Resource Documents: Minnesota (9 items)
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Author: Hayward, Steven; and Nelson, Peter
In recent years, the state of Minnesota has pursued a series of increasingly aggressive renewable energy and “clean energy” policies that cost electricity consumers billions of dollars, without achieving its ambitious environmental protection goals.
Minnesota law sets out ambitious state energy policy goals. The primary goal would have the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2015, 30 percent by 2025, and 80 percent by 2050. State law incorporates a number of additional energy policy goals aimed largely at supporting these greenhouse gas reduction targets. In particular, the state’s renewable energy standard requires utilities to generate a substantial portion (25 to 30 percent) of electricity from renewable sources, mostly wind.
Historically, Minnesota enjoyed the advantage of relatively cheap electricity, with rates typically 18 percent less than the national average. However, since spending an estimated $10 billion on building wind farms and billions more on new and upgraded transmission lines, Minnesota has lost this competitive advantage with little to show for it, except higher electric bills. As electricity generation from carbon free wind approaches 20 percent of total generation, Minnesota has not experienced any appreciable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions relative to the U.S. average.
This report evaluates Minnesota’s energy policy and reaches five main findings that buttress one conclusion: Minnesota’s aspirational energy policy is a grand exercise in virtue signaling that does little to reduce either conventional pollution or greenhouse gas emissions.
Minnesota has lost its advantage on electricity pricing. Between 1990 and 2009, the retail price of electricity in Minnesota was, on average, 18.2 percent lower than the national average. However, in just seven years, this price advantage has completely disappeared. February 2017 marked the first month the average retail price of electricity in Minnesota rose above the U.S. price. (Data are available dating back to 1990.) If in the past seven years Minnesota would have maintained its historic price advantage versus the rest of the country, the state’s consumers would have paid nearly $4.4 billion less than what the actual cost of electricity turned out to be.
Minnesota’s energy policy primarily promotes wind power. Minnesota’s energy policy emphasizing renewable energy is mostly an electricity policy, which represents only about 40 percent of the state’s total energy consumption. Because Minnesota’s geography is not suitable for large-scale solar power, it aims, to date, for only modest increases in solar. As such, Minnesota’s energy policy is primarily a wind-energy policy.
Minnesota’s energy policy is failing on its own terms, as it has not achieved a significant reduction in CO2 emissions. While Minnesota was losing its advantage on electricity pricing, it did not see any significant decreases in CO2 emissions. CO2 emissions in Minnesota declined by 6.6 percent from 2005 (the peak year for CO2 emissions in both the U.S. and Minnesota) to 2014 (before starting to rise again). This decline is one-third less than the decline experienced by the nation as a whole, which saw greenhouse gas emissions drop 9.3 percent during the same time period. Looking at just emissions from the electric power sector, emissions in Minnesota dropped by slightly more than the U.S. However, since 2009, the state has made little to no progress on emissions even as electricity generation by wind increased by 92 percent.
To satisfy Minnesota’s renewable energy standard, an estimated $10 billion dollars has been spent on building wind farms and billions more on transmission. In the past five years, Minnesota utilities have reported using wind power from wind farms totaling 5,000 megawatts of nameplate capacity to meet the requirements of the state’s renewable energy standard. Based on industry cost estimates for building new generating capacity, ratepayers are committed to covering an estimated $10 billion for constructing these wind farms and billions more for the transmission needed to move this new power to market. On top of these upfront costs, ratepayers are on the hook for ongoing wind energy maintenance costs, property taxes, and replacement power needed when the wind doesn’t blow.
Steven F. Hayward, Ph.D., senior resident scholar, Institute of Governmental Studies, University
of California at Berkeley, and author of the 2011 Almanac of Environmental Trends.
Peter J. Nelson, J.D., vice president and senior policy fellow, Center of the American Experiment
Download original document: “Energy Policy in Minnesota: The High Cost of Failure”
Author: Minn. Department of Natural Resources – Division of Ecological and Water Resources
October 2, 2012
“The State of Minnesota has experienced substantial new development of wind energy projects as interest in renewable sources of energy production increases. Wind energy conversion systems provide electricity using an energy source lacking some of the environmental challenges of other sources, with less concern regarding air and water pollution and release of greenhouse gases. Wind energy does, however, have the potential to affect avian and bat species with direct impacts such as collision and barotrauma (tissue damage due to pressure changes), or indirect impacts such as habitat loss, avoidance of habitat, and other behavioral changes. Careful siting of wind projects is considered one of the most useful tools for avoiding and minimizing impacts to birds and bats. Understanding species behavior in relation to the project area helps facilitate proper infrastructure siting, which can be used as a mechanism to avoid and minimize avian and bat impacts. Understanding actual project impacts by assessing fatalities occurring during operation can also inform wind farm operation and help better plan for future project siting.
“Using existing data in Minnesota, regarding effects to avian and bat species, has become increasingly difficult due to the expansion of projects across ecological provinces and the use of taller turbines with greater rotor diameters. Although data from other states provides direction for project planning it is often unpublished, results from various survey methods, and describes effects from habitats with different species use than Minnesota. Data specific to projects in Minnesota will assist with understanding possible avian and bat impacts as expanding renewable energy development increases the possibility for cumulative impacts to species populations. Pre- and post-construction surveys are beginning to be conducted in Minnesota. However, methods for surveys are determined by individual project proposers or state and federal agencies on a project-by-project basis. The following standardized pre- and post-construction survey methods are intended to provide for more efficient agency coordination and project development. They also assist in providing a more robust record for decision makers, reduce uncertainty in project development for the wind industry, and provide for more comparable and broad application of results.”
Download original document: “Draft Avian and Bat Survey Protocols for Large Wind Energy Conversion Systems in Minnesota”
Author: Kelly, Tim; and Drazkowski, Steve
Dear PUC Commissioners:
It has come to our attention that the results of the AWA Goodhue Wind pre-construction avian study completed by Westwood Professional Services do not accurately reflect the number of nesting bald eagles in the footprints of the AWA Goodhue Wind development.
… Westwood did not use updated information to form accurate conclusions in its avian study. We are aware that there may be as many as 10 occupied eagle nests in the development footprint and that these eagles could be adversely impacted if the LWECS are not appropriately sited. The USFWS recommendations for siting of structures in eagle nesting areas are as follows:
- To ensure that locations where project activities may disturb nesting bald eagles are completely and correctly described, it is necessary for the applicant to develop accurate and up-to-date information regarding the precise locations of bald eagle nests and other Important Eagle Use Areas.
- The Implementation Guidance for Eagle Take Permits under 50 CFR 22.26 and 50 CFR 22.27 indicates that because breeding home ranges of bald eagles can extend up to two miles from the nest, new potentially lethal infrastructure should be sited at least two miles away from Important Eagle Use Areas. Therefore, we recommend surveying all areas within two miles of proposed [LWECS and] transmission line routes. Nests of other migratory birds, especially other raptors and colonial nesting water birds [e.g., great blue heron, Ardeaherodias], should also be noted.
- Nests are only one component of Important Eagle Use Areas. Under the Code of Federal Regulations (50 Section 22.3) these areas are defined as “an eagle nest, foraging area or communal roost site that eagles rely on for breeding, sheltering or feeding, and the landscape features surrounding such a nest, foraging area, or roost site that are essential for the continued viability of the site for breeding, feeding or sheltering eagles.” Activities that disturb roosting or foraging eagles are prohibited under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Consequently, we also recommend completed surveys for foraging, roosting or wintering areas within two miles of all potential [LWECS] line placements. Use of these locations by bald eagles can change throughout the year. Accordingly, we recommend a fall (pre-ice-up) and a winter (post-ice-out) survey to determine the location and use of these areas by bald eagles.
We strongly urge the PUC to require an avian study of this Important Eagle Use Area to comply with 50 CFR 22.3, 22.26 and 22.27. We further recommend that the PUC not issue a site permit until a comprehensive avian study has been completed so LWECS siting complies with federal recommendations for Important Eagle Use Areas. The information on active bald eagle nests provided by citizens should not be construed as complete or considered to be anadequate substitute for an actual avian assessment.
Tim Kelly, State Representative, House District 28A
Steve Drazkowski, State Representative, House District 28B
Download original document: “Letter to MN PUC: Inadequacy of Goodhue Wind avian assessment”
Author: Weiss, Robert
In the Matter of the AWA Goodhue Wind, LLC, Applications for a Certificate of Need and large wind Energy Conversion System Site Permit for the 78 MW Goodhue Wind Farm in Goodhue County, Docket Numbers IP-6701/CN-09-1186 and IP-6701/WS-08-1233.
I, Robert C. Weiss, General Manager of Hector Communications Corporation submit these written comments on behalf of the Sleepy Eye Telephone Company, a subsidiary of Hector Communications Corporation.
Sleepy Eye Telephone Company is a rural telephone company providing telecommunication services in Goodhue County since 1968. In order to provide these services, Sleepy Eye Telephone Company has buried copper cables and fiber optic cables in the right of ways of Goodhue County roads. This was done with the permission of the county through its permitting process. These cables were manufactured according to IEEE standards and placed underground according to Rural Utility Service specifications.
Sleepy Eye Telephone Company is concerned that there is a possibility that the transmission lines carrying the 34.5 kV wind generated electricity may induce electrical interference into the underground copper telephone cables presently in place, rendering them unusable. This has happened in other parts of the Midwest . In 2005, this problem was discovered by Interstate Telecommunications Cooperative, Inc., in their facilities near Lake Benton Minnesota on what is known as the Buffalo Ridge. This is the site of numerous wind generators. Tests performed at several customer premises in the Lake Benton area by Mr. Barry Dardis of Dardis.com concluded that where copper telephone lines parallel the transmission lines for than 1/2 mile, the magnetic fields couple to the telephone circuits and longitudinal currents are induced into the cable pairs. Some of this current is converted to telephone circuit noise. I have attached copy of Mr. Dardis’ test information and conclusions to these comments as Appendix A. The affected copper cables had to be replaced with fiber optic cables and the necessary electronics to make them work.
The wind generation project proposed by AWA Goodhue Wind LLC in Goodhue County is going to cover a large part of the same area served by Sleepy Eye Telephone Company. Because of this, Sleepy Eye Telephone Company is concerned that there will be many areas where the transmission lines carrying the 34.5KV electricity from wind generators to the substations will parallel our cable routes for more than 1/2 mile, increasing the possibility of this noise problem. Since Sleepy Eye Telephone Company has constructed its cable routes in Goodhue County road right of ways with Goodhue County’s permission, in accordance with the County’s permitting process, and in accordance with Rural Utility Service specifications, it is Sleepy Eye Telephone Company’s contention that any costs to mitigate or eliminate noise problems on the company’s cable plant proven to be caused by the wind generation transmission lines be the full responsibility of the wind farm and transmission line developers and owners. This would include any costs to re-route the copper cables or replacement of the copper cables with fiber optic cables and the necessary electronics.
I have included the following information for your reference:
Appendix A: Dardis.com Inductive Interference Report, Lake Benton Minnesota.
In conclusion, Sleepy Eye Telephone Company does not oppose the development of wind generation facilities. However, if the proposed facilities will interfere with our commitment to provide the best telecommunication services to our customers, then the electrical noise and interference issue needs to be addressed in the final order issued by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
I am available for any questions you may have pertaining to these comments.
Robert C. Weiss
Hector Communications Corporation
220 29th Ave NE
Great Falls, MT 59404
Inductive Interference Report
Lake Benton MN
Some of the telephone facilities in the Lake Benton telephone exchange area are exposed to inductive interference from 34.5 Kv wind generation transmission lines. Where the telephone lines parallel the transmission lines, the magnetic fields couple to the telephone circuits and longitudinal currents are induced into the cable pairs. Some of this current is converted to telephone circuit noise.
This will happen to some extent on all telephone circuits that parallel power facilities, transmission or distribution. It is the intensity of the magnetic field that determines the amount of interference. It is common for telephone and power companies to work together to mitigate these problems.
Power Influence. Harmonic currents induced into the telephone circuit. Measurements are in dBrnc.
Circuit Noise. Power influence, which has been converted to noise by imperfections in the telephone circuit. Measurements are in dBrnc.
Circuit balances. a number representing the quality of the telephone pair. A balance of 60 dB is the industry standard.
Power exposure. a uniform section of power where the power and telephone remain about the same distance from each other.
Ground Return IT. Current Tif, telephone influence factor, weighted, returning to the sub-station in the earth. If currents return in the earth there is no cancellation in the phase wires.
Ground Return IT measurement indicators:
0 to 500 – minimal interference
500 to 1000 – some interference
Over 1000 – major interference
Over 2000 – severe interference.
Triplett Mitigator Noise Test set and spectrum analyzer
CMC PairChek noise and telephone line test set
CMC My Helper 8370 remote tester and tone generator
ExTech digital clamp on amp meter
Testing Buffalo Ridge Area 6-14-05
Wind in the Buffalo Ridge area was very high. A set of noise measurements were taken at a customer’s NID and Green Window 100′ probe wire at location 200 yds North of the test residence on 160th Ave. This customer’s telephone cable had a 2 mile exposure to a 34.5Kv wind generator transmission line
Test from customer’s NID
Power Influence. 105 dBrnc
Circuit Noise. 45 dBrnc. this is an out of service level.
Balance. 60 dB. Telephone pair quality is good
Green Window Test
Green Window 100′ probe test
Ground return IT. 7150. this will cause severe induction .
60 Hz volt per mile. 13.9 volts
Cmsg noise per mile 100 dBrnc
Note: All of the displayed frequencies added together, equals the total power influence.
1. The telephone plant is in good condition indicated by high longitudinal balance.
2. The loop length has been reduced by the installation of Digital Carrier Systems.
3. All loops tested were under 18 Kft.
4. The cable shield is bonded for continuity and ground connections have been made at exposure changes.
5. Induction Neutralizing Transformers are being used in an attempt to cancel low frequency harmonics. They cannot be used in all cases because of distributed cable counts.
6. D′′ loading is being employed on some loops to improve signal to noise ratios.
7. The power transmission system is changing from day to day. There are multiple resonant conditions creating an extremely high ground return IT.
8. The wind turbines using pulse width modulation create high frequency harmonics. This adds to the high ground return IT numbers. These frequencies cannot always be shielded by the telephone plant because of the availability of shielding conductors on some routes.
9. The Telephone Company has done everything conceivable to mitigate the noise trouble on the existing plant. The best mitigation techniques will not solve an induction problem this severe. Ground return IT measurements exceeding 2000 are very difficult. Those exceeding 6000 are next to impossible.
10. I have been in touch with Dr Dave Hartmann a consulting engineer at Portland OR, 503-244-0767, and Einar Larson with Control Development at GE, 518-385-1883. I inquired about filtration of the collector ring transmission circuits. It can be done, but the expense would be very high. The equipment for each lead would be in excess of $100,000.00. The engineering study would also be very expensive. Filtration of the high harmonics would not prevent the transmission lines from going resonant at lower frequencies.
11. The expanse of the transmission lines and their changing character makes the reduction of the Ground Return IT most difficult, if not impossible. The only practical solution would be a fiber to the curb telephone system. This would reduce the exposure lengths to just a few feet and render the facilities impervious to induced noise.