applicant’s forecast of demand for the type of energy that would be supplied by the proposed facility;

(2) the effects of the applicant’s existing or expected conservation programs and state and federal conservation programs;

(3) the effects of promotional practices of the applicant that may have given rise to the increase in the energy demand, particularly promotional practices which have occurred since 1974;

(4) the ability of current facilities and planned facilities not requiring certificates of need to meet the future demand; and

(5) the effect of the proposed facility, or a suitable modification thereof, in making efficient use of resources;

B. a more reasonable and prudent alternative to the proposed facility has not been demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence on the record, considering:

(1) the appropriateness of the size, the type, and the timing of the proposed facility compared to those of reasonable alternatives;

(2) the cost of the proposed facility and the cost of energy to be supplied by the proposed facility compared to the costs of reasonable alternatives and the cost of energy that would be supplied by reasonable alternatives;

(3) the effects of the proposed facility upon the natural and socioeconomic environments compared to the effects of reasonable alternatives; and

(4) the expected reliability of the proposed facility compared to the expected reliability of reasonable alternatives;

C. by a preponderance of the evidence on the record, the proposed facility, or a suitable modification of the facility, will provide benefits to society in a manner compatible with protecting the natural and socioeconomic environments, including human health, considering:

(1) the relationship of the proposed facility, or a suitable modification thereof, to overall state energy needs;

(2) the effects of the proposed facility, or a suitable modification thereof, upon the natural and socioeconomic environments compared to the effects of not building the facility;

(3) the effects of the proposed facility, or a suitable modification thereof, in inducing future development; and

(4) the socially beneficial uses of the output of the proposed facility, or a suitable modification thereof, including its uses to protect or enhance environmental quality; and

D. the record does not demonstrate that the design, construction, or operation of the proposed facility, or a suitable modification of the facility, will fail to comply with relevant policies, rules, and regulations of other state and federal agencies and local governments.

STAT AUTH: MS s 216A.05; 216B.08; 216B.2421; 216B.243; 216C.10

HIST: L 1983 c 289 s 115; 12 SR 2624

Oh, yeah, we’re gonna have some fun here…

Xcel applies for North Dakota CapX line

Filed under:News coverage,Reports - Documents — posted by admin on December 15, 2007 @ 6:15 pm

capx2020-powerpoint-p-7-big-picture-map.jpg

It’s all connected.  Xcel applied for the North Dakota section of CapX 2020, though all the reports say that “they don’t know where it will be routed.”  Oh, OK… right…  But for anyone who wants a hint, why, there’s always the above CapX 2020 map!  And where are there coal mines and coal plants in North Dakota?

From the Jamestown Sun:

Xcel Energy applies to build North Dakota powerline

By DALE WETZEL Associated Press Writer

The Associated Press – Saturday, December 15, 2007
BISMARCK, N.D.

Xcel Energy has notified state regulators of plans to build part of a new power transmission line in North Dakota, although its final route in the state hasn’t been determined.

North Dakota’s Public Service Commission agreed Friday to allow Xcel, which provides electricity to Fargo, West Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot, to shorten the amount of time it must wait to apply for the power line’s North Dakota location.

Xcel is part of a group of utilities seeking to build four new transmission lines in Minnesota. One would run about 250 miles from a Fargo substation to Monticello, Minn.

The Fargo line, and a separate power line from Bemidji to Grand Rapids in Minnesota, “will provide much-needed transmission support to the Red River Valley in eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota,” Darrin Lahr, an Xcel siting supervisor, said in a letter to the commission.

Susan Wefald, the PSC’s president, said the utilities have not yet established the power line’s North Dakota route. The line could stretch about 50 miles in North Dakota, or only a few miles if the power line crosses into the state from Moorhead, Minn., Wefald said.

Lahr said Xcel expects to file a proposed power line route next summer or fall. The utilities that are supporting the project want its final segment, from Alexandria to Fargo, to be finished in 2015, Lahr’s letter said.

Other utilities that are part of the Monticello to Fargo power line project are Great River Energy, of Elk River, Minn.; Otter Tail Power Co., of Fergus Falls, Minn.; Minnesota Power, of Duluth, Minn.; and Missouri River Energy Services, of Sioux Falls, S.D.

And it’s essentially the same AP piece elsewhere.  The Grand Forks Herald:

Xcel Energy applies to build portion of powerline in North Dakota

And the same on KXMT in ND, and WKBT in LaCrosse, WI.

Here’s the flip side — transmission costs $$$, and that will hit ratepayers,.  The current rate request would increase rates by 14%, which is, as an Xcel spokeswoman noted, “substantial.”  Here’s the report in the Dickinson Press:

ND regulators prepare to review Xcel electric rate increase

The Grand Forks Herald:

Xcel asks N.D. regulators for rate increase 

And from the Minot Daily News:

Electric bills rising to pay cost to upgrade infrastructure

By JILL SCHRAMM, Staff Writer jschramm@minotdailynews.com

People will have a chance to comment on Xcel Energy’s proposed rate increase of 14 percent during public hearings early next year. The proposal amounts to an increase of $7.60 a month for the user of 750 kilowatt-hours a month.

Xcel Energy customers in the Minot area can expect an 11.5 percent increase in their electricity bills next February to finance upgrades in power plants and transmission lines.

Xcel Energy filed a rate request with the North Dakota Public Service Commission Friday that seeks a 14 percent increase, and by law, the company can impose an interim increase while the PSC reviews its request. Xcel Energy plans to set an interim rate on Feb. 5 that will amount to an 11.5 percent increase in customers’ bills.

For a customer using 750 kilowatt-hours monthly, the interim increase amounts to $7.20 a month. If the PSC approves final rates that are lower than the interim rates, the company will refund the difference to customers.

Commercial and industrial users would see their bills increase by the same percentage. Commercial and industrial users make up 14 percent of Xcel’s customers but account for 64 percent of sales.

Xcel Energy serves more than 85,000 electricity customers in Minot, Fargo, West Fargo, Grand Forks and surrounding communities, including Burlington, Berthold and Des Lacs.

Xcel Energy is seeking $20.5 million in additional revenue.

The company wants to rehabilitate aging power plants to expand their operating lives, increase their output and reduce their effect on the environment. Transmission systems that haven’t had an upgrade since the 1970s also are due for improvements.

Mark Nisbet, North Dakota principal manager for Xcel Energy, Fargo, said updating the company’s existing plants is more cost effective than buying power from other sources to meet its growing energy demand.

“We think we will have a better handle on our future by taking care of our own generation needs,” he said.

The increased capacity gained in the rehabilitation of four existing plants will be equal to one new plant, he said.

Improvements at the 504-megawatt Allen S. King plant near Oak Park Heights, Minn., include steam turbine replacement, steam generator repairs and modifications, coal handling upgrades and the addition of state-of-the-art emissions control equipment. The project will increase the capacity of the plant by 60 megawatts, or nearly 12 percent, and greatly reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury and other particulates.

The High Bridge Plant, built in 1924 near downtown St. Paul, Minn., will be converted from coal to natural gas. Electricity output will increase by 272 megawatts, enough to supply almost 300,000 typical homes. At the same time, air emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and particulates will be reduced by more than 99 percent and mercury will be eliminated.

Xcel Energy will refurbish its two nuclear plants to give them another 20 years of operation and ensure safety and reliability. Equipment improvements will increase the capacity of the reactors by 246 megawatts.

Xcel Energy reports that some of its transmission projects are already under construction and will go on line in 2008. In addition to increasing reliability, the transmission line improvements will increase access to new sources of electricity, including renewable energy.

The proposed rate change represents the first time since 1992 that Xcel Energy has requested an increase in its base rate.

Electric bills consist of two components: a base rate and a fuel charge. The base rate reflects Xcel Energy’s operating costs, while the fuel charge represents the cost of the electricity.

Fuel charges change regularly. The upward pressure on fuel costs has increased in the past five years, Nisbet said.

Since 1992, operating costs have increased at an annual average of just 0.7 percent, but combined with rising fuel costs, the overall increase has been about 1.3 percent annually. That remains below the inflation rate of 2.6 percent a year.

The latest increase of 11.5 percent reflects the combined base and fuel charges. Xcel Energy expects fuel costs to increase at about the rate of inflation in the next year.

Although Xcel Energy hasn’t requested an increase in its base rate since 1992, the base rate has had small fluctuations. Slight decreases were made four times, and in 2004 and again in 2005, the state allowed Xcel Energy increases of 1.6 and 1.9 percent for exceeding performance standards related to issues such as customer satisfaction and reliability.

Xcel Energy also was earning less than its authorized rate of return in 2004 and 2005, Nisbet said. Small, performance increases aren’t enough to pay for major capital projects that can’t be put off any longer, he said.

In conjunction with the rate increase, Xcel Energy is rolling out new energy conservation programs that will help customers reduce their costs. The company intends to file a conservation plan with the PSC next month. It will include a push for higher efficiency lighting, modems and other items.

Xcel Energy also will be increasing promotion of its existing conservation programs. People can access conservation tips and information on existing programs at (www.xcelenergy.com) or by contacting the company.

People who do run into trouble paying their energy bills may be eligible for assistance through North Dakota Energy Share. Xcel helps provide funding for the program, administered through Community Action Partnership.

People must be receiving federal fuel assistance and present a disconnection notice from their electricity provider to be eligible. Community Action in Minot reports an average of 250 people take advantage of the program in the seven-country region each year.

News from around

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on @ 12:43 pm

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Papers all over have been covering CapX 2020.

Here’s from the LaCrosse, Wisconsin area, first from WKBT in LaCrosse:

Controversial powerline project could come through LaCrosse area 

And  from the LaCrosse Tribune, something related:

Xcel rate increase approved 

And from farmington:

Powerline plan is still taking shape 

Next post — things are getting interesting in North Dakota!

Follow up From Fergus Falls!

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on @ 12:01 pm

(try that alliteration when the “F” key doesn’t work, AAAAAGRH!  Too much cut & pasting!)

In the Fergus Falls Daily Journal:

Landowners offer power line input 

Planners say the line between Fargo and Monticello is needed

By Tom Hintgen (Contact) | The Daily Journal

Published Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Even though a proposed 345,000-volt power line would not be built in the near future, and not become operational until 2014, Fergus Falls area landowners already are learning about ramifications of the line and are providing input to state officials. That’s because the power line, if built, would likely go across their land.

Landowners who attended a gathering on the proposed line Monday evening at the Bigwood Event Center did not express opposition to the project, known as CapX 2020. The high voltage line is proposed by Otter Tail Power Company and 10 other transmission owning utilities.

Planners say the line between Fargo and Monticello is needed. This region, according to Otter Tail Power Company and the other CapX 2020 members, is experiencing job and population growth, leading to a steady increase in electricity usage. Planning studies show that customer demand for electricity will increase by 4,000 to 6,000 megawatts by 2020.

“We’re not establishing routes yet, but instead are taking a look at the large corridors under consideration,” David Birkholz of the Minnesota Department of Commerce said. “If you live here (in the Fergus Falls area), along the proposed corridor, you should have a say in the process. That’s why we’re here.”

Two major approvals must be obtained from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) before a high voltage transmission line can be built. They include a Certificate of Need and Route Permit. It won’t be until November 2008 before the PUC says yes or no to the CapX 2020 project.

The proposed high voltage line from Fargo to Monticello is only one of four proposed CapX 2020 projects. Xcel Energy is the project leader for the aforementioned line that would pass through Otter Tail County.

The project leader for a proposed power line from Bemidji to Grand Rapids is Otter Tail Power Company. Other proposed high voltage lines include those from Brookings, S.D., to the southeast side of the Twin Cities and from southeast of the Twin Cities to Rochester and then to LaCrosse, Wis.

Poles along the route passing through Otter Tail County would be double-circuit single-pole structures, made of self-weathering galvanized steel. Concrete foundations would be six to eight feet in diameter and poles would be from 105 to 175 feet in height. Space between the structures would range from 750 to 100 feet.

Farmers and other landowners would receive one-time easement payments, based on land values. Restraints close to the power poles would be minimal, and farmers would be able to plant crops near the structures.

“Every transmission line will have environmental impact, and everyone involved needs to decide what’s the best approach,” Department of Commerce spokesperson Birkholz said. “We at the Commerce Department will be taking public comments until Jan. 14.”

Darrin Lahr, project development manager for the proposed Fargo to Monticello line and an employee of Xcel Energy, said the 345,000-volt project would “build for the future. At stake is reliability of service and the need to provide backup electrical service. We’re getting to the point when we’ve got to do something.”

Additional power lines, he said, also will assist the efforts to move wind energy from western Minnesota to homes and businesses in other sections of the state.

About 33 people, many of them landowners along the proposed line corridor, were in attendance Monday evening at the Bigwood Event Center. Many asked questions and most appeared to be satisfied that they received adequate information and that their questions were answered.

There was opposition, however, to CapX 2020. Pamphlets produced and paid for by attorney Carol Overland of Red Wing were distributed Monday evening at the Bigwood Event Center.

“This is our opportunity to tell the Department of Commerce what alternatives we want — instead of transmission support coal,” states Overland in her pamphlet. “Any system alternatives for review must be raised now.”

Questions related to the environmental review process of the CapX 2020 line projects can be directed to Birkholz at david.birkholz@state.mn.us or by calling him at 651-296-2878.

Rochester meeting on Thursday

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on @ 11:47 am

(photo here sometime soon)

The Rochester meeting was on a COLD Minnesota evening, though it was a little warmer inside.  The site was weird, the Heritage Suites breakast room, and it was not good.  Too many people, out into the hallway, entryway, and CapX posterboard displays ended up across the hall.  That worked out well because I had brought my own and set that up.  Somebody did the childish thing and took my color one-pagers, the one with the big map, and hid them next to the hearth in the entryway.  No problem, I gathered them and handed them out.

Here’s that map they hate so… it shows the ND and SD beginnings and the exit, stage right, to Wisconsin:

capx2020-powerpoint-p-7-big-picture-map.jpg

The Winona shindig earlier on Thursday was in the Rochester Post Bulleting:

Birds, tourism and global warming topic o discussion at  transmission line hearing

As was the Rochester meeting, later in the day:

New power line would shore up area power grids

And on KTTC:

Some powe_ul plans

And  rom Eau Claire, WEAU:

Billion dollar powerline proposed 

The Rochester Post Bulletin has “comment” opportunities, so have at it!


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace