Robert Schulte’s SDEIA Study

Filed under:Reports - Documents — posted by admin on March 29, 2008 @ 7:51 am

There’s a study I want to get in front of all of you interested in CapX — I just realized I had only posted it on Legalectric, with just a mention of it here, and it’s something that needs a bit of attention. It’s a South Dakota Energy Infrastructure Authority (SDEIA) study, by Robert Schulte. Schulte is now Schulte & Ass, LLP, but he’s a former Excelsior Energy toadie who got out while the going was good, and he got the contract to look at new generation and markets in South Dakota. What’s good about it is that he specifically addresses the lack of market and that SD shouldn’t be getting into the transmission business and if they want to get into generation, they’d first better make damn sure they’ve got a market. Yeah, that’s my kind of study in light of the unreasonable and unsubstantiated claims of need on the part of yahoos wanting to build generation in the Dakotas!

SDEIA Energy Study – Schulte

The focus is on coal and nuclear generation, both of which are mega-costly and not exactly “prudent” expenditures:

The SDEIA published an Electric Industry Interviews Report in December 2006. That report observed that efforts by state government to promote greater exports of electric power would require production plant additions, mitigation of transmission line constraints and the identification of customers willing to purchase the energy made in South Dakota. This new Report confirms the same findings; but gives greater visibility to the very large dollar investments that will be required of anyone seeking to license and construct new electric generating facilities – coal, nuclear or wind – anywhere on the Great Plains.

His map of coal railroad lines (p. 17) leaves out the one that I ran next to each trip out to CA and back in the bleary-eyed old days when I was a meat/produce hauler, it was Powder River coal coming across Wyoming into South Dakota into Minnesota, and I’d see trains full of coal next to the highway from Orin Jct. into South Dakota. They did a major rebuild of the tracks back when I was driving, so probably late 80s, and it’s nonstop coal trains — why isn’t it on his map, particularly if this is supposed to be a South Dakota focused study? Hmmmmm… A 10 second search revealed this map, rail lines of DM&E and IC&E:


OK, so that’s a major omission. But anyway, on page 18, he notes limitations for coal construction. This is good news, but with the omission of the coal rail lines that I’ve seen with my own bleary eyes, it raises questions. ????? Then he lists the CURRENT projects (by no means all those in the MISO queue):

2.6.1 Supercritical, Pulverized Coal, Steam Boilers, Pending Projects
Current projects in the region involving pulverized coal are:

• Big Stone II, South Dakota
• Westin 4, Wisconsin
• Nebraska City 2, Nebraska
• Whalen Energy Center, Nebraska
• Council Bluffs 4, Iowa

2.6.2 IGCC Pending Projects
Public and private interests are proceeding with planning and development of the
following IGCC projects in the region:

• Mesaba Energy Project, Excelsior Energy, Minnesota
• Basin Electric Cooperative IGCC Project, North or South Dakota

Big Stone may be in trouble, WestOn moves on, coal is in trouble in Nebraska, and Council Bluffs went up like an elevator, Mesaba is going down like cod liver oil gagging all the way, and Basin has just been proposed, the “Selby NextGen” HERE on NoCapX, so as you can see, it’s a very mixed bag.

Here are all the coal projects, ALL the projects in the MISO queue. As of December 4, 2007:

MISO queue Dec 4 2007

There’s about 3,000MW of coal in SD, 2,000 in ND, 3,200 in IA, and 1,800 in Wisconsin, and 5,000MW in Illinois. And that goes to “market” and explains why SD coal hasn’t got a market to go to! Can’t see any reason Illinois would want to buy coal from SD when they’ve got plenty already there and plenty more on the drawing board.

The same is true with wind. Look at the MISO queue. There’s over 14,000 MW of wind in Illinois on the MISO queue. Why would Illinois want to buy wind from SD when they’ve got so much of their own going up? 14,000 MW — that’s more than is planned

This report deals with market — read it and wonder.

The thing this study says that I really appreciate, other than that they’d better identify a market before spending massive amounts on generation and transmission infrastructure, is his finding on relative cost of generation scenarios:


Wind/Gas combo… now what I want to see is CURRENT cost figures, because IGCC, we know from Mesaba is $96-104 in 2005, not his low numbers, and we know that SCPC is in the 70s from Big Stone:


So what will it take to get some current numbers on all of this?

And looking at need for CapX, looking at the MISO queue, looking at generation all over, whatever is their justification?

Go through the Information Requests (posted HERE) and see what they have to say, and wonder…

Information Requests and ISLR site

Filed under:Information Requests,PUC Docket — posted by admin on March 27, 2008 @ 5:19 pm

Info is coming out slowly but surely on CapX 2020’s transmission lie plan from hell!

Two things to note:


And there goes John Baily, showing us how to do a good site, grrrrrr, hard to keep up (and thanks John, for all those IRs I didn’t have, and neener neener, I’ve got a few you don’t have).

ILSR’s CapX 2020 site

And once more with feeling, the full PUC docket for CapX 2020 is:

 CLICK HERE and search for 06-1115

There, that oughtta keep ya busy…

MATL – another “private” transmission line

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on March 26, 2008 @ 8:18 pm


Verrrrrry interesting. I found another “private” transmission line a la Outland, well, it found me in the Google Alerts. It’s been brewing for a long time in Montana, I’d heard of the line, but not that it was “private.” Here’s the piece written by their Senator that showed up in the Cut Bank Pioneer Press, in Cut Bank, Montana:

Sen. Jerry Black urges residents to support proposed MATL project

By Senator Jerry Black
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 10:34 AM MDT

I was very pleased and impressed with attendance and comments at the three MATL public hearings in Great Falls, Cut Bank, and Conrad last week conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

I want to congratulate everyone who attended and expressed their sincere opinion and concerns in such a civil and professional manner with respect for those with differing views and issues. Tony Como of Washington, D.C. , director of siting for the Department of Energy, said he has conducted hundreds of these hearings across the U.S. and these are the best he’s seen in terms of courtesy and respect for one another. That says a great deal about peoples’ attitudes and understanding in northern Montana and I was proud how well everyone handled themselves.

What exactly is MATL and why is it so important? MATL is a 203 mile privately owned electric transmission line (230 volt merchant line) proposed to be built between Lethbridge, Alberta and Great Falls, Mont. that will be capable of carrying 600 megawatts of energy, 300 megawatts either north or south. Electric producers, such as wind energy farms, contract with MATL to transport electric power to needed suppliers in or out of Montana. This would be the first interconnecting transmission line between Montana and Alberta and built at no expense to local taxpayers. The risk and investment is by MATL, their private investors, and financial institutions. The bottom line is, northern Montana’s excellent wind resources, rated among the best in North America, cannot be fully developed without an electrical transmission line to carry the power. It’s that simple. The public hearings held last week are part of the process needed to receive various federal and state permits before the line can be constructed.

The MATL project opens the way for up to $1 billion in wind energy projects in our area that would be an enormous economic benefit for north-central Montana, our state, and the nation’s energy supply. The increased tax base, construction jobs, royalty payments from wind generators, and the permanent monitoring and maintenance jobs will provide badly needed tax dollars for local schools, parks and recreation facilities, law enforcement, fire departments, water and sewer improvements, county roads, and ect. Our area has suffered through extended droughts, declining school enrollment, and a loss of tax base far too long. We cannot afford to lose this opportunity. Just maybe the “xxxxxx” wind isn’t so bad after all!

Landowners certainly DO have legitimate concerns and I urge MATL and the participating agencies to address these issues fairly and objectively with utmost respect to everyone involved. Routing of the MATL line is a major issue and must be balanced between the needs of the landowner and MATL. The participating federal and state agencies make the final approval and I doubt if everyone will be 100 percent satisfied, but the routing should be workable for both parties and not a “deal breaker.” The environment impact statement give four different major routing options for the MATL line and many other local options. The DEQ suggested option four as a possible route and I have real concerns regarding this option because it routes the line a considerable distance from possible wind energy development and MATL has estimated it would cost $7 million more to construct and delay completion one year. This doesn’t appear to be a reasonable option.

After an initial rough start, MATL is demonstrating an eager willingness to work affected landowners to address concerns regarding transmission lines and placement of poles that would be potentially disruptive to agriculture operations. This includes the use of monopoles rather than “H” poles wherever it is practical. The CEO of MATL’s parent company, Johan van’t Hof, stated very clearly at a Conrad Chamber luncheon last week that they are committed to be here for many years and want to be a good neighbor and community member. He appears very sincere and has been meeting with various landowners regarding their particular issues and concerns.

Landowners are compensated annually by MATL for each pole they must farm around and a half-mile strip (600 feet on each side of the center line) that crosses their land is not subject to Montana property taxes.

I believe it could well be the largest economic development opportunity since the discovery of oil and the Great Northern Railway was built.

If you did not attend or testify at the public hearings I urge to write or sign a letter of support being circulated in most of our communities for the MATL project. Your comments are extremely important.

All written comments should be mailed by March 31, and submitted to: Tom Ring, Environmental Sciences Specialist, Montana Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 200901, Helena, MT 59602. Or via electronic mail at

If you have any questions please call me at 450-5363 or write me 445 O’haire Blvd., Shelby, MT 59474.

So I started looking around, and what I found was a defunct site, History, nada… It looks like they were granted a permit in Canada, but the Montana public hearings have been happening right now, maybe they’re just completed. More to follow, I’m looking. What I’m curious about is whether they claim to be a “wind” line.

To get an idea what they’re up to, check the last issue of the “Megawatt Monitor” posted on that site:

Megawatt Monitor – November 2007

And now their site works just fine, with today’s date on it, so it seems they were updating it or something. More digging…

Here’s their tariff:

MATL Tariff

Here’s the FERC Order:

MATL – FERC Order July 20, 2006

Information Requests to/fro Applicants

Filed under:Information Requests,PUC Docket,Reports - Documents — posted by admin on March 23, 2008 @ 2:05 pm

Thought occurs to me that it’d be useful to have the Interrogatories so anyone who wants to know what’s being asked can have a look-see. SO, here they are – as I get answers, I’ll post those too, but as of right now, it’s all questions…

And slowly, I’m adding answers now.

FYI, John Baily has been busy, CLICK HERE FOR ILSR.ORG’S CAPX SITE!






Pierce-03-03-08 IR49-58

Shaw 3-21-08 IR60


NAWO/ILSR Corrected 7








NO CAPX 2020 (more after I get up to date)

Data Practices Act Request – way old



Xcel Response to Commerce 1-32

Xcel Response to Commerce 33&36

Xcel Response to Commerce 37-38

Xcel Response to Commerce 39

Xcel Response to Commerce 41

Xcel Response to Commerce 42

Xcel Response to Commerce 43

Xcel Response to Commerce 49

Xcel Response to Commerce 50

Xcel Response to Commerce 51

Xcel Response to Commerce 52

Xcel Response to Commerce 53

Xcel Response to Commerce 54

Xcel Response to Commerce 55

Xcel Response to Commerce 57

Xcel Response to NAWO 2-6

Xcel Response to WOW 1-2

NO CAPX 2020 granted intervention

Filed under:Nuts & Bolts — posted by admin on March 11, 2008 @ 10:12 am

Hot off the press, No CapX 2020 has been granted intervention status.  I was beginning to wonder if Mike Krikava was on vacation on some tropical island without internet and with better things to do — no one filed and objection so here we go!

 OAH Order – No CapX 2020 Intervention Granted

Big idea for transmission… ahem..

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on March 9, 2008 @ 4:20 pm


I think it’s one of those “only in California” stories… there’s a big honkin’ butt ugly transmission line proposed out west, the “Powerlink.”  And it’s in the news today with this suggestion from someone who thinks it’s the most awful proposal for a part of the world that he likes:

With a little effort, someone could fashion a fiberglass exterior and paint them to look like one of those huge Paul Bunyan statues that once were popular outside brake shops and small-town diners.

We could put the ax-wielding Paul on one side of the highway, and Babe the blue ox on the other.

The whole column is here:

Power line a revolting idea for some in E. County 

RUS funding stopped – BSII too?

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on March 6, 2008 @ 7:45 am

Finally it’s hit the New York times, the Rural Utilities Service is suspending funding for coal plants until at least 2010:

Loans Program for Coal Plants Suspended

First question: What’s the implication for Big Stone II?

RUS Notice of EIS for Big Stone II

Second question: If Big Stone II goes down, and where Big Stone II needed the SW CapX line to interconnect… what happens to the SW CapX line? Will that go south?

Third question: Is there RUS funding for CapX and will this suspension have an impact on transmission for coal?

The notion of RUS financing of CapX has been raised, and the question is whether there IS a plan for RUS financing and if so, since there’s an EIS necessary for federal funding of transmission, should that EIS be done in conjunction with the “Environmental Report.” Commerce is arguing that it’s not an issue and the scoping reflected that, rejected the notion entirely:

Additionally, no application for a permit or funds from the Rural Utility Service is anticipated by any of the applicants. No action requiring a federal EIS is anticipated. If that situation were to chagne when any route applications are filed, the Department would pursue all opportunities to coordinate the EIS reviews in those proceedings with any relevant federal agency reviews.

So that pretty much precludes a reasonable environmental review at this stage, eh? Not that Commerce could credibly do environmental review…

Commerce… environmental review… what’s wrong with this picture?

Commerce’s “Scoping Decision”

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on March 1, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

 I got a few calls and emails about that Commerce Scoping Decision.

Scope of Environmental Report

I fully agree… it’s a doozy!  I’d not submitted the “No CapX 2020” intervention yet, so that’s what I did — without party status, it’s hard to do anything.

NO CAPX 2020 Petition for Intervention

That done, I spent some time digging in the rules, and waiting to see what turned up in the inbox.  I didn’t have to wait long:

NAWO/ILSR Scoping Clarification & Expansion

Now the statute cited by the ALJ about ALJ jurisdiction seems to be regarding challenge of the ultimate result of the decision, challenging the Environmental Report itself.  Minn. Stat. 116D.04, Subd. 10 and 13.  Read these carefully — do you see anything about an “Environmental Report?”

    Subd. 10. Review. Decisions on the need for an environmental assessment worksheet, the
need for an environmental impact statement and the adequacy of an environmental impact
statement may be reviewed by a declaratory judgment action in the district court of the county
wherein the proposed action, or any part thereof, would be undertaken. Judicial review under this
section shall be initiated within 30 days after the governmental unit makes the decision, and a
bond may be required under section 562.02 unless at the time of hearing on the application
for the bond the plaintiff has shown that the claim has sufficient possibility of success on the
merits to sustain the burden required for the issuance of a temporary restraining order. Nothing
in this section shall be construed to alter the requirements for a temporary restraining order or a
preliminary injunction pursuant to the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure for district courts. The
board may initiate judicial review of decisions referred to herein and may intervene as of right in
any proceeding brought under this subdivision.

Subd. 13. Enforcement. This section may be enforced by injunction, action to compel
performance, or other appropriate action in the district court of the county where the violation
takes place. Upon the request of the board or the chair of the board, the attorney general may
bring an action under this subdivision.

But the rules do provide an avenue to challenge the scoping decision, albeit, as the Motion notes, the rules “are a bit garbled.”  Yes, that’s putting it mildly.   But here’s the rule:

Minn. R. 7849.7050
Subp. 8. Notice of decision.

At the time of the commissioner’s decision, the commissioner shall mail the order to those persons who have requested to be notified. Any person may request to bring the matter of what alternatives or impacts to include in the environmental report to the commissioner in accordance with part 4405.0600, subpart 5. Such request shall be filed in writing with the commissioner within ten days of the commissioner’s decision. A request to bring sthe matter to the commission shall not preclude the commissioner from beginning preparation of the environmental report in accordance with the commissioner’s decision.

So here we go… nothing in yet in the way of comments or replies.

UCAN Motion Denied!

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on @ 1:04 pm

UCAN had filed a Motion regarding notice to landowners:

UCAN Motion to Enforce Citizens’ Due Process Rights

The ALJ sent notice that there were 10 days to respond to the Motion, and this is what came in, from two of the parties:

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

Applicants’ Response to UCAN Motion

And here is the ALJ, tossing out the Motion:

ALJ Denial of UCAN Motion 2-28-08

What I found interesting about this Order is the distancing from the Environmental Report, interesting to me because I found the Scoping Decision from the Commissioner of Commerce so egregiously limiting. UCAN was complaining about lack of notice for Commerce’s scoping meetings. Here’s what she said in the Order:

Challenges to the development of the Environmental Report are not within the jurisdiction of the Administrative Law Judge. Any such challenge must be reviewed by a declaratory judgment action in the district court. Although the other parties have not challenged the Administrative Law Judge’s jurisdiction to consider UCAN’s claims, jurisdiction may not be waived.

In the judicial context, “jurisdiction” refers to “[t]he legal power and authority of a court to make a decision.” Subject-matter jurisdiction “involves a court’s authority to decide a particular class of actions and its authority to decide the particular questions before it.” This concept goes to the heart of a court’s legal authority to decide a case, and unlike personal jurisdiction, the court cannot acquire subject-matter jurisdiction “either by waiver or consent.”

The Administrative Law Judge has no role to play in the scoping of the Environmental Report or its development and UCAN’s objections are not properly raised in this proceeding. The Commissioner of Commerce has the authority to develop the Environmental Report and has not requested the assistance of the Administrative Law Judge, nor does the Administrative Law Judge have independent authority to oversee the scoping and preparation of the Report. Once the Report is complete, it must be offered into the record of the certificate of need proceeding. At that point, it will be considered as part of the evidence that contributes to the recommendation concerning the certificate of need. At hearing, the parties are free to argue that the preparation or scope of the report was inadequate, and such evidence may affect the weight that the Report is given. The parties may also argue that the report fails to address the issues identified by the Commissioner of Commerce in the decision issued pursuant to Minn. R. 7849.7050, subp 7, and may assert that the Commission should order the Report to be supplemented. The Administrative Law Judge may address those issues in findings, conclusions and recommendations to the Commission.

She referenced a section of MEPA, Minn. Stat. 116D.04, subs. 10 & 13… So that brings us to the next post…

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace