PUC Order issued – Appeal clock ticking

Filed under:PUC Docket — posted by admin on May 26, 2009 @ 7:53 pm


The Public Utilities Commission’s Order was issued Friday for CapX 2020:

Order Granting Certificate of Need with Conditions

The appeal clock is ticking, well, first the Motion for Reconsideration clock…

Scheduling Conference for Brookings routing

Filed under:PUC Docket — posted by admin on May 9, 2009 @ 11:55 am


The Dept. of Commerce was up to their usual tricks, a private meeting with the applicants to arrange the schedule, and the result proposed by Commerce was missing major parts of the process and was decidedly counter to past practice in these types of dockets.

Proposed Schedules:




And the revised schedules submitted after the meeting:

NoCapX – RevisedProposedSchedule


What was the weirdest, beyond MOES’ failure to include known parties in discussing the schedule, was the repeated statement, when addressing whether applicants would submit Direct testimony, where MOES did NOT include that in the schedule, was the comment, “The application is sufficient for our purposes.”  Oh, right.  Who is “our?”  What are those purposes?  The applicant always submits Direct Testimony, to think otherwise is so bizarre, even applicants agreed that they planned to submit Direct Testimony.  So what is MOES up to?


CapX Transmission Line Principal Engineer

Filed under:Nuts & Bolts — posted by admin on May 6, 2009 @ 6:51 pm


Hmmmmm… what happened to their Engineer?

Transmission Line Principal Engineer

Posted by: Xcel Energy <amanda.l.sirek@xcelenergy.com> on May 06, 2009 at 13:11:10.

Contract / Temp to Perm / Permanent: Permanent
City: Minneapolis or EauClaire
Country: United States

A Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering or Civil Engineering from an ABET accredited curriculum, or equivalent, plus appropriate continuing education is required for this position. It is expected that one of the primary responsibility of this position will be involvement in the CAPX 2020 series of projects. CAPX2020 is a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region that are to expand the high voltage electric transmission grid (nearly 650 Miles of new 345kV transmission lines) to ensure continued reliable service (www.capx2020.com). Engineering Involvement in this project would include; permitting support, creating detailed scopes, engineering calculations, detailed design drawings, Modeling in PLS CADD, material specification & requisitions, estimating, construction support, overall project coordination and scheduling. This position also requires occasional on call duties and after hours response. Other core responsibilities are to provide engineering and design for the construction of transmission lines in Minnesota, Wisconsin, N. Dakota, S. Dakota and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. These lines range in voltage from 35kV to 500kV. Work in Xcel Energy’s Transmission Line Engineering Department provides a broad range of career opportunities and extremely challenging high voltage projects. Please verify that your education and/or experience meets the minimum requirements listed. Please do not apply if you do not possess the requirements. Relocation may be offered for this position.

Has full technical responsibility for interpreting, organizing and coordinating project assignments. Plans and develops engineering projects which have unique or controversial problems and which have an important impact on the corporation. Work involves exploration of subject area, definition of scope and selection of problems for investigation and development of novel solutions. Maintains contacts with individuals and units within and outside the corporation for action on technical matters. Requires the use of advance techniques with knowledge and expertise resulting from extensive progressive experience.

To express interest, please send an updated resume and salary requirements to amanda.l.sirek@xcelenergy.com.

Line loss

Filed under:Nuts & Bolts — posted by admin on @ 9:56 am


Recently, someone asked me a question that I didn’t know the answer to, that’s rare, and I put it out there in the world and got a response.

Q:  Given line loss is heat and energy, what is impact of line loss on global warming?

And the answer that I got in an Economist comment:

Yon Yatsin wrote:

Sorry Carol but I see some bad science here and need to correct you:

The line loss resulting from electricity transmission has a negligible impact on global warming. Global Warming is caused by the addition of gases such as Carbon Dioxide and Methane to the Earth’s atmosphere. These gases change the ability of the Earth to radiate heat initially absorbed from solar energy back into space. The problem isn’t that our appliances, industrial processes, and transportation generate heat. The problem is that the method of producing this heat is ultimately derived from fossil fuel combustion. Think of it like this: if the composition of the atmosphere 150 years ago can be thought of us a down blanket on your bed, the atmosphere today can be thought of as a thicker down blanket. Slight changes to your metabolism won’t have as much of an effect on the temperature in your bed as the blanket.

True, there is heat loss due to resistance in the wires during electricity transmission. This results in a local increase in temperature, within the immediate vicinity of the line. Energy (and heat and work) are conserved. But because the net sum of the heat loss of the wire is small relative to the system’s ability to absorb it without a dramatic change in temperature the temperature increase will be negligible, perhaps a few millionths of a degree if that. Think of electricity transmission like a space heater in your house. While it may be effective at heating a room, chances are it won’t produce enough heat to change the overall temperature of your house, let along your yard, your neighbor’s house, or the store down the street.

Sounds about right, don’t cha think?

Economist weighs in, now it’s YOUR turn

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on May 4, 2009 @ 5:36 am


I’d wondered why “The Economist” had shown up in my blog stats, and now I know.  But from the viewpoint of this article, it’s clear they didn’t do more than scratch the surface of transmission in the Midwest.

YOUR TURN!  Let them know what you think and why — the registration is instantaneous and easy, so COMMENT AWAY!

Spreading green electricity: A gust of progress

Apr 30th 2009 | CHICAGO
From The Economist print edition

Creating windpower transmission in the Midwest

FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT helped bring electricity beyond America’s cities to its most distant farms. Barack Obama hopes the countryside will return the favour. Much of this challenge rests in the gusty upper Midwest. In recent years Interstates 29 and 80, highways of America’s heartland, have teemed with lorries bringing wind blades to new plants. Efforts to build transmission have moved more slowly. There are 300,000 megawatts of proposed wind projects waiting to connect to the electricity grid, says the American Wind Energy Association. Of these, 70,000 megawatts are in the upper Midwest.

Now action is at last replacing talk. Firms are proposing ambitious transmission lines across the plains. The region’s governors and regulators are mulling ways to help them. The federal government is playing its part. In February the stimulus package allotted $11 billion to modernise the grid. Since then members of Congress have proposed an array of bills to develop transmission. Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate energy committee, intends to start marking up transmission plans next week—though debate over other parts of the energy bill may delay progress.

America’s grid is complex: 3,000 utilities, 500 transmission owners and 164,000 miles (264,000km) of high-voltage transmission lines are stretched across three “interconnections” in the east, west and Texas. If wind is to generate 20% of electricity by 2030, as in one scenario from the Department of Energy, about $60 billion must be spent on new transmission. Just as important, regulations must change.

Historically, electricity has been generated close to consumers. Regulations are ill-suited for transmission across state borders. Rules for allocating a project’s costs burden local ratepayers rather than distant beneficiaries. One state’s regulators can scuttle a regional plan. The process for seeking approval from federal agencies is so disjointed and slow that pushing a line over a national park or river might as well be crossing the Styx.

American Electric Power (AEP) built a transmission line from West Virginia to Virginia in two years. The approval process had taken 14. “There are lots of people with authority to make pieces of the decision,” explains Susan Tomasky, president of AEP Transmission, “and no single entity that can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.” Despite recent changes, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has limited power to make projects go faster.

Fortunately, officials have started to address these problems. In September 2008 the governors of the Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin formed an alliance to co-operate on regional planning. Midwest ISO, which supervises 94,000 miles of high-voltage lines, is considering ways to spread the costs of new transmission beyond local ratepayers and taking part in preparing a broad plan for the eastern interconnection.

Federal legislation will help too. Harry Reid, the Senate’s Democratic leader, Mr Bingaman and Byron Dorgan of North Dakota have offered three of the most prominent proposals. Each would require comprehensive plans for the interconnections, and would, to varying degrees, expand FERC’s authority to locate big new projects and allocate their costs.

Initiatives like this would help to encourage firms already eager to invest. Two of the most ambitious plans belong to AEP and to ITC Holdings, which each want to build lines from the upper Midwest to cities farther east. In April FERC offered ITC’s “Green Power Express” initial incentives to push the project along.

However, even quick progress in the world of transmission is slow. If all goes according to schedule—an unlikely thought— the Green Power Express would still not be in service until 2020. Fights in Washington are inevitable. FERC’s role in siting projects is controversial. More important, this debate may be bogged down by broader ones, such as the fight over a mandate to make a greater share of electricity from renewable sources. Meanwhile the winds whistle across the plains.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace