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!

CapX 2020 — It’s over, it’s done, all but the cost recovery


CapX 2020 at Highway 61 south of Wabasha

Monday, they had their CapX 2020 Love Fest at the Hampton substation, and I didn’t even get an engraved invitation.  It’s a depressing point in time — 12 years on this project — and they got all they wanted, in some places not where they wanted it, but it’s up, and so many people affected.  Having it routed somewhere, anywhere, is what they cared about, and supposedly it’s now “in-service,” though I wonder.  Is it time to have a big bonfire of all the boxes of files?

This was about the Minnesota portions, but South Dakota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin is permitted as well, the superhighway from the coal fields of the Dakotas to Madison and beyond.  Yeah, I could have camped out and crashed the party, but I had another commitment, so couldn’t spend the day hanging out waiting, watching.  Maybe I should have…

capx_hrl_energized_20160926_113428-medLeft-to-right: Mark Kotschevar, Rochester Public Utilities; Dave Geschwind, Southern MN Municipal Power Agency; Teresa Mogensen, Xcel Energy; Chris Kunkle, Wind on the Wires; Ben Porath, Dairyland Power Cooperative; Priti Patel, MISO; Tim Noeldner, WPPI Energy. From CapX Press Release

How much was “Wind on the Wires” (f/k/a Izaak Walton League) (and many other orgs?) paid for their promotion of transmission?

In the press:

STrib (is it really $2.1 billion?  Any recent reports?):

Last Minnesota leg of $2.1 billion electricity mega-project done

From WKBT (video here):

CapX2020 transmission line completed

And Wisconsin Public Radio:

Collaborative Utility Project Connects Electric Transmission From South Dakota To Wisconsin

Rochester Post-Bulletin:

Drone patrols the power line

It’s up and running — get out those gauss meters and check it out.


CapX 2020 at Hwy. 61 looking towards the Mississippi

Put on your waders — CapX 2020 Report!


It’s out, the report from U of M Humphrey School of Public Affairs about CapX 2020, headlining it as a “Model for addressing climate change.

Transmission Planning and CapX 2020: Building Trust to Build Regional Transmission Systems

Oh, please, this is all about coal, and you know it.  This is all about enabling marketing of electricity.  In fact, Xcel’s Tim Carlsbad testified most honestly that CapX 2020 was not for wind!  That’s because electrical energy isn’t ID’d by generation source, as Jimbo Alders also testified, and under FERC, discrimination in generation sources is not allowed, transmission must serve whatever is there.  And the report early on, p. 4, notes:

Both North and South Dakota have strong wind resources and North Dakota also has low-BTU lignite
coal resources that it wants to continue to use. New high-voltage transmission lines are needed to
support the Dakotas’ ability to export electricity to neighboring states.

See also: ICF-Independent Assessment MISO Benefits

Anyway, here it is, and it’s much like Phyllis Reha’s puff piece promoting CapX 2020 years ago while she was on the Public Utilities Commission, that this is the model other states should use:

MN PUC Commissioner Reha’s Feb 15 2006 presentation promoting CapX 2020

So put on your waders and reading glasses and have at it. Here’s the word on the 2005 Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell – Chapter 97 – Revisor of Statutes that gave Xcel and Co. just what they wanted, transmission as a revenue stream:


And note how opposition is addressed, countered by an organization that received how much to promote transmission.  This is SO condescending:


… and opposition discounted because it’s so technical, what with load flow studies, energy consumption trends, how could we possibly understand.  We couldn’t possibly understand… nevermind that the decreased demand we warned of, and which demonstrated lack of need, was the reality that we were entering in 2008.


And remember Steve Rakow’s chart of demand, entered at the very end of the Certificate of Need hearing when demand was at issue???  In addition to NO identification of axis values, the trend he promoted, and which was adopted by the ALJ and Commission, has NOT happened, and instead Xcel is adjusting to the “new normal” and whining that the grid is only 55% utilized in its e21 and rate case filings.  Here’s Steve Rakow’s chart:


Reality peak demand trajectory was lower than Rakow’s “slow growth” line, in fact, it’s the opposite from 2007 to present.  Suffice it to say:


Xcel’s bogus demand forecast basis for CapX

arrowdownRemember Xcel’s CapX 2020 peak demand projections of 2.49% annual increase?  How wrong can they be?  And how unjustified was their basis for a Certificate of Need for CapX 2020?  And how are they held accountable for those gross misrepresentations?  But now it’s time to pay, and who will pay?  This is why the rate case in progress, PUC Docket 15-826, is so important.

On the other hand, I love it when this happens… Xcel Peak Demand is again DOWN!  There’s a trend, and it’s called decreased demand.  Demand has yet to exceed the 2007 peak, and now it’s 8 years…


Here’s the Xcel Energy SEC 10-K filed a couple days ago:

2015 – Xcel Energy 10-K

Is it any wonder they want to get away from a cost based rate a la their “e21 Initiative” scheme?  Particularly now that the bill for CapX 2020 is coming due and their newest rate case (PUC Docket GR-15-826) is now underway?

And the specifics, and note how they inexplicably forecast a 2016 peak of 9,327, which is based on a “normal weather conditions” assumption:

2015-Xcel Peak Demand Chart

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!

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


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.


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.



Video from GRE

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on October 9, 2014 @ 10:00 am

CapX 2020 construction is marching on.  The other day I went down to Rochester and saw the structures coming out of the “North Rochester” substation heading east.

Here’s the CapX 2020 page on youtube!

In the inbox today, this well produced video from GRE, if only the subject matter wasn’t so depressing — it’s construction of the CapX 2020 Brookings-Hampton 345 kV transmission line, now almost complete:


Flo & David Minar & Cedar Summit WIN!!!

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Buy the Farm — posted by admin on August 15, 2014 @ 6:49 am


That says it all!

Here’s the full decision:

Minar Order_Buy the Farm

This is a big day, a victory for landowners who have a utility condemning their land for transmission.  Over and over, the utilities are losing, and landowners’ rights are affirmed by the court.  Yet because the utilities refuse to recognize their election of Buy the Farm (Minn. Stat. 216E.12, Subd. 4), landowners end up in a long involved and expensive legal wrangle — at what point will the court start holding utilities accountable for their abuse of process?  Because their objections are so unreasonable, utilities should be required to pay for more than landowners expenses in standing up for their rights, there should be additional damages awarded, say for “intentional infliction of emotional distress” or Rule 11 sanctions, something to wake them up to the abusive nature of their challenges.  The law is what it is, and as landowners have to continue to fight, it will probably become even more focused on landowner rights, session by legislative session, due to the utilities’ actions.

Take a few minutes today to let your state Representative and Senator know how important it is to protect landowner rights in utility condemnations and to uphold the Buy the Farm option!

State Representatives contact info

State Senators contact info

Once more with feeling: CONGRATULATIONS, DAVE AND FLO MINAR!!!!

In the STrib:

Utility must buy the farm its towers stand on, judge rules

In the Roch Post Bulletin:

‘Buy the Farm’ ruling puts Capx 2020 on the hook

And ASAP, take a trip over to Cedar Summit Farm, have a look around, check out their pasture fed organic dairy cows, and give them a big THANK YOU to let the Minar’s know that you support their efforts to preserve landowner rights.  Oh, and then there’s the milk… cheese… ice cream… and more!  They’re located just north of New Prague, on Drexel Ave. (Co. Rd. 15), just past 260th (Co. Rd. 2).





Peter Valberg, Xcel’s EMF witness, is at it again…

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Buy the Farm — posted by admin on April 26, 2014 @ 11:14 am


A version of the old “joke,” how do you know Peter Valberg, Ph.D., is lying?  His lips are moving…

Xcel Energy is challenging Florence & Dave Minar and their Cedar Summit Farm’s election of Minnesota’s Buy the Farm law, which allows landowners facing utility condemnation to say, “You must buy us out.”  This is the law in Minnesota, but Xcel Energy hasn’t gotten the message.

Subd. 4.Contiguous land.

(a) When private real property that is an agricultural or nonagricultural homestead, nonhomestead agricultural land, rental residential property, and both commercial and noncommercial seasonal residential recreational property, as those terms are defined in section 273.13 is proposed to be acquired for the construction of a site or route for a high-voltage transmission line with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more by eminent domain proceedings, the owner shall have the option to require the utility to condemn a fee interest in any amount of contiguous, commercially viable land which the owner wholly owns in undivided fee and elects in writing to transfer to the utility within 60 days after receipt of the notice of the objects of the petition filed pursuant to section 117.055. Commercial viability shall be determined without regard to the presence of the utility route or site. Within 60 days after receipt by the utility of an owner’s election to exercise this option, the utility shall provide written notice to the owner of any objection the utility has to the owner’s election, and if no objection is made within that time, any objection shall be deemed waived. Within 120 days of the service of an objection by the utility, the district court having jurisdiction over the eminent domain proceeding shall hold a hearing to determine whether the utility’s objection is upheld or rejected. The utility has the burden of proof to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property elected by the owner is not commercially viable. The owner shall have only one such option and may not expand or otherwise modify an election without the consent of the utility. The required acquisition of land pursuant to this subdivision shall be considered an acquisition for a public purpose and for use in the utility’s business, for purposes of chapter 117 and section 500.24, respectively; provided that a utility shall divest itself completely of all such lands used for farming or capable of being used for farming not later than the time it can receive the market value paid at the time of acquisition of lands less any diminution in value by reason of the presence of the utility route or site. Upon the owner’s election made under this subdivision, the easement interest over and adjacent to the lands designated by the owner to be acquired in fee, sought in the condemnation petition for a right-of-way for a high-voltage transmission line with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more shall automatically be converted into a fee taking.

(b) All rights and protections provided to an owner under chapter 117 apply to acquisition of land or an interest in land under this section.

(c) Within 120 days of an owner’s election under this subdivision to require the utility to acquire land, or 120 days after a district court decision overruling a utility objection to an election made pursuant to paragraph (a), the utility must make a written offer to acquire that land and amend its condemnation petition to include the additional land.

(d) For purposes of this subdivision, “owner” means the fee owner, or when applicable, the fee owner with the written consent of the contract for deed vendee, or the contract for deed vendee with the written consent of the fee owner.

For some reason, they hired shill Peter Valberg, Ph.D., to testify — I don’t see anything in “Buy the Farm” that makes this relevant.  Oh well…

So now, on to the “mistatements” when Valberg testified.  There were a couple of things he said that were patently false (not direct quotes, but the essence of what he falsely claimed):

The grid is 60 Hz so there’s no danger from ionizing radiation.

The EMF doesn’t transfer because it’s low frequency.

The magnetic fields were calculated at the “thermal limit” and the maximum was 100 mG at the centerline, and then decreased going outward.

1) 60 Hz — The grid is 60 Hz so there’s no danger from ionizing radiation.:

Folks, it’s basic physics, in which Valberg has a Ph.D., and basic electrical engineering, that the frequencies on the grid are NOT limited to 60 Hz and in fact go lower and go far, far higher.  Art Hughes, Ph.D. was doing research on impact of frequencies in the 1,000-1,500 Hz range when he died, in a pig barn, where he was doing the experiments.  Frequencies on the grid go up to the levels where it’s ionizing radiation.  HUH?  Yes, corona is that high, it’s ultra violet range, and it’s simple to demonstrate, just take a look at how utilities check for damage to the lines:

EPE_2013111816011292 The Ultraviolet Detection of Corona Discharge in Power Transmission Lines

Corona discharge is at that “ionizing” level, and if there is particulate matter nearby (and where isn’t there particulate matter nearby), that particulate matter picks up the ionization:

Link to abstracts of Henshaw’s corona & criteria pollutant articles

Here’s a chart of where corona shows up on the frequency spectrum: Chart

Easy to read Wiki on “corona discharge”

Here are two very interesting patent applications about corona and UV from transmission lines:



2) The EMF doesn’t transfer because it’s low frequency.

Ummmm… what does Valberg think line loss is?  And corona and line loss is a significant problem for utilities.  They use the corona detectors, as above, to find sources of major losses:

EPE_2013111816011292 The Ultraviolet Detection of Corona Discharge in Power Transmission Lines

3) The magnetic fields were calculated at the “thermal limit” and the maximum was 100 mG at the centerline, and then decreased going outward.

And let’s take a look at the magnetic field levels as addressed in the CapX 2020 Brookings-Hampton routing docket, because the levels were certainly not calculated for the “thermal limit,” as Valberg testified yesterday, they were calculated for at most 1/3 of the thermal limit amperage:

Affidavit of Bruce McKay

From the Brookings-Hampton application, pages 3-20 to 3-22, and look at the amps (click chart for larger pdf):


Now, note the range of amps, 1005.9, 841, 826.7 are the highest I see, but look at the thermal limits, and folks, this is IN THE CAPX 2020 CERTIFICATE OF NEED RECORD:

Schedin IR 3

In this Information Request response, they admit that the thermal limit for amps for this line is much greater than 1,000:


So building on these numbers, from the Affidavit of Bruce McKay above:



As Miss Helen Lee Murphy’s math teacher friend would agree, 390.71 mG and 304.92 mG are both above 100 mG.

Some other similar mG transmission posts — do you see a trend?

CapX Hampton – La Crosse – Affidavit – Bruce McKay

Hiawatha Project — McKay Affidavit and Exhibits – Final

Here is a chart from the Split Rock-Lakefield Jct. line with various conductor sizes with voltages, amps, and MVA:

Ex 35 App 7 Conductor spec

Some past posts about Valberg:

The ongoing saga of the Fargo-St. Cloud transmission line

CapX info dump in the Fargo docket (another McKay Affidavit here)

Peter Valberg, stop it!  It’s a matter of record, and you’re misrepresenting at best:


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace