Minnesota commission looks at Basin Electric’s resource plan

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission at its Nov. 19 meeting will look at the issue of whether a resource plan filed by Basin Electric Power Cooperative meets state requirements.

Commission staff in a Nov. 9 briefing report laid out the issues in this matter. Basin’s annual resource report was filed on June 29 and was heard by the commission at its Sept. 6 agenda meeting to discuss the procedures for addressing the report.

The commission issued its order establishing procedures for optional integrated resource plan compliance on Sept. 18. In that order, the commission verified that Basin met the statutory requirements to file the optional filing, that the report was timely filed, and that parties would have 30 days for initial comments and 10 days for reply comments on the merits of the filing.

Basin was the only party to file initial comments, on Oct. 19. “First, Basin filed supplemental information, including a discussion of distributed generation and environmental values,” the staff report noted. “As to distributed generation, Basin stated it generally does not enter into power purchase agreements under 5 MW; for a number of reasons, these types of purchases would be better handled at the membership level. Basin as the wholesale power supplier does purchase the output from these purchases with its member cooperatives.”

Basin also commented on a Minnesota requirement that it consider environmental values in its resource planning by stating that an analysis of load and generation assets in its nine-state footprint must conclude that the use of environmental values is not relevant or applicable to Basin’s current Minnesota operations. The bulk of basin’s generation is currently coal-fired, with new gas-fired additions on the way. Basin noted in its comments that this Minnesota environmental values statute, which applies CO2 penalties to new generation, is currently under appeal in federal court with Basin Electric as one of the parties in the case. 

“Basin gave several reasons for its conclusion that environmental values are not applicable to its Minnesota operations,” the staff report said. “First, Basin stated that Minnesota is about 6.3% of its system-wide total, and is about 1.5% of Minnesota’s retail electric load. All of Basin’s owned generation, both current and planned, is physically located outside of Minnesota. Basin does not anticipate any energy facility development that would trigger a Minnesota certificate of need proceeding. Thus, there are not any Minnesota ‘resource options’ to which an ‘evaluation or selection’ under this statute is applicable.”

Basin’s supplemental information was filed in response to issues raised in staff’s previous briefing papers and the discussion at the agenda meeting on Sept. 6. At the commission’s Sept. 6 meeting on the procedural treatment of this report, Basin stated that it intended to make a power point presentation to the commission. It is staff’s understanding that Basin would still intend to make the presentation at the commission’s Nov. 19 meeting.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.