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


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!

Information Requests filed in ITC transmission docket

Filed under:Information Requests,ITC MN & IA 345 kV — posted by admin on February 17, 2014 @ 10:06 am


That’s a photo of a transmission tower from the SW MN 345 kV line from Split Rock (Sioux Falls) to Lakefield Junction. You know how I’m always saying, “It’s all connected!”  Well, that line from Split Rock (Sioux Falls) to Lakefield Junction, PUC Docket 01-1958) way back over a decade ago, is just one segment of a long-ago proposed transmission option,and it’s all coming together over time.

There is now an ITC project at the PUC, planned to extend the Split Rock – Lakefield Junction eastward from Lakefield Junction to a new substation in Huntley, and then south into Iowa. Here’s some background on ITC from a FERC Order in docket EL12-104-000:


Now, back to the ITC project, from Lakefield Junction to a new substation in Huntley, and then south into Iowa Certificate of Need docket ET-6675/CN-12-1053, and Routing docket ET-6675/TL-12-1337 (to look at dockets, go to PUC SEARCH PAGE, and search for dockets 12-1053 and/or 12-1337).  Citizens Energy Task Force and No CapX 2020 have intervened because this is yet another link from South Dakota towards Madison.  Of note, Wind on the Wires, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Fresh Energy, and Izaak Walton League have intervened, first Wind on the Wires, and then MCEA, Fresh Energy and IWLA.  Also of note, Bill Grant was appointed by Gov. Dayton as Deputy Commissioner of Commerce, to head Commerce’s part in energy dockets, and relevant here, heading Commerce in their work on need and routing decisions.

Today, I served a few Information Requests to get at this history and the actions and contracts of Wind on the Wires, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Fresh Energy, and Izaak Walton League, and Bill Grant’s role regarding transmission:

Information Request 1_Commerce

Information Request 2_Commerce

Information Request 1_MCEA et al

Information Request 2_MCEA et al

Information Request 3-4_MCEA et al

Information Request 5_MCEA et al

Information Request 6_MCEA et al

Information Request 7_MCEA et al

Responses will be posted here.

Now let’s take a look at the origin of this ITC line, or other instances where this segment has been proposed as a part of something big and dirty.  It’s ancient history, but it’s consistent, a pattern has been developed.

The Split Rock – Lakefield Junction transmission was part of a transmission for coal line, a project that was contracted for and studied specifically for use as outlet for coal, promoted in “Lignite Vision 21,” developed in 1999-2000:

Here’s the map found in their “Lignite Vision 21” study (Lignite Vision 21 Transmission Study):


The “Split Rock – Lakefield Junction” and “Lakefield Junction – Winnebago” segments are also part of a plan also going all the way back to 1998-1999 to  the WIREs Report,Phase II, where a South Dakota to Wisconsin 345 kV project studied in WIREs Phase I, labeled 9a, from S Huron-Split Rock-Lakefield Jct–Adams, Adams–Genoa–Columbia, 345 kV was shortened to “Plan 9b (Lakefield – Columbia 345 kV):

WIREs-Lakefield-Columbia 9b

Following WIREs Phase II came the Wisconsin Reliability Assessment Organization Report (WRAO), where they brought forward the shortened segment from Lakefield Jct., in Minnesota, to Columbia, in Wisconsin (Madison area):


In 1999, about this same time, there was a Merger Agreement between ME3 (now Fresh Energy), Izaak Walton League, and ELPC (formerly handling legal for ME3 and Waltons), which included this paragraph on transmission:


Not so coincidentally, the SW MN 345 kV transmission line with a rating of ~2,100 MVA was approved by the PUC with conditions that NSP/Xcel sign PPAs for 675 MW of new wind on Buffalo Ridge, and install 825 MW of wind on Buffalo Ridge, and make network service requests to MISO for 825 MW of wind (not location specific), and sign PPAs for 60 MW of small locally owned wind, etc. Remember those numbers, 2,100 MVA, 675 MW, and 825 MVA!


The SW Minnesota CoN proceeding for four transmission lines became, to some, the “825MW of transmission for wind” even though it’s not.

Not long after a hilarious meeting (if it weren’t so slimy and disgusting) where Beth Soholt, WOW, and Matt Schuerger, ME3 at that time, tried to get a group of us to “approve” the Split Rock – Lakefield 345 kV line, NSP applied for that SW MN Split Rock – Lakefield Jct 345 kV line (PUC Docket 01-1958).  As that docket moved forward, particularly during the hearings, negotiations were ongoing between NSP (now Xcel) and MCEA, Izaak Walton League,ME3 (now Fresh Energy) and North American Water Office, resulting in a “Community Wind” agreement, and at the same time, one with wide-ranging terms about transmission (remember, Petitioners in this case were Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy and Interstate Power and Light, the IPL that formerly owned the transmission system now owned and operated by ITC Midwest) (Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL) and Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WPL) are Alliant Energy’s two utility subsidiaries)(makes my head spin…), anyway, here’s that deal:

Settlement Agreement – MCEA, Waltons, ME3, NAWO filed with PUC 6/23/03

To look at the TRANSLink docket, go to PUC SEARCH PAGE and search for docket 02-2152, a very interesting read.

Then, in 2005, we got the Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell, Minn. Session Laws, Chapter 97, giving the utilities all they could possibly want to get CapX 2020 rolling through Minnesota, thanks in large part to promotional lobbying efforts of Bill Grant, Izaak Walton League, and George Crocker, North American Water Office — their transmission legacy.

And in 2006, Wind on the Wires (at that time a program and major revenue stream of Izaak Walton League), with AWEA, et al., proposed a DOE NIETC transmission corridor covering much of southern Minnesota:

WOW Comment_DOE_NIETC_3-6-06

Here’s part of the map from the Comment (note the CapX lines) and pay particular attention to the square one in the middle, with a truncated version of WRAO/WIREs 9a and Lignite Vision 21, the addition from Lakefield Jct. headed east:

ITC Midwest has proposed this new 345 kV transmission line that looks a lot like this one above, an extension of the Split Rock – Lakefield Jct. line, heading east from Lakefield Junction to a new substation in Huntley, and then south into Iowa.  Here’s the Minnesota part (it’s as if the IA part of it doesn’t exist), click for bigger version: Map from 20132-83982-01-1

And this is a more complete conceptual mapping from the ITC MVP Study #3 showing some Iowa options:

ITC MVP Study 3

This transmission docket is ongoing, both Certificate of Need (CLICK HERE FOR PUC’S SEARCH PAGE, search for PUC Docket 12-1053) and the Routing docket (CLICK HERE FOR PUC’S SEARCH PAGE, search for PUC Docket 12-1337).  No CapX and Citizens Energy Task Force have intervened, in a limited way, to get an idea of the big picture and file a brief in on this project.  We’ll see how this goes.

Why do they want CapX transmission?

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Information Requests,News coverage — posted by admin on April 2, 2010 @ 7:56 am


Well DUH, to transmit the unneeded coal-generated electricity to market to “displace natural gas.”

ICF – MISO Benefits Analysis Study

A storm is brewing over South Heart, North Dakota.  The South Heart coal plant and mine is in the news.

First the “benefication” plant, essentially drying out the wet lignite coal, almost exactly ONE YEAR AGO:

North Dakota Coal Dealt Setback

Great Northern Power Development withdrew its application for a new coal mine near South Heart, North Dakota. The company said it acted in response to a complaint filed at the North Dakota Public Service Commission by Plains Justice on behalf of Dakota Resource Council and local landowners. The complaint challenges the construction of a new coal preparation plant.

Now the coal plant — It was first touted as a “synfuels” plant (a la Beulah, argh, brilliant idea…) and now electricity, now that CapX 2020 permits are being approved.

Great Northern and Allied Syngas Stick with South Heart


South Heart is west of Dickinson, in the middle between the north and south CapX 2020 Dakota extensions:

Hearing Ex. 13, Big Picture Map

Company seeks coal permit

Published March 31 2010

By: Ashley Martin, The Dickinson Press

A Houston company has taken another step toward their goal of constructing a $1.5 billion power plant and surface coal mine on 4,600 acres near South Heart.

South Heart Coal LLC, which is owned by Great Northern Power Development, applied for a mining permit Monday.

North Dakota’s Public Service Commission will review the application, said Jim Deutsch — director of PSC’s reclamation division.

It will take at least six months to process the application, he said.

“The application is for about 2.4 million tons of coal a year,” said Neal Messer, spokesperson for Great Northern.

Britt Huggins, whose home is just a few miles away from the proposed mine and plant, said the project makes her nervous.

“I have horses, I have dogs and I don’t so much like the idea of tearing up the countryside,” Huggins said. “Plus, what’s it going to do to our wildlife and our water?”

She is selling her home, but is having issues because it’s so close to the proposed mine.

“I’ve already had people look at it and say they’re worried about that coal mine,” Huggins said. “If it goes through, it’s going to change everybody’s way of life out there.”

The plant will be about six miles southwest of South Heart and the mine will be about three miles west of

the town, Messer said.

“It’s the biggest economic project in southwest North Dakota’s history,” Messer said.

Over 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emitted from the plant will be captured and used in other markets, Messer said. He added the company will comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards.

“This plant will have no problem meeting or exceeding any of those standards,” Messer said.

The plant will use technology to gasify the coal and extract hydrogen, which will be used to generate 175 megawatts of electricity, Messer said. That’s enough to power 140,000 homes, he added.

Construction is set to begin in the fall of 2011 and they hope to be operational by 2014, Messer said. The project will create about 1,100 temporary jobs and 350 permanent jobs, Messer said.

Great Northern has also requested the land be rezoned from agricultural to industrial. The Stark County Zoning Board will hold a public hearing for the request Monday at 4 p.m.

The zoning board and Stark County commission approved the property to be rezoned about two years ago. However, a district judge overturned the decision because officials did not follow proper procedures.

Great Northern planned to produce synthetic natural gas two years ago, but changed their mind, Messer said.

“What happened was the natural gas market has deteriorated where that is not a profitable function at this point,” Messer said.

Messer expects Great Northern to apply for an air quality permit within the next few months.

Pete Kuntz, Stark County commissioner, said the project will be good for the area.

“We’ve got to look out for the majority of the people in the county, not only a few,” Kuntz said. “There’s way more people for than against.”

The coal would be mined by removing earth above the coal vein and stockpiling it, Messer said. Once the coal is removed, the earth will be replaced and put back to as close to its original state as possible, he added.

The mine would last about 30 years and the market will determine what happens to the plant after that, Messer said.

“If everything is the same as it is now, then they would go and try to find areas to expand,” Messer said.

GTL Energy USA Ltd. is constructing a coal beneficiation plant less than a half a mile away from Great Northern’s proposed project.

Messer, who is the spokesperson for Great Northern and GTL, said while they are two separate companies, Great Northern will use GTL Energy’s technology to make their plant more efficient.

New Prague – CapX EIS Scoping Meeting

Filed under:Information Requests,News coverage,Nuts & Bolts,PUC Docket — posted by admin on April 21, 2009 @ 11:39 am


(Stolen from New Prague Times )Judy Marchif was among nearly 400 people attending the public meeting on the proposed CapX 2020 transmission line in the New Prague High Schools common area on Tuesday, April 7. (Patrick Fisher Photo)

Over 400 people!

Here’s the article from the New Prague Times — 400 people showed and stood up!  Special cheers for Nancy Sackett and her tremendous job of organizing, and U-CAN for getting the Task Forces rolling:

Questions, Opposition in majority at CapX meeting

Thursday, April 16, 2009

By Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

A crowd estimated at nearly 400 people attended a public meeting at New Prague High School Tuesday, April 7, regarding the route permit application for the 345-kilovolt CapX 2020 transmission line.

Nearly everyone who spoke at the meeting listed concerns about the project in general or about having the line cut through the area.

CapX 2020 is a joint initiative of 11 utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region. One of those agencies is Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, of which New Prague Utilities is a member.

The line would stretch along a 237-mile corridor from Brookings, SD, to Hampton in Dakota County. Locally, two possible routes have been identified for the line. The preferred route crosses the Minnesota River north of Le Sueur, veers north into Scott County in the Union Hill area, then heads east in the area of Scott County Road 2. An alternate route crosses the river south of Belle Plaine, goes south into Le Sueur County, then heads east approximately two miles south of New Prague into Rice County.


Dates: PUC Hearing & Comments on EIS

Filed under:Information Requests,PUC Docket,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on April 13, 2009 @ 6:18 am


Time to wake up and get to the hearing!

CapX Certificate of Need Argument & Deliberation

April 15th & 16, starting at 9:30 a.m.

Public Utilities Commission

Large Hearing Room – 3rd Floor

121 – 7th St. East

St. Paul, MN  55101

And Comments are due on April 30 – be sure to insist that they consider the impacts of “phased and connected actions” because there are so many, and the impacts are HUGE!  There’s CapX 2020, we’ve now got Phase I in front of us, and  there’s CapX 2020 Phase II and Phase III, there’s Joint Coordinated System Plan, there’s MTEP 08, there’s Green Power Express, there’s the announcement Friday Apri. 3rdof yet another Transmission Plan from Hell... the impacts are staggering…

Please include PUC Docket No. ET2/TL-08-1474 on your comments. Comments should be mailed, emailed, or faxed to:

Scott Ek

Project Manager
Minnesota Office of Energy Security
85 7th Place East, Suite 500
St. Paul, Minnesota, 55101-2198
Fax: 651-297-7891

Comments may also be submitted on the Commission’s energy facility permitting website:

NoCapX sends more IRs to Applicants

Filed under:Information Requests,PUC Docket — posted by admin on May 7, 2008 @ 1:14 pm

Oops, forgot to post these from Monday, the most recent NoCapX IRs to “the utilities presently known as the applicants.”

NoCapX 2020 IR to CapX 2

NoCapX 2020 IR to CapX 3

NoCapX 2020 IR to CapX 4

NoCapX 2020 IR to CapX 5

NoCapX 2020 IR to CapX 6

More to follow…

First bunch of NoCapX IRs for MISO

Filed under:Information Requests — posted by admin on April 25, 2008 @ 1:38 pm

As you know, MISO, Midwest Independent System Operator, intervened in the CapX 2020 docket.  So now it’s time to fire off a few Information Requests to them:

NoCapX 2020 IR to MISO 1-2

NoCapX 2020 IR to MISO 3-8

The fun never sets…

Information Requests and ISLR site

Filed under:Information Requests,PUC Docket — posted by admin on March 27, 2008 @ 5:19 pm

Info is coming out slowly but surely on CapX 2020’s transmission lie plan from hell!

Two things to note:


And there goes John Baily, showing us how to do a good site, grrrrrr, hard to keep up (and thanks John, for all those IRs I didn’t have, and neener neener, I’ve got a few you don’t have).

ILSR’s CapX 2020 site

And once more with feeling, the full PUC docket for CapX 2020 is:

 CLICK HERE and search for 06-1115

There, that oughtta keep ya busy…

Information Requests to/fro Applicants

Filed under:Information Requests,PUC Docket,Reports - Documents — posted by admin on March 23, 2008 @ 2:05 pm

Thought occurs to me that it’d be useful to have the Interrogatories so anyone who wants to know what’s being asked can have a look-see. SO, here they are – as I get answers, I’ll post those too, but as of right now, it’s all questions…

And slowly, I’m adding answers now.

FYI, John Baily has been busy, CLICK HERE FOR ILSR.ORG’S CAPX SITE!






Pierce-03-03-08 IR49-58

Shaw 3-21-08 IR60


NAWO/ILSR Corrected 7








NO CAPX 2020 (more after I get up to date)

Data Practices Act Request – way old



Xcel Response to Commerce 1-32

Xcel Response to Commerce 33&36

Xcel Response to Commerce 37-38

Xcel Response to Commerce 39

Xcel Response to Commerce 41

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Xcel Response to Commerce 49

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Xcel Response to Commerce 57

Xcel Response to NAWO 2-6

Xcel Response to WOW 1-2