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Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV — posted by admin on September 7, 2014 @ 11:12 am

Cash-Register

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.).

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Articles on challenges to Badger-Coulee xmsn

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Wisconsin — posted by admin on May 15, 2015 @ 6:40 am

Petitions for Rehearing went in on Wednesday:

Segment A-Petition for Rehearing

SOUL/CETF Motion for Rehearing

Look what’s arrived today in Google Alerts!  An article about challenges to the Badger Coulee transmission project:

Several groups opposed to a high-voltage transmission line across western Wisconsin have petitioned state utility regulators for a new hearing on the controversial $580 million project that was approved last month.

The Citizens Energy Task Force and Save Our Unique Lands jointly petitioned the Public Service Commission Wednesday for a rehearing on the panel’s April 23 decision to approve the line, known as Badger-Coulee.

A joint venture of Xcel Energy and American Transmission Company, the 345-kilovolt line will originate at a substation under construction near Briggs Road that is part of CapX2020, another high-voltage transmission project running across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Crews are at work raising towers along the $211 million portion of that project between Alma and Holmen, with work expected to be completed this summer.

ATC and Xcel say the project will improve system reliability, deliver cheaper power and provide a pipeline for wind energy from Minnesota and Iowa to population centers to the east. Opponents contended the line will allow utilities to profit by trading energy while discouraging more cost-effective local alternatives such as energy efficiency and solar power.

The groups, both intervenors in the case, claim new evidence corroborates their position that the line is not needed, citing data from the federal Energy Information Administration that shows U.S. electricity sales fell steeply during the recession and have not grown since rebounding in 2010.

In Wisconsin, they point out, sales last year were about 1.8 percent below 2005.

“Savings potential from high capacity transmission lines generally declines as energy use drops,” the groups said in a news release. “There are indications that contrary to terms of PSC approval, the project could make energy cost more than if the line was not built. These costs would be felt in addition to the negative impacts on local economies where the line would be located.”

A group of 30 Dane County landowners filed a separate rehearing petition Wednesday asking the PSC to reject a 4.6-mile segment near Middleton, noting that route comes within 100 feet of three homes. As an alternative, they ask commissioners to require ATC to bury the line, a more expensive option.

Like SOUL and CETF, the Segment A landowners argue the PSC failed to determine the project’s cost-benefit ratio for electric consumers.

The project could end up losing money, they argue. And while state law allows utilities to recoup losses, there are no such protections for customers.

The PSC has 30 days to consider the rehearing requests. If commissioners take no action, it is by default denied.

“We acknowledge we have received a petition for rehearing,” said PSC spokesman Nathan Conrad. “It’s up to the discretion of the commissioners as to whether to grant that petition.”

Last month the Town of Holland challenged the ruling in circuit court, also arguing that the line is not needed and the decision was based “on deficient environmental analysis.”

The PSC has yet to file a response in that case.

Construction of the new line is not expected to begin until 2016, but ATC said it will begin acquiring easements along the route next month, working from south to north. Altogether, there are 318 residences – including 169 homes – within 300 feet of the approved route, which cuts through 617.5 acres of farmland.

Nearly 90 percent of those residences are along the northern portion of the route, through La Crosse, Trempealeau, Jackson, Monroe and Juneau counties. Almost half are in the Holmen area.

Utilities, like governments, have the power of eminent domain, which means they have the legal right to take ownership or cross private property. Landowners must be compensated for their loss but do not have the power to refuse.

And elsewhere:

Real estate acquisition work on Badger Coulee Line to begin in May
News8000.com – WKBT-Apr 23, 2015

Land acquisition set to begin for Badger-Coulee transmission line

La Crosse Tribune – ‎Apr 23, 2015‎

And this one with the “against evidence” headline:

How’s this for a headline?

Filed today — Badger-Coulee Petition for Rehearing

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Wisconsin — posted by admin on May 13, 2015 @ 4:36 pm

badgercoulee

Today was the deadline for Petitions for Rehearing of the Badger-Coulee Final Order.  Here’s the April 23, 2015 Order:

Final Order 05-CE-142

And here’s the Petition for Rehearing I filed today for the “Segment A Landowners” in Middleton:

Segment A-Petition for Rehearing

CETF/SOUL also filed one today:

150513 SOUL/CETF Motion for Rehearing

150513 Exhibit A (they have other exhibits, look in the Motion for links)

And remember, last week Town of Holland filed directly with the District Court:

Circuit Court – Town of Holland Petition for Judicial Review

Well, here’s where Diane “Ransom” is!

Filed under:Wisconsin — posted by admin on May 6, 2015 @ 8:13 am

OH.  MY.  DOG.  Did you know Diane Ramthun, formerly PSC Counsel, is now at Reynolds Oliveira, LLC?  Diane’s Reynolds Oliveira page HERE!  Diane’s own “Diane Ranthum” page HERE!

DianeRanthum

Diane Ramthun is the one who called me up as the Wisconsin CapX 2020 Hampton – La Crosse project was getting going, and she told me I couldn’t practice before the Wisconsin Public Service Commission!  That non-attorneys were not allowed to practice!  Here’s the WI Code:

PSC 2.22 Representatives. A person desiring to participate in a docket, whether on his or her own behalf or as an authorized agent or attorney, shall enter an appearance in person by giving his or her name and address and the name and address of any party he or she represents and in what capacity he or she is employed by that party.

Diane, that’s not true!  There it is in brown & white…  Yup, not true, but that was her statement, which I interpreted as a threat.  She was so unreasonably insistent that, in filing the Petition for Intervention, I offered to file a Pro Hac Vice Motion if necessary.

NoCapX 2020 Letter and Intervention-PSC-ERF

When we got before Judge Newmark about it, he rolled his eyes and said it’s not an issue, non-Wisconsin attorneys can practice before the PSC.  DOH!

She’s also the one who pushed so hard for, and got in the CapX Prehearing Order, onerous copying requirements; that despite use of ERF, the PSC’s electronic filing system, we had to file 15 copies of everything for PSC staff, that color files required color copies, and we had to mail them a 55# box of copies, and THEN she changed it to CDs of documents.  None of that is necessary.  Since use of ERF, no other cases required those copies.  It was a waste of effort and $1,500 of money that we could ill afford.

I was told be a little birdie at a PSC prehearing conference that such a requirement was not normal, in fact had only occurred in that one case.

littlebirdie-cardinal

There are more examples, but these are two points in the line of abuse of process by this one particular PSC staff attorney, trying to keep the people out.

And now look where she is!  After a brief trial of private practice after she left the PSC, she’s now at Reynolds Oliveira, also where Oliveira is the “new owner.”  From their website:

Reynolds Oliveira LLC Welcomes New Owner and New Attorney

February 15, 2015

Attorney Marcel S. Oliveira has become the owner and principal attorney of Reynolds Oliveira LLC as the firm welcomes energy law veteran attorney Diane M. Ramthun to its team.  Read more…

This is as of February 15, 2015, but when did this change start?  It’s not something done lightly or done overnight.

The website is “under construction.”

How involved was she in this Badger-Coulee docket?  The Reynolds Oliveira site says, “Diane M. Ramthun, our practice leader in this area…” Oh my!  What was her influence was on the CETF/SOUL intervention?  What was her influence on the path they took, the issues raised and issues not raised, down to the very questions asked or not asked, including questions not asked of PSC witnesses at the hearing?

ITC tariff adder cut, just as costs are showing up!

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on May 5, 2015 @ 3:50 pm

Print

In an interesting twist that will take some digging to fully understand, ITC got smacked upside the head recently at FERC.  Well, a little, but they should have been sent packing altogether.

They’d requested a tariff adder, in addition to the 12.38% that they’re getting as return on equity.  WHAT?!?!?!  MORE?!?!?! They didn’t get the full 100 basis points, but did get 50… so if I understand this correctly, the interest rate now will rise by 0.50% to 12.88%.  Why?  And their objection is that FERC always has given the adder requests to transmission only companies, and so now, why didn’t they get it.  Whine, whine, whine…

To read about this, check the FERC docket.   Go HERE and search for docket ER15-945.  Here’s their original Petition from January 2015:

Initial Filing_20150130-5273(30113346)-1

And surprise, here’s what FERC said (hint: they only got half of their request!):

Order Conditionally Accepting & Suspending Tariff Filing _20150331-3061(30452072)

Regarded as so extreme that the two Dissenters felt a press release was in order:

Moeller & Clark PressRelease_Dissent_20150401-3044(30455217)

I love it when they don’t get their way, but there’s also no justification for the 50% adder, no way, no how, not in this day of low, low prime rate interest.

 

 

Dedication of CapX 2020?

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Fargo-St Cloud,St.Cloud-Monticello — posted by admin on May 4, 2015 @ 3:35 pm

WHAT?!?!  The dedication ceremony for the CapX 2020 Brookings – Hampton and Fargo – St. Cloud – Monticello projects, and I didn’t get a gold engraved invitation?  And of course there’s Beth Soholt, “Wind on the Wires” (f/k/a a program of the Izaak Walton League) toadying for these projects — how much did Wind on the Wires get in grants to promote transmission?  Minnesota Department of Commerce represented as well, though it’s the Commissioner!  Why wouldn’t they send Beth’s old boss, Bill Grant, particularly given that he’s now Deputy Commissioner of Commerce!  It’s all connected, don’t cha know.

They say these are energized.  Wonder if/when they’re going to put transformers in?  Anyone know?

CapX Dedication Ceremony

How’s this for a quote, from the Forum:

The power buzzing in the transformers come from another power line that stretches west to the coal power plants in Center, N.D.

And the full article here: Xcel energizes new Fargo to St. Cloud powerline

Here’s the poop from KNSI News:

CapX2020 transmission lines celebrated

May 4, 2015 at 4:08 pm

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KNSI) – A dedication ceremony was held today in St. Cloud to commemorate the completion of two high-voltage electric transmission lines — part of CapX2020. 

The CapX2020 Brookings County-Hampton and Fargo-St. Cloud-Monticello projects complete $1.3 billion worth of electric grid investment in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Will Kaul is chairman of CapX2020, a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota, the Dakotas and Wisconsin

“It’s just in time when the concern about the grid and the security and the resilience of the grid is very high … a time when the resource mix that is coming into play is in transition and new resources are coming online,” Kaul said.

The two projects took 11 years and were completed on time and without going over budget to provide reliable, affordable service to Minnesota and the surrounding region, while also expanding access to renewable energy, according to Teresa Mogensen of Xcel Energy.

“We compare our CapX2020 lines to another big project – the Vikings stadium – that’s a $1 billion investment, too,” said Mogensen, who provided some perspective.

The CapX2020 projects include four 345 kV transmission lines and one 230 kV line — the largest development of new transmission in the Upper Midwest in almost four decades.

One way the CapX2020 projects help keep prices low is by alleviating congestion on the system. When more electricity is needed in an area than the area’s transmission system can provide, electricity is dispatched from a different generation source that can serve the area, but at a higher cost.

 

 

Town of Holland files challenge in Circuit Court

Filed under:Appeal,BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Wisconsin — posted by admin on @ 9:22 am

Last week, Frank Jablonski, representing the Town of Holland, filed an appeal challenging the Wisconsin Public Service Commission Badger Coulee decision.  Holland went directly to the court, and didn’t bother with an administrative Motion for Reconsideration at the PSC.  Given their decision, and lack of substantive review or consideration, I can see why!

Here’s the PSC’s Final Order – Badger Coulee – 05-CE-142.

Here’s the Town of Holland’s Circuit Court – Petition for Judicial Review.

Others?  We shall see…

A Petition for Rehearing has to be filed within 20 days of the April 23, 2015 service of the Final Order. by my count, the 13th of May:

Petition for Rehearing

And for a Circuit Court Petition for Judicial Review, its 30 days, with Saturday the 23rd the 30th day, so Monday the 25th would be the deadline (but hey, do it on Friday the 22nd just because!):

Petition for Judicial Review

In an administrative decision, the further away from the decision, the further away you are from success in challenging it.  The important action is at the PSC, building the record for the decision, and the specifics in the Final Order.

And if someone wants to challenge it, what to do?  In Wisconsin, you have your choice, as above (in Minnesota, it requires a Petition for Reconsideration, and then after that’s resolved, on to the Appellate Court).  Either way, whether a Petition for Rehearing, or a Petition for Judicial Review to a Circuit Court, it’s an uphill battle to say the least.  If a Petition for Rehearing is filed, they’ll have to take it up, but can just say, “No, we’re not interested in a Rehearing,” and that’s the end of that.  If it goes directly to the Circuit Court, skipping the Petition for Rehearing step at the PSC, it’s still tough going.  Courts give administrative decisions “great deference,” as they are the “experts” in their field of jurisdiction, and it is a rare PSC Order that is remanded by a Circuit Court.  We can argue whether they’re “experts” or not (most of us would agree that they’re NOT!), but that won’t change the order.

 

Bill Howley, “The Power Line” blogger, has died

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on April 26, 2015 @ 10:06 am

howley_4_25_15

Bill Howley died yesterday.

Bill Howley is known by anyone working in opposition to transmission projects.  Due to a transmission line proposed in his community, he learned pretty much everything there is to know about transmission, wrote about it faithfully and fearlessly for years, and became an expert on advocacy, economics and technology of all things electrical.  He’s one of the first resources people would turn to when they first learned of transmission projects.  Recently, he’d taken the position of Program Director for WV SUN.

Bill Howley’s blog, established in 2008 — take a few minutes to get an idea of the depth of his work.  Here’s hoping that his family will keep this blog going in perpetuity, a memorial to his work and as a guiding light for all those who are dealing with transmission projects:

The Power Line

The View from Calhoun County

From the Hur Herald from Sunny Cal:

People’s Advocate Bill Howley of Calhoun County has died.

His life’s work was based on his favorite quote by Ghandi, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

He was a well-known researcher, consultant, consumer advocate, activist, writer, and paralegal.

Howley, 62, of Red Bud Lane, Chloe, died in a vehicle accident on I-79 in Braxton County Thursday evening.

A graduate of Yale University, he and and his wife Loren Howley, Grantsville attorney, moved to Calhoun County years ago to live their lives in the country.

For several years he was a public advocate for consumer rights related to electric company abuse of consumers and published The Power Line, an on-line media outlet.

He was a leader defeating the goliath PATH electric transmission project promoted by WV’s coal fired power plants, that power would have exported to northeast urban areas, with a part of those costs being absorbed by consumers and taxpayers in West Virginia.

Howley protested the state’s taxing of deep coal that cannot be mined under 1,000 parcels of Washington District land, the Calhoun Commission taking action against the proposal, which was dropped.

He recently assumed a position as Program Director for West Virginia Sun, an organization that is helping West Virginia communities create affordable renewable power.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

PSC files Order for Badger Coulee Xmsn

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin — posted by admin on April 23, 2015 @ 5:43 pm

manurespreader_newholland

Final Order 05-CE-142

Let’s see… there is NO MENTION of MVP 5.  It doesn’t deal with cost apportionment of the 17 MVP projects.

And how is it that Commissioner Huebsch didn’t recuse, and that’s OK?  He didn’t disclose potential conflict until March 6, 2015:

Huebsch – Conflict Routes O & P

Huebsch1and…Huebsch2… and of course…

Huebsch3

AAAAAAAAAARGH!

Badger Coulee transmission line gets final OK

Land acquisition set to begin for Badger-Coulee transmission line

Real estate acquisition work on Badger Coulee Line to begin in May

 

Brusven is lobbyist for ITC!

Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV,Laws & Rules — posted by admin on April 20, 2015 @ 8:34 am

doh

I’m having one of those “D’OH!” moments…

Remember at the tail end of the ITC case where there was suddenly a claim that the Geronimo wind project in SW Minnesota wouldn’t go on line without the ITC MVP 3 transmission project?  And as suddenly, Dr. Rakow of Commerce reversed his testimony on Sunday night before the hearing started Monday?

Here’s a post about their claim at the public hearing that the Odell wind project couldn’t go online:

ITC Midwest transmission hearing OVER!!??!!

From that post:

Not only were these two Geronimo representatives present, but Gerinomo attorney Christie Brusven was present at the ITC Midwest DEIS Hearings and the Public Hearings. Here she is just after having posed for a photo in front of the tractors:

Brusven_20140513_182525

If this is a concern, is there some reason Odell Wind Project representatives did not raise this earlier?  Is there some reason that ITC Midwest did not raise this in their application or voluminous responses to voluminous Information Requests?

Well,I tried to bring this up at the “Evidentiary” hearing, in quotes because it was such a farce.

Brusven

The ALJ deems this not relevant.

And now I see that not only is Brusven counsel for Geronimo, but she’s a lobbyist for ITC:

Association data for:

ITC Holdings Corp (Intl Transmission Co)
Krista Tanner, President
100 East Grand Ste 230
Des Moines, IA 50309
Website:www.itc-holdings.com
Association Number: 6092

Lobbyists Registered Registration
Number
Registration
Date
Termination
Date
Designated
Lobbyist
Lisa M Agrimonti 3967 6/11/2012
Frances E Brown 2368 5/22/2009
Christina K Brusven 2685 9/14/2012
Matthew Carstens 2859 9/14/2012
Timothy Iannettoni 3177 3/20/2014
Michael C Krikava 547 6/8/2012
Molly B Murphy 2755 1/12/2012
Thomas R Murphy 999 5/8/2009 Yes
Todd W Schulz 3006 3/20/2013
Kodi Jean Verhalen 2548 6/8/2012

DOH!  And this “new information” about Odell suddenly pops up at the public hearing at the last minute?  Right…

Would it have been any different had it been on the record that the Odell Wind Project attorney was also attorney/lobbyist for ITC?  I doubt it, but… this is yet another example of …

manurespreader

Found MidAmerican’s MVP 3 & 4 Substation

Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV,Nuts & Bolts — posted by admin on April 14, 2015 @ 7:04 pm

Mystery solved???  I think so… deep breathe… looks like MidAmerican is OK, in compliance.  I’d checked the IUB’s E-22099 docket, and it looked like MidAmerican hadn’t been granted the franchise, briefs had just been filed, but no order.  So I contacted the Office of the Consumer Advocate, and in talking to the Consumer Advocate’s attorney, he explained that the E-22099 docket had been split into two parts.  It’s hard to tell from the docket, everything’s a jumble, but in short, the leg to the east of the Black Hawk substation, which had been granted, is the one they’re building, and the other is to the west of the Black Hawk substation, which has not been granted… yet.  They’ve just finished briefing, earlier this month, and are now waiting for the decision of the ALJ.  WHEW!  They’re checking with the utility to assure they’re only working on the eastern part, but from what I saw, that would be correct — all the brand new transmission towers, and the work in the fields that I saw, was on the eastern side, and on the west, old H-frame structures that have clearly been there a LONG time (and from the filings in E-22099, what the fight is about, whether they can enlarge the easement to double circuit with that existing line).  OK, now I’m satisfied… so moving on to FERC and their transmission adder docket!

This photo is from the road just to the immediate north east of the line, showing the new structures and wires to the east connecting into the substation.

20150414_164617_resized

Curiouser and curiouser… Coming up 63 today, just north of Waterloo, I found the MVP 3 and MVP 4 substation… or so it says:

20150414_165005_resized

Here’s the map of MPV 3 and MVP 4, and this is the “Blackhawk” substation in Black Hawk County:

MVP3-4_Cropped

To look at the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) docket for this project (it’s the MidAmerican part of MVP 4) in Black Hawk County, GO HERE TO IUB SEARCH PAGE and search for docket E-22099.

In that docket, MidAmerican argues that the two are not necessarily connected, are not dependent, and yet I’d say the sign at the substation says otherwise.

Here’s what it looks like from above — that’s Hwy. 63, the divided 4 lane to the east, and the gravel roads are Bennington (E/W) and Burton (N/S), this is on Burton, just south of Bennington — and now it’s a lot more built up, one of the larger substations I’ve seen:

AerialSubstationMVP#&$

From the west, it looks like an old 230k V line on H-frames, but it could be higher voltage.  Straight east from this substation, built after this photo, is a big new 345 kV transmission line, all ready for a second circuit:

20150414_164139_resized

Is this depressing or what… sigh…


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace