Today in Senate Environment and Energy there are five bills up for consideration today, meeting resumes at 5:30 p.m.
QUICK, let Senators on the Committee know what you think. Here are links and emails to the Committee members:
John Marty: http://www.senate.mn/members/member_emailform.php?mem_id=1035&ls=
Chris Eaton http://www.senate.mn/members/member_emailform.php?mem_id=1192&ls=
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Clarifications of Buy the Farm are up today. SF 183 and HF 338 need to get through Committee and on to the full Senate and House to protect landowners under siege through condemnations by Xcel Energy for CapX 2020 and other transmission lines. IMPORTANT AMENDMENT: High Voltage Transmission Lines, HVTLs, are defined in MN as 110kV and above and Buy the Farm should apply to all high voltage transmission lines, 100kV and above.
SF 716 (and HF 1205): This one needs a simple change because the PUC has no jurisdiction to order a distribution level alternative, so under this law, it would then become an issue at the route permit stage, SO, address it at the route permit stage too:
1.14 section 216B.243. The certificate of need or route permit may be approved only if the commission finds
1.15 by clear and convincing evidence that there is no feasible and available distribution level
1.16 alternative to the transmission line.
SF 454 (and HF 438): This one is for the Legislative Energy Commission to study 1) need for intervenor compensation; and 2) compensation of landowners adjacent to transmission lines. On number 2), it’s stretching it to think that BTF or other compensation would be applicable to adjacent landowners — look at how hard directly affected landowners are having to fight for compensation… and I think this gets in the way of that fight and necessary legislative changes. On 1), we don’t need a study on need for intervenor compensation, we have over a decade of testimony at the Power Plant Siting Act Annual Hearing about this, the last two or three years with an administrative law judge and court reporter. Transcripts are readily available, links at this post:
SF 455 (and HF 655): This would prohibit designation of a “Preferred Route” and “Alternate Route” in an application and in the routing process. I don’t see the point. My understanding is that this is a response to complaints of those lulled into complacency by the “Alternate Route” designation in CapX 2020 proceedings. I know well how hard it is to get people to get involved, having been to hundreds of meetings across the state urging people to stand up, show up, raise some hell, intervene and at the least file comments. It’s particularly hard at the Certificate of Need level, before Routing even begins, because typically all people care about is “is it going across my land” and it’s hard to get people to spent the incredible amount of time and effort to be part of a transmission proceeding. Even harder to get through on the importance of addressing the “need” or “routing” criteria with a big picture view and not “Not This Route” approach. When it comes to routing, someone is going to get it, and to have an impact, you’ve got to dig into it, do the house counts, look for the dwarf trout lilies and turtles, map out the forests, do the surveillance. It’s difficult — regular people end up doing the work that the state and their conslutants, and the applicants and their conslutants do, the burden of proof essentially shifts to regular people, the intervenors. You can’t make anyone participate — I personally can testify that I tried and tried and tried to bring people into the process, to encourage participation, put on so many miles going to hearings from Fargo to the Metro, from Brookings to Hampton, and from Hampton to La Crosse, in the Certificate of Need, Routing, and RUS EIS proceedings, covering 700 miles of transmission lines several times over. I posted and provided hard copies of Comment forms, attended meetings and hearings to explain the process and encourage participation, and even attended a couple of meetings WITH compensation to explain the process and encourage participation. Those who did not participate knew well that this was going on, knew for years that this was an ongoing transmission need and routing process, and chose to sit it out thinking they were not affected (the implication being that it didn’t affect them, that it affected someone else, and which meant it was OK not to show up). In energy policy, people need to look beyond themselves and their property boundaries to address the big picture policy issues of how we get our electricity, how much we want and need to use, and what price we are willing to pay. Addressing these larger issues are a part of our responsibility as citizens of the planet. So again, in short, I don’t see the point of this bill.
SF 674 (and HF 439): This has two components, first including impact of property values as a specific consideration in routing (rather than an implied consideration in “socioeconomic” issues). NEEDED: specific direction that the impact of condemnation amounts should be considered in environmental review — currently it is not. The second part of this is application of “Buy the Farm” to adjacent landowners. With the struggle directly affected landowners are up against, with Xcel challenging their election of Buy the Farm at every turn (this is at the MN Supreme Court, oral arguments are in April), this is over reach and isn’t realistic.