Another Buy the Farm win in MN Supreme Court!

Filed under:Appeal,Buy the Farm,Laws & Rules,News coverage — posted by admin on March 4, 2015 @ 4:15 pm

cheeringsection

YES, another Buy the Farm win, just released today!

OPA131474-030415

Check it out, read the decision.

On MPR: Supreme Court backs farmers in CapX 2020 powerline fight

On KSTP: State Supreme Court Rules Against Utility Companies in Farmland Dispute

For all of you across the country who live in states that do not have a “Buy the Farm” option, and that’s all of you anywhere but here in Minnesota, send our “Buy the Farm” to your state legislators and tell them you need it.  The relevant text is below, and if you click on it, you’ll get the Legislative Revisor’s site for the whole Minn. Stat.  216E.12.

216E.12, Subd. 4.Contiguous land.

(a) When private real property that is an agricultural or nonagricultural homestead, nonhomestead agricultural land, rental residential property, and both commercial and noncommercial seasonal residential recreational property, as those terms are defined in section 273.13 is proposed to be acquired for the construction of a site or route for a high-voltage transmission line with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more by eminent domain proceedings, the owner shall have the option to require the utility to condemn a fee interest in any amount of contiguous, commercially viable land which the owner wholly owns in undivided fee and elects in writing to transfer to the utility within 60 days after receipt of the notice of the objects of the petition filed pursuant to section 117.055. Commercial viability shall be determined without regard to the presence of the utility route or site. Within 60 days after receipt by the utility of an owner’s election to exercise this option, the utility shall provide written notice to the owner of any objection the utility has to the owner’s election, and if no objection is made within that time, any objection shall be deemed waived. Within 120 days of the service of an objection by the utility, the district court having jurisdiction over the eminent domain proceeding shall hold a hearing to determine whether the utility’s objection is upheld or rejected. The utility has the burden of proof to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property elected by the owner is not commercially viable. The owner shall have only one such option and may not expand or otherwise modify an election without the consent of the utility. The required acquisition of land pursuant to this subdivision shall be considered an acquisition for a public purpose and for use in the utility’s business, for purposes of chapter 117 and section 500.24, respectively; provided that a utility shall divest itself completely of all such lands used for farming or capable of being used for farming not later than the time it can receive the market value paid at the time of acquisition of lands less any diminution in value by reason of the presence of the utility route or site. Upon the owner’s election made under this subdivision, the easement interest over and adjacent to the lands designated by the owner to be acquired in fee, sought in the condemnation petition for a right-of-way for a high-voltage transmission line with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more shall automatically be converted into a fee taking.

(b) All rights and protections provided to an owner under chapter 117 apply to acquisition of land or an interest in land under this section.

(c) Within 120 days of an owner’s election under this subdivision to require the utility to acquire land, or 120 days after a district court decision overruling a utility objection to an election made pursuant to paragraph (a), the utility must make a written offer to acquire that land and amend its condemnation petition to include the additional land.

(d) For purposes of this subdivision, “owner” means the fee owner, or when applicable, the fee owner with the written consent of the contract for deed vendee, or the contract for deed vendee with the written consent of the fee owner.

NUCLEAR?!?! What is MN Senate thinking?

Filed under:Laws & Rules,Nuts & Bolts — posted by admin on March 2, 2015 @ 1:58 pm

Prairie Island nuclear plant

That’s “our” reactor, the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, here in Red Wing, it’s within the city limits (which were expanded to include the plant).  I represented Florence Township from 1995, when Xcel, f/k/a NSP, applied to put nuclear waste in Florence Township under the “alternate site mandate,” and that went on, and on, and on, until they finally withdrew their application at the NRC in … what, 1999?  2000?  That’s one I thought would never end.  But that’s the thing about nuclear, it’s never over.

QUICK — CONTACT THE LEGISLATORS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS MISSIVE.

There are two bills before the Senate Environment and Energy Committee TOMORROW:

  • SF306 is simply worded, deleting the Minn. Stat. 216.243, Subd. 3b prohibition of new construction of a nuclear plant and changes it to “Additional storage of spent nuclear fuel” and over the previous language that states: “Any certificate of need for additional storage of spent nuclear fuel for a facility seeking a license extension shall address the impacts of continued operations over the period for which approval is sought.”  It’s authored by Kiffmeyer, coauthored by Dahms and Anderson.

SF536So we have a blanket repeal of the nuclear construction prohibition, and a specific opening for a Certificate of Need for a nuclear generator at the Monticello site.

Authors contact info is linked above, and emails for Senate Energy committee members and the authors are also listed below.

Whether it’s targeted as a replacement for the Fukushima Daiichi style GE plant, or whether it’s to add and operate a second reactor, WHY?

First, there’s no need.  There is a glut of electricity, as our friend, Xcel’s Ben Fowkes said, when they could no longer keep up the GROW GROW GROW fiction.  Here’s the Seeking Alpha transcript of the XEL Earnings Call, January 31, 2013. 

So I think the economies are in decent shape across all our jurisdictions. Doesn’t necessarily mean it translates to high sales growth. And that’s consistent with our forecast. I mean, we’re not anticipating that we’re going to see a tremendous rebound in sales, even as the economies start to improve. I mean, I think, that’s our new normal, frankly.

For last year:

Finally, NSP-Minnesota sales increased six-tenths of a percent driven by growth in the number of residential and small C&I customers and usage increases in the small C&I class.

From Xcel’s IRP (Docket 15-21), p. 45 of 102:

Historic&ForecastPeakDemand_IRPp45And here’s what they had to say about that (note they do NOT go back further than 2011, so we don’t get to see the 2000-2010 numbers):

We forecast a period of relatively flat growth such that our median base peak will increase only 0.4 percent in each year of the planning period…

That chart is NOT consistent with the 2014 SEC 10K filing, which shows a 2014 peak demand of 8,848 MW (info below is linked, see p. 9 at 10-K link):

Capacity and Demand
 
Uninterrupted system peak demand for the NSP System’s electric utility for each of the last three years and the forecast for 2015, assuming normal weather, is listed below.
 
                       

That lower number is consistent with the downward trend of the 2014 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment, now showing growth rates at lowest levels on record (note that it has NEVER been close to the CapX 2020 “forecast” of 2.49% annually):

2014 NERC-Wide Demand

And here’s the picture for MISO from the 2014 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment:

MISO Peak Demand Reserve Margins

2014 NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment, p. 38 (or p. 46 of 115 pdf).

Also from the 2014 SEC 10-K link:

Demand2

So we don’t “need” it, there’s no talk of a new nuclear plant in their recently filed IRP.  So why???

And the “WHY?” may be clearer when taken into context with last week’s hearing at House Energy, where the intent, in part, behind legislation there was to make Minnesota an exporter of energy.  Again, WHY?  Why make the state an exporter of energy?  And if we do what would that do for our rates here?  How does that fit with Xcel’s well funded plan to institute its e21 Initiative, and how does that fit with Xcel’s desire to use ratepayer money to find other market options?  The House bill would let natural gas plants be built without a Certificate of Need, whether by an IPP or regulated utility, with the key being that they are selling into the MISO grid, and not for Minnesota native load.

But nuclear is SO expensive!  First, there’s an immediate example of nuclear construction cost overruns right here in Minnesota, at the Monticello nuclear plant, where they went way beyond what was approved in the Certificate of Need:

Xcel management blamed for cost overruns at Monticello

So what was that about?  Costs more than doubled, increased by a factor of 2.33!!!  From the article:

The project to extend the plant’s life and increase power output ballooned from an estimated $320 million in 2008 to $665 million when it was completed last year. However, the final price tag likely will rise to $748 million, including construction-in-progress financial costs.

And let’s look at new construction, the first new nuclear plant in the US in 30 years:

C&U disputes Southern Co. claim for $247 million in penalties for cost overruns at Plant Vogtle

The cost punchline on the Vogtle plant?  Southern, Westinghouse and CB&I are already in court over previous cost overruns on the project, which is currently expected to cost $14.5 billion.

Here’s that other project:

Shaw Power Group, Westinghouse, face cost issues at S.C. project.

The cost punch line here?  The NRC is expected to act soon on the Summer license. Summer is projected to cost about $9 billion.

Building new plants?  Well, NEI has some info, BUT it’s outdated, nuclear has not caught up, and this is the most current I can find on the site (HERE’S THE WHOLE REPORT):

CapitalCosts2013So please explain — why would anyone want to build a new nuclear plant?

  • There is no need.
  • They cost so much that it’s unreasonable to even consider, and is the definition of imprudent!

Why are Reps. Kiffmeyer and Anderson trying to make this a possibility?  Is this for real?  Is it a diversion from some other issue?

CONTACT INFO FOR LEGISLATORS:

To contact the Senate Energy and Environment Committee, go to COMMITTEE LINK, because many MN Senators have form access, not direct emails.  Boo-hiss…  Here are the emails listed, but go to link to see the buttons for the Senators with form access only:

sen.john.hoffman@senate.mn; sen.david.osmek@senate.mn; sen.michelle.benson@senate.mn; sen.david.brown@senate.mn; sen.lyle.koenen@senate.mn; sen.julie.rosen@senate.mn; sen.bev.scalze@senate.mn; sen.matt.schmit@senate.mn; sen.bill.weber@senate.mn

Senate authors: sen.mary.kiffmeyer@senate.mn; sen.gary.dahms@senate.mn; sen.bruce.anderson@senate.mn

SF306 is authored by Kiffmeyer, coauthored by Dahms and Anderson, click names for links!

SF0536 is authored by Anderson only.

HF338 is sponsored by O’Neill ; Newberger ; Garofalo ; Howe ; Baker ; McDonald ; Nornes, click names for links!



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace