Why MCEA, Waltons and Crocker are absent

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on December 11, 2007 @ 10:05 am

There was some commentary in a recent article from Beth Goodpaster, of MCEA:

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, a key opponent to the Big Stone II coal plant and transmission line project in South Dakota and western Minnesota, is not objecting to the CapX 2020 certificate of need.

That the CapX transmission lines would not be linked to construction of a coal-fired power plant, which “makes all the difference in the world,” said Beth Goodpaster, an attorney with the environmental group.

But Beth, you know better…

For those not hip to the connection between coal and CapX, and specifically the connection between Big Stone II and CapX, and for those who don’t know of the MCEA, ME3 (Fresh Energy) and Izaak Walton “Wind on the Wires” transmission deal… Here are two points to consider:

1) Big Stone II is assuredly linked to CapX 2020. Their Phase V electrical studies showed that as a necessity and they’re doing the Phase VI studies, linking it to CapX 2020.

Big Stone Phase V Presentation

That link is shown in the CapX SW maps:

sw-mn-its-not-for-wind-map.jpg

2) This is the part to read carefully. An outgrowth (malignant?) of the SW MN 345kV “It’s for wind” NOT transmission line proceeding, the Izaak Walton League, ME3 (now Fresh Energy) MCEA and NAWO (George Crocker, who established C-BED, the business) was that all these folks did a deal:

Settlement Agreement – MCEA, Waltons, ME3, NAWO filed with PUC 6/23/03

So when you wonder why they’re not in this fracas, well, perhaps this explains…

And if that doesn’t quite convince you, well, look at this:

“Wind on the Wires” gets $8.1 day after settlement flied

And look at the terms of the deal and compare with terms in this 2005 transmission bill that George Crocker and Bill Grant walked through the legislature, “a deal, a package deal, and it’s a good deal.” You can send them thank you notes for this bill that makes CapX 2020 possible:

2005 Transmission Omnibus (Ominous) Bill from Hell

And so this is why we’re where we are today! The utilities are clear where they’re coming from, but the NGO’s are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

Opinion pieces on CapX 2020

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on @ 5:50 am

Fargo Forum printed my editorial:

Don’t be fooled: It’s about coal plants

CapX 2020 has proposed high-voltage transmission lines through Minnesota – from the coal fields of the Dakotas to Wisconsin and points east. The cost is more than $1.3 billion and ratepayers will pay. More than 70,000 Minnesota landowners got notices. Don’t be fooled by claims that it’s for wind, or that these lines are needed – it’s about transmission capacity for coal plants.

The Department of Commerce is hosting meetings for public input on the scope of the Environmental Report. Raise your concerns Monday, Dec. 10, from noon to 2 p.m. at Courtyard by Marriot in Moorhead, and from 6 to 8 p.m. at Best Western Bigwood Events Center in Fergus Falls.

As I’ve seen in Mesaba IGCC and Chisago transmission dockets, Commerce is not representing the public interest and tries to shut the public and local governments out. It’s important that you speak out, submit written comments, and Intervene in the Certificate of Need docket.

How does CapX substantiate its claim that these lines are needed? Will it guarantee these lines aren’t for coal? Who pays for power lines? Is there a market for this electricity? What impact do power lines have on property use and value? What’s the impact on my family’s health? Who decides the route?

The Certificate of Need proceeding determines whether the lines are needed, whether they will be built. Come to the meetings, ask questions, and participate now, when it makes a difference!

And look what the Grand Forks Herald editors had to say:

Our view:: New power lines could ease transmission problems that hinder area wind energy development.

Minnesota utilities are moving forward on a long-awaited action to boost the state’s transmission capabilities, a Herald story reported Sunday.

Good. The Upper Midwest is swept by some of the strongest and steadiest winds in North America, but the wind energy industry here still is in its infancy. Why? Because of a lack of transmission capacity, industry and utility analysts agree.

The new power lines in Minnesota would help remove the bottlenecks.

“A group of 11 utilities, led by Xcel Energy, has proposed building three high-voltage transmission lines in Minnesota and neighboring states,” wrote Scott Wente of Forum Communications’ St. Paul bureau (“Minnesota looks at installing additional power lines,” Page 1A).

“A state agency has scheduled 10 public meetings during the next two weeks in northwestern, western and southern Minnesota to take public comment.”

One of the lines would stretch from Fargo through St. Cloud to Monticello, Minn. Among other purposes, the line would help pipe electricity generated in North Dakota to the Twin Cities and other growing areas in central and southern Minnesota. That’s the kind of capacity North Dakota’s energy industry needs if it’s going to grow.

In his 2007 State of the State address, North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven said he’d like to see the state double the amount of energy it supplies by 2025. The growth in the wind energy industry here promises to be especially exciting. As most North Dakotans know, the state has the highest wind energy potential of any state, but trails Texas, California, Minnesota and several other states in the amount of power that it actually generates from wind.

“The real bottleneck is transmission. That’s the main impediment,” said Jay Haley, a Grand Forks-based wind advocate and industry consultant, to Herald staff writer Tu-Uyen Tran in 2006. The best thing for the industry would be to clear that impediment first, Haley added.

The American Wind Energy Association agreed, saying transmission congestion is “one of the biggest constraints on wind energy’s growth in the U.S.” The group’s support of that idea is important. So is this item from the bottom of Sunday’s story: “The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, a key opponent to the Big Stone II coal plant and transmission line project in South Dakota and western Minnesota, is not objecting to the CapX 2020 certificate of need.”

Minnesotans and North Dakotans alike should pay attention to the upcoming public meetings. The transmission project is not and shouldn’t be a sure thing, given that serious objections still could be raised.

That said, it’s encouraging to see utilities taking action on transmission capacity, a problem North Dakotans have heard about for years. It’s another in a series of developments that make the wind industry’s prospects in North Dakota look good.

– Tom Dennis for the Herald

CapX 2020 in the news

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on @ 5:41 am

It’s everywhere, CapX 2020 articles are coming out in front of the meetings across the state.  Essentially, so far, there are two, one by Meersman of the STrib which was picked up by AP, and the other by Wente of Forum, which reminds me of how different it might have been with Hatch in office — he strongly opposed TRANSLink, which is what we’re facing now with CapX.  And there’s an interesting support editorial in Grand Forks that needs a challenge or two!

Here we go!

Power line plan invites discussion

The public is asked to share environmental concerns before the massive project proceeds.

By TOM MEERSMAN, Star Tribune

Last update: December 9, 2007 – 11:53 PM

Minnesota’s first major power line project in a generation is moving forward, and 630 miles of high-voltage wires are expected to be strung across the countryside by 2015. What the final project will look like and the exact route of its three lines, however, is still far from decided.

Some of that will depend on what the public deems important.

Next week, state commerce officials will begin a series of 10 public meetings across the state to discuss the $1.6 billion project. The meetings will be partly a presentation of plans, but also a chance for the public to indicate what the state should consider when studying the project’s environmental effects.

“We really haven’t done anything of this magnitude since the late 1960s and early 1970s,” said Jim Alders, manager of regulatory projects for Xcel Energy.

The project has even split environmental leaders, who are caught between the desire to encourage more wind farm development in remote areas, and concerns about how the new lines would affect hundreds of landowners and millions of ratepayers.

During the past few months, the utilities have held more than two dozen public meetings and filed the first set of applications with state regulators.

The utilities and cooperatives need to prove that the high-voltage lines are needed in order to receive permits to construct them. Terry Grove, director of regional transmission development for Great River Energy, said that the projects are driven by three factors: the need to provide more reliable power for Rochester, St. Cloud, Fargo and other fast-growing cities; the desire to strengthen the overall electric system in surrounding rural areas, and the state requirement for utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources — mainly wind power — by 2025.

Grove said Minnesota needs 4,000 to 6,000 additional megawatts of power by 2020, an increase of 22 to 33 percent, depending largely upon economic and population growth.

The proposals originated from a joint industry initiative called CapX 2020 that began discussions in 2004. They include a 230-mile high-voltage line between Brookings, South Dakota and the southeast Twin Cities; a 250-mile line from Fargo to Monticello, and a 150-mile line linking the southeast Twin Cities with Rochester and LaCrosse, Wis.

An additional 68-mile line between Bemidji and Grand Rapids is part of a separate proceeding, but would also be built within the next few years.

Carol Overland, an attorney in Red Wing who specializes in electric energy issues, does not accept that so many long-distance power lines are needed. Power can be provided by wind farms located closer to where the electricity is consumed, she said, such as those being built in southeastern Minnesota.

Overland said the high-voltage lines are being promoted falsely as a way to increase wind development in southwestern Minnesota and the Dakotas. “They will promote coal, not wind,” she said, claiming that several Western utilities would build coal-fired plants if they had more power lines to transmit the electricity east to markets in the Twin Cities and Chicago.

However Bill Grant, executive director of the Midwest office of the Izaak Walton League, a conservation group, said power lines are necessary if the state wants developers to build more wind farms to meet a growing demand for electricity in the Twin Cities and elsewhere.

“We’ve come to the conclusion that a certain amount of new transmission line is going to be required whether we like it or not,” Grant said. “We knew that this tradeoff was coming, and the important thing is to get it done right.”

Grant said that some electricity from coal-fired plants will likely be sent over the new power lines, but that most of it can be generated by wind farms. Wind has an advantage, he said, because turbines and towers can be installed and be producing power in 12 to 18 months, while new coal plants typically take 8 to 10 years to permit, build and test.

The lines would be constructed between 2010 and 2015, utility officials said. The schedule includes additional permit and routing applications to Wisconsin, Minnesota authorities and their counterparts in the Dakotas and numerous public meetings in 2008, completion of environmental studies in 2009, and easement negotiations with affected landowners from 2009 to 2012. Property owners receive compensation if lines are routed across their property.

Lisa Daniels, executive director of Windustry, a nonprofit group that helps small communities develop wind projects, said that transmission lines are like roads that farmers use to take their commodities to market. Her Minneapolis-based organization and others will be looking closely at the CapX projects, Daniels said, to be sure that they are built in the right places and at the right sizes to benefit smaller-scale wind development. The stakes are high for all consumers, she said, not just those who may have power lines built across their property. “For most of our lives, the biggest decision about electricity has been whether to turn the lights on or off,” she said. “Now we’re having to make bigger decisions about what our energy system looks like.”

Tom Meersman • 612-673-7388

The same article is “AP” in the Rochester Post-Bulletin:

Minn. seeks public’s opinion on major new power lines

Wente’s Forum article that was in the Beagle is now in the Bemidji Pioneer and a couple of interesting paragraphs added:

Minnesota looks at electric lines- Bemidji Pioneer
The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, a key opponent to the Big Stone II coal plant and transmission line project in South Dakota and western Minnesota, is not objecting to the CapX 2020 certificate of need.

That the CapX transmission lines would not be linked to construction of a coal-fired power plant, which “makes all the difference in the world,” said Beth Goodpaster, an attorney with the environmental group.

Anyone who’s read the Big Stone II Phase 5 electrical studies knows that they can’t connect Big Stone II without CapX 2020.  I’ll find those studies and put it in a separate post, it’s that important!  We can’t be getting confused about the link between Big Stone II and CapX 2020 — without CapX 2020, there’s no Big Stone, but the question is, if Big Stone II doesn’t fly, is there a CapX???



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace