Center for Rural Affairs toadies for transmission

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Wisconsin — posted by admin on June 2, 2014 @ 5:21 pm


Once again, Center for Rural Affairs is sticking their nose in where it does not belong, this time in Wisconsin, this time on the Badger Coulee transmission project.  We’ve noticed them nose under the tent on the ITC Midwest MN/IA transmission line.  They’re really getting around…

But it’s what they get paid to do, promote transmission, so they’re doing it, and misleading people along the way.  Earlier today, I heard and saw that the Wisconsin Eye moderator dropped their name twice… why would that be… and they used a map they said was from Center for Rural Affairs, but if you look at the map, it’s Xcel and ATC:


Anyway, here’s the article that got me going:

Power Struggle: Public Input Sought on Badger Coulee Transmission Line

And so I fired off a missive to the writer and editor — we shall see…

What’s wrong?

From the article:

Lu Nelsen, energy policy associate for the Center for Rural Affairs, said the Badger Coulee line is one of several projects in the Midwest currently seeking to improve energy transmission for the region.

He described the project as a much-needed update to the state’s electronic transmission grid and a step forward for renewable energy.

“The main focus of this project is to improve reliability and cut down on congestion while also opening up transmission for new energy development,” he said.

Among the concerns raised by those in opposition of the project are how it will affect farms and rural landowners in its path.  (Nelson and CfRA do NOT speak for those in opposition to the project, they are promoting the project.)

“People are concerned about ‘What does this mean for my land, for the protected areas around me?’ ” Nelsen said. “That’s one of the reasons why these meetings are so important, because it’s the one chance to clarify where those concerns may lie.”

Nelsen said the developers would obtain easements for land the line would cross and the land underneath the lines could still be farmed or used for grazing.

Nelson repeatedly states that this is “the one chance” or “last chance” to speak out, and that is just plain false (see “last chance” subject heading below).  This Wisconsin project is just beginning, and the meetings now are scoping for the environmental review.  There will be another group of meetings for public comments on the DEIS, and another group of meetings as the “public hearing.”  Either he doesn’t know enough about the process to be accurate, or is trying to mislead people.  Either way, he’s not an authority.

The most important factoid jumping out is that both ITC Midwest’s MN/IA project and the Badger Coulee project are MISO “MVP Portfolio” projects, projects that are for a private purpose, that of moving electricity out of the Dakotas across the Midwest to points east.  It is not about wind, it is about surplus coal generation that is searching for a market beyond our “Zone 1″ area, and because the electric industry is now market-based, if it can be theoretically shipped anywhere, it can be sold anywhere.  MISO’s witness Chatterjee admitted last week at the ITC evidentiary hearing that this was so:

That was significantly mitigated by the Mid-MISO MVP and the out-year analysis MISO identified an increase as stated in my direct testimony of over 2,000 megawatts of transfer capability.  Again, that is important because that is a transfer capability analysis where an objective function is defined.  You’re trying to move capacity resources or, capital P, capital R, planning resources.  These are baseload units that you’re moving from local resource zone one for utilization in all of the other MISO local resource zones for every load to meet their local — to meet their  planning reserve margin requirement.

So you know how much you need and you know what you’re transferring, you’re transferring  capacity resources, baseload units, and wind also,  but wind has a very small capacity credit value.   And we identified a significant benefit there.  So  that is an important context.

Transcript, p. 94-95, May 19, 2014(emphasis added) (available at public libraries in the project area, YES!!!!!!).

As this Badger Coulee transmission project goes forward, I hope that people are more cognizant of the interests represented.  Many of the PSC docket intervenors, such as Wind on the Wires, Fresh Energy and Izaak Walton League, together with their attorney Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy receive significant grants to promote transmission, from RE-AMP and others such as the Energy Foundation/McKnight.  Other Badger Coulee docket intervenors paid to advocate for transmission and RE-AMP participants include Clean Wisconsin, Citizens Utility Board and Environmental Law and Policy Center.  RE-AMP_Foundations_Master_Grant_List.  Does Center for Rural Affairs, and do the others, disclose their transmission advocacy financial obligations?


Again, this missive below was sent by Center for Rural Affairs to many conservation, environment and preservation organizations last week, “Subject: Last Chance to Weigh in on WI Transmission Line” which is flat out false, this docket is just ramping up and there will be many more opportunities to weigh in (click for larger version):


Wisconsin Eye on Badger Coulee transmission

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Wisconsin — posted by admin on @ 10:53 am

Check it out!  Citizen Energy Task Force’s Deb Severson, one of five panelists, discussing the Badger Coulee (MVP5 – 1/2 of MVP 5) transmission project:

Newsmakers – Badger Coulee Transmission Line

This Badger Coulee 345 kV transmission project, like the ITC Midwest MN/IA transmission line, is one of the MISO MVP Portfolio projects, it’s the La Crosse to Madison part of MVP 5.  The docket is ramping up, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission has accepted it as complete, and environmental review scoping meetings are being held right now across western Wisconsin.  In order to achieve the “benefits” touted for the ITC Midwest MN/IA project, MVP 4 and MVP 5 are both needed, and costs and “benefits” of not just these projects, but all 17 MVP projects must be weighed, because we’ll be paying apportioned costs for all of them.

Promoters are again touting it as “renewable” but we know that’s not the point of this MVP 5 or the portfolio MVP projects…

Deb Severson did a good job reminding people that this transmission plan goes way back, that the North Dakota lignite interests have been promoting transmission as the way to get coal out to the market.  CETF’s got the history, and it’s all about coal.

From Beth Soholt:

We’ve worked hard to take the “or” out of it, that’s it’s not central station or distributed, it’s some of both…  You can’t “energy efficiency” your way out of the need for transmission.  If you produce in a certain area and you can’t use the energy locally, it needs to be distributed and delivered, you need a road to market for that wind…

In other words, they’ve not done anything to get that coal off the wires to make room for wind.  And of course it’s all about siting.  “If you produce in a certain area…”  Why would you encourage siting wind in an area that’s stranded?

Rob Danielson, SOUL, is raising costs, and that this is an interstate layer on top, a major energy investment over these 40-50 years.  What do we want from this investment?  Energy planning should be done on the basis of ratepayer preferences.  Utilities area driven by profit and not consistent with what we want to do…

1) People want to keep their expenses low and want to reduce energy use.

2) Prefer energy efficiency and community investments.

3) Energy self-sufficiency.

Using a Center for Rural Affairs map for routes.  ????  Dropping their name twice?  Why aren’t they using the application or other filings?  But wait — the map used by CfRA is labeled as one from ATC and Xcel, so what’s up with that gratuitous plugging of Center for Rural Affairs?


Deb did a great job explaining that the MVP projects are about “baseload,” yup, we did get that in the record.

Beth on regional market, utilities can access lower cost power, market provides access (and we know lower cost power is coal).  She later says, “there is no market for coal.”  WHAT???  And the coal plants that we have now are not transmission constrained…  WHAT???

ICF – Independent Assessment MISO Benefits

Rob does a good job addressing that it IS binary, where other types of generation are used, then coal will go down.  Are there net carbon emissions reductions with Badger Coulee?  Nominal without Badger Coulee, and WITH Badger Coulee carbon emissions will increase!

Speaking of Center for Rural Affairs, here’s the kind of thing they’re sending out — note they bill it as “Last Chance to Weigh in on WI Transmission Line.”  NO, it’s not the last chance, in fact it’s just the beginning.  I hate it when promoters misrepresent things like that!  Click the missive below for a larger version:



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace