Donate!!! Yes, you!! See that “PayPal” button up to the right? Join the challenge to transmission that they don’t need and we don’t want! No CapX 2020 has Intervened in the ITC Midwest MN/IA Certificate of Need, a public interest intervention focused on showing up to weigh in on the big picture issues (Important note, No CapX 2020 is aiding public participation, but not taking a position on route.).
See the lower 1/2 of MISO’s MVP project 5, running from near Dubuque, IA to the northeast to the “Cardinal” substation near Madison? That’s the Cardinal – Hickory Creek transmission line.
The Dodgeville Chronicle ran my Letter to the Editor, just in time for the meeting last night, held by Rural Utilities Service, about the Cardinal – Hickory Creek transmission project:
From 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 7th, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is hosting a scoping meeting at the Deer Valley Lodge in Barneveld. RUS will again collect scoping comments for its Environmental Impact Study as it decides on a loan to Dairyland Power Cooperative for a share of project costs. RUS held scoping meetings October 31-November 3, 2016 – why more scoping meetings now?
The Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission project stretches from a substation near Peosta, across the Mississippi River and Wisconsin, near Dodgeville, to a substation near Madison. Last April, as reported in this paper, American Transmission Company’s Jon Callaway reported that the project schedule had been pushed out to 2018 or beyond. The reasons weren’t clear, and should be specified and made part of the RUS record.
Cardinal-Hickory Creek and the under-construction Badger-Coulee transmission lines are MISO’s (Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.) MVP project “five” revealed five years ago in MISO’s MTEEP 11 report. That was 2011, and it was “postponed” in 2016. Why the delay? MISO’s 12.38% rate of return for construction has been successfully challenged in federal court. There’s a glut of electricity where even marketing electricity cross country is not alleviating the industry’s overproduction. MISO’s MVP economic modeling no longer hold under current scenarios. And maybe the delay is that and more!
Now’s the time to tell RUS to consider the economics, need and causes of delay in its financing decision. If delay is right for the project developers, RUS should also delay, and put financing on hold.
Carol A. Overland, Esq.
Red Wing, MN
Slow evening at Rural Utilities Service’s (RUS) scoping meeting for the Environmental Impact Statement for the Cardinal – Hickory Creek transmission project. RUS is involved because Dairyland Power Cooperative (DPC) plans to hold a 9% undivided interest in the project, and are looking to RUS to provide the funding. RUS held two more meetings, following on prior meetings October 31 and November 1 & 2, because their notice for those meetings went out a day late, so another Notice went out:
Where’s my prior post on these meetings? It’s gone! Here’s the dates and locations (click for larger version) — the last one is tomorrow in Barneveld, Wisconsin:
So to make quick work of it, this is cut and pasted from the RUS Cardinal Hickory Creek page:
Alternatives Evaluation Study (July 2016)
Macro-Corridor Study (September 2016)
Alternative Crossings Analysis (April 2016)
- ACA Table of Contents
- ACA Main Report Chapters 1-5
- ACA Main Report-Chapter 6-References
- ACA Appendices
I had a quick chat with Dennis Rankin who’s in charge of the environmental review on this and the Dairyland Q-1 South projects, and had a few quick things to register, particularly that ATC has announced that the project is delayed:
I had this article and a few comments to add tonight, and will file more detailed comments before the deadline — now January 6, 2017.
On the way in, there was new transmission marching across the countryside, so ugly:
And look how close to this house in New Vienna, right up near the garage, and not far from the house either — this line cut right through the middle of town:
But all in all, it was a beautiful day for a drive today!
Here we go again, the Annual Hearing for the Power Plant Siting Act.
The full Notice:
Now’s the time to dig back into the cobwebs of memory of all the dockets over the last year, and the last 20+ years, and let them know how the Power Plant Siting Act is working, and more importantly, how it’s not working.
Comments are open until January 20, 2017. To file in eDockets (highly recommended), go here, and log in. If you don’t have an account, register (it’s simple, and fast) and then file in docket 16-18.
Note something different, this year they’re going to go over pipeline projects:
Recently, I’ve been involved in a project working toward increased meaningful and effective public participation in a pipeline docket, and what’s going through my head as I attend meetings, conference calls, and read very long intense emails, is that this is exactly what we’ve been talking about at these Power Plant Siting Act hearings for TWENTY YEARS! This is exactly what we’ve been working to deal with in the Certificate of Need Minn. Ch. 7849 rulemaking for THREE YEARS! These are exactly the same issues I’ve been raising in docket after docket, gaining a remand in one, some “adjustments” in others, and even to the appellate court a couple of times — MCEA had more success in this (see the EIS decision here). And so little changes.
OK, folks, time to saddle up for another cattle drive! Let’s get to it!
And on December 20th again… sigh…
With all these highly volatile oil tankers whizzing by, we need secure rail communication networks. But what did we just learn? CapX 2020 transmission is affecting rail communication, along Hwy. 35 in Wisconsin, and that’s not OK. “…the combination of those lines with another nearby 69-kilovolt line likely triggered the interference.” Really? Combination? Not addition of a big honkin’ 345 kV line?
CapX 2020 transmission owners are now fixing it, which involves what? And why was that info so long in coming, where BNSF has already spent over $1 million to fix CapX 2020’s interference problem? Shouldn’t that be on CapX owners?
Owners of the recently completed CapX2020 transmission line are making modifications to a nine-mile stretch in Buffalo County where a combination of high-voltage power lines is interfering with signals on nearby railroad tracks.
The problem is expected to generate several million dollars in additional expenses for the transmission line and BNSF Railway.
BNSF crews discovered the problem in May, shortly after the completion of a second transmission line that’s part of the $500 million project to link the Twin Cities, Rochester and La Crosse. CapX reported it this week to Wisconsin utility regulators.
“We knew this was a risk,” said project manager Grant Stevenson. “It’s not that the line is not operating as expected.”
The 345-kilovolt line runs from Alma to Holmen, hugging the railroad corridor for about nine miles, where a 161-kilovolt Dairyland Power line shares the same towers. Stevenson said the combination of those lines with another nearby 69-kilovolt line likely triggered the interference.
The systems are regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration and are set up to go into safe mode if a problem arises — for example, closing gates even if no train is approaching.
“That’s by design,” said David Peterson, who teaches railroad engineering and operation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Everything is on stop or red.”
BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said the fail-safe design worked as intended.
The railroad initially deployed flaggers in the field and installed insulated joints and another signal to mitigate the intermittent interference. McBeth said BNSF has spent about $1 million on those short-term solutions.
Xcel Energy, the lead partner of the 11 utilities that built the transmission line, is expected to begin work this month on a more permanent solution that is expected to cost roughly $2 million.
Over the winter, crews will install an aluminum wire below the conductor that is intended to reduce interference. A second copper wire will be buried in the railroad right-of-way next spring.
Stevenson said there are 27 landowners near Cochrane, Wis., who will be affected by the construction, though he said it will be on a much smaller scale than during construction of the 345-kilovolt line.
Even with the additional costs, Xcel says the 48.6-mile Wisconsin segment of the project is below the $183.3 million price tag approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. The costs are shared by electricity customers in 15 Midwestern states and one Canadian province.
The entire 156-mile Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse project was energized in September. It was the fourth line in what is now a $1.85 billion project to connect wind-rich areas of western Minnesota and the Dakotas to population centers where that electricity is needed.
The Town of Holland has challenged the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s Badger-Coulee transmission project decision, where they issued a Final Order 05-ce-142 and permit for this transmission line.
1:45 p.m. on Monday, October 10, 2016
Town of Holland — Circuit Court Hearing
La Crosse Circuit Court
Branch 3 – Courthouse & Law Enforcement Center
333 Vine Street
La Crosse, WI
Here are the Town of Holland’s Briefs and PSC and utility responses:
Holland Initial Brief June 20, 2016 Court File: 15-cv-219
Lots to read to be able to make informed comments… so let’s get to it!
CapX 2020 at Highway 61 south of Wabasha
Monday, they had their CapX 2020 Love Fest at the Hampton substation, and I didn’t even get an engraved invitation. It’s a depressing point in time — 12 years on this project — and they got all they wanted, in some places not where they wanted it, but it’s up, and so many people affected. Having it routed somewhere, anywhere, is what they cared about, and supposedly it’s now “in-service,” though I wonder. Is it time to have a big bonfire of all the boxes of files?
This was about the Minnesota portions, but South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin is permitted as well, the superhighway from the coal fields of the Dakotas to Madison and beyond. Yeah, I could have camped out and crashed the party, but I had another commitment, so couldn’t spend the day hanging out waiting, watching. Maybe I should have…
Left-to-right: Mark Kotschevar, Rochester Public Utilities; Dave Geschwind, Southern MN Municipal Power Agency; Teresa Mogensen, Xcel Energy; Chris Kunkle, Wind on the Wires; Ben Porath, Dairyland Power Cooperative; Priti Patel, MISO; Tim Noeldner, WPPI Energy. From CapX Press Release
How much was “Wind on the Wires” (f/k/a Izaak Walton League) (and many other orgs?) paid for their promotion of transmission?
In the press:
STrib (is it really $2.1 billion? Any recent reports?):
From WKBT (video here):
And Wisconsin Public Radio:
It’s up and running — get out those gauss meters and check it out.
CapX 2020 at Hwy. 61 looking towards the Mississippi
The CapX 2020 project has been a part of my life for over 12 years… and now it’s mostly up and running. So I’ve spent the day digging through the dusty files. What a mess. Boxes and boxes and boxes.
That’s a map from 2007 or so with coal plants ID’d from the MISO queue, some up and running, many not (good!). The north/south line along the MN and ND/SD border is missing. The North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin legs are all permitted too, much constructed. Well played, Xcel.
During the Certificate of Need proceeding, we were not able to address the bulk power transfer aspect of this, because after all, “it terminates in Wisconsin.”
Meanwhile, Xcel Energy’s rate case based on its e21 Initiative whines that the grid is only 55% utilized!
You’re not going to be efficient if you’re reliant on massive transmission lines, DOH! Oh well, we knew all this, and yet here we are, billions of dollars of “wires in the air” and the bills just now arriving. Xcel argued that No CapX 2020 should be excluded:
But CapX 2020’s Minnesota Brookings – Hampton transmission line is part of MISO’s MVP 17 project portfolio! DOH! And the judge apparently missed that Xcel brought up both CapX 2020 cost recovery and MISO MVP cost recovery in their direct testimony!
Oh, but it doesn’t end there…
No CapX 2020 was not allowed to intervene in the rate case and address transmission recovery, after all, the permits have been granted, so WHY DOES NO CAPX EVEN EXIST?!?!? So said the judge:
Remember their shindig on Tuesday:
September 26, 2016
Time? They’re not telling…
Highway 52 and 215th Street (N. of Hwy. 50)
CapX 2020/Xcel Energy is holding a PR shindig, firing up the Hampton – La Crosse leg of its transmission build-out. Their scheme, their scam, is nothing to celebrate. But yes, there’s an event coming up… and it should be appropriately observed… where did I put that “No CapX 2020” banner?
September 26, 2016
Time? They’re not telling…
Highway 52 and 215th Street (N. of Hwy. 50)
This project has been 12 years of my life… first got wind of it in 2004 at a MAPP NM-SPG meeting, though really, it was apparent with the release of the WIREs-WRAO Report from 1998. That was 18 years ago. Transmission is not rocket science! As we say, “It’s all connected!” Oh, but wait… for the purposes of the Minnesota Certificate of Need proceeding, we couldn’t connected all the dots, and the CapX folks insisted that it only went to La Crosse!!! Oh, please…
Anyway, the planed shindig was reported in the Rochester Post Bulletin:
Have messages in to both Tim Carlsbad and Grant Stevenson, but the timing is top secret, no invitation is forthcoming, so I guess I’ll just have to crash. Tom Hillstrom quit, went to Met Council, and is now back with Xcel as contractor, is he in on this? Better check with “Hilly” too!
Where’s the Hampton substation? As you approach from the south on Hwy. 52, north of Hwy. 50, there’s this ugly Corten steel “Gateway to the Metro” of transmission towers, with the Hampton on the west side, at 215th Street — can’t miss it:
Next week, the Xcel Energy rate case public hearings are in St. Cloud and Red Wing, both in areas hard hit by CapX 2020. Southern Minnesota was also hit with the ITC MN/IA project, which is the northern part of MVP 3, and the Badger-Coulee line from La Crosse to Madison was the northern part of MVP 5. Xcel ratepayers will be hit with a portion of the full MISO MVP 17 project portfolio.
This rate case is driven by Xcel’s desire to recover costs of transmission, that is openly admitted by Xcel Energy, and transmission cost shifting is a part of Xcel’s request. What about the MISO MVP portfolio and what we’re going to pay for that under the FERC approved MISO tariff?
For some odd reason (e21_Initiative “consensus”) the “environmental” and “policy” groups that work hard on turnout for hearings are absent… I guess abdicating on the rate case is part of the consensus, eh? Very few people are turning out for these hearings. And without a strong public outcry, what will happen?
Show up at the hearings! To file written comments, eFile them in PUC docket 15-826 or….
And you should also know that two PUC Commissioners were fundamental in pulling that e21_Initiative and e21 “consensus” together, Matt Schuerger and Nancy Lange. From Mike Bull, who reports on how it began:
So I reached out from Xcel to Rolf Nordstrom at the Great Plains Institute and Nancy Lange then at CEE (now a Minnesota PUC commissioner), to start putting the e21 project together. Rolf and I worked to put a strong core project team together – CEE, Great Plains, Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, George Washington University Law School and consultant Matt Schuerger.
Again, this rate case is transmission driven. At issue in this rate case are considerations of what costs will be foisted on ratepayers, i.e., should Minnesota ratepayers have to pay for transmission THROUGH Minnesota, to points elsewhere, should Xcel ratepayers pay for transmission THROUGH Xcel territory to other service areas, should Xcel ratepayers pay for transmission for market access, for market transactions, which is a private purpose not having anything to do with serving Xcel customers. And Xcel is specifically asking that transmission cost recovery be shifted from current Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) and AFUDC. Those of you affected by CapX 2020 know the price you’ve already paid, and this rate case is adding insult to injury.
CapX 2020 is specifically named in testimony in this docket, for example, in Ian R. Benson’s testimony, n p. 8, 14-15, 17, 23-30, 39, 55-60, and discussed thoroughly throughout:
And from the Application, these two snippets, and note that the Brookings and Fargo projects are key “Minnesota pass-through” transmission lines — and why these and not the Bemidji-Grand Rapids and/or the Hampton-La Crosse lines?
Here’s the gory details of Lange and Schuerger’s involvement (from e21_MikeBull_Center for Energy and Environment) — as noted above. Schuerger was a conslutant on this, so his involvement is even more damning…
The e21 Initiative started as little more than a glimmer in my eye a couple of years ago, when I was a Manager of Policy and Strategy for Xcel Energy. I’d just come back from a meeting at the Edison Electric Institute about the impact of various dynamics – low load growth, increasing infrastructure investments, deeper penetrations of distributed resources – on the current utility business model. In general, rates were going to rise under the current model far faster as a result of those forces, and utility revenues become more uncertain.
Those dynamics were later chronicled in the Disruptive Challenges report issued by the Edison Electric Institute in January 2013. I realized that it was important for Xcel to try and get out ahead of the curve.
So I reached out from Xcel to Rolf Nordstrom at the Great Plains Institute and Nancy Lange then at CEE (now a Minnesota PUC commissioner), to start putting the e21 project together. Rolf and I worked to put a strong core project team together – CEE, Great Plains, Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, George Washington University Law School and consultant Matt Schuerger. We then compiled a terrific group of stakeholders who together represent much of what constitutes the public interest – low income customer advocates, small and large business representatives, utilities, environmental organization, cities and other public entities, and regulators. Beginning last February, this group of 25-30 stakeholders met monthly for day-long sessions that were wonderfully facilitated by Rolf and Jennifer Christenson, his colleague at GPI, toiling together deep in the weeds of utility regulation.
It was an honor to work with all of them, as we coalesced around the set of consensus recommendations detailed in the report.
And what about the limited interventions in this matter, regular intervenors being tossed out:
That second denial of Intervention is a little over the top!
Further, the Petition states that purposes for which No CapX 2020 was “specifically formed”22 was to participate in dockets which are now closed, raising the question of why No CapX 2020 continues to exist.
In the Certificate of Need CapX proceeding, we were repeatedly told that rate recovery for the transmission projects were only an issue for a rate case, and as above, in the rate case, CapX 2020 is specifically named in testimony in this docket, for example, in Ian R. Benson’s testimony, n p. 8, 14-15, 17, 23-30, 39, 55-60, and discussed thoroughly throughout:
… sigh… and I can’t find that any party has filed testimony regarding CapX 2020 and the MISO MVP 17 project portfolio other than Xcel!!! But maybe that’s also a part of the e21 consensus, eh?
And here are the Comments I filed on behalf of No CapX 2020:
Oh, and the interesting thing is that just this morning, I got a copy of the “Briggs Road-La Crosse Tap 161 kV Rebuild Study” Thank you, Chuck Thompson!