Monday, May 18, 2015

Freudenshade Defined -- May 18, 2015; Minnesota To Okay A Monster Of A Transmission Line Simply To Back-Up A Redundant Wind Farm In North Dakota


August 23, 2016: Don sent me an update from today's StarTribune. Some data points:
  • Great North Transmission Line
  • $560 million to $710 million
  • three years to build
  • one of several that will cross the US-Canadian border
  • will help address the intermittent nature of wind power for the majority owner, Duluth-based Minnesota Power
  • with wind power on the increase, stable sources of electricity like hydro are needed to fill in production gaps
  • Manitoba Hydro is a partner with Great Northern  
  • earlier this year, Minnesota regulators approved a new route
  • 225-mile-long high-voltage line
  • will cross five northern counties through pristine 10,000 lakes boundary wilderness -- not so wild any more
January 12, 2016: Today the Hibbing Daily Tribune is reporting that the project has received a recommendation from an administrative law judge to proceed with the transmission line. Consideration for final approval is slated for March, 2016.

Original Post

SeeNews Renewables is reporting:
Minnesota Power has secured a key approval for its plan to build a 500-kV transmission line that will facilitate the delivery of renewable and carbon-free hydropower from the Canadian province of Manitoba to the US state of Minnesota.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has cleared a request for a Certificate of Need for the Great Northern transmission line, according to Allete Inc.
The transmission project will require an investment of [about $750 million]. Minnesota Power will own a majority stake in the system, which will help it deliver at least 383 MW of energy to its clients by June 1, 2020 under power purchase agreements with Manitoba Hydro.
The planned transmission system will allow Minnesota Power to use Manitoba Hydro’s hydroelectric system to store electricity generated by the Bison wind power center in North Dakota. The company commissioned the 205-MW fourth phase of the particular wind project in January 2015, bringing the complex’s total capacity to nearly 500 MW.
As I wrote the reader who sent me the link:
This is really quite a story, thank you.
It is amazing how fast the Minnesota PUC can approve any project with the phrase "renewable energy" in it.
It's interesting that the transmission line is needed to provide back up power for the wind farm in North Dakota. If I read this correctly (and I know I am), Allete has a wind farm in North Dakota. We all know that a) wind doesn't blow at the right speeds all the time; b) the wind farm has a limited life span; and, c) one can't economically store electricity yet. So, the utility needed a back-up plan -- electricity from another source.
So, now, environmentalists can cut the ribbon on a new huge transmission line that will cut through the pristine land of 10,000 lakes.
Wind turbines are depreciated over 7 years; turbines have an expected lifespan of less than 12 years. It appears that the wind farm in North Dakota was used as a cover to get a 500-kV transmission line approved, something that would not have happened had it been for a coal plant out of South Dakota. I hate wind power, but when used as a cover for a huge transmission line, one can't but feel a bit of freudenshade for the Minnesotans.

Meanwhile, a pipeline that no one will see once it is buried, is sandbagged by "environmental groups."

Meanwhile, by law, the utility will be allowed to pass on costs of this new (unneeded) transmission line to its customers. All things being equal, electricity bills will increase in Minnesota once this transmission line is given the final go-ahead.

The likely route for this billion-dollar transmission line, simply required to back up a wind farm in North Dakota:

A lot of folks better pray they approve that transmission line:

Taking Another Approach 

LowellSun is reporting:
Faced with some of the highest energy prices in the country, Massachusetts utilities regulators are considering a controversial proposal that would allow electric companies to sign contracts subsidizing pipeline construction and pass the cost onto ratepayers.
Electric companies cannot currently charge customers to recover the cost of contracts with natural gas pipelines, giving them little incentive to sign onto the projects. But if the Department of Public Utilities approves the proposal, it would pave the way for electric utilities to purchase capacity on pipelines, creating a coveted new group of partners for companies like Kinder Morgan and Spectra Energy, both of which need to secure buyers in order to build pipelines in the state.
State officials and many analysts say the measure would benefit consumers, because the increased natural-gas supply will drive electricity and gas prices down, offsetting any costs associated with the contracts that ratepayers must shoulder. 
This, too, will be sandbagged by environmentalists. 

A Note To The Granddaughters

When we were "living in Boston," one of our favorite places to visit on a Sunday morning was the John F. Kennedy Library overlooking the harbor. We visited it several times, and even now, I wish I could visit it again.

Hemingway was among the American artists, writers, and musicians invited by President and Mrs. Kennedy to attend the 1961 inauguration, but the author was too ill to travel.
In a statement released by the White House when Hemingway died, President Kennedy noted: "Few Americans have had a greater impact on the emotions and attitudes of the American people than Ernest Hemingway.... He almost single-handedly transformed the literature and the ways of thought of men and women in every country in the world."
When Ernest Hemingway died in 1961, a large portion of his literary and personal estate remained at his Cuban home, the Finca Vigia, which he had left during Fidel Castro’s revolution. Despite a U.S. ban on travel to Cuba – the result of high tensions between the two countries following the Bay of Pigs incident – President Kennedy made arrangements for Mary Hemingway, Ernest’s widow, to enter Cuba to claim family documents and belongings.

While in Cuba, Mrs. Hemingway met with Fidel Castro who allowed her to take her husband’s papers and the artwork he collected in exchange for the donation of their Finca Vigia home and its remaining belongings to the Cuban people. With Fidel Castro’s personal approval she was able to ship crates of papers and paintings on a shrimp boat from Havana to Tampa.
Mrs. Hemingway was later the guest of President and Mrs. Kennedy at the White House dinner for the Nobel Prize winners in April, 1962 where Ernest Hemingway was honored as one of America’s distinguished Nobel laureates.
In 1964, at the suggestion of journalist and writer William Walton, a friend of both the Kennedys and Hemingways, Mary Hemingway contacted Jacqueline Kennedy and offered her husband’s collection to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, which was then being planned as a national memorial to the 35th President.
I find it amazing how things sometimes turn out.

I was reminded of that again in A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition, Ernest Hemingway, with a personal foreword by Patrick Hemingway and introduced and edited by Sean Hemingway, c. 2009).


  1. Regarding the anti-pipeliners and anti-transmission liners, in my experience they as a group are not so much pro-environmentalists but anti-industrialists. They use the environmental regulations to intervene because there exists no other body of law as powerful in this democratic republic of capitalism. They have theirs, screw everyone else is the attitude that I wish they would take with them on their way to some socialist or communist country. As a group, so called environmentalists need to stop hijacking the environmental regulations so real toxic or ecological issues can be fully addressed.

    1. Well said, and I've been thinking for quite some time, I need to change "environmentalists" to anti-capitalists, or anti-industrialists, or anti-growth or something else -- like you said, simply using the environmental banner to carry their fight. They've given true environmentalists a bad reputation. I can't think of a simply, two-syllable (or one-syllable) word that would quickly convey these folks. Maybe I'll will simply use Luddites with the understanding that it is not the best word, but until the best word (perhaps Warren-ites) comes along, Luddites will have to do.