Another utility-only, public-gagged Energy Commission meeting March 3rd

In February I posted a piece: “Minnesota: A wholly owned subsidiary of Xcel Energy? #1 in a series.” about how Xcel and other Minnesota electric utilities are getting unjustified rate increases because they control the systems that are supposed to be regulating them.

One of these supposedly regulating systems is, of course, the Legislature, which I have written about here and elsewhere: ; and

Garbage prospers in the Minnesota Legislature

Another of these is the Public Utilities Commission, about which I have written various times including here:

This situation is getting worse as Gov. Dayton is making really, really BAD appointments to the PUC.

I reserve special disgust for the “Legislative Energy Commission,” a joint body of the Minnesota House and Senate, and presently co-chaired by Rep. Pat Garofolo and Sen. John Marty.

This body is a sort of utility/other special interest playpen at which the public is never allowed to speak. The excuses for this are various, but the basic idea seems to be that only token public testimony should be allowed at legislative bodies, and that only AFTER the deals have been cut and the bills written. I wrote about it here:

Marty, Garofolo gag public at “Legislative Energy Commission”

That post included the speaker list for a September, 2015 meeting. (full agenda here):

Rick Evans – Director of Regional Government Affairs, Xcel Energy
Eric Olsen – Vice President and General Counsel, Great River Energy
Julie Pierce – Director of Power Supply, Minnesota Power
Bill Black – Government Relations Director, Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association
Loren Laugtug – Legislative Affairs Manager, Otter Tail Power
J. Drake Hamilton – Science Policy Director, Fresh Energy

This is timely because yet another LEC meeting is this afternoon, March 3, 2016, from 5:00 to 7:00. Here is the agenda. (Not scheduled to be webcast, as far as I can tell) And here is the list of speakers:

Al Krug Vice President of Regulatory Policy, Xcel Energy
Jason Risdall Manager of Regional Accounts, Minnesota Power
Jon Brekke VP and Chief Market Officer, Great River Energy
Loren Laugtug Manager of Legislative Affairs, Otter Tail Power
Bill Grant Deputy Commissioner of Energy and Telecommunications, MN Dept. of Commerce

The topic: “Major pressures on Minnesota electricity prices.” Feel better now?

Note that in each case there is a token non-utility person at the end. I consider Hamilton and Grant even more toxic sources of information than the utilities themselves, because of the false colors they sail under and the deals that they’ve done. Hamilton goes around the state babbling in vague terms about “clean energy,” but has been a behind-the-scenes promoter of our dirtiest-possible electricity sources: “biomass” and garbage incineration. But, supposing they DID support the public interest, why don’t they call for public comment to be allowed? (silly question…..)

Note: The Executive Director of the LEC is Annie Levenson-Falk, formerly with the Citizens League, an NGO that presents itself as a sort of independent think tank but willingly hires out to Xcel Energy to promote its agendas, and has Xcel (former exec) on its Board.

I realize this information is not exactly palatable, but there is a lot at stake: Billions and billions of dollars pulled out of Minnesotans’ pockets without justification. And, of course, consider the avoidable air and and water and land pollution.

How does John Marty, considered by many to be a “Great Friend” of the People, justify his role in these scams. His promotion of Xcel’s “e21 Initiative” last session has not been forgotten…

Alan Muller

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