Center for Rural Affairs is SILENT!

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on April 23, 2014 @ 3:10 pm


What’s so important about these ITC Midwest MN/IA line, and the Draft Environmental Impact Statement meetings that the Center for Rural Affairs would send someone show up in Jackson, Minnesota, but rather than join the discussion, get paid to sit through this afternoon’s meeting like a bump on a log?  Oh, that’s right, they get paid to do this, it’s part of the RE-AMP transmission promotion program.  Really… ya should’a been there.  It seems Lucas Nelsen, the Energy Policy Associate at Center for Rural Affairs was here in Jackson, sitting right next to Duane Ninneman of CURE!  Duane, the company you keep, and I’d guess this is part of your “new duties” as RE-AMP’s Clean Energy Working Group leader for the next three years:

“My job as RE-AMP’s Clean Energy Working Group leader is to facilitate interaction between top-level clean energy thinkers to keep us on target to reach our global warming pollution reduction goals,” Ninneman stated. 

No wonder it was so quiet back there — and hey, why’d y’all leave so quickly?


Lucas Nelson, Center for Rural Affairs, is the principal named as author on the “Energy From the Ground Up” report:

Energy From the Ground Up

This report is a review of media coverage of transmission projects, looking at how to handle objections to transmission:

100 discrete media pieces, examining a total of 14 different transmission projects. Each piece was then analyzed and organized based on the clear concerns identified within.  Those concerns were used to inform the common themes used in the review section, and to provide data that gives insight into the general views of stakeholders. 

why are you focused on handling objections?  Oh, that’s right, it’s part of the RE-AMP transmission promotion work.  What projects were you interested in?  “My” projects, and more:


Of these projects, I’ve worked on half of them — the only ones I’ve not worked on are the Reynolds-Topeka, Grain Belt Express, Rock Island Clean Line, Illinois Rivers, Plains and Eastern, Center-Grand Forks, and Gateway Power.

What conclusions did they draw?  Center for Rural Affairs takes the position in this report, for example,  ono p. 8, that “As transmission serves a public need, utilities and developers serve as agents of the government and can receive this power.”  NO!!!  Much transmission does NOT serve a public need, and in particular, this ITC Midwest serves a PRIVATE desire, not need, the desire for profit.

Untitled2And in the section on “need” there is utter disregard for the statutory criteria for need!



Ahhh, yes, we know what complaint they’re talking about now, don’t we (haven’t read the article, but I’m a bettin’ it’s us):

Booted out of FERC

The bottom line of this “report” is an exercise in figuring out how to best handle objections, get these projects through, circumvent the obstacles, or as Beth Soholt says, “remove the impediments,” (I say, speaking as a proud impediment!),  inherently presuming that the projects should go through — and what should be disclosed in this “report,” and which is not, is full disclosure of the Center for Rural Affairs’ motivation for publishing this, i.e., did they get paid for this, and why would they take money to do this?  If they’re agriculturally focused, shouldn’t they be furthering landowners’ interests, helping explain eminent domain and helping landowners protect themselves from egregious developer/utility eminent domain practices?  I could go on and on, but you can see for yourself by reading this report that it’s a RE-AMP transmission promotion puff piece.  Nothing more.

Center for Rural Affairs has also weighed in specifically on this ITC Midwest MN/IA transmission line:

Two-State Transmission Project Takes Important Regulatory Step

It’s unfortunate that they don’t contribute to this need or routing process, don’t help landowners, farmers, and agricultural interests.  They’re the Center for Rural Affairs, but they’re not furthering their mission, and instead are working against it, and in favor of, and for, utilities and transmission developers.  What’s their mission?

Establish strong rural communities, social and economic justice, environmental stewardship, and genuine opportunity for all while engaging people in decisions that affect the quality of their lives and the future of their communities.

And then there’s this RE-AMP promotion of transmission and revenue generation – RE-AMP_Foundations_Master_Grant_List.  How does that fit in to their mission?   Center for Rural Affairs‘ budget is over $5 MILLION annually.  Do they “need” the money that badly?  I think the term “Affairs” is off point, and a little baser word would be more apt… we know what y’all are and we have an idea of your price!



Burn, baby, burn…

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on @ 10:08 am


So yesterday, as I’m on the way into the meeting hall, a guy’s coming out, and I offer a flyer, and he holds his hands up, “No, I’m not part of this, I’m part of the burn!”  … the BURN?  Yup, seems they had scheduled a burn of a little swale/prairie behind the K of C Hall.  Shortly thereafter, the fire trucks pull in, little torches are lit, and burn, baby, burn…



Off to a great start in Fairmont

Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV — posted by admin on April 22, 2014 @ 3:10 pm


Today is the start of a three day series of transmission meetings, and we started with a good crowd here in Fairmont for this afternoon’s meeting.

Fairmont Area Residents Voice Opinions Over Proposed High Voltage Transmission Lines

It’s the ITC Midwest MN/IA line, from Lakefield Jct. to Huntley, then south to IA, and ultimately off to Madison…

I’ve got a handout, with a few things for people to consider, most importantly, WRITE UP SOME COMMENTS BY MAY 9!

DEIS Handout

The most important part of this whole proceeding is that this is NOT needed.  It’s wanted, it’s desired, but that’s not need.  Just because they want to build it and make money is not sufficient reason for them to take people’s land and charge Minnesotans even one dollar for this project!  The DEIS quotes ITC’s need statements, and accepts them, using the ITC framing.

ITC is a transmission-only company.  ITC wants to build transmission so it can profit from building it and from providing transmission service.

This afternoon, I’m mostly concerned about Section 4 of the DEIS, “Alternatives to the Proposed Project.”  And as I commented, in looking at “Alternatives to the Proposed Project,” there’s really no alternative to their transmission for profit project, other than putting money directly in their pockets!!!

Some problems with the DEIS, omissions, clarifications, additions needed:

  • The DEIS should define “need.”
  • The DEIS should specify what capacity are they wanting, and what they want it for.  ITC claims that a lower voltage line “would be unable to provide enough capacity to improve reliability or support additional generation.” p. 49.  OK, so what capacity is that?
  • Every time the DEIS says “need,” it should change that to “want” or “desire.”  That would make it a lot easier to understand.
  • To the extent that it is claimed that this project is “to enable new wind” and “deliver existing and future wind generation” it must document how it is assured that wind is enabled/delivered, mindful that FERC specifies that transmission cannot discriminate and must serve all types of generation, and there’s a lot of coal coming in from the west.
  • The DEIS “Alternatives” section says “ITCM notes that the need for its project has been substantiated by its own studies and by those of MISO.”  Ummmm, the only option considered by ITCM and MISO is transmission, it’s a transmission-only company and a transmission operation, DUH!  “Additionally, MISO conducts studies to determine those projects that best meet identified transmisison needs.”  Oh, and those “identified transmission needs” are… ????
  • PROMOD modeling is ECONOMIC modeling.
  • There is a lot of surplus generation west of this project (see p. 48 of DEIS referencing “even more surplus generation that must be exported to regional load centers…”
  • “Different size” is not limited to “different voltage” and “different endpoints.”  For transmission, size = capacity.
  • The DEIS correctly states that “ITCM is an electric transmission company; it does not operate electrical generation plants or provide retail electric service.”  GOOD, that’s TRUE!  Now, what does that mean when considering how ITCM frames this project?
  • “In conclusion, while the 161 kV rebuild alternative may have potential for reduced human and environmental impacts, ITCM’s analysis indicates that it is less effective than a 345 kV line at meeting the need for the project.”  Ummm., SO?  What’s the state’s independent analysis?  Isn’t this what an EIS should be?

There were a lot of great comments, my favorite was Helen Lee (Lea?) Murphy who has a way with words, and noted we need an MLK or Nelson Mandela to challenge this line!  She also had a reasonable request, asking for another week to send in comments.

Many people were concerned about the EMF, and recognize the dangers of transmission.  It seems that the perception is that transmission lines are dangerous!  GOOD!  This is a pretty basic fact that has been hidden for way too long.

KEYC – Mankato News, Weather, Sports -

Speaking of which, here are the three documents I put into the record, pertaining to ultra violet related to transmission, associated with corona, and a byproduct of transmission, two patent applications and a study:



EPE_2013111816011292 The Ultraviolet Detection of Corona Discharge in Power Transmission Lines

There were a lot of people from Sherburn promoting the Modified Route A, particularly concerned about the church, and about the impact of the line if ot goes on the south side if I-90:


In the Fairmont Sentinal:

Power line generates comments

April 23, 2014

FAIRMONT – Two meetings held in Fairmont on Tuesday offered information from a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed ITC Midwest 345-kV transmission line project.

The proposed line would run from Lakefield Junction in Jackson County, through Martin County, into Faribault County and then go south into Kossuth County in Iowa. The line would stretch 75 miles through southern Minnesota.

An original plan had the line running south of Interstate 90 on the north end of Sherburn, something that had many Sherburn residents concerned. But a modified route puts the transmission line north of the interstate instead.

While many in Sherburn may breathe a tentative sigh of relief, the original route will not be completely off the table until fall, when the state Public Utilities Commission decides on the certificate of need and route permit. To help, an administrative law judge is called in to review the project and issue a decision.

“The commission is not bound by the judge’s decision, but it holds a lot of sway, since they are the ones that hire him,” said Ray Kirsch, environmental review manager with the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

The judge is present at public hearings, comment periods and contested case hearings. Public hearings for the project will be held May 13-14.

Comments also are being accepted from now until May 9. Several people in attendance Tuesday at the Knights of Columbus Hall spoke on the record, many of them Sherburn residents who voiced concerns about the original route plan that took the lines into town.

“Route A, as it was proposed, would run 120 feet from our church building,” said Ron Mixer, pastor at Sherburn Regional Worship Center. “If that route is selected, it would make our church building unusable.”

Mixer went on to explain that the building is all metal, and the lines would likely interfere with the building’s P.A. system, low-level radio frequency that helps the hard of hearing and the church’s video transmission. But those problems pale in comparison to the potential dangers the line would pose to those who attend the church, he argued.

“If something were to fail with those lines, it would be catastrophic,” Mixer said.

Health concerns also were expressed by others in attendance.

“We have great concerns about Route A,” said Martin County West Superintendent Allison Schmidt. “About 500 of the 700 students in my school district attend schools in Sherburn. While we appreciate the modified Route A, I believe there still is a concern for the health of those 500 students and staff members, so we would like that clarified.”

“It has been shown that high-voltage exposure is harmful for children and unborn children,” said Sarah Jagodzinske Rohman, a Martin County West school board member. “We hope you will look into protecting us as rate-payers, but more importantly as humans and our children, who are our future.”

There also were concerns about property values.

“A business that planned to build on some property just south of the interstate said he wouldn’t if that power line went through,” said Helen Murphy. “He said, ‘This line will kill Sherburn.’”

Verbal comments at the meeting were recorded for the report to the PUC, and other comments will be accepted until May 9 by mail, fax or e-mail to Kirsch. Comments can be left online at

Mailing address: Ray Kirsch, Environmental Review Manager, Minnesota Department of Commerce, 85 Seventh Place East, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55101-2198

Fax: (651) 539-0109



On to the next meeting…

DEIS Meetings for ITC Midwest’s MN/IA line

Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV — posted by admin on April 21, 2014 @ 1:16 pm

ITC MVP Study 3

This week we have three days of DEIS meetings, that’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the uninitiated.  The schedule:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014
1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Knights of Columbus Hall
920 East 10th Street
Fairmont, MN 56031
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
National Guard Armory
108 County Road 51
Jackson, MN 56143
Blue Earth
Thursday, April 24, 2014
1:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.
Hamilton Hall
209 South Main Street
Blue Earth, MN 56013

This project is important because, well, look at the red line in the map above that represents this project.  It connects on the west to the Split Rock-Lakefield Jct. line from a decade ago, and then goes east, and drops down into Iowa, to become part of a web headed toward Chicago.  The red and green on that map constitute MISO designated MVP3, and to the east, the orange and blue are MVP 4, and further to the east, 1/2 of which is Badger Coulee, is MVP 5.  Important to note that there are 17 MVP projects, and all 17 must be built to offer the benefits touted, the modeling included all 17.  Not only that, but cost apportionment also included costs to states beyond just the percentage of the one project under review, i.e., there are claims of benefits of MVP 3, but those benefits require MVP 4 and MVP 5, and in fact, ALL the 17 MVP projects.  Costs to Minnesota ratepayers are “just” a portion of MVP 3, but there are also costs to Minnesota of MVP 4, MVP 5, and I think ALL of the 17 MVP projects.  So the benefits that are reliant on all the 17 projects being built must be balanced against the costs attributable to Minnesota for all 17 projects!  See, that wasn’t so hard, was it!

Here’s the DEIS from the Commerce ITC MN/IA DEIS page, it’s easier to cut and paste, though it’s a good idea to download because you never know when links will be changed or disappear:

Draft Environmental Impact Statement Text



Cedar Summit organic dairy goes to court

Filed under:Buy the Farm — posted by admin on April 18, 2014 @ 4:06 pm


It’s all about “Buy the Farm,” and Xcel Energy doesn’t want anyone to tell them they have to “Buy the Farm.”  Xcel, it’s the law!

Xcel Energy is saying “NO” to many landowners’ legitimate election of “Buy the Farm” under Minn. Stt. 216E.12, Subd. 4, where a landowner can force a utility to buy out all of its interest and take the farm, rather than condemn just a small easement.  In this case, they’re resisting Cedar Summit Farm’s efforts to get out from under the line.  How dare they!

Cedar Summit is an organic dairy farm, in the Minar family for many years and now operated by Flo and Dave Minar.  Throughout the CapX 2020 Certificate of Need and Route Permit process, they were there, very clearly telling Xcel that an organic dairy farm is no place for a transmission line.  But here comes Xcel… Cedar Summit elected to make them buy out the farm so they could move out from under the line, no small thing when you’re talking an organic dairy, and one that’s been in the family forever, and Xcel objects.  When Xcel Energy objects, then the landowners have to fight for their rights.  And every time landowners have to fight, even up to the Minnesota Supreme Court, the landowners win, and Xcel Energy loses. Here’s a great example, a Minnesota Supreme Court case where they told Xcel Energy what they could do with their legal theories:

Minnesota Supreme Court Opinion – Court File A11-1116

So why do landowners have to go into court, over and over and over and over.  SHAME, Xcel!

The Minar’s anad Cedar Summit Farm are in court next week in Scott County, Wednesday through Friday (though that can always change).

Here’s the case info on the courts site — there are three trials scheduled, and it’s not possible to tell who all is involved in each of them, but the STrib reports that the Minars will indeed be in court next week:

Case No_70-CV-13-1182

Here’s the write-up in the STrib:

MINNEAPOLIS — A case set for trial next week is expected to test Minnesota’s “Buy the Farm” law, which is meant to require utilities building high-voltage power lines to buy out farms in the way if affected landowners demand it.

The case pits the developers of the CapX2020 project against Cedar Summit Farm near New Prague, which fills its old-school glass bottles on site and keeps its cows on a 100 percent grass diet. Owners Dave and Florence Minar say they can’t properly operate an organic dairy farm under a 345,000-volt power line, so they’re trying to use the law to force CapX2020 to buy their farm and pay the costs of relocating their operation.

The case is one of dozens of land disputes arising from CapX2020, an initiative by 11 utilities including Xcel Energy and Great River Energy to expand and ensure the reliability of the region’s electrical grid. The $2 billion project includes five new high-voltage lines covering nearly 800 miles. A planned line from Brookings, S.D., to Hampton, Minn., runs right over the Minars’ farm.

“Our whole business is at stake,” Dave Minar said Friday. “We don’t want to continue dairy farming under high-voltage power lines.”

They’re worried about stray voltage, which can crop up on dairy farms when electricity leaks from power lines and equipment. It can give cows small shocks that make them shy away from their water and food or make them so skittish that they’re hard to handle. It can reduce milk production and cause other health problems in the animals.

“They’re saying we won’t have a problem, but I don’t believe them,” Dave Minar said.

The trial is scheduled for Wednesday through Friday before Scott County District Judge Caroline Lennon in Shakopee. The Minars said they hope their case will be bolstered by changes in the 1977 law that they helped persuade the Legislature to adopt last year, as well as a recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision applying the law in favor of other property owners in the path of a CapX2020 line.

The Buy the Farm law lists several criteria a landowner must meet to exercise an “election” for a buyout and relocation costs. The Minars’ attorney, Rod Krass, said they easily qualify even though the utilities claim the Minars have not met any of the tests.

“Everything that can be contested, they’re contesting,” Krass said of the utilities. “And so this has put incredible pressure and stress on this family. We’re not understanding — given the Legislature’s obvious intent to protect people like the Minars — why we’re having to go through all of this.”

CapX2020 officials declined an interview request but issued a statement saying the Minars aren’t eligible because their operation counts as commercial land, and that only one transmission tower would be built on their land.

“Under the statute, commercial land is not eligible for election. In addition, the Supreme Court has held that a reasonableness requirement must be read into the statute,” the statement said. “The CapX2020 utilities have challenged the reasonableness of this election because it involves only one transmission structure that occupies less than one acre on a 132-acre property that includes a commercial dairy operation and retail store.”

Any compensation would be determined later. Even if they win, the Minars said, relocating would be difficult. They would need about 400 relatively contiguous acres not much farther from the Twin Cities than their current farm because that’s where most of their customers are, Florence Minar said. They’re not sure if they could find that much land that’s already certified as organic. If it’s not, it would take three years to get conventional farm land certified.

Cedar Summit Farm milk and other products are sold at most natural food stores in the Twin Cities area and some other outlets around the region, as well as at farm itself. Dave Minar said they had to work hard for 12 years to get shelf space in all the stores, and he doesn’t think they’d get most of it back if they were out of business for three years.

“We didn’t ask for this power line. It’s taken a chunk out of our lives for the last four or five years,” he said.

CapX Hampton & Briggs Rd. substations today

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on April 11, 2014 @ 4:26 pm

They’re up and gleaming in the sun… beautiful new substations… NOT!




And Briggs Road in La Crosse, WI:


CETF & No CapX Motion Denied!

Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV — posted by admin on April 1, 2014 @ 11:10 am

Here’s the Order, hot off the press:

Order Denying Motions


Testimony in ITC MN/IA docket filed

Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV — posted by admin on @ 9:16 am


Piles and piles of papers…

Applicant Testimony

Ashbacker Direct

Berry Direct

Coeur Direct

Grover Direct

Middleton Direct – Schedules 1-14

Schatzki Direct

MISO Testimony

Chatterjee Direct

Commerce Testimony

Heinen Direct

Heinen Direct_Attachments

Johnson Direct- THIS IS A MUST READ!!!

Rakow Direct

MCEA et al. Testimony

Goggins Direct

CETF – No CapX2020

(no testimony, no funding = no witnesses)

Reply to MCEA, et al. Response to Motion to Compel

Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV — posted by admin on @ 9:02 am


Because the ITC Midwest MN/IA 345 kV transmission project (part of MISO MVP 3) is connected to the Badger Coulee (part of MISO’s MVP 5) project from La Crosse to Madison, I’ll be posting updates on the ITC docket here.  CETF and No CapX2020 have intervened, and are now requesting additional leeway for participation

Just filed, the Affidavit in support of our Reply, here’s the series of filings, focused on getting in the record the deals that have gotten us where we are today…  In chronological order:

CETF and No CapX2020 Motion to Compel

ITC Response to Motion to Compel

MCEA et al., Response to Motion to Compel

MCEA et al, Affidavit_20143-97498-03

CETF and NoCapX Reply to Response to Motion

Affidavit of Overland – Reply to Response to Motion

The next Prehearing Conference is on Thursday, April 3 at 1:30 p.m.

Responses to No CapX & CETF Motion to Compel

Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV — posted by admin on March 22, 2014 @ 1:48 pm

Hot off the press, the responses filed yesterday to our Motion to Compel and for Leave to Participate in Discovery and Cross Examination:

ITC Midwest Response to Motion_20143-97504-01

MCEA et al., Response to Motion_20143-97498-02

MCEA et al, Affidavit_20143-97498-03

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace