Tomorrow it’s a meeting or two about a pipeline, but that’s not all… it’s about a gas plant at the beginning of this pipeline route!
First the pipeline — Minnesota Energy Resources Corporation is the applicant, and it’s PUC Docket 15-8858, a docket for a pipeline route on the west and southern edges of Rochester, Minnesota, starting at the “Westside” substation on the west side of town, along the big gas transmission pipeline that runs parallel with Hwy. 14. From there it goes a section west, and then south and around to the east.
And lo and behold, last week, Rochester Public Utilities announced its long planned natural gas generating plant for that same location as this pipeline starts, at 19th St. NW and 60th Ave. N. W. This proposed plant was at issue during the CapX 2020 Transmission Certificate of Need docket, where RPU discussed building a natural gas plant in its RPU_34945_Report_June_2005. Here’s the 2015_update_rpu_infrastructure_study. During the CapX 2020 CoN hearing, that notion was pooh-poohed, but we knew better. And voila, here it is!
First they brought it up at RPU Board meetings over the summer:
And finally, last week, RPU made it’s plans to add new natural gas generation VERY public:
Back in that CapX 2020 Certificate of Need proceeding (PUC Docket 06-1115) it was an issue because the “need” used to justify CapX 2020 transmission to Rochester was so very small that it could be met with this RPU planned natural gas plant. Here’s what I wrote in the 2008 No CapX 2020 Initial Brief:
Most importantly, the need is overstated. In addition to modeling performed with all local generation off line, infrastructure planned was not considered. For example, in Rochester, there are FOUR 161kV lines planned that were not taken into consideration, and which could well serve Rochester’s needs. In addition, RPU, the Rochester utility, has planned for new generation at the West Side substation (Ex. 100, lower left corner), where two of those four lines will be connection to serve Rochester. Ex. 157, Report on the Electric Utility Baseline Strategy for 2005-2030 Electric Infrastructure, June 2005, Summary p. S-21-S-22. Specifically, this report recommends actions that have been taken by RPU, resulting in the Westside Substation and transmission from it to serve the city:
Consider taking options on approximately 100 acres of land within the RPU service territory near a high pressure gas line and transmission facilities under RPU control for installation of future combustion turbine capacity.
…Around 2014, assuming that new generation is required in accordance with the long range plan and that generation has not been installed in connection with the transmission issue, begin the process for installation of approximately 50-100MW of natural gas-fired generation for an inservice date of 2018. The generation should be low capital cost with as low an operating cost as is consistent with expected operating capacity factors.
Local load as a reason for CapX is not supported by the evidence. The need, even if assumed, can be met in other ways, and these small amounts, if assumed in its entirety, cannot justify a project of this size.
And here we are, deja vu all over again. Guess we need to make sure that phased and connected actions are considered in this pipeline environmental review.
And another thing, this pipeline environmental review — the PUC, despite that Sandpiper case, ordered a “comparative environmental analysis.”
Nope, that “environmental review lite” is NOT sufficient…