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View Diary: The Koch Brothers' End Game in Wisconsin (247 comments)

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  •  No, it doesn't (5+ / 0-)
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    forester, BalanceSeeker, ByTor, Jim M, the tmax

    The language in the bill applies only to state-owned facilities, if sold. It applies only to their operating licenses, not their operating practices or rates (basically, the purchaser doesn't have to get the facility re-licensed).

    There are no significant electrical generation facilities or gas pipelines in WI that are state-owned, and this bill says nothing about those. So far, the only thing any one has identified as affected is steam-heat generation plants on university campuses, state mental institutions, and a state office building.

    It is not a good bill, and it is nasty, but please don't exaggerate what the bill does or what impact it might have.

    We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

    by badger on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 02:00:45 PM PST

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    •  Does that language exempt the fire sale (3+ / 0-)
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      JVolvo, the tmax, Patience John

      utilities from the PSC certification process? Does it say that? Did you read that?

      Does it say that the fire sale of these power plants EXEMPTS THEM from ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW? Because that is one component of the Public Service Commission's job.  

      And are you aware that the EPA is investigating 15 state-owned power plants for VIOLATIONS of the Clean Air Act?

      The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating 15 state-owned power plants, including several on University of Wisconsin System campuses, to determine if they are in violation of the federal Clean Air Act.

      The federal agency sent the state Department of Administration a letter Thursday requesting information about the plants. They include power plants on UW campuses at Eau Claire, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Platteville, River Falls, Stevens Point, Menonomie, Superior and Whitewater.


      At issue is whether millions of dollars worth of upgrades at some of the coal-burning plants increased the potential for the plants to emit more pollution. The Clean Air Act, passed in 1970, grandfathered existing power plants but the law also required that those plants obtain new permits and install more pollution controls to meet standards if they underwent major modifications that increased emissions.

      The DOA indicated in February that it intends to eliminate coal use or perhaps shut down plants at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison and on UW campuses in Eau Claire, La Crosse, Oshkosh and River Falls.

      So... fine... my example was inclusive of the various functions of the Public Service Commission. BUT, this legislation is a horrible bill.

      And picking a humongous fight with labor... or women... to divert attention from egregious legislation that then sneaks through shouldn't be permitted to happen.

      Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. --Thurgood Marshall

      by bronte17 on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 04:13:52 PM PST

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      •  Umm (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Last time I looked, the WI PSC doesn't get to override the EPA.

        From the bill (as quoted in the diary)

        no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).

        Here is section 196.49 (3)(b) in its entirety:

        (b) Except as provided in par. (d), the commission may require by rule or special order under par. (a) that no project may proceed until the commission has certified that public convenience and necessity require the project. The commission may refuse to certify a project if it appears that the completion of the project will do any of the following:

        1. Substantially impair the efficiency of the service of the public utility.

        2. Provide facilities unreasonably in excess of the probable future requirements.

        3. When placed in operation, add to the cost of service without proportionately increasing the value or available quantity of service unless the public utility waives consideration by the commission, in the fixation of rates, of such consequent increase of cost of service.

        (c) The commission may issue a certificate for the project or for any part of the project which complies with the requirements of this section, or the commission may attach to the issuance of its certificate such terms and conditions as will ensure that the project meets the requirements of this section. The issuance of a certificate under this section shall not be a condition precedent to the exercise of eminent domain under ch. 32.

        (d) A telecommunications utility is not required to obtain commission certification before beginning a construction project.

        It's all about public interest, quality of service and rates. And certification. That in the bill is not a bad provision if the state really wanted to attract buyers for the facilities - all it does is transfer the facility certification that already exists to the new buyer. Just like if I sold my house, the certificate of occupancy I got from the county inspector when we built would apply to the new buyer.

        The fire-sale, no-bid provisions are abhorent and probable cronyism, and should be defeated or challenged in court.

        Please point out the section of that exemption that deals with the environment or overrules the EPA. The PSC in WI has little to nothing to do with regulating emissions - that's the purview of the Department of National Resources, which is likely to be hamstrung by Walker and the GOP as well. Just not in this provision in the budget bill.

        In fact though, the purchaser will have to deal with the Clean Air Act violations. Because Federal law takes precedence over state law.

        We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

        by badger on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 09:54:51 PM PST

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        •  you know... sometimes construction permits (0+ / 0-)

          are buried in along with licenses. And the PSC conducts a variety of functions within each state. Environmental review being one of those functions.

          Permit applications have to be turned in and a review process conducted and public input and hearings conducted...

          And what friggin' world do you live in where the Republicans play by the rules (and those rules that you think exist)? Guess you have no clue about the myriad of lawsuits that wind their way through the courts constantly as the Sierra Club and any other number of environmentalist try to keep just a sliver of legitimacy to our environmental laws.

          Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. --Thurgood Marshall

          by bronte17 on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 02:57:26 PM PST

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    •  the steam-heat plant at UW (1+ / 0-)
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      produces electricity as well (note that walker canned the project being discussed in the following paragraph):

      "The State of Wisconsin recently conducted a planning study for the main heating plants servicing the UW-Madison campus and other state office facilities. The campus Charter Street Heating Plant (CSHP) delivers heating and cooling to the campus and also generates about 9 megawatts (MW) of electricity via a back pressure steam turbine generator that reduces the amount of electricity purchased from Madison Gas & Electric. This project will re-fire the existing coal boilers at CSHP with natural gas and/or biomass and build a new 350,000#/hr boiler capable of burning 100% biomass. The project will include a new circulating fluidized bed (CFB) boiler, re-firing Units #1-4, steam turbine generator, and chiller, mechanical, electrical and control system replacement and upgrade. In addition, the fuel handling system will be re-configured to handle biomass fuels."

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 08:54:01 PM PST

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      •  9MW (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        is about 0.1% of what a single utility power plant generates.

        If, for example, MG&E acquired that facility, they could collect more money from UW for the electricity generated, plus get a tiny amount of generating capacity dirt cheap. Their rates would still be subject to PSC regulation (the language quoted in the diary is only about licensing, not rates).

        It's a way for Walker and the GOP to reward their donors, it's obviously corrupt legislation in an otherwise awful bill, but on the Koch brothers conspiracy scale, it's rather like not putting a quarter in a parking meter.

        But thanks for the info on the Charter Street plant - I used to walk by it almost every day and always wondered if it generated electricity or just steam for heat.

        The UW has another plant right on University Ave, about 1/2 way between Park St and Randall Ave (don't recall the cross street - Gilman?), but I think that was decommissioned long ago when the Charter St plant was built.

        We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. - John F Kennedy

        by badger on Mon Feb 21, 2011 at 09:37:37 PM PST

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        •  Note that the 9MW is the *surplus* (0+ / 0-)

          electricity. It's a "heating and cooling" plant, with big-ass chillers. My guess is that it runs the chillers using self-generated electricity, but I don't know that -- chillers don't have to be electrically powered, as anyone with a propane refrigerator can attest.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Tue Feb 22, 2011 at 08:49:46 PM PST

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