What’s an Environmental Report?

Filed under:Laws & Rules — posted by admin on February 23, 2008 @ 10:50 am


So the bizarre scoping decision for the CapX 2020 “Environmental Report” has come out.  What does it mean?

I’ve been asked about review of this decision, and in trying to figure that out, am looking at “What the heck is an Environmental Report anyway?” and it gets more and more complicated.

First to the scoping decision issued last week:

Scope of Environmental Report

The “Scope” references Minn. R. 7849.7030 and here’s what it says:


The commissioner of the Department of Commerce shall prepare an environmental report on a proposed high voltage transmission line or a proposed large electric power generating plant at the need stage. The environmental report must contain information on the human and environmental impacts of the proposed project associated with the size, type, and timing of the project, system configurations, and voltage. The environmental report must also contain information on alternatives to the proposed project and shall address mitigating measures for anticipated adverse impacts. The commissioner shall be responsible for the completeness and accuracy of all information in the environmental report.

tatutory Authority: MS s 116D.04
History: 8 SR 951; L 2005 c 97 art 3 s 19
Posted: October 02, 2007

Now there’s another section of chapter 7849 called “Environmental Report,” and that says (I’ll link to the referenced statutes and rules):


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.

Statutory Authority: MS s 216A.05; 216B.08; 216B.2421; 216B.243; 216C.10
History: L 1983 c 289 s 115; 12 SR 2624
Posted: October 02, 2007

Hmmmmmmm, how is Minn. Stat. 216C.10 different from 216C.02???

And it seems they’ve neglected to address the Commissioner DUTIES in Minn. Stat. 216C.09!!!

Minn. R. 4410.7100 has been renumbered to 7850.0200, and that says:

7850.0200 [Renumbered 4410.7100]
Posted: May 13, 1997

and Minn. R. 4410.7100 says:

4410.7100 [Repealed, 28 SR 951]
Posted: August 21, 2007

Wait a minute… aren’t we going around in circles???  I’m dizzy… more later…

CapX 2020 – Scope of Environmental Report

Filed under:Laws & Rules — posted by admin on February 20, 2008 @ 5:03 pm

What a proverbial bunch-o-crap!

Deep breathe… in… out… in… out…

The Dept. of Commerce issued the Scope for the Environmental Report, and it’s so limited, and SOOOOO unreasonable. Yes, I wasn’t expecting much, given how it went with Chisago, but the express limitations here are unfounded.   It also assumes need, in the bogus way the applicant characterizes it, when that particularized need must be demonstrated by applicants.

My “favorite” example:

The ER will not review impacts of specific energy sources in addressing the project, such as carbon outputs from coal-generated facilities or environmental impacts from a wind generation installation. The proposal is a set of transmission lines designed, as stated, to serve local needs and to improve the access of Minnesota renewable energy sources into the grid. Transmission operates irrespective of the source of energy and is managed on the grid by the Midwest Independent System Operators independent of generation type. Therefore, these transmission lines are not directly associated with any particular source. This project differs from tohers designed to accomodate or compensate for the connetion of a proposed generating facility onto the grid.

AAAAAAAAGH! If that is assumed, we might as well all pack up and go home.  Better yet, let’s call in the really big guns! They can’t be so stupid as to really believe what’s written here (and we know from past experience that the Commissioner doesn’t write these things).

Here’s the whole thing, read it and gag:

Scope of Environmental Report

Looking at this, it seems to me it will be a problem for Xcel too, because Xcel is counting on the “it’s for wind” mantra for its rate recovery. If this “generation neutral” position is where Commerce is at, they won’t get that rate recovery perk — on the other hand, it could very well be that the mantra only applies where environmental impacts of coal might be otherwise considered. Yeah, that’s more likely, because it’s so lopsided!

Response to UCAN’s Motion

Filed under:Nuts & Bolts — posted by admin on February 19, 2008 @ 5:37 pm

The Department of Commerce’s Energy Facility Permitting has responded to UCAN’s Motion to Enforce Citizens’ Due Process Rights. It’s hilarious watching them try to respond to some of the same issues that I’ve been raising — at some point, with all these complaints about process and notice, sometime soon that 100th monkey has just got to jump out of its swing and declare “YES, they’ve got a point!

Commerce Energy Facility Permitting response to UCAN Motion to … to…

Here are some of the more hilarious highlights:

UCAN’s arguments demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of the Minnesota Rules governing the environmental review of an application for a Certificate of Need. For the reasons explained below, UCAN’s motions should be denied.

Commerce cites the entire notice rule, which includes this subpart:

F. those persons who own property adjacent to any site or within any route
identified by the applicant as a preferred location for the project or as a site or
route under serious consideration by the applicant if such sites or routes are
known to the applicant.

and then goes on to say that:

UCAN argues that the Commissioner’s notice falls short of legal requirements because it was not
sent to all of the approximately 73,000 “landowners and residents reasonably likely to be
affected by the proposed transmission line.” UCAN recognizes that subpart 1(F), specifically
relating to the potentially affected landowners that UCAN believes must receive notice of the
Department’s scoping meetings, does not come into play in this matter because no routes or sites
have been officially identified. Yet UCAN would have the ALJ require the Department to send
notice to these same landowners pursuant to subpart 1(D) (emphasized in the above quotation).
The Department’s EFP Staff believes this is an incorrect interpretation of the rule.

uh-huh… the corridors are identified sufficiently to send out notices to the 73,000 landowners of the public informational meetings, so shouldn’t those 73,000 landowners also get notice of the Certificate of Need proceeding? If they’re not part of the CoN hearings, then they have no input into need, and if it should be deemed “needed,” then they can only intervene in the “where will we put it” siting docket, which is too late to be meaningful.

… and that argument ends with this choice snippet:

In this case where the list of potentially affected landowners is voluminous, such a requirement as UCAN suggests is not only unnecessary, but would be extremely burdensome for the Department in terms of cost for postage and staff resources to prepare such mailings.

Ummmmm… Commerce’s EFP assesses the utility for costs,”EXTREMELY BURDENSOME FOR THE DEPARTMENT?” And what of the burden on landowners, who will lose their land for this nonsense? We can see where the Gov’s agency puts its priorities.

Arguing against UCAN’s complaint about publication of notice in newspapers, Commerce says:

The second argument about inadequate publication made by UCAN is that a low turnout
at the public meetings compared to the number of persons potentially affected means that the
notice provided was insufficient. This argument is also without merit. The Department’s EFP
staff estimates conservatively that over 500 persons attended these meetings. Moreover, persons
who attended and provided comments indicated by the nature of their comments that they knew
this proceeding related only to the Certificate of Need and not the route permitting process.
When the Applicants’ route applications are filed, it is reasonable to expect that many more
landowners will see a reason to participate, but at this point there is no indication that all
properties have even been identified by the Applicants. However, blaming low turnout on the
“Department’s defiance of Minnesota’s notice laws” is not only unfair, but is entirely wrong.

As one who attended most of the meetings, which were VERY poorly attended, I think that their lack of publicity IS a problem, and I think that the low attendance is indeed indicative of insufficient publication.

And countering UCAN’s complaint that the scheduling is around the holidays when it’s inconvenient, and where the rule says it must be convenient, Commerce argues:

UCAN alleges that the Department EFP Staff purposely designed the meeting schedules
to effect its strategy to deliberately minimize the public’s ability to participate. Specifically,
UCAN alleges that holding the meetings in the weeks before the Christmas holiday is one of the
“inconveniences that were designed into these meeting schedules.” There is simply no basis for
this charge. These are the sort of spurious allegations that are easy to make and impossible to
defend. The Department follows the rules for environmental review as consistently and correctly
as possible and encourages public participation.

Seems to me that Commerce did the same thing with public hearings for Mesaba, several people commented that the DEIS Comment hearings were also just before the holidays, and not as many people showed up as had previously. However, it is noteworthy that for all of the public meetings for CapX, they WERE held in heated rooms, unlike the Mesaba hearing in Hoyt Lake, where everyone was in coats and mittens, shivering, and where AlanMuller said on the record:

MR. MULLER: My name is Alan Muller. Before I
begin, I’d like to note that Mr. Micheletti is wearing
gloves, representatives of the Department of Commerce
are wearing gloves. Many people in the room are
wearing gloves and overcoats. I don’t know if the
rules of the Office of Administrative Hearings call for
holding public hearings in heated facilities, but that
might be something to consider in the future.

JUDGE MIHALCHICK: Nobody is suffering more
than I am.

There was a modern heated building across the highway, but noooo, we’re in the gym next to the hockey arena, where if the heat blowers were on, we couldn’t hear, so they turned the blowers off. Yes, perhaps we should be grateful that they held the CapX public meetings in heated rooms…

Here’s the UCAN Motion:

UCAN Motion to Enforce Citizens’ Due Process Rights

Here’s the judge’s Notice, dated February 6, 2008, giving 10 WORKING days “from the date of receipt” which I presume is the receipt of the Notice, and given the holiday Monday, well, I’d say that those 10 working days are up on Thursday, eh? You do the math, check my work:

Notice of time to respond to UCAN Motion

So, are there other responses out there that haven’t been emailed around?  Yup, here’s the Applicants’ via Mike Krikava:

Applicants’ Response to UCAN Motion

Applicants’ Response – Aff of Carlsgaard

Applicants’ Response – Aff of Carlsgaard Exhibit 1

Applicants’ Response – Aff of Carlsgaard Exhibit 2

Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on @ 12:37 pm

Here’s an example of how it’s all connected, it’s the same story everywhere… It’s another MAPP, this one a Pepco Holdings transmission line from Maryland, through Delaware, to New Jersey:


Pepco Holdings is Pepco, Delmarva Power and Atlantic City Electric, Conectiv, Pepco Energy Services, and Potomac Capital Investment.

WHOOOO-EEE, they’re launching a new website, www.powerpathway.com!

And the purpose of this transmission is clear — just look at that map!  They are doing this to enable bulk power transfer from Maryland (and further south and southwest?) through Delaware to New Jersey and points northeast.   Look how it connects the obsolete nuclear and fossil generation plants.  This is part of the problem of Renewable Energy Standards/Mandates… where there is no market, and where renewables aren’t mandated in conjunction with closing down non-renewables, the renewables enter the market and the non-renewables are then still up and running and are off to market, if we allow the transmission.


1) Mandate: Increase renewable generation (RES)

2) Don’t couple RES with a mandate to decrease non-renewable generation

3) Give them “cap & TRADE” which lets them use non-renewable

4) Non-renewable keeps generating, DUH!

5) Non-renewable can be sold on open market, unregulated!

6) Power companies build CapX/MAPP transmission to facilitate #4

7) We pay for transmission to facilitate #4

8) We pay by giving up land for new transmission lines for #4

9) They increase unregulated profits from bulk power sales on our dollar!

Jeez, what’s wrong with this picture?  Is anyone thinking on this bus???  It’s basic economics with a much-too-inelastic supply — increase RES and decrease non-renewable.  Instead, we get this scenario.  How many ways can we be screwed? At the very least, if utilities want to increase their profits, well, THEY ought to pay for the infrastructure to do it.  Or at least, cut us in on the profits, eh?

And what we need to do is to assure that every renewable energy mandate is associated with a mandate to SHUT DOWN non-renewable energy.  It’s that simple…

Shouldn’t we have learned this lesson in Minnesota, where all the wind mandates were associated with expansion of nuclear waste, relicensing of nuclear and even more nuclear waste, the biggest transmission infrastructure in history (CapX, duh!), turkey turds, “garbage” classified as renewable, I mean really, whatever are they thinking.  None of this renewable energy push reduces CO2 generation or emissions of pollutants.  It just moves it around and makes us feel good, like we’re doing something.  Renewable energy mandates that aren’t coupled with decrease in non-renewable generation just don’t cut it!

Here’s where they want to stick this thing in Delaware, in order of the flow of electrons (click on the maps to pull up the real ones, because when I shrunk them down, they lost their quality):

Sussex County:


And Kent County:


And Newcastle County:



Here’s the funny part – Project Details?  CLICK HERE FOR PROJECT “DETAILS.”  The details just aren’t there!  I guess, like CapX, they’ll just make them up as they go…

Dig this“PROJECT BENEFITS PAGE” and the oh-so-familiar what-a-bunch-o’-crap list:

* Improve the flow of electricity throughout the eastern Mid-Atlantic region
* Increase the region’s power import capabilities
* Connect numerous points on the grid that are currently underserved
* Enhance local power distribution systems through multiple upgrades
* Provide a pathway for clean, renewable energy (such as wind and solar power)to move across the region
* Support additional transmission which encourages economic growth
* Begin improving transmission in as little as five years after starting construction
* Benefits all utilities in the region including co-ops and municipals

And exactly how many access points are there to this line?  What will interconnection cost?  As I asked the CapX folks, how many wind projects connect to a 345kV line?  And this one?  Here’s from their FAQ page:

What kinds of energy will the line deliver? Will this line encourage the use of dirty energy sources such as coal?

MAPP will be used to transport electricity from many different power generation sources – this includes existing fossil fuel plants and future renewable energy projects such wind and solar. As we seek to transition to more renewable power generation, a strong transmission system will continue to be important.

… sigh… “future renewable energy projects…”  uh-huh… maybe somebody ought to remind them of their resistance to Bluewater Wind’s offshore project?

A 6,400MW xmsn line???

Filed under:News coverage,Nuts & Bolts — posted by admin on February 17, 2008 @ 6:32 pm

Hot off the press, massive capacity ultra-high voltage transmission lines expected to have LOW line losses… and coming to a neighborhood near you? Perhaps, if you live in China (oh, no, does that mean I’m going to have to head even further east and fight transmission there? AAAAAAAAAAGH!)

In the SW MN 345kV case, they assumed line losses of 30% from Buffalo Ridge to the Metro:

Loss factor of 0.30 from SW MN 345kV proceeding

And line loss is a problem, they’re clear on that, and they’re tickled that this new-fangled technological advance has line loss of LESS THAN 7%. The line loss alone would power 900,000 people, using Chinese standards of consumption, I presume. That excitement about 7% line loss, that alone is proof that those claiming low line losses of typical xmsn options have their heads firmly implanted!

Technology Leap Allows 2,000 Kilometer Link

Indeed, ABB has already won orders worth $440 million from the State Grid Corp. of China and other partners to provide new ultrahigh-voltage technology for the world’s longest power transmission link.

The power superhighway running 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers) from western China to the highly industrialized coastal area in the east will have a capacity of 6,400 megawatts.

That is enough to meet the needs of about 31 million people in China, based on average consumption per capital. The link from the Xiangjiaba hydropower plant to Shanghai will be complete in 2011.

The ultrahigh-voltage direct current (UHVDC) link comprises two substations and a power transmission system using breakthrough technology to transmit electricity at ultrahigh voltage (800 kilovolts), which will minimize the amount of power lost in transmission.

Increasing the voltage level of electrical transmission creates considerable advantages for the environment, including lower electricity losses and the use of less land compared to traditional overhead lines. UHVDC is particularly suitable for vast countries like China, where the centers that need power are often located far from power sources.

Transmission losses will be under 7%, significantly less than the losses from conventional 500-kilovolt (kV) high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission schemes.

The savings from using UHVDC compared with HVDC are equivalent to the annual power consumption of more than 900,000 people in China.

The new technology, using thyristor valves equipped with newly developed 6-in thyristors (power semiconductors) and an advanced control system, allows the biggest capacity and efficiency leap in 20 years.

The increase became possible following advances in materials for outdoor insulators and advanced control systems.

Copyright Instrument Society of America Feb 2008

Selby NextGen – why we need CapX!

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on February 15, 2008 @ 5:42 pm


Here’s one more reason we “need” CapX 2020 transmission. It’s been there all along in the MISO queue, there’ve been rumors about it for a long time, and now it’s formally proposed, a new 700MW coal plant, maybe even a “NextGen” plant, proposed by Basin Electric. DUH! COAL, THAT’S WHY WE “NEED” CAPX!

$2 billion plant to Selby?
Basin Electric hopes to have so-called NextGen coal-fueled power plant operational by 2014

By Scott Waltman, swaltman@aberdeennews.com
Published on Friday, February 15, 2008

A Walworth County site is the location a North Dakota company would prefer to build a $2 billion coal-fueled power plant.

Basin Electric hopes to have its so-called NextGen plant operational by 2014. Tentative plans call for it to produce about 700 megawatts of power. However, it’s not yet certain that the plant will be built.

Floyd Robb, a Basin Electric spokesman, said the plant would serve Basin Electric’s expected increase in demand. But, he said, several factors will determine whether it will be built. They include economics, transmission concerns and regulatory uncertainty.

There’s also still a chance that the plant could go elsewhere. Robb said that if an environmental impact study now under way reveals problems, Basin Electric could choose to build NextGen in the Blunt-Onida area.

While the plant isn’t a done deal, Walworth County residents who worked to lure the plant are ecstatic. Gary Steuck of Mobridge, chairman of the North Central Power Plant Task Force, said the group has done its job.

“We feel pretty good down here after the decision,” Steuck said. “The task force has accomplished our mission. Our mission was to be named the preferred site.”

Whether Basin Electric will build the plant is something the efforts of locals can’t influence, he said.

“We’d love it if there wasn’t an ‘if,’ but there’s always an ‘if’ in there,” Steuck said.

Federal legislation that would create a carbon tax concerns Basin Electric, Robb said. Access to government funds is another issue. And increasing the capacity of transmission lines is also a must if the plant is to be built, he said.

Robb said the needed environmental and land permits would be issued by the state. The company was looking at two potential sites in Walworth County. The one selected is west of Selby between U.S. Highway 83 and 303rd Avenue, he said. That’s south of U.S. Highway 12.

Phylliss Pudwill of Selby is a Campbell County commissioner and a task force member. She said she knows of Basin Electric’s concerns and that there will be new challenges ahead, but she is still thrilled with the announcement that the Selby area is the preferred site.

There were discouraging times, but the task force has worked very hard to attract the plant, Pudwill said. She said having railroad service, available land, existing power lines and a nearby water supply in the Missouri River were all things that played to Walworth County’s benefit.

Steuck said task force members thought all along that they had the best location. He said Basin Electric officials said that the Walworth County people were very cordial and easy to work with, which was a benefit. But, he said, he’s sure the biggest factor in company’s decision was economics.

The plant would process coal shipped by train from Wyoming. What type of technology would be used is not yet known.

Steuck said Basin Electric wants to be able to capture the carbon dioxide the plant produces and move it, via pipeline, to oil fields. In some oil fields, he said, carbon dioxide is pumped into the ground to push oil toward the surface.

Being able to capture the carbon dioxide might make the plant more appealing to people who have environmental concerns, Steuck said. He said he’s sure some environmentalists will voice their worries with the plant.

Robb said the environmental impact study’s results probably won’t be known for a year or so. If everything goes well, he said, construction would probably begin in 2010.

About 1,500 construction workers would be needed to build the plant, Robb said. Once finished, NextGen would employ 125 to 150 full-time workers, he said.

News of the possible construction and new jobs in Walworth County is good for Aberdeen and other parts of the region, said Jim Barringer of the Aberdeen Development Corp. It would create opportunities for people to move back to northern South Dakota, he said.

It’s important that economic development groups attract people to fill the expected jobs being created in the region, he said.

“What’s good for Walworth County is good for people right here in Brown County and vice versa,” Barringer said.

Pudwill said $2 billion projects don’t come to this part of the country very often. She said the power plant would have an impact far beyond those work work at it. Schools, accountants, the medical field and others would feel the benefits, she said.

Steuck agrees. The process has been slow – Basin Electric first announced its plans for a new plant in 2004 – but the benefits would be huge, he said.

“We honestly feel that (the power plant) will have a bigger impact than when they put in the dam and the (Lake Oahe) reservoir,” Steuck said.

Response from South Dakota’s congressional delegation

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D.

“I’d like to congratulate Basin Electric’s directors on taking this important step in choosing Selby, S.D., as the ‘owner’s preferred’ site for its NextGen project. As Basin Electric provides power to all of South Dakota’s electric cooperatives, it’s vitally important to ensure the availability and affordability of electric power in coming decades, particularly across rural areas throughout the region. This significant investment will help to create jobs and additional tax revenues across the state, contributing a great deal to the overall economic health of our state.

“I’m also pleased to hear that the new plant will feature the latest environmental controls, minimizing its environmental impact. I will continue to monitor the developments regarding this exciting announcement as Basin Electric determines the best combustion technology for the site and Western Area Power Administration assesses its environmental impact to ensure the safety and well-being of the surrounding communities.”

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.

“Today’s decision by Basin Electric Power Cooperative to select Selby, South Dakota as the preferred site for the construction of its NextGen project is terrific news for Walworth County and the state of South Dakota. Demand for electricity is continuing to grow and in order to meet that growth, it is necessary to look to all sources of energy.

“Expanding South Dakota’s electricity generation capacity means building more high-voltage electricity transmission lines to move electricity throughout the region, which will eliminate a key hurdle in constructing hundreds of megawatts of wind energy generation. The project has many steps yet to go, including a state permit process, but this is certainly good news for South Dakota

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.

“This is great news for Walworth County and an economic development home run for South Dakota. This facility will create new jobs and generate economic development, and promises a bright future for north central South Dakota. I congratulate the people of Selby, Mobridge, and the surrounding communities for all their hard work in advocating for the Walworth County location. On several occasions over the past months, I have personally met with Basin’s leadership and staff and have encouraged them to select South Dakota for this exciting project, and I look forward to continuing to work with all stakeholders as this opportunity becomes a reality.”

This goes way back, no surprises here, to a study by ABB, mapping out the transmission desires of coal:

Lignite Vision 21 transmission study

Go to page 5, and look at that bright magenta “transmission” line starting right around the Selby area, funny how that works:


Combine all the CapX PUC dockets!

Filed under:Reports - Documents — posted by admin on February 9, 2008 @ 9:01 pm

Looking at the PUC docket for 06-1115, I can see that the other two dockets (06-979 and 06-857) have not been incorporated into this one yet.  I’d sent an email asking if this could be done informally, and it seems that ain’t gonna happen… OK, fine, there’s got to be a way…

Once more with feeling, to look at dockets:

Go to www. puc.state.mn.us

Click on “eDockets”

Click on “Search Documents”

Search for dockets 06-1115 or 06-979 or 06-857

Happy reading…

UCAN’s Motion to Enforce Citizens’ Due Process Rights

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on @ 8:58 pm



UCAN Motion to Enforce Citizens’ Due Process Rights

I’d do it differently, it’s overstated and amateurish, of course, because they’re not pros, but they usually have a point and should be taken seriously.  Their Motion is raising many of the same complaints I’ve had with the PUC and OAH over the years regarding due process.   Here’s what they’re asking for:

1. Finding that the Minnesota Department of Commerce (the “Department”) failed to comply with legal requirements set forth in Minn. Rule 7849.7050, subp. 1, for failing notice to interested persons regarding the scope of environmental review
at Certificate of Need.

2. Finding that the Department failed to comply with legal requirements set forth in Minn. Rule 7849.7050, subp. 3, for publishing notice “in a newspaper of local circulation” regarding the scope of environmental review at Certificate of Need.

3. Finding that the public meetings conducted by the Department pursuant to legal requirements set forth in Minn. Rule 7849.7050, subp. 3, were held at times and locations inconvenient to the public.

4. Finding that the Department allowed the Applicants to improperly exploit the Rule 7849.7050 public meeting process in an effort to divert citizens’ attention away from the Certificate of Need process and into an unsanctioned, Applicant controlled Route selection process.

5. Finding that the Department’s and the Applicants’ improper actions violated the due process rights of potentially-affected citizens in this proceeding.

6. Finding that Applicants, with the Department’s knowledge and acquiescence, are performing unofficial Route selection proceedings or activities that serve to confuse the public and dampen landowner participation in the pending Certificate
of Need regulatory process.

7. Ordering the Department to comply with legally required notice procedures and to conduct supplemental public meetings to cure the due process violations described herein.

8. Ordering that the Certificate of Need proceedings be stayed until the Applicants submit to a legitimate Routing process, and ordering consolidation of Certificate of Need and Route Permit proceedings.

9. In the alternative to motion point 8 above, estopping Applicants and the Department from performing any unofficial Route selection proceedings or activities during the pendency of this Certificate of Need regulatory proceeding.

The parties have ten WORKING days to respond:

Notice of time to respond to UCAN Motion

So, get to work!

MAPP adopts shroud of secrecy

Filed under:Nuts & Bolts,Reports - Documents — posted by admin on February 2, 2008 @ 12:32 pm


Above – Here’s where MAPP’s going… the Cone of Silence.

MAPP’s NM-SPG is the “local” transmission proving ground, or vetting ground, where utilities bring their transmission proposals to the engineers who test it and give it thumbs up or thumbs down and then pass it on to MISO (Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator). Transmission planning is supposed to be a relatively transparent process, and the MAPP NM-SPG meetings are open to the public. I enjoy these meetings immensely and wish I could get to them more often. They’re typically held in Elk River at the Great River Energy HQ, and that’s a bit of a jaunt for me to be there by 8:30 or 9! Since I’ve been going, they’ve been facilitated by Mike Steckelberg of GRE, who does a good job of orchestrating the meetings, making sure all the supporting stuff is there, keeping things on track, and he’s helped open up the process.

I get the feeling that an open process is not appreciated by some, because it opens up the utility workings to daylight, and then some of us who can understand what’s going on get what’s going on. The utilities get something out of it too, though, because public input can save them a lot of hassle. For example, for a while they were considering a big line from Prairie Island to LaCrosse, upgrading an existing 69kV on the west side of the Mississippi. What they hadn’t considered was that the 69kV line went across “site P” in Florence, where they wanted to put nuclear waste a decade ago, and DUH! I’m guessing that Florence Township probably wouldn’t like a big honkin’ transmission line through the township, and that Mississippi Jewel wouldn’t want a 345kV line through their pricey golf course community (since sold at auction, no market…) and they could probably put up quite a stink. And lo and behold, after being reminded of that (and who knows what other considerations) they dropped that idea and instead are diverting the line to Rochester in the SE Minnesota line in CapX. They also had called the CapX lines the “SW Minnesota to Prairie Island” and the “Prairie Island to LaCrosse” and Prairie Island Indian Community and City of Red Wing got the word and started showing up at transmission meetings and they suddenly started calling it “Hampton Corners” instead of “Prairie Island” as start and terminus points If they had gone forward with either of those ideas, there’d be uproar and through a more public process, they avoided that, perhaps (depending on what they do ultimately).

But (drumroll) a little birdie told me that we’re in for some change, they’ve been talking about it for a while and now it’s becoming an unreal reality. MAPP’s CEII joins HSA and TSA, oh Dog, give me a break…


So from the little birdie, here’s the poop:

A part of that more open process is that anyone attending gets handouts, donuts & coffee, and gets the studies, and so that’s how I got the Mesaba studies and handouts that were so damning. And all this notice about CapX plans, as it’s been building for years. And I don’t think they like having their trajectory so obvious. Hence the Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (CEII) “Cone of Silence.” It’s come down from FERC, conveniently at a time where the feds have declared and are wanting to utilize “National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors,” and where question need is becoming a “terrorist activity.” I really don’t like where this is going…

Here’s their plan for the Cone of Silence, out there for the world to see on their site, MAPP Policies, a Non-Disclosure Agreement, and their “Critical Energy Infrastructure Information Policy” of secrecy:

MAPP CEII Policy link

MAPP CEII Policy download

MAPP CEII Non-Disclosure link

MAPP CEII Non-Disclosure download

So who’s to say whether something is “Critical Energy Infrastructure Information?”  Here is the guideline:

CEII is specific engineering, vulnerability, or detailed design information about
proposed or existing critical infrastructure (physical or virtual) that:

1. Relates details about the production, generation, transmission, or
distribution of energy;
2. Could be useful to a person planning an attack on critical infrastructure;
3. Is exempt from mandatory disclosure under the Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552 (2000);; and
4. Does not simply give the general location of the critical infrastructure.

So how will this be determined?  What’s the mechanism for challenge if something is deemed CEII?  Why do I reflexively roll my eyeballs and sigh?

Here they are, at a MAPP NM-SPG meeting a while ago, and yes, that’s Excelsior’s Steve Sherner in the foreground on the right.  Can you spot the terrorist in this room:


What a bunch of crap, but hey, can’t have the public knowing what they’re planning, now, can we… It’s exciting stuff, and I’d just as soon tape it and put it on public access, but then again, people like Beth Soholt call it “watching paint dry.” I think it’s hilarious, particularly when electrical engineers argue! Like watching Norwegians argue, you have to pay attention to notice it, have to know the subtexts, and it sets out some big issues, like the implications of utilities being held accountable for their share of the reactive power.

I wish I could go just to challenge this, I mean really, what’s going to be classified as classified? They already made the transmission map top secret, HELLO, folks, all you have to do to find a transmission line is drive around, it’s not like utilities are undergrounding… I know, I said it before, but GIVE ME A BREAK!!!

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace