Lights Out #8 – Mid-Continent Area Power Pool

You got the update from MAAP, now here’s the update from MAPP!

Following is an update from Carol Overland:

On October 16, 2003, the Northern MAPP Sub-regional Planning Group, chaired by Mike Steckelberg of GRE, met at MAPP headquarters in St. Paul. These meetings are where the transmission plans for the MAPP northern region are reviewed from an engineering perspective — a cohort compares this to “watching paint dry!” Oh well, no accounting for taste…

The majority of those attending these meetings are utility engineers, from GRE, Minnesota Power, Xcel, WAPA, Rochester Public Utilities, non-utility engineers from firms such as Dahlen-Berg and enXco, and representatives from the state’s Department of Commerce, Public Utilities Commission, and Environmental Quality Board. Plus there’s always a couple of independent engineering and energy wonks like myself.

A few items from the agenda:

* The SPG has been working to make information accessible through an “e-community” project, led by Tom Jones of Minnesota Power, and Tom provided an update.
* There was a discussion of “Study Criteria: rate A versus rate C” which is in essence a debate about how system limits are determined and how costs of upgrades or new infrastructure are transferred to a party seeking transmission service. Very important issue when no one wants to pay for infrastructure.
* Another big issue is the state’s Biennial Transmision Plan. The first report was filed last year and utilities are now planning for the next one. Regional meetings have been held throughout Minnesota and they are working on incorporating the public comments into the plan. The plan should go to the printer next week, and will be available soon at the utilities’ Minnesota Electric Transmission Planning website. Comments from the public will be solicited.
* The SPG was looking at a “loss analysis methodology” but the state engineer behind this effort has retired and it’s stalled. “Line loss” is the energy lost when electricity is transmitted over distances through wires. This is important because, as Steckelberg pointed out, the amount of line loss can be a determining factor in which transmission alternative is selected, as it was in the SW MN Xcel 345kV proceeding. Line loss was the focus of the direct and rebuttal testimony of expert witness Art Hughes, Ph.D., E.E.

Stimulating stuff, eh? The next MAPP SPG meeting is January 13, 2003 at Great River Energy headquarters in Elk River. If you have questions, contact Mike Steckelberg, Project Engineer at GRE: (763) 241-6223 or


MAPP Regional Conference

Transmission, Markets and Reliability Agenda

October 21, 2003

9:30 a.m. — 2:30 p.m.

North Room at Bandana Square

1021 Bandana Boulevard East

St. Paul, MN 55108

For more info, call Sandy Humenansky at (651) 632-8412.

The informal notice per Bob Cupit, Dept. of Commerce:

August 14th Blackout Symposium

Monday, November 10th at the St. Paul City Center Radisson

FREE and open to the public

Registration 8:30, start at 9:00

Lunch on your own “this is Minnesota in a budget crisis”

Email reservations

Commerce’s Reliability Administrator, Ken Wolf, is hosting a meeting about the August 14th blackout, in an attempt to understand what happened in the East and eastern Midwest and why it didn’t spread to our area. The symposium will feature Paul Barber, Chair of the NERC Investigation Steering Committee and FERC Commissioner Nora Brownell. Invited but not confirmed are Sec. Abraham, DOE experts, Gov. Pawlenty, and Jim Torgeson, CEO of MISO. Lunch is on your own, Cupit says, “This is Minnesota in a budget crisis.”

In the afternoon, a panel of our own utility control operators about what they saw in their control area systems, and they will talk about the June 25, 1998 event, and will get at the fundamental question of “can it happen here?”

A little light reading before the Commerce meeting:

The blackout according to the MAPP website

Here’s the NERC September 3, 2003, House testimony about the blackout: (for pdf. click here)

Also on the MAPP website are various reliability organizations responses to a request for information about the blackout:

East Central Area Reliability Coordination Agreement (ECAR)

Mid-Atlantic Area Council (MAAC) (deferred/referred to PJM)

PJM (pdf file)

Northeast Power Coordinating Council (NPCC)
Blackout responses (pdf file)

North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) to Tauzin

North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) to Dingle (pdf file)

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