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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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Quacks like a conflict…

Filed under:Cardinal-Hickory,News coverage,Nuts & Bolts,RUS EIS — posted by admin on December 12, 2018 @ 11:20 am

Looks like a conflict, quacks like a conflict, but maybe it’s just a duck?  A duck following the money?

ELPC in the news:

“It doesn’t fully do what’s required … which is to rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center. “It assumes that a huge and expensive interstate transmission line must be built and doesn’t fully and fairly evaluate all reasonable alternatives.”

Here’s the full article:

Power line opponents pan draft review of Dubuque-Middleton transmission project

Here are links to the USDA RUS EIS:

RUS EIS for Cardinal-Hickory Creek released!

Let’s think about this… it’s hard to wrap my head around… Howard Learner opposing a transmission project?  After all the dough Environmental Law and Policy Center got to promote transmission?  Remember the transmission love fest held by ELPC where transmission opponents were not allowed to attend??

Here’s the press release from the ELPC site:

New Environmental Study of Proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Improperly Rejects Alternatives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Chuck Tenneson, charles@driftlessconservancy.org, 608-930-3252

Sarah Eddy, seddy@elpc.org, 312-795-3710

DODGEVILLE, Wis., Dec. 10, 2018 – The draft environmental impact statement (EIS) released recently by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) for the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line includes only a cursory review of non-transmission alternatives to the high-voltage line such as greater energy efficiency, local renewables, and energy storage, despite requirements in federal law that alternatives be considered thoroughly. The draft EIS admits that non-transmission alternatives, along with lower-voltage and underground alternatives, were “not carried forward for detailed analysis.”

The proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line in southwest Wisconsin would cut a swath through the state’s scenic and ecologically unique Driftless Area. The cost of the project would be borne by electric ratepayers in Wisconsin and other states and energy experts have concluded that the new transmission line is not needed due to flattened demand for electricity in Wisconsin and recent advances in energy technology.

The costs and environmental damage that would be created by the transmission line has sparked opposition and legal challenges from local grassroots citizens and conservation groups. Wisconsin’s Dane and Iowa Counties voted to oppose the transmission line and have intervened in the Public Service Commission proceedings to fight the project.

“We wouldn’t think of putting a power line across the Grand Canyon, so why would we think of putting one through one of the most beautiful and unique landscapes in the Upper Midwest?” Said Dave Clutter, executive director of the Driftless Area Land Conservancy. “We have a national treasure in the Driftless Area, and we should treat it like one.”

“RUS is required by federal law to ‘rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives’ to proposed transmission lines like the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project,” said Howard Learner, one of the Environmental Law and Policy Center attorneys representing DALC. “RUS cannot simply look at different environmentally harmful routes for this huge transmission line and call it a day.”

“Iowa County residents have come together to adamantly oppose this unneeded high-voltage power line, which would irreversibly damage the landscape, ecology, and recreation economy we depend on,” said Betsy D’Angelo, a member of the Driftless Defenders’ leadership team. “There are alternatives that can improve our electric system without damaging the Driftless Area’s most important natural areas.”

“The draft environmental impact statement for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project ignores the reality of new technology that has improved energy efficiency and decreased the demand for electricity,” said David Meylor, chairman of the Western Dane Preservation Campaign, the Mount Horeb area citizens group formed to oppose the line. “Recent analyses of electric demand demonstrate that the expensive, invasive Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line project simply isn’t needed.”

“The proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission line will have a significant negative impact on fish and wildlife habitat and the management of public lands in Southwestern Wisconsin and in light of other energy alternatives should not be constructed,” stated George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.

The proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line would install towers of up to 175-feet along a 100-mile route that would affect sensitive natural areas and disrupt economic activity. The project could cost ratepayers more than $1 billion during the life of the project, including a profit margin for the transmission line’s utility owners that is guaranteed by Wisconsin law.

Legal counsel for the Driftless Area Land Conservancy will be reviewing the RUS’s draft EIS in greater detail and will submit comprehensive public comments to the agency. Members of the public are strongly encouraged to submit comments before the deadline of Feb. 5, 2019.

###

Issued by:

Driftless Area Land Conservancy

Driftless Defenders

Environmental Law and Policy Center

Western Dane County Preservation Campaign

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

RUS EIS for Cardinal-Hickory Creek released!

Filed under:Cardinal-Hickory — posted by admin on December 3, 2018 @ 5:29 pm

It’s out, the USDA’s RUS EIS for Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission project:

Draft Environmental Impact Statement – November 2018

From the RUS Notice, how to send in comments and list of public meetings:

RUS page for Environmental Review for Cardinal – Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project – Iowa & Wisconsin

 

Cardinal-Hickory Creek slogs on

Filed under:Cardinal-Hickory,FERC,RUS EIS — posted by admin on November 17, 2018 @ 1:19 pm

Cardinal-Hickory Creek is the $492-543 million southern part of MPV5, running SW-NE, the line from near Dubuque to Middleton, near Madison, connecting into the 345kV overlay.  The Wisconsin EIS scoping period is happening now.  Scoping is the determination of the “scope” of the EIS and your comments on what should be included can, indeed, influence the scope.

Public “open house” style sessions were held in Dodgeville on November 8,  in Middleton November 12, and in Lancaster on November 14, 2018.  Now, they way to get comments in is to send them to the PSC.

EIS SCOPING COMMENTS ARE DUE JANUARY 4, 2019.

Meanwhile, the USDA’s RUS is working on an EIS, these two are separate… WHY?  That RUS EIS is due to be released December 7 or 14, 2018, though that could change.  For more info:

USDA-RUS Cardinal-Hickory Creek page

Has it occurred to USDA’s RUS that a massive transmission build-out hurts agriculture?  Has it occurred to USDA’s RUS that massive transmission build-out provides incentive and subsidizes generation projects that hurt agriculture?

Here are the PSC’s comment comments:

Note this caveat, where the PSC limits information it will be confronted with:

A comment may consist of the writer’s personal knowledge or personal opinions only. A reference document, newspaper article, professional journal article, white paper, study or any other prepared material not written by the person commenting is not considered a public comment, but may be referenced in a person’s comment.

That policy has been, and remains, infuriating.

To send comments, in order of my biased preference:

  • EIS Coordinator, Cindy Burtley: cindy.burtley@wisconsin.gov
  • Go to PSC site, psc.wi.gov, then click “e-Services” at top, then on left click on “File a Comment” and scroll down to “Cardinal-Hickory Creek” (they’re in alpha order). Another way on PSC home page is to scroll down and click “Comment” on left side of home page.  Either way takes to here, so just click here:  http://apps.psc.wi.gov/vs2015/ERF/comment/filecomment.aspx?util=5&case=CE&num=146

EIS SCOPING COMMENTS ARE DUE JANUARY 4, 2019.

Get it done, write up your comments.

I’m particularly concerned about this high voltage build-out, because the grid is already overbuilt.  This line, together with the others, increases reliance on central station power, and once built, provides a disincentive for distributed and dispersed power.  It’s not needed, it’s wanted. Why? Because utilities make a lot more money through FERC approved return on capital investments for infrastructure than they do selling electricity.  DOH!  Who benefits, who pays?  They benefit, we pay. Thanks, thanks a lot!

My comments from December 2016 to RUS:

 

ITC’s MVP 3 Line is energized

Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV,News coverage — posted by admin on November 2, 2018 @ 10:32 am

The MPV3 line they’re referring to below is the red line above. The MVP projects were, at the time, estimated to cost $5.24 BILLION, to be divided between states.  This MVP project was one where NoCapX was a limited intervenor, and one where the Dept. of Commerce inexplicably did a 180 in its testimony, from saying “no need” to claiming need.  Yeah, right… And then there’s the matter of testimony under oath — the ALJ refused. WHAT?!?!  No excuse for that, it’s a part of the ALJ’s job.  Minn. R. 1400.5500(F).  Here’s a contemporaneous rehash of that mess:

ITC Midwest transmission hearing OVER!!??!!

And today, an announcement that Line 3 has been energized.  It’s in the Albert Lea Tribune, note the byline “By Submitted.”  That means that ITC sent them a press release, right?  This isn’t news, it’s an unpaid advertisement.

ITC Midwest energizes new electric transmission line in southern Minnesota

MISO bars access to planning meetings

From the public meeting materials, here’s what they’re looking at, above.  These are significant additions to the transmission grid in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Look at the number of double circuits they want to add, and look at the new transmission planned for Minnesota and WIsconsin.  And note how, as with CapX 2020, it’s starting in the coal fields of the Dakotas.

MISO’s Economic Planning Users Group is planning a “Regional Transmission Overlay Study” and they’re having another meeting tomorrow, May 25, 2017 down in Metatairie, Louisiana.

Here’s the call in info:

WebEx Information
Event Number: 966 575 350
WebEx Password: Ts824634

Participant Dial-In Number: 1-800-689-9374
Participant Code: 823713

Meeting Materials from the MISO site:

Here’s the problem — they close the meeting, and people like me aren’t allowed to attend.  First I was told, back in January when I tried to register:

Thank you for registering for the Economic Planning Users Group (EPUG) on Jan 31.  The afternoon portion of this meeting will be held in CLOSED session and reserved from MISO Members or Market Participants only.  Please feel free to attend the morning session from 11:00 am to 12:45 pm ET / 10:00 am to 11:45 CT.

I filled out their “CEII – Non-Disclosure Agreement” form and fired it off.  But noooooo…

So next I went to the PUC’s Quarterly MISO update, where I was assured that we could make arrangements so that I could attend.  I resent the “CEII – Non-Disclosure Agreement” and went back and forth and it came to this (click for larger version).  Note this “explanation” of options to be able to attend:

The reason that you were not permitted to attend the closed session is because the meeting involved discussion of Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (CEII) and CEII access requests by Non-Member Individuals requires FERC clearance.  Another access option is to be included on Appendix A of a MISO member or Market Participant.

So that says there are two ways to gain access, 1) get “FERC clearance” or 2) “Another access option is to be included on Appendix A of a MISO member or Market Participant.”  One or the other. Emphasis added.  Here’s the email (click for larger version) laying out those two options:

Oh, I says to myself, off to FERC.  I sent in the requisite paperwork to FERC, and got “FERC clearance” and they shipped me the CEII information, including but not limited to the map.  I let MISO know I’d obtained “FERC clearance,” and here’s the response (click for larger version):

ARRRRGH, they have my CEII NDA on file, have had it since January 23, 2017.  I resent it to the writer of these emails on March 4, 2017, and I sent it again today, and objected to yet another change in their “rules” (click for larger version):

So the plot thickens — from MISO (click or larger version):

And from moi (click for larger version):

Xmsn Overlay coming soon to a backyard near you!

It’s early, so now’s the time to get agitated, get activated!

As if CapX 2020 wasn’t enough, and during the CapX 2020 Certificate of Need proceeding, word of the “JCSP” overlay came out.  And we know that Xcel, in its e21 Initiative, is whining about the grid only being 55% utilized (DOH! Because CapX and other transmission expansion wasn’t needed, was built, and now they’re trying to make us pay for it!).

And as if Obama’s RRTT wasn’t enough, now there’s this, check out Executive Order 13766:

Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects

And so now the rest of the story — here’s what they’re planning:

Here’s the list, in a spreadsheet:

20170131 EPUG Preliminary Overlay Ideas List

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has scheduled the MISO Utilities Quarterly Update Meeting for the Second Quarter of 2017 for Friday, March 3, 2017 from 10:00 AM to Noon in the Commission’s Large Hearing Room, 121 7th Place East, Suite 350, St. Paul, MN 55101.

MISO Q letter 03-10-2014.bh.-1

Note this part, to be discussed at this meeting:

Laying the ground work now for this, a huge build-out that isn’t needed, an overlay on top of transmission that wasn’t needed either.  NO!

LTE in Dodgeville Chronicle

Filed under:Cardinal-Hickory,ITC MN & IA 345 kV,News coverage,RUS EIS,Wisconsin — posted by admin on December 8, 2016 @ 8:12 am

mvp345

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

RUS’ Cardinal-Hickory Creek meetings

Filed under:Cardinal-Hickory,Laws & Rules,News coverage,Nuts & Bolts,RUS EIS,Upcoming Events,Wisconsin — posted by admin on December 7, 2016 @ 7:16 am

20161206_1655071

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:

Notice of Intent To Hold Public Meetings and Prepare Environmental Impact Statement (October 18, 2016

Second Notice_2016-27988-2

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:

noice12-6-7-2016

So to make quick work of it, this is cut and pasted from the RUS Cardinal Hickory Creek page:

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:

ATC postpones Cardinal-Hickory Creek project – The Dodgeville Chronicle -Dodgeville, WI

I had this article and a few comments to add tonight, and will file more detailed comments before the deadline — now January 6, 2017.

Overland-Legalectric Preliminary Comments Cardinal-Hickory Creek(don’t worry, I’ll get this looking pretty by the deadline!)

20161206_1654551

On the way in, there was new transmission marching across the countryside, so ugly:

xmsn-mvp

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:

20161206_1550331

20161206_1551041

newvienna1

But all in all, it was a beautiful day for a drive today!

20161206_1543442

NOTICE – Annual Hearing – Power Plant Siting Act

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on December 5, 2016 @ 9:44 am

mickeymouse

Here we go again, the Annual Hearing for the Power Plant Siting Act.

ppsa-2016

The full Notice:

16-0433 Notice of the Power Plant Siting Act Annual Hearing

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:

iiid2Recently, 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…
 

CapX impermissibly affecting rail communication

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,RUS EIS,Wisconsin — posted by admin on November 5, 2016 @ 10:11 am

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?

CapX transmission lines interfering with railroad signals in Buffalo County

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.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace