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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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Grant Stevenson made a “mistake”

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Wisconsin — posted by admin on July 7, 2015 @ 7:49 am

Henslows_Sparrow_(Ammodramus_henslowii)_(5752598436)

Xcel had mistakenly provided construction crews with the wrong information about what kinds of activities were barred in the area, Stevenson said. Instead of telling contractors not to do any work during the birds’ nesting season, the notification warned contractors against tree clearing only, he said.

WHAT?!?!?!?!  Someone negotiates an agreement, which takes considerable time and effort, and Xcel doesn’t pass that info along to the contractor?

bellsvireo

From the Milwaukee Journal:

Power line work halted after concern raised over protected birds

CapX Brookings/Myrick route good for something!

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Information Requests,News coverage,Reports - Documents — posted by admin on June 19, 2015 @ 5:00 am

map-lesueur-myrickroute

When the Applicants added the Myrick route, oh-so-improperly at the very end of a long proceeding when they saw they couldn’t get their way due to DOT easements, it was excruciating.  Successfully defeated, but excruciating because it was so wrong, so ham handed, and yet accepted by the judge and the Public Utilities Commission.

So then they proposed a similar route for a smaller transmission line, the Tyrone line, years later.  What?  Whatever were they thinking?  Apparently they weren’t, and it doesn’t seem they knew about “Myrick” and anything that had come before.

GREAT recap of the first Planning Commission meeting here:

Substation, transmission lines will damage environment, opponents tell Planning Commission – Le Sueur MN_ News

Well, this is a subject I know all too well, and I’ve been brought into this Tyrone 69 kV transmission and substation proceeding at Le Sueur County.  Way too familiar.  The thing about this that’s NOT been made clear is that the utilities snuck in a big honkin’ substation and attached it to the Wilmarth line.  There was a plan to connect the CapX 2020 Helena sub to Wilmarth, and to link that to the St. Thomas substation, but though they did build the Helena sub connecting CapX with Wilmarth, there was no line to St. Thomas to the south.  Instead, and how they did this is beyond me, they built a brand new unplanned-for substation, called the Shea’s Lake substation, and connected that to St. Thomas.  Had to have cost at least $15 million.  ???  Where did that come from?

So back to this Tyrone project at Le Sueur County.  Emily Pollack had intervened in the proceeding, allowed under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act, and now I’m representing her in this, and we just sent out some information requests and will see what we can see:

Cover_Le Sueur P&Z

Attachment Binder_FINAL

Cover_Applicants GRE & MVEC

There’s good stuff in the Attachment Binder, particularly the North Mankato Load Serving Study and the Biennial Transmission Plans showing their plans for local load serving.  Without the basic information on this project, there’s no basis for a decision by the County.

But here’s the rub — they built this new Shea’s Lake substation to serve the Le Sueur and Le Center areas, so folks, that’s the substation that should be used!  No excuse to build it for this purpose, and then not use it!

Wild Planning & Zoning meeting in Le Sueur County!

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,News coverage — posted by admin on June 16, 2015 @ 1:01 pm

TyroneXmsn

This is an article you MUST read!  Here is the story of GRE and MNVEC trying to string transmission over an area that was demonstrated not suitable for CapX 2020 transmission and getting schooled in history, public process, and ecology:

Substation, transmission lines will damage environment, opponents tell Planning Commission

And in pdf: Substation, transmission lines will damage environment, opponents tell Planning Commission – Le Sueur MN_ News

And it turns out they don’t even know what infrastructure they’ve got on the ground and in the air.

DOH!

Dubuque says NO to MVP 5 Cardinal-Hickory?

Filed under:Cardinal-Hickory — posted by admin on June 14, 2015 @ 9:29 am

MVP345

NO?  YES!  It’s likely to happen, and the Cardinal-Hickory 1/2 of MVP 5 will be coming before the Dubuque City Council soon.

Remember ITC’s 1/2 of MVP 3 (shown above the “3” on map) that it applied for, and which was permitted, last year?  Remember ATC and Xcel’s 1/2 of MVP 5 (“shown above the “5” on map) that it applied for, and which was permitted this year?  Well now, another piece of that MVP plan, the other 1/2 of MVP 5, the dashed line below “5” above, is gearing up, and is being met with some significant opposition.  And also well-funded promotion, with Center for Rural Affairs receiving at least $670,000 since 2010 to promote transmission, including these MVP projects (and they’re not the only one, check out RE-AMP funding!).

Dubuque: No to Powerline

According to this article:

Van Milligen concurs with a recommendation by Planning Services Manager Laura Carstens and City Engineer Gus Psihoyos that council members adopt a resolution stating that the filing of a petition by ITC and a formal hearing process would not be in the public interest.

“I think the memo is pretty straightforward,” Psihoyos said. “We have issues that we saw on all three routes, and a transmission line can’t be within 250 feet of a residence.”

Here’s the Telegraph Herald’s view of the alternate routes proposed and what it would do to Dubuque:

557d2d5e0dd92.image

A couple months ago, Alan and I went on a utility intrastructure tour which included the Cassville substation that they might try to use:

CassvilleSub

Dubuque has put a lot into its waterfront, and pass-through transmission is the last thing they need.  Interesting too is the city’s ordinance requiring a 250 foot distance from residences — something every township, city, county and state in the U.S. should adopt.

And here’s an interesting factoid from that Dubuque Telegraph Herald article:

Staff at the Center for Rural Affairs also is following the project. Dyersville, Iowa, was chosen for its new office, the only one in Iowa, because of its proximity to Dubuque and the high-voltage transmission line.

WOW!  The lengths they’ll go to in promotion of transmission — what does that office cost in rent, staff, expenses?  How much is Center for Rural Affairs getting to do this?  Center for Rural Affairs has been getting a lot of transmission specific dough:

Oh, look, more:

And more, so in three years, $520,000 to support transmission from Kresge Foundation:

And in 2014, McKnight Foundation takes over funding these transmission toadies, with another $150,000, so $670,000 over 4 years:

Center for Rural Affairs

Lyons NE

to engage local communities in establishing environmentally responsible siting for clean energy transmission in Wisconsin and Iowa, and to co-support the RE-AMP Rural Communities Caucus leader and staff coordinator

toad
$670,000… $670,000 over 4 years… a budget like that makes me green with envy.  How many transmission opponents have that sort of budget?  Think what we could do with that… or even half of that… or even a quarter of that!!!
If Center for Rural Affairs can get that kind of money to promote transmission, that says a lot about what these projects are worth to the developers!  This is not rocket science.  It’s all about the electricity market.  There’s a LOT of money at stake, a lot of profit to be made, and it’s profit made on the backs of all of us in transmission “flyover” land, using us, our land, to get to market.

WI PSC denys Segment A and CETF/SOUL Motions

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin — posted by admin on June 4, 2015 @ 6:36 am

PSCbuilding

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Today, after the PSC’s sound rejection of Petitions for Rehearing, the 30 day clock for judicial review starts ticking:

Petition for Judicial Review

Utility regulators reject requests for new hearing on Badger-Coulee

PSC unanimously rejects requests for new hearing on Badger-Coulee transmission line

Yesterday, the PSC was pretty flamboyant in their flagrant dismissal of the Segment A landowner’s Request for Rehearing.

Here’s the staff recap of the requests.

What did the Commissioners say?  They said that we cherry picked the evidence, that we misrepresented the evidence, that the EIS was thorough and we were off-base, that we were trying to relitigate the issues.

Segment A – Amended Petition for Rehearing

Really… In other words, they did not substantively deal with even one issue raised.

As for the CETF/SOUL Rehearing request, that went down in flames as well… it was based on “new information” and didn’t challenge any specific aspects of their decision.

What was Diane Ramthun’s role in this docket?

Well, here’s where Diane “Ransom” is!

With the timing of Oliveira’s February 15 announcement, when did CETF/SOUL know Ramthun was moving under Oliveira’s roof?  It had to have been in the works for some time…

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 – WKBTApr 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 by 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.

 

 


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace