UPDATE: Dairyland’s Q-1 “upgrades” through La Crosse

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,News coverage,Nuts & Bolts,RUS EIS,Wisconsin — posted by admin on August 30, 2015 @ 6:30 am


“Upgrade” through Holmen, Onalaska, La Crosse, from Briggs Road to some substation south of 90.

This is a “notice” found in the La Crosse Tribune on Friday.  Take a close look, yes, it’s hard to read, but multiple searches of the Notices section online have NOTHING, nada…

This is another USDA Rural Utilities Services project, yet here, there’s no indication of the status of the project, no RUS contact, and they want comments sent to DAIRYLAND, and we’re to trust they’ll send them to whoever.

Where’s the link to the USDA RUS site?  Where’s the link for the project application.  WHERE’S A DECENT MAP!!??!!??!!??


$50 says it’s USDA’s Stephanie Strength on this project, as she was on the Dairyland Q-1D going north from Briggs Rd. to Marshaland, as she was on the Dairyland financing for its share of CapX 2020.

Any Comments you send to Dairyland’s Chuck Thompson, I’d advise you also send any comments or questions to (?? NOTE: Stephanie Strength’s two emails are NOT working… so who is Project Manager?):

Stephanie Strength, Project Mgr.

Dairyland Q-1D South Upgrade
USDA Rural Development Utilities Programs
1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 2244
Mail Stop 1571
Washington, DC  20250-1571

… or by email:

stephanie.strength@wdc.usda.gov (doesn’t seem to be working!)


The map, for starters, is awful, can’t even see it, nothing identified but lines for a couple of major highways, but anyone in the area knows this line, running up and down Hwy 35. from near Briggs Road substation through Onalaska going south and darting with Xcel’s line on the other side, back and forth, through trailer parks, towards 90, across and then south.

This is what this line looks like, going right through people’s back yards, front yards, and over homes, directly overhead, right next to it, how can Dairyland think this should be “upgraded” — it should be torn down:

Kimberly St

And at Ulman St., there are two trailers right up against the structures:


It’s bad enough that Dairyland is planning this upgrade, but how does any city allow this to happen?  In what world is it OK to allow development under a transmission line?  On the other side of Hwy. 35 it’s the same thing, an Xcel transmission line over a trailer park.  This shows zero regard for human life.

North Dakota xmsn complete — more coal on the wires!

Filed under:News coverage,Nuts & Bolts,RUS EIS — posted by admin on August 3, 2014 @ 4:55 pm

Hearing Ex. 13, Big Picture Map

See that line up there going through North Dakota?  They’ve just finished it, it’s ready to energize.  And of course, it’s clear that now that Minnesota Power has bought the DC line that’s been used for coal, that now the coal will go over CapX lines off through Minnesota to Wisconsin and points east.  HUH?  Yes, they allude to in a “We’ve completed this new transmission line” article it not-so-subtly:

The reassignment of an existing transmission line also means more transmission facilities are needed.

… and:

“Once built, the bulk flow of electricity moves to the new line, which frees up capacity on the underlying system.”


The USDA/RUS documents say it very clearly:

Minnkota has proposed the construction of approximately 260 miles of 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line from Center to Grand Forks, N.D., to deliver additional energy recently secured from Milton R. Young 2, a 455-megawatt (MW) coal-fi red plant near Center, N.D., owned by Square Butte Electric Cooperative.

… and this:

To bring the energy generated by Young 2 into the Red River Valley, Minnkota will construct a new 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line from Center to Grand Forks. Building the new transmission line will enablethe existing DC transmission line from theMilton R. Young Station to carry more renewable wind energy.

Here’s that original RUS document:

Scoping Report_Appendix I

There’s still the shifted coal into the Eastern Interconnect and proposed expansions to deal with — those mentioned in the federal opinion tossing out the 2007 “Next Generation Energy Act” saying “no go” under the Commerce Clause:

  • Read the April 18, 2014 decision, ND-v-Heydinger-in-11-cv-3232, declaring the Next Generation Energy Act unconstitutional.  First, the decision notes that the Dry Fork coal plant has been moved from the West into the Eastern Interconnect (it’s “new coal” now on transmission heading our way that wasn’t coming here before).
  • Second, also in that decision, it discusses plans for a new coal fired plant in South Dakota.
  • And third, it notes the potential for an additional unit at Dry Fork, which is now in Eastern Interconnect (coming our way).
  • Fourth, it discusses the surplus at Milton Young, which would be exacerbated by transmission prohibitions of the Next Generation Energy Act.  This fourth item is addressed by this Center, ND to Grand Forks, ND transmission project.

Very logical, makes a lot of sense.  It’s not like Minnesota Power’s taking that line would make them shut down a coal plant!

So now we have one more transmission line in the superhighway from the Dakotas to Madison and beyond…

250-mile transmission line to Grand Forks completed

Minnkota Power Cooperative’s 345-kilovolt line spans from near Center, N.D., to Grand Forks, where the co-op is based. The $353 million project began construction more than two years ago, according to a news release.

How’s URS doing on CapX EIS?

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,RUS EIS — posted by admin on June 23, 2012 @ 8:11 am

How is URS doing on the CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse environmental review?  Who knows… it STILL isn’t out.

USDA’s web page for CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse transmission

From the Star Tribune, an article about the Sabo bridge collapse — a bridge designed by URS:


A set of cables on the bridge broke loose in February because of wind-induced vibrations, a consultant said Friday, noting that the stresses generated by winds as light as 5 to 10 miles per hour might have been overlooked by the engineers who designed it. The designer, California-based URS Corp., also did work on the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River before it collapsed in 2007.

URS was hired by the state of Minnesota for bridge inspections — here’s the 35W bridge gussets from MPR:

urs-gussetsAnd then this…


From a P.I. firm involved with the bridge collapse:

The state alleges that the URS contract specifically required the company to develop tension and compression failure criteria for the bridge’s many components — including the steel gusset plates — using data from how they were supposed to be designed.

URS Corp. is a San Francisco based firm, that had assured the state of its expertise in assessing the need for repairs and the best way to go about doing the repairs. Furthermore, in 2005, URS reported to the state that if “gusset plate buckling occurs, it will not be catastrophic.” In a communication from the corporation in 2006, they told MN-DOT that they would not calculate actual capacities of all of the connections even though that would provide the most accurate results. They said it would be too much work. They proposed to do some approximate but conservative adjustments to the member capacities per design specifications.

And, as above, URS has the contract the Federal Environmental Review for the CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse transmission line.

USDA’s web page for CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse transmission

They’ve done other work for RUS:

Oglethorpe Power Corporations 100 MW biomass project

Turning Point Solar

and on and on and on…

Should RUS be doing this sort of work?  Who would award them with a contract?  The State of Minnesota, City of Minneapolis, are wondering… the STrib is looking at other instances:

URS faulted in projects elsewhere

Check the examples in the STrib article — how many of these do we need?


Potential Magnetic Fields on Hampton-LaCrosse

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,RUS EIS,Wisconsin — posted by admin on January 13, 2012 @ 9:13 am

I just printed out this Affidavit and Exhibits to bring tonight and realized it would be good to post it again so that newly involved people in Wisconsin can get a handle on potential magnetic field levels of the CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse tranasmission line.

Affidavit of Bruce McKay and Exhibits

This stuff is NOT rocket science — they’re designing this as a very high capacity line, not just bundled conductors but double circuit and/or double circuit “ready,” which means there are plans… and there are plans to connect at LaCrosse and go eastward to Madison, which they say will increase transfer capacity 3,000-5,000 MW!  That’s a lot of current (granted, not all will go through this line, that’s the MN-WI interface, there are three lines, and Arrowhead is limited by a MN restriction on the phase shifting transformer).

This Affidavit uses the Direct Testimony of Larry Schedin in the CapX Minnesota Certificate of Need case, which lists amps and MVA ratings for various configurations. this one is the third from the bottom, “twin bundled 954 kcm 54/19 ACSS, 345 kV” which has a summer rating of 3700 amps and 2211 MVA.  In the hearing, the Applicants’ engineer testified it’s more like 2050 MVA.  OK, whatever, that’s a lot more than the 600 they’re talking about!

The amps in the RUS DEIS show a few hundred amps, off by a factor of 10.  Presume the magnetic field levels are also off by a factor of 10, the potential magnetic field levels consistent with these Summer Thermal Ratings.

RUS says in the DEIS that the info has been independently verified.  INDEPENDENTLY VERIFIED?  Right…

Tonight Wanamingo, Cannon Falls tomorrow!

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,RUS EIS — posted by admin on January 10, 2012 @ 4:05 pm


This was last night in Alma, and tonight we’re in Wanamingo, at the Wanamingo Community Center.  Here’s the schedule for the rest of the week:

January 11, 2012, 5-8 p.m.
Cannon Falls High School Cafeteria
820 Minnesota St
Cannon Falls, MN

January 12, 2012, 5-8 p.m.
American LegionHall
2153rd St SW
Plainview, MN

January 13, 2012,  5-8 p.m.
Centerville/Town of Trempealeau Community Center
W24854 StateRd 54/93
Galesville, WI

Written comments are open until January 30, 2012.  Send to stephanie.strength@wdc.usda.gov or by mail to:

Stephanie Strength, Project Manager
USDA, Rural Development, Utilities Programs
1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 2244
Mailstop 1571
Washington, DC  20250-1571

Pay particular attention to things like the “connected actions” point on p. 81, and note that in their view, the Brookings-Hampton line is NOT connected to the Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse line, and the Badger-Coulee line is NOT connected.  See the above post for the testimony filed yesterday that shows just how connected it all is.

Remember the big picture:

Hearing Ex. 13, Big Picture Map

DUH!  The Brooking’s line’s connected to the Hampton sub, the Hampton sub’s connected to North Roch… It’s all connected…

RUS Draft EIS is released… almost…

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,PUC Docket,Reports - Documents,RUS EIS,Wisconsin — posted by admin on December 15, 2011 @ 11:23 am

Just got word that Notice for the USDA’s RUS Public Meetings on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement is in the Zumbrota Shopper, and that the DEIS is released.


HUH?  I looked at the link in the notice… nada… turns out, per USDA’s Stephanie Strength, “The Federal Register notice and posting of the DEIS are not scheduled until Friday.”

So hold your horses!

The Comment period is open for 45 days following publication of US EPA’s notice… probably Friday too.

Also, there’s nothing in the Notice that says where to send Comments.  It says for further info or to request a copy of the DEIS to contact Stephanie Strength:


Public meetings are scheduled for evenings of the week of January 9, all week, with an “open house” from 5-6 p.m. and a “discussion period” from 6-8 p.m.

January 9, 2012, 5-8 p.m.
Alma High SchoolGym
S1618 State Rd 35

January 10, 2012, 5-8 p.m.
Wanamingo Community Center
401 Main Street
Wanamingo, MN

January 11, 2012, 5-8 p.m.
Cannon Falls High School Cafeteria
820 Minnesota St
Cannon Falls, MN

January 12, 2012, 5-8 p.m.
American LegionHall
2153rd St SW
Plainview, MN

January 13, 2012,  5-8 p.m.
Centerville/Town of Trempealeau Community Center
W24854 StateRd 54/93
Galesville, WI

Every time I try to PDF the Notice, Firefox crashes.  Here’s what I’ve got, it’s hard to read.  When I get a better copy, I’ll post that.

Sort of legible Notice, p. 1

A not so legible Notice, p. 2

Two Wisconsin EIS Scoping Meetings Scheduled

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,RUS EIS — posted by admin on July 8, 2011 @ 11:51 am

Put it on your calendar: July 14 in Cochrane, WI and July 20 in Centerville, WI!

As Wisconsin’s CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse proceeding ramps up, here’s the latest from the Public Service Commission — notice of two scoping meetings:

Notice of Scoping Meetings

Here’s the short version – there are scoping meetings to get public comments regarding what we all think should be covered in the Environmental Impact Statement:


To submit comments, the PSC staff suggests three ways:

  • Show up at one of the meetings above and make your comment;
  • Contact EIS Coordinator Ken Rineer at kenneth.rineer@wi.gov
  • Go to PSC’s Comment site and make your comment online:


Because the USDA’s RUS Comment period is reopened until July 24, 2011, ALSO SEND A COPY TO Stephanie Strength at RUS:


… or…

Stephanie A. Strength

Environmental Protection Specialist

Rural Utilities Service

Engineering and Environmental Staff

1400 Independent Avenue  S.W.

Mail Stop 1571, Room 2242

Washington, DC  20250

For the full Wisconsin PSC docket, and there’s some GOOD STUFF there, go to www.psc.wi.gov and scroll down and enter docket number 05-CE-136.  It’s that simple!

It’s important to bring everything together from the various jurisdictions that have anything to do with WI, so dig through the Minnesota DEIS, AVAILABLE HERE ON MN’S COMMERCE WEBSITE; and the RUS Alternative Evaluation Study and Macro Corridor Study and note that on the official RUS website they have only the Macro Corridor December 2010 Modification Maps and do not have the Alternative Evaluation Study or Macro Corridor Study or the new June 2011 Macro Corridor Routes!

RUS Reopens Comments on Hampton-LaCrosse

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,RUS EIS,Uncategorized — posted by admin on July 6, 2011 @ 8:26 pm


ONCE AGAIN, new corridors have been added to the Wisconsin side of the Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse.

  • Were we notified of this change? NOOOOOOO!

This happened before, in October extending to December, and when I caught it, we were NOT notified, and caught it AFTER the top secret comment period had ended, I reasonably requested that it be extended:

Request for Extension – January 20, 2011

and was it extended?  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Here’s what was changed last time around in October? Comment period through December 6, 2010???

USDA’s RUS files Macro Corridor Modification Maps

… and now, here we go AGAIN…

June 2011 – Letter – New Corridors



July 24, 2011 is the deadline for Comments, which should be sent to:


… or…

Stephanie A. Strength

Environmental Protection Specialist

Rural Utilities Service

Engineering and Environmental Staff

1400 Independent Avenue  S.W.

Mail Stop 1571, Room 2242

Washington, DC  20250

The link they give in their letter does notw work.  So mMy little birdie says and I tried too!  Nada…  What good is this June 2011 – Letter – New Corridors?  Even if the link that they gave THREE times worked,  where can they get information? THIS LINK WORKS!  CLICK HERE! (Just got a call from Tom Hillstrom – THANK YOU!!! … and he’d heard from Stephanie, they tried it and it works, and I’ve tried it again and it works, hmmmmmmm…).  Now, let’s get the AES and MCS posted on that page!

So how do I know about this?  A little landowner birdie told me… she’d been out of town and gotten the letter. and then was looking around and was trying the link, nada, couldn’t find info, so she called me!!  THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!  This post is for you, but for your call, I’d never had known!!!  Or like last time, would have found out too late!


Meanwhile, I’m fixin’ to bust a gasket, and am composing another gentle letter with a few surprises… well, shouldn’t really be a surprise, but Stephanie, do DUCK AND COVER!

CapX status update

Filed under:Appeal,Brookings Routing Docket,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,RUS EIS — posted by admin on March 30, 2010 @ 11:18 am

OK, now where were we… it’s getting way too confusing!

To look at the official PUC docket for any of these listed below, go to www.puc.state.mn.us and then “Search eDockets” and then search for the docket number, i.e.,  06-1115.


The Appellate Court is on it, oral arguments are over and they’ll come out with a decision in about 90 days.


Briefs are in, and we’re waiting for the ALJ’s Recommendation, after which we have 15 days to submit our exceptions to the ALJ’s Recommendation to the PUC, and from there, the PUC will put it on the agenda 1-2 months later and hold (probably) Oral Arguments (we have to remember to ask for that when we file exceptions) one day and the decision another day.  They could do this the same day if they think there is time, and they might.


This one is scary, there were NO intervenors.  Public Hearing was well attended and handled by active public and landowners.  The “hearing” is over, Comments to ALJ were due a little more than a week ago, and now we’re waiting for the Recommendation, and again, same bit,  and from
there, with no intervenors to file exceptions, the PUC will put it on the agenda 1-2 months later and probably make the decision the same day.


This is a docket I know nothing about!


Right now, like TODAY, task forces are forming.

RUS process for CapX 2020

Filed under:RUS EIS,Wisconsin — posted by admin on July 28, 2009 @ 6:35 am

Got word today, as those of you who sent comments did, that “comments were received” and a blurb about how it goes.

Here’s the poop:

All comments will be analyzed and summarized in a public scoping report, which will be posted on the following web address in approximately 60 days:


The scoping comment period is now closed.  Please see the attached timeline for future public comment opportunities in the Environmental Impact Statement process.

RUS NEPA process fact sheet

If you have further comments or questions please send them to:

Stephanie A. Strength
Environmental Protection Specialist/RD
1400 Independence Ave. SW Room # 2244
Washington, DC 20250-1571


To get a feel for where this is going, take a look at their “Scoping Report” for Dairyland’s coal plant that had been proposed for St. Ansgars or New Hampton, IA.    St. Ansgars is a Big Stone II redux, with the plant just south of the Minnesota border.  It’s my understand that this was cancelled, but I’ll check that out after I get this posted.  CapX would probably help this little puppy just as it’s helping Big Stone II…

Public Scoping Report – Dairyland St. Ansgars/New Hampton Coal Plant

Note what they do with comments, they just list them, under a one word topic, and a short on word to short phrase description.  This is not fine art here, so don’t worry, comments don’t need to be particularly artful.

And again, here’s what there is for this process on CapX 2020 thus far:

Alternative Evaluation Study

Macro Corridor Study (they mean MACRO, 66MB)

Chapters 1-4

Chapter 5

Chapters 6-7


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace