Transmission Planning in Minnesota

Minnesota utilities have begun the first series of public meetings
under the new Transmission Planning rules enacted as a result of the 2001 Energy Bill and subsequent Minn. Rule ch. 7848.

Last month, I attended the Transmission Planning meeting for South East Minnesota over in Rochester. There was a good crowd, with Northfielders Bruce Anderson RENew Northfield and Lee Dilley right in front; perennial responsible energy advocates Kristen Eide Tollefson and Sig Anderson; wind developer Jeff Cook-Coyle Also present was the former Deputy Commerce Commissioner (Energy) Linda Taylor, who is now working with the Wind Energy Association ; Mike Michaud, EQB’s Power Plant Siting department and the state’s only electrical engineer; Bob Cupit, Energy Planning at Commerce; David Jacobsen, the Asst. A.G. for the Public Utilities Commission, and Ken Wolf, former chair of House Regulated and now Reliability Administrator, a position established in the 2001 Energy Bill. Minn. Stat. §216C.052.

Utility representatives made a presentation about the electric grid and deficiencies that they believe must be corrected. The website also provides a rough summary of the discussion, but left out the most interesting part – that of the impact of wholesale deregulation and market transactions on the use and purpose of the transmission grid. That is should we as the 1992 Energy Policy Act directed allow transmission lines to be treated as roads so that energy producers can market their product over great distances, with the possible result of inducing competition but at the likely expense of reliability of the lines. It seems clear the safer and more economical answer is local production and distributed generation.

If you want to promote distributed generation, siting of generation near load, and reduce our reliance on high voltage transmission lines, here is your opportunity to comment on utility plans, both specific and their general transmission and generation theory and practices that focus on central station generation of electricity. There will be additional opportunities for participation when utilities file their Biennial Transmission Plans with the Public Utilities Commission in November.

Another opportunity to hear about transmission planning is coming on Tuesday:
State Transmission Plan
Public Meeting August 19, 2003 @ 7:00 pm
3M Auditorium
University of St. Thomas
2115 Summit Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55105

From the utility notice:
Discussion will focus on identifying problems with the existing system in meeting the demand for electricity in the area and possible solutions, including possible new transmission projects that may require new right of way… The public is encouraged to comment on transmission line needs in the area and alternative means of providing reliable and economical electrical service.

For more information, see

US Dept. of Energy – Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

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