Frustrating morning at Public Utilities Commission

Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV — posted by admin on October 23, 2014 @ 12:05 pm


Today, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the Certificate of Need and the Route Permit for the ITC Midwest transmission project.  The good news is that the route was modified and isn’t going to run right through the city of Sherburn, but the Commission did not direct ITC to remove the transmission lines from Fox Lake and Lake Charlotte and double circuit that line with the ITC project.

The ITC Midwest MN/IA 345 kV project is the pink highlighted part of the map above, and as you can see, it’s all connected.  This project enables connection of the Dakotas transmisison into the Split Rock – Lakefield Jct. line to Madison, via existing transmission and MVP projects 3, 4 and 5.  Not to mention all the other MVP projects — this is a BIG web of transmission:

MVP portfolio map

Commissioner Boyd, acting as Chair in the absence of Chair Heydinger, did acknowledge the importance of addressing the macro picture of cost apportionment of this group of projects to Minnesota, that we have this specific project to address, but we do have to deal with this larger cost issue, but in a different venue.  That validation helps, but when are we going to deal with it and how?  The FERC docket has long since passed, what position did Commission take during that MVP tariff and cost apportionment review?  It’s a bit late, because they’ve decided and now Minnesota has to live with it… or do we?  What options are there?

The thing that concerns me the most is that the Commission adopted the ALJ’s Findings without discussion of the meaning and impact of the de facto declaration that ITC Midwest is a “public service corporation.”  I’d asked that the “public service corporation” portion of Finding of Fact #1 be deleted:

FoF1Oh well, they didn’t touch it.

Also, I’d asked that Chair Boyd recuse himself due to his having been Co-Chair of UMTDI, cited again today by ITC Midwest as a foundational part of development of the MVP projects:

Upper Midwest Transmission Development  Initiative

UMTDI Summary Report – Final – September 30, 2010
UMTDI Summary Executive Report – September 30, 2010

Commissioner Boyd was gracious about not recusing, went over his involvement with UMTDI over the years, and noted that raising this was legitimate, I think he said “the right thing” or some such.  But he didn’t recuse.

I’d also asked Commissioner Lange to recuse herself, due to her long time employment with Izaak Walton League, intervenors in SUPPORT of this project, and all their transmission promotion and advocacy agreements and funding.  She said that she’d discussed it with PUC counsel during the break and they decided that her involvement with the Waltons did not rise to the level requiring recusal.  At least she talked about it, but given her position, and that of Bill Grant, her former boss at the Waltons who is now the Commerce Deputy Commissioner in charge of Energy, that’s pretty much cornering the market, and an issue that the Commission should tackle directly.

Oh well… waiting for the written order to come out, and it will probably be soon because there wasn’t much at issue.

And I should mention that Jeff Small, attorney for MISO, was not at all happy with my statements about the hearing and my characterization of MISO witness Chaterjee’s testimony, saying I’d misrepresented it.  To the extent that I said that I’d been able to ask “only 3 questions,” he’s technically right in that I was allowed to ask questions in three AREAS, and to which he objected to at the time, and I was able to ask a grand total of 8 questions, one of which was in response to a request for clarification by the witness, so really SEVEN questions.  The issue is unreasonable limitation of questioning, and the importance of the testimony elicited, limited as it was.  Small, however, believes I misrepresented Chatterjee’s testimony before the Commission, and the number of questions.  In my statements to the Commission, I asked them to refer to the transcript for the specifics, knowing that it was a representation and not a direct quote.  I’d copied the transcript at the library, cited it in our brief, and here is the ENTIRE session of question and answer, all 7 or 8 questions, depending on how you count, and Chatterjee’s response.  This was one of the most dreadful dockets I’ve participated in, between the limitations as a “limited’ Intervenor, the “Clean Energy Intervenors” advocacy for the project, and this was it for cross-examination — an Evidentiary Hearing short circuited and essentially tried on the pleadings, despite a last second change in position of Commerce-DER.  Check the transcript for questions to Dr. Rakow regarding is last minute change of position.  The public interest was pushed out of the mix, oh-so-relevant questions were not asked, and important issues were not reviewed.  Where the ALJ does a verbatim cut & paste of the Applicant’s proposed Findings of Fact, that is NOT thoughtful consideration, no way, no how.

Misrepresentations, Mr. Small?  Readers, you be the judge.  Here’s a copy of the testimony at issue, the FULL cross-examination.  Note the part in red:

12   JUDGE LAFAVE:  Ms. Overland.
13                   MS. OVERLAND:  Thank you.
14                          EXAMINATION
16   Q    Good afternoon, Mr. Chatterjee.
17   A    Good afternoon.
18   Q    My questions are pretty narrow in scope and it
19        relates to your introductory comments this morning,
20        or this afternoon.
21                   MR. SMALL:  Your Honor, before we get too
22        far, the introductory statement is not one of the
23        three items that Ms. Overland said that her
24        cross-examination would deal with.
25                   MS. OVERLAND:  Your Honor, I wrote them
1        as he was making them, and they’re highlighted in
2        red right here, and those are the three.  They were
3        related to statements that he made.  I can repeat
4        them, if you would like?
5                   JUDGE LAFAVE:  Please.  What were the
6        three?
7                   MS. OVERLAND:  The three were first the
8        need to protect against 345 kV contingency.  Second
9        was have any of the MVP projects been disapproved.
10        And third was the MISO planning process regarding
11        transfer capability, needs to consider what capacity
12        transfer, why, and how much.
13                   Those were the three that I laid out.
14                   JUDGE LAFAVE:  Please proceed.
15                   MS. OVERLAND:  Thank you.
17   Q    Okay.  First, I’d like some clarification about you
18        were discussing SPSs and why it would have to be
19        reconfigured if the 161 were used.  And you stated
20        that there was a need to reconfigure to protect
21        against 345 contingency.  Does that mean a fault of
22        the 345 system?
23   A    It could mean a number of things, but basically
24        referring to an outage of any of the 345 kV sections
25        that the SPS is protecting against.
1   Q    Thank you.  That’s what I needed to know there.
2                   And you were asked whether any of the MVP
3        projects have been disapproved.
4                   Do you know how many MVP projects have
5        been approved at this point?
6   A    So the MVP project, the thumb loop in Michigan did
7        receive approval in Michigan.  The Illinois project
8        in Illinois, ATXI project, did receive approval.
9        Those are the two.  Oh, and Brookings to Twin Cities
10        project also did receive approval in this Commission
11        here.  Other than that, I’m not aware of any other
12        MVPs at this point that have received approval.
13   Q    And are you aware if the Brookings project received
14        approval by this Commission — first, are you aware
15        that our Commission here in our state laws divide
16        siting and routing and need determinations?  Are you
17        aware of that?
18   A    Yes, I am.
19   Q    Okay.  Well, was the certificate of need for the
20        Brookings project approved before or after there was
21        such a thing as an MVP project?
22   A    So I believe the Brookings project was an Appendix B
23        project at the time that it received approval.
24        Appendix B refers to an MTEP appendix, which refers
25        to projects that are under evaluation in a MISO
1        planning process.  So, yes, I believe the Brookings
2        project was approved prior to the approval of
3        Brookings by MISO or the directors when it moved
4        from Appendix B to Appendix A.
5   Q    So then at the time that it was approved, it did not
6        have MVP status; is that correct?
7   A    That’s right, because the MVP status is given only
8        after the project is approved as an MVP, which is an
9        MTEP line.
10   Q    Thank you.
11                   You were also asked questions about costs
12        per megawatt of transfer capability and how the
13        planning process works.  And you stated that the
14        planning process needs to consider what capacity or
15        transfer and why and how much.  Is it possible to
16        make a short little statement about — well, in this
17        case, what capacity you’re transferring, why, and
18        how much?
19   A    In what context?
20   Q    In the context of MVP 3.
21   A    Sure.  So different transferring analyses that MISO
22        performs and different planning processes have
23        different context, right.  That’s why transfer
24        capability is important.  Because you’re
25        transferring power from A to B.  What are you
1        transferring, why are you transferring, how much is
2        the quantity that is good enough?  Is the transfer
3        capability of 2,000 megawatts good enough, or 5,000
4        or 6,000?  Where do you stop?
5                   So as pointed out in my direct testimony,
6        the transfer analysis that MISO did run is run in a
7        different planning context, but is impacted by
8        MVP 3, and that is in the context of capacity export
9        limits and import limits.  As you know, in MISO’s
10        resource adequacy auction, local resource zone one,
11        which is where Minnesota is located, was limited by
12        transmission and therefore had a capacity export
13        limit, a very small capacity export limit, in the
14        range of 200 to 300 megawatts.
15                   That was significantly mitigated by the
16        Mid-MISO MVP and the out-year analysis MISO
17        identified an increase as stated in my direct
18        testimony of over 2,000 megawatts of transfer
19        capability.  Again, that is important because that
20        is a transfer capability analysis where an objective
21        function is defined.  You’re trying to move capacity
22        resources or, capital P, capital R, planning
23        resources.  These are baseload units that you’re
24        moving from local resource zone one for utilization
25        in all of the other MISO local resource zones for
 1        every load to meet their local — to meet their
 2        planning reserve margin requirement.
 3                   So you know how much you need and you
 4        know what you’re transferring, you’re transferring
 5        capacity resources, baseload units, and wind also,
 6        but wind has a very small capacity credit value.
 7        And we identified a significant benefit there.  So
 8        that is an important context.
 9                   In the context of MVP analysis where
10        you’re transferring renewables, you’re looking at an
11        off-peak scenario, which is, in the 8,760 hour
12        simulation you’re looking at the big bulk, the
13        majority of the time you’re actually transferring
14        low cost generation.  And that kind of transfer
15        analysis, if you could do 8,760 transfer capability
16        analyses with 8,760 snapshot simulations, that is
17        very good, if you can actually estimate based on
18        your price of your generation and price of your load
19        where are you transferring how much, as we all know,
20        it’s impractical to do that.
21                   And that’s why MISO uses PROMOD analysis,
22        which is a production cost modeling with a
23        transmission system in it where real-time LMPs are a
24        consequence of generation prices and load prices.
25        And that is the PROMOD study in the MVP analysis.
1   Q    And then to clarify, the PROMOD studies are strictly
2        an economic analysis?
3   A    When you say economic analysis, it can be construed
4        as, well, it ignores reliability constraints, so
5        that is not the case because a PROMOD analysis
6        respects all the transmission limitations that are
7        modeled in the case as well.  So — and that is how
8        it values congestion.  Because when it sees that
9        you’ve gone over transmission limits, it will do an
10        efficient redispatch around that just as the market
11        would and it would curtail transfers or have a
12        negative impact on the most efficient set of units.
13        And, therefore, when you mitigate that transmission
14        constraint through a transmission project, you would
15        see a savings in your adjustment production cost.
16                   MS. OVERLAND:  I think that answers it
17        really well.
18                   Thank you.  That’s all I have.
19                   THE WITNESS:  Thank you.
20                   JUDGE LAFAVE:  Thank you very much.
21                   Ms. Anderson?
22                   MS. ANDERSON:  Nothing further.  Thank
23        you.
24                   JUDGE LAFAVE:  Ms. Currie?
25                   MS. CURRIE:  No questions.
1                   JUDGE LAFAVE:  Mr. Small?
2                   MR. SMALL:  Yes, Your Honor, I have maybe
3        a couple of questions for Mr. Chatterjee.
6   Q    In your response to Ms. Overland’s questions about
7        the approval of MVP projects, you mentioned a few
8        examples of projects that were at various stages of
9        development; is that correct?
10   A    That is correct.
11   Q    And you mentioned one in particular, which was the
12        Illinois Rivers Project.  Do you remember that?
13   A    Yes, I do.
14   Q    And is the Illinois Rivers Project a single MVP?
15   A    No, it’s not.  It’s — it is comprised of different
16        MVPs, I forget, but it goes from Palmyra to
17        Meredosia to Pawnee to Pana, from Pana to Sugar
18        Creek.  I believe it was broken down into two maybe
19        three separate MVPs.
20   Q    And that description of the number of MVPs, can that
21        be found in the MVP study that was entered into the
22        record today?
23   A    It can be.
24   Q    Okay.  So your description was not that there was
25        just approval of one MVP, but the entire Illinois
1        Rivers Project; is that correct?
2   A    That is correct.
3                   MR. SMALL:  Thank you, Your Honor.
4                   JUDGE LAFAVE:  Thank you.
5                   Ms. Jensen?
6                   MS. JENSEN:  Nothing, Your Honor.
7                   JUDGE LAFAVE:  Ms. Agrimonti?
8                   MS. AGRIMONTI:  Nothing, Your Honor.
9        Thank you.
10                   JUDGE LAFAVE:  Ms. Overland, based on the
11        question of Mr. Small, anything further to follow up
12        on that point?
13                   MS. OVERLAND:  Nothing, thank you.
14                   JUDGE LAFAVE:  Thank you very much.
15                   (Witness excused.)
16                   JUDGE LAFAVE:  Thank you, Ms. Overland.


Motions for Reconsideration are due 20 days after the Commission’s written Order is filed.    


image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace