ER Scoping Comments due 1/14

Filed under:Laws & Rules — posted by admin on December 16, 2007 @ 11:51 am

So what’s an ER, why do I want to Comment? Because this is the way to get some consideration for system alternatives. They’re not looking at specifics of routing so much as environmental impacts of massive transmission construction and what alternatives there are. This is not binary, it’s important to get them to examine whether system alternatives offer partial mitigation of claimed need. So have at it!

DoC Notice – Scoping Comments for Environmental Report

To submit written comments, DUE BY JANUARY 14, 2008, send to:

David Birkholz

Department of Commerce

85 – 7th Place E., Suite 500

St. Paul, MN 55101

david.birkholz@state.mn.us

In a Certificate of Need proceeding, an Environmental Report is prepared, not to be confused with an “Environmental Impact Statement” which is part of the Routing docket (in MN, need and routing are separate proceedings, though they can be done at same time). The Environmental Report is nominal, but important (rules citations are all clickable links, here’s link to entire chapter for all):


7849.0230 ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT.

Subpart 1. Draft report. If the application is for an LHVTL, the information submitted under parts 7849.0240, 7849.0260, and 7849.0290 to 7849.0340 must be designated by the applicant as its “draft environmental report” and distributed in accordance with part 4410.7100, subpart 5.

Subp. 2. Written responses. The applicant shall submit written responses to the substantive comments entered into the record of the proceeding before the close of the public hearing on the application. The written responses must be entered into the record and be available to the administrative law judge in preparing the recommendation on the application.

Subp. 3. Final report. The draft environmental report, written comments, and the applicant’s written responses to comments comprise the “final environmental report,” which must be distributed in accordance with part 4410.7100, subpart 5.

Subp. 4. Notice of final report. On completing the final environmental report, the commission shall have published in the EQB Monitor, published by the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, a notice indicating completion.

Subp. 5. Supplements. The applicant must prepare a supplement to the final environmental report if the tests described in part 4410.3000, subparts 1 and 2, are met and a certificate of need proceeding on the proposed facility is pending.

STAT AUTH: MS s 216A.05; 216B.08; 216B.2421; 216B.243; 216C.10

HIST: L 1983 c 289 s 115; 12 SR 2624

What’s in an “Environmental Report?”  Not much…

Minn. R. 7849.7050 Process for an Environmental Report Preparation

Minn. R. 7849.7060 Environmental Report Content

And it gets confusing from there… if you go to 4410.7100, it says “repealed, renumbered 7850.0200” and if you go there it refers back to 4410.7100, saying “Repealed, 28 SF 951.” So much for distribution “in accordance.” Then there’s 4410.3000… if the tests in subparts 1 and 2 are met, then the applicants must prepare a supplement, but subparts 1 and 2 do not have any tests, thresholds… those are in subpart 3, so WTF? Looks to me like there’s never a supplement. Here’re Subparts 1, 2 and 3:

4410.3000 SUPPLEMENTING AN EIS.

Subpart 1. Applicability. An RGU shall supplement an EIS by preparing a supplemental EIS document in accordance with this part.

Subp. 2. EIS addendum. An RGU may make minor revisions to a final EIS by use of an EIS addendum. An EIS addendum may not be used to make revisions required under subpart 3. The addendum shall be distributed to the EQB, to any person who received the final EIS document, and to any other person upon written request. The EQB shall publish notice of the availability of the addendum in the EQB Monitor.

Subp. 3. Supplement to an EIS. An RGU shall prepare a supplement to an EIS under any of the following circumstances:

A. whenever after a final EIS has been determined adequate, but before the project becomes exempt under part 4410.4600, subpart 2, item B or D, the RGU determines that either:

(1) substantial changes have been made in the proposed project that affect the potential significant adverse environmental effects of the project; or

(2) there is substantial new information or new circumstances that significantly affect the potential environmental effects from the proposed project that have not been considered in the final EIS or that significantly affect the availability of prudent and feasible alternatives with lesser environmental effects;

B. whenever an EIS has been prepared for an ongoing governmental action and the RGU determines that the conditions of item A, subitem (1) or (2), are met with respect to the action; or

C. whenever an EIS has been prepared for one or more phases of a phased action or one or more components of a connected action and a later phase or another component is proposed for approval or implementation that was not evaluated in the initial EIS.

But then again, “anyone” can ask for a supplement, but this isn’t an EIS, it’s an Environmental Report, and hey, the EGB doesn’t exist anymore, they have nothing to do with electrical issues, Certificates of Need, routing dockets, it’s all Commerce, so ??? But here’s that part:

Subp. 4. Request for supplement to an EIS. Any person may
request preparation of a supplement to an EIS by submitting a
written request to the RGU containing material evidence that a
supplement is required under subpart 3. A copy of the request
must be sent to the EQB. The RGU shall make a decision on the
need for a supplement within 30 days of receipt of the request,
and shall notify the requesting person and the EQB staff of its
decision within five days. If the RGU denies the request, the
notice must explain the basis for its decision and respond to
the issues raised by the requesting person. If the RGU orders a
supplement, its basis for the decision must be incorporated into
the supplement preparation notice.

Here’s what’s required for a Certificate of Need, note that the burden of proof is on the applicant:

Minn. Stat. 216B.243

Subd. 3. Showing required for construction. No proposed large energy facility shall be certified for construction unless the applicant can show that demand for electricity cannot be met more cost effectively through energy conservation and load-management measures and unless the applicant has otherwise justified its need. In assessing need, the commission shall evaluate:

(1) the accuracy of the long-range energy demand forecasts on which the necessity for the facility is based;

(2) the effect of existing or possible energy conservation programs under sections 216C.05 to 216C.30 and this section or other federal or state legislation on long-term energy demand;

(3) the relationship of the proposed facility to overall state energy needs, as described in the most recent state energy policy and conservation report prepared under section 216C.18, or, in the case of a high-voltage transmission line, the relationship of the proposed line to regional energy needs, as presented in the transmission plan submitted under section 216B.2425;

(4) promotional activities that may have given rise to the demand for this facility;

(5) benefits of this facility, including its uses to protect or enhance environmental quality, and to increase reliability of energy supply in Minnesota and the region;

(6) possible alternatives for satisfying the energy demand or transmission needs including but not limited to potential for increased efficiency and upgrading of existing energy generation and transmission facilities, load-management programs, and distributed generation;

(7) the policies, rules, and regulations of other state and federal agencies and local governments;

(8) any feasible combination of energy conservation improvements, required under section 216B.241, that can (i) replace part or all of the energy to be provided by the proposed facility, and (ii) compete with it economically;

(9) with respect to a high-voltage transmission line, the benefits of enhanced regional reliability, access, or deliverability to the extent these factors improve the robustness of the transmission system or lower costs for electric consumers in Minnesota;

(10) whether the applicant or applicants are in compliance with applicable provisions of sections 216B.1691 and 216B.2425, subdivision 7, and have filed or will file by a date certain an application for certificate of need under this section or for certification as a priority electric transmission project under section 216B.2425 for any transmission facilities or upgrades identified under section 216B.2425, subdivision 7;

(11) whether the applicant has made the demonstrations required under subdivision 3a; and

(12) if the applicant is proposing a nonrenewable generating plant, the applicant’s assessment of the risk of environmental costs and regulation on that proposed facility over the expected useful life of the plant, including a proposed means of allocating costs associated with that risk.

Subd. 3a. Use of renewable resource. The commission may not issue a certificate of need under this section for a large energy facility that generates electric power by means of a nonrenewable energy source, or that transmits electric power generated by means of a nonrenewable energy source, unless the applicant for the certificate has demonstrated to the commission’s satisfaction that it has explored the possibility of generating power by means of renewable energy sources and has demonstrated that the alternative selected is less expensive (including environmental costs) than power generated by a renewable energy source. For purposes of this subdivision, “renewable energy source” includes hydro, wind, solar, and geothermal energy and the use of trees or other vegetation as fuel.

Now look at the rule, and the subtle shift of the burden of proof — the rule conflicts with the statute:

7849.0120 CRITERIA.

A certificate of need must be granted to the applicant on determining that:

A. the probable result of denial would be an adverse effect upon the future adequacy, reliability, or efficiency of energy supply to the applicant, to the applicant’s customers, or to the people of Minnesota and neighboring states, considering:

(1) the accuracy of the applicant’s forecast of demand for the type of energy that would be supplied by the proposed facility;

(2) the effects of the applicant’s existing or expected conservation programs and state and federal conservation programs;

(3) the effects of promotional practices of the applicant that may have given rise to the increase in the energy demand, particularly promotional practices which have occurred since 1974;

(4) the ability of current facilities and planned facilities not requiring certificates of need to meet the future demand; and

(5) the effect of the proposed facility, or a suitable modification thereof, in making efficient use of resources;

B. a more reasonable and prudent alternative to the proposed facility has not been demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence on the record, considering:

(1) the appropriateness of the size, the type, and the timing of the proposed facility compared to those of reasonable alternatives;

(2) the cost of the proposed facility and the cost of energy to be supplied by the proposed facility compared to the costs of reasonable alternatives and the cost of energy that would be supplied by reasonable alternatives;

(3) the effects of the proposed facility upon the natural and socioeconomic environments compared to the effects of reasonable alternatives; and

(4) the expected reliability of the proposed facility compared to the expected reliability of reasonable alternatives;

C. by a preponderance of the evidence on the record, the proposed facility, or a suitable modification of the facility, will provide benefits to society in a manner compatible with protecting the natural and socioeconomic environments, including human health, considering:

(1) the relationship of the proposed facility, or a suitable modification thereof, to overall state energy needs;

(2) the effects of the proposed facility, or a suitable modification thereof, upon the natural and socioeconomic environments compared to the effects of not building the facility;

(3) the effects of the proposed facility, or a suitable modification thereof, in inducing future development; and

(4) the socially beneficial uses of the output of the proposed facility, or a suitable modification thereof, including its uses to protect or enhance environmental quality; and

D. the record does not demonstrate that the design, construction, or operation of the proposed facility, or a suitable modification of the facility, will fail to comply with relevant policies, rules, and regulations of other state and federal agencies and local governments.

STAT AUTH: MS s 216A.05; 216B.08; 216B.2421; 216B.243; 216C.10

HIST: L 1983 c 289 s 115; 12 SR 2624

Oh, yeah, we’re gonna have some fun here…

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace