RUS Comments are DUE!

Filed under:Nuts & Bolts,RUS EIS — posted by admin on July 24, 2009 @ 11:54 am

Here’s the official poop from Stephanie Strength, USDA’s RUS:

When the deadline falls on a weekend, comments will be accepted postmarked the following business day or emailed through midnight of that day. In this case that would be Monday July 27, 2009. That said, it generally takes at least a month to prepare the scoping report and comments coming in past the close of the comment period will be incorporated as much as is practicable. Comments not considered in the scoping report will be carried forward into the public comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

That means your comments will be accepted if you:

  • email 11:59 p.m. Saturday, July 25th (why a Saturday deadline?)

email by 11:59 p.m. Saturday to:

  • Mail and have POSTMARKED sometime on Monday

Mail, postmarked no later than Monday, to:

Stephanie Strength
Environmental Protection Specialist
USDA, Rural Utilities Service
Engineering and Environmental Staff
1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Stop 1571

Washington, DC 20250-1571

It seems that comments after the deadline may also be incorporated, but it’s not certain.  Sooooo… get them in.

That said, I’ve been nosing around on the internet again, and am finding some interesting tidbits, like this one going way back, showing the intent of CapX as an integrated unit:

Legislative Electric Energy Task Force – Utility Perspective – Sept. 14, 2004

And then there’s the Cerificate of Need Scoping Decision for the “Environmental Report” that side-stepped joint environmental review with the RUS by flat out lying about the potential for RUS EIS:

CoN Environmental Report – Scope

July 25th – RUS Comments on Scope of EIS due

Filed under:RUS EIS — posted by admin on July 21, 2009 @ 9:13 am


It’s coming soon — Friday — Comments are due to the Rural Utilities Service on the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement for the CapX 2020 project — so let them know what you think should be addressed.

I know, it’s redundant, but this is important, just a few days left.

Send Comments to:

Stephanie Strength
Environmental Protection Specialist
USDA, Rural Utilities Service
Engineering and Environmental Staff
1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Stop 1571
Washington, DC 20250-1571

More CapX 2020 in the news… errr… NO CapX!

Filed under:News coverage,RUS EIS,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on July 3, 2009 @ 8:15 pm

In the Red Wing Republican Beagle (picked up from the Kenyon Leader):

Transmission line proposal floors some area residents

And in the Houston County News:

Feds make entrance into CapX 2020

By Ryan Stotts of the Houston County News

The U.S. Agricultural Department’s Rural Utilities Service officially has begun looking into the proposed CapX2020 high-voltage line project.

The federal agency hosted a meeting June 23 at La Crescent’s American Legion to collect public comment and explain the review process.

The service will do a single environmental impact statement for the project, said Stephanie Strength of the RUS, which will be the lead federal agency on the project.

Dairyland Power Cooperative had approached the RUS about financing its portion of the project, an estimated 11 percent, she said.

It will take at least two years to complete the federal review and make a funding decision, she said.

Dairyland first asked the agency about funding at least three years ago, said Chuck Thompson of Dairyland Power. It would take Dairyland 30 to 35 years to repay the approximately $50 million needed.

The environmental impact statement, including comments from the meeting, likely will be completed by summer 2010, followed by a public hearing, Strength said.

Tim Carlsgaard, of CapX2020, said they have identified dual routes for the 345-kilovolt power lines along existing routes into La Crosse, Winona or Alma, Wis., but a preferred route has not been chosen.

Also yet to be determined is where the lines would cross the Mississippi River, he said.

Lines could run along or just north of Interstate 90, then cross south into La Crescent, he said.

If the lines go into Winona, he said, the route could run through agricultural land north of I-90. The Alma route would run through farmland north of Plainview.

A routing permit application will likely be filed some time in the fall, Carlsgaard said, and that will start a 12- to 15-month process when more public meetings will be held.

Early in the process, he said, after the Office of Energy Security has a chance to review the application, people will be able to propose and suggest alternative routes.

“Whether it’s just a small segment,” Carlsgaard said, “a small area, or 20 miles, or whatever it is.”

On the Wisconsin side, he said, a single routing and need permit will likely be filed before the end of the year.

Jeremy Chipps, of the Citizens Energy Task Force, said the massive project isn’t needed — and the group has petitioned the state to look into whether it should be built.

Chipps said even the most “sophisticated electric minds” in the industry, on a state and federal level, are doubting the efficacy of such a project.

He believes localized renewable energy should be investigated and analyzed, he said.

But, Chipps said, the truth is “the country lacks the very analytical tools to do the research to find out what our needs will even be.”

With federal coffers now being opened to fund the project, the decreasing demand for power, as well as safer alternatives than CapX2020, should be scrutinized, he said.

Gene Semin of La Crescent Township said he supports the project, even though he already has two large power lines in front of his house.

“We’re going to need the electrical power in this country to develop our manufacturing base so that our economy can recover,” Semin said.

And finally, last night in Fountain City…

Filed under:RUS EIS,Wisconsin — posted by admin on June 26, 2009 @ 10:14 am



The Comment deadline has been extended, no formal notice, but heard it verbally and in writing from Stephanie Strength herself!

Send Comments to:

Stephanie Strength
Environmental Protection Specialist
USDA, Rural Utilities Service
Engineering and Environmental Staff
1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Stop 1571
Washington, DC 20250-1571
(202) 720-0468


As to last night’s meeting in Fountain City, well, close, it was the Cochrane-Fountain City, at the High School, and afterwards, at the Monarch Tavern.

It was same old, same old, with fewer people, maybe fewer than even St. Charles.  That’s disappointing, but oh well, we’re done!

For suggestions for Comments on the EIS Scope:

Comment Suggestions – Scope EIS

We’ll keep you posted with news as this goes forward.

And last night in Galesville…

Filed under:RUS EIS,Upcoming Events,Wisconsin — posted by admin on June 25, 2009 @ 2:33 pm


This scene was just outside the door of the Galesville/Centerville Community Center where RUS held the CapX 2020 scoping open house yesterday.  It really was that beautiful, and corn chest high on June 24, the growing season is way ahead, getting more so all the time.  We ran into the nastiest storm with the weirdest shaped clouds, feather fingers dangling down, not at all smooth spinning tornado like, but columns falling down with feathers reaching out.  The front was extreme, super windy and tree branches blowing all over, we were running late and this didn’t help, but it was a fun storm to be in.  By the time we got to Galesville, it was long gone.

But quick, get to work, and chat with everyone coming in — between the CETF person at the door and NoCapX just inside in the hallway, we made them run the gauntlet before CapX even saw the whites of their eyes!

Here are all the handouts, in a bunch:

Comment Suggestions – Scope EIS


Mortgage Companies taking eminent domain compensation

OK, now on to Fountain City!

The deadline for comments has been extended to July 25th, BUT I don’t have a formal announcement yet.  Do have it in writing from Stephanie Strength.  I’ll post the official Notice.

“One would think” it’s because of the good meeting attendance, eh?

Brookings EIS scoping… “the response… was massive.”

Filed under:RUS EIS — posted by admin on June 24, 2009 @ 1:31 pm

Well, DUH!  What do you expect when they threaten to take away land from so many people?

This is a hectic time in CapX 2020 land…

The Scoping Decision for the Brookings line routing docket EIS was due MONDAY, and so TODAY, two days later, MOES writes to the judge to say they aren’t ready, don’t have it done, and won’t have it done until the end of June.

MOES Letter to ALJ Luis re: failure to deliver EIS Scope



The vultures are coming home to roost…

I thought we all were supposed to comply with the Judge’s Orders.  I guess deadlines are now optional.

Press coverage of RUS meetings

Filed under:News coverage,RUS EIS — posted by admin on @ 12:51 pm

nocapxherePhoto by Kay Fate/Kenyon Leader

Public gets the chance to comment on high voltage power lines

Hey, got plastered across the screen!!!

From WXOW 19

Deadline approaching for CapX 2020 concerns

From the Cannon Falls Beacon:

High voltage power line headed for Hwy 52?

Comment section here, LaCrosse Tribune:

Federal utilities group to begin review of CapX 2020 project

And from the Kenyon Leader:

Power line irks residents

Kay Fate-The Kenyon Leader

WANAMINGO — Barb St. John attended the public scoping meeting about the CapX2020 transmission lines last week, “basically as a (Holden) township official,” she said, “because we didn’t know the route” the lines would take.

On the way in to the Wanamingo Community Center, “I met one of my neighbors, and she said, ‘boy, am I relieved. It’s not going to be on my property,’ ” St. John remembers. “I said, ‘oh, where is it going?’ and followed her back inside.”

Where it was going, it turned out, was right down St. John’s own property line in Holden Township.

She’d had no idea.

“Ambushed,” she said, “is a pretty good word for it.

“We’d all gotten a notification about a month ago,” she said, “but it was kind of a broad thing.”

Nowhere on the notice, St. John said, did she see her property singled out as part of the transmission line route. But as a township official, she knew of the possibility.

“We’d talked about it a little at the township level,” she said, “but I don’t think they were aware (then) of this route.”

Last week’s meeting in Wanamingo — which drew nearly 250 people — was designed by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to allow input for an environmental impact statement, a project requirement.

The CapX2020 utilities are proposing the construction of a 345-kilovolt electric transmission line and associated facilities to run between Hampton and Rochester. The proposal included the 345 kV transmission line from a substation near Hampton to a proposed substation in north Rochester, then on to a new or existing substation near La Crosse, Wis.

The transmission line poles, which will be placed anywhere from 800 to 1,000 feet apart, will be 8 to 10 feet in diameter.

Xcel Energy is the lead utility for the proposal.

The route St. John saw isn’t set in stone, cautioned Tim Carlsgaard, communications manager for CapX2020.

The final route will be determined sometime in the fall, he said.

The large turnout in Wanamingo was because “we had narrowed down the proposed route options from many to few,” Carlsgaard said. “We have to provide the state with at least two route options for this project. If you’re in that Wanamingo area, you’re going to see it — either on Hwy. 52 or parallel to (Hwy.) 56.”

Once the certificate of route is presented to the state, it will be “another 12- to 15-month process with public meetings and public hearings,” he said. Even then, landowners or township residents “may present the state with their own route option.”

When the final route has been determined by the state, “we’ll talk to the landowner about acquiring an easement, a right-of-way,” Carlsgaard said.

In addition to a one-time payment for the land use, other compensation could include crop-damage or compaction. The amount paid “would depend on how many structures are on the property. We need to compensate them fairly, and be diligent about pole placement,” Carlsgaard said.

The $2 billion project must obtain approval from state and federal agencies before it can be built.

Its supporters say the project is necessary “to expand the electric transmission grid to meet the increasing demand for power.”

Not true, said one of its most vocal opponents.

“There’s a brain-washing going on here,” said Carol Overland, an attorney from Red Wing who specializes in transmission and energy issues.

“I’m getting a really strong sense that this line isn’t needed,” she said. “The Xcel (energy) demand from 2007 and 2008 dropped 11 percent. Not each year, but total. They’d planned for a 2.5 percent hike each year; that’s a 16 percent swing in demand.”

The study used by Xcel to predict demand, Overland said, “was based on 2004 information, and that’s all. It stops at 2004. They’re trying to say this (decrease) is a blip on the radar, but no, it’s been going on for years.”

Her passion about energy got its start in, of all places, Kenyon.

“After law school, I ended up in Kenyon,” Overland said. “I was just about destitute; I lived above Nygaard’s (Repair) there on Main Street. City hall was just across the street then.”

In 1994, a call was put out for a committee’s input about where to put nuclear waste from Prairie Island.

Overland responded.

“I just went as a regular old person,” she said, “not as a lawyer.”

The experience was what got her involved in nuclear energy; the rest followed naturally, she said.

CapX2020, Overland believes, “is the biggest thing to come down the pike; 80,000 landowners in Minnesota will be affected.”

At least one, of course, is St. John, who calls the project “unfortunate for farmers; it’ll break up their farmland.”

She asked a CapX official at the Wanamingo meeting why the project would be going through the middle of (farmland) sections.

“He told me, ‘because there’s too many houses along the road,’ ” St. John said. “So it’s too dangerous to go near houses, but you’ll put it over my land? He said no, he didn’t mean that, but that’s what it seemed to imply.”

For the time being, she said, “I’m just gathering information and informing the rest of Holden Township about this. People say, ‘well, how would you like it if you didn’t have any electricity?’ And I tell them, this electricity isn’t even for us, it’s going over us.”

The federal officials “want some substantial reasons for why (the project) would change the environment,” St. John said. “We’ve spent all these years conserving energy, and now it’s coming in and stepping on us.”

For her part, Overland is challenging the project on its entire basis.

The EIS process alone is predicted to take at least two years, which she said “gives me hope that it will be thorough.” That’s not enough, though.

“Some people say, ‘well, it’s OK, as long as there are conditions, if it goes somewhere else.’ Well, no; then that means it’s OK. That means it’s going to go through someone’s property. We need to start better conservation policies, more renewable energy sources,” she said.

St. John said her neighbors will be hearing from her.

“We were totally unaware that this route was cemented in,” she said. “I just want them to know that there’s a big red line going right through Holden Township, and it looks pretty specific to me.”

Last night in LaCrosse

Filed under:RUS EIS,Wisconsin — posted by admin on @ 8:07 am

This is a high mileage week, yesterday, LaCrosse, today Galesville, and tomorrow Fountain City.

It was a sparse gathering yesterday. I’d expected a better turnout because of the proximity to LaCrosse and that it was a larger city than others, and hopefully more organized, but noooooooo… The good news was that I got to meet people I’ve been in contact with and hear their story in person, connect a face with a voice.

Once more with feeling, here are suggestions for the scope of the EIS — things to ask RUS to cover:

Comment Suggestions – Scope EIS


The comment date has been extended, but I haven’t got anything official, I’ll post when it comes out, so, for now, let’s use the former deadline, June 29, 2009 — send Comments to:

Stephanie Strength
Environmental Protection Specialist
USDA, Rural Utilities Service
Engineering and Environmental Staff
1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Stop 1571
Washington, DC 20250-1571
(202) 720-0468


Yesterday, I brought in the CapX 2020 flyer that I find so objectionable — they didn’t have any of them at the St. Charles meeting, but they were there again last night — so I showed it to Stephanie Strength, RUS, and gave her a copy of it and a copy of the NoCapX flyer with the 2000-2008 Xcel system peak demand showing MAJOR decrease in demand, called over Tim Carlsgaard to register my complaint, Grant Stevenson got into the act too, and Stephanie said she’ll check it out.  Uh-huh — all the materials they have on display were supposedly approved by USDA/RUS.  That means that it should be true and correct, eh?  Right…  those flyers should be dumped in the recycling NOW!

Here’s that CapX 2020 flyer:

CapX-Electric Usage Continues to Climb

In short, it’s a bunch of crap… here’s the real poop from Xcel:


And here’s my handout about it from last night showing the above drop in electricity with the citations:


Xcel 2008 10-K

Xcel 2005 10-K

Xcel 2002 10-K


Alan had some good chats, he enjoys talking with these guys, particularly engineers.

St. Charles last night

Filed under:RUS EIS — posted by admin on June 19, 2009 @ 10:10 am


Last night, Stephanie Strength of the USDA’s RUS, announced that I would not be allowed to set up my little display, above, in the same room as CapX.  Must be the revolutionary stuff I’m handing out:

Comment Suggestions – Scope EIS

Buy the Farm – Minn. Stat. 216E.12

She said that though I’d been no problem the prior two nights, she’d checked with the head honcho, and they’d decided that I should not be allowed to set up in the meeting room, that I could set up anywhere in the hall.  But wait — the RUS has no rules regarding this, so she told Alan.  They have at least 10 displays, probably more, they have SIXTEEN PEOPLE, they have two or three computers set up to print out maps for landowners, they have three tables piled high wtih projects maps that are at least 6×8 feet, and I’m little ol’ me with one table and display board and a few hastily printed out handouts.  Not exactly even there…

So what’s their basis?  She said that if she let me in, then if anyone else would come, she’d have to let them in too, and they didn’t want any disruption, that people had to hear (HUH?  Where’s the disruption?  Who can’t hear?  If there’s disruption, then deal with disruption.  This is not the way to do it — it’s the same theory the St. Paul Police and Sheriff Fletcher were operating on with the RNC, raid first to prevent disruption, wholly unconstitutional).  It was clear that that was the new rule.  Offensive, but not worth a trip to jail about.

Thing is, she’s said that in her 10 years with RUS, no one has ever done this before, a fact that I find so strange, I’ve been setting up displays wherever there are meetings and hearings, for how long, following project proponents around the state.  I cannot believe that no one else has done this.  The DOE knows from the Mesaba Project that “this is how we do it in Minnesota!”  But then, where is everyone on this project?  No other intervenors have bothered to show up.  What gives?

Methinks that Grant Stevenson had best hurry up with my official CapX nametag, with “NO” scribbled in front of “CapX.”


Anyway, the front hall had its advantages.  Rather than sit back and passively wait for people to stop by, I got to have at least a little discussion with everyone coming and going, so it might even be better!!!  I got a lot of sheets handed out, although the turnout was not as good in St. Charles as it was in Plainview and Wanamingo.   It was looking like it might rain, though it didn’t, so a guy doing music on Main Street was set up in the room next door, and I got to play usher.  “Are you here for the music (indicating door on R) or the song and dance (indicating ahead, to CapX)?”  Many went off to the music on the right with NoCapX 2020 flyers in hand, including the Music Man!

Another thing, the first night, CapX had a flyer with a subheading about “ever increasing demand for electricity” and I couldn’t find that flyer last night.  What gives?  I know it was there somewhere, and hey, I want to object!

All but 10 of  the “Buy the Farm” flyers are gone…

Next week, LaCrescent, Galesville and Fountain City:

June 23, 2009   6-8 p.m.
La Crescent American Legion
509 N. Chestnut
La Crescent, Minnesota

June 24, 2009   6-8 p.m.
Centerville/Town of Trempealeau Community Center
W24854 State Road 54/93
Galesville, Wisconsin

June 25, 2009   6-8 p.m.
Cochrane-Fountain City High School
S2770 State Road 35
Fountain City, Wisconsin

Be there or be square!

Comments can be sent, by June 29, to:

Stephanie Strength
Environmental Protection Specialist
Rural Utilities Service
Engineering and Environmental Staff
Independence Avenue, SW., Stop 1571
Washington, DC 20250-1571
(202) 720-0468



Wanamingo – another well-attended RUS EIS meeting

Filed under:RUS EIS — posted by admin on June 17, 2009 @ 8:12 pm


There’s “larger than life” Joyce Osborn, United Citizens Action Network, at the Wanamingo meeting tonight, where RUS was holding an open house to gather public comments for their Environmental Impact Statement.  Oh, nevermind, it’s a MINATURE turbine…

Tonight, there were about 200 people — Stephanie Strength said that last night’s crowd in Plainview was MORE than 200!  It was a good gathering and I got to meet a lot of people I’ve been corresponding with but never met, and Joyce and Judy from U-CAN (United Citizens Action Network) were there and I overheard someone telling Joyce how much she’d appreciated her comments at the Cannon Falls PUC Public Hearing, that she really went at it and said what needed to be said!  That kind of statement makes this battle a lot easier!

If you want to be added to my email notice list, drop me a line — you know how to find me!!!


Here are some suggestions for Comments – feel free to use them, expand on them, apply them to your situation (I cannot get links to work in this doc, so you’ll probably have to cut and paste them into browser):

Comment Suggestions – Scope EIS

And here’s a perennial favorite that I can’t ever print enough of:

Buy the Farm – Minn. Stat. 216E.12

Here are the primary documents to use for Commenting on the EIS:

Federal Register Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS

Alternative Evaluation Study (it’s BIG)

Macro Corridor Study (it’s BEYOND BIG)

Broken down Macro Corridor Study:

Chapters 1-4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6-7



previous page · next page