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:


Hampton substation going up!

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on July 9, 2013 @ 8:58 am

I’ve been keeping an eye on the Hampton substation location, flags went up, trucks parked, and the other day when I went up to St. Paul, dirt was being moved around.  You can see it on Hwy. 52, north of Hampton, at 215th Street:




Tuesday – Gov’s Environmental Review meetings begin!

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Fargo-St Cloud,Uncategorized — posted by admin on November 25, 2012 @ 11:11 am

Starts in Rochester on Tuesday MORNING at 9:30 a.m.  Whose brilliant idea was that, who can show up at 9:30 a.m. on a Tuesday?

How did this slashing of environmental review, started under Pawlenty, continue under Gov. Mark Dayton?  It started right after Dayton got into office, with Executive Order 11-04:

E.O. 11-04 Establishing Goals and Procedures to Ensure that Certain Environmental Permits are Issued More Efficiently

That E.O. pushed the MPCA and DNR to ram through permits through FAST (and delay has NOT been a demonstrable problem, because the delays have been caused by applicants not providing required information) as if that “improves” environmental review.

And then comes Gov. Dayton’s Executive Order 11-32, which started this round:

Executive Order 11-32

He’s pushing for “streamlining” and those words are just so wrongheaded.  And they way he’s doing it, all this activity at the EQB making recommendations on “improving environmental review” and “governance and coordination” BEFORE they have the public meetings and this “Environmental Congress.”  So tell me, how is it that the fix isn’t in, and we’re now going through the motions after it’s already a done deal?  Do tell, how are these “oh-so-proud we’re DFL” Democrats any better than the “strip-the-funding-until-regulation-collapses” Republicans?  It’s bad news any way you look at it.

But yes, let’s look at it.

Here’s what the EQB released last week.  Deputy Commissioner Bill Grant (Settlement Agreement – ME3(Fresh Energy), Izaak Walton League, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, North American Water Office) now in charge of Energy Facilities Permitting, and Matt Langan (who now works for Xcel, so two different sources have said, way to go Matt… sigh… after blowing environmental review on CapX Hampton-La Crosse, omitting transmission where there’s a HUGE corridor, and saying there’s transmission where there is none, GOOD JOB!) were to do the “Report Card.”  They have no business doing any such thing, are uniquely disqualified.  But Matt left, leaving Bill Grant… that environmental review is in any way in his hands is disturbing.

Reading the Evaluation and Recommendations for Improving Environmental Review, maybe the Comments got through to some extent.  The ultimate recommendations are better than the draft, for sure.

OH MY!  The Recommendations for Environmental Governance and Coordination are even better, recommending no changes to recognizing that there isn’t sufficient staff to do the work.  The MPCA part could still be a problem, as it recommends MPCA address how to change, so keep on it!

Some of the meetings are this week, starting Tuesday at TOO EARLY O’CLOCK!  It looks to me that Ellen Anderson is doing for Dayton what Mike Bull did for Pawlenty (well, among other things), these dog and pony shows across the state.  I’ve been passing out handouts about this hoping to get folks to turn out and give them a piece of their mind about what “improvement” of environmental review should mean.   Handout – RW Forum

Blue Check Mark November 27 – Rochester, Wood Lake Meeting Center 9:30am – 12:00pm

Blue Check Mark November 27 – Bloomington, Normandale Community College 6:30pm – 9:00pm

Blue Check Mark November 28 – Duluth, Lake Superior College 5:30pm – 8:00pm

Blue Check Mark December 10 – Worthington, Worthington High School 3:30pm – 6:00pm

Blue Check Mark December 12 – St. Cloud, Stearns County Service Center 5:30pm – 8:00pm

Blue Check Mark December 14 – Moorhead, Minnesota State University 3:00pm – 5:30pm

Response from Xcel about Info Requests


Recently, well, October 10, 2012, I sent a request to Xcel Energy for their contracts referenced in their latest Compliance Filing, specifically for each project the

Correspondence to Xcel Energy and MN Dept of Commerce Oct 10, 2012

Correspondence to Public Utilities Commission October 10, 2012

What was I asking for?  I asked Xcel Energy and the Dept. of Commerce to:

Please provide any and all New, Amended and/or Restated Project Participation Agreements, Construction Management Agreements, Transmission Capacity Exchange Agreements, and Operation and Maintenance Agreements for all segments of the CapX 2020 transmission project covered under the above-numbered Certificate of Need docket, including but not limited to Brookings –Hampton; Fargo – St. Cloud; St. Cloud – Monticello; and Hampton – Rochester – La Crosse. Please do not include those agreements filed in Appendix B of the original Certificate of Need application.

I got a response from Commerce that they had no such agreements, and it was good to get that confirmation of what I’d suspected.

More interesting, though, is that Xcel Energy, using way too many words, refuses to disclose, saying that it is “untimely and seeks confidential trade secret information that is not necessary for review of Xcel Energy’s compliance filings in this docket.”   They have made other compliance filings, and, well, it’s true, I just did this now, because a few thoughts occurred to me reading their most recent compliance filing, and if you recall, folks, I’m just one person here with office assistants without opposable thumbs, three CapX appeals, an Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court, Goodhue Wind, and a hospice dog who needs help to get up the stairs, outside, and requires regular baths.  Sometimes it takes a while to get to things, sometimes it takes a while for something to sink in.  I do it when I can, and I did it.  And they don’t like it.  Oh well, guess that means I’m going to have to dig a little deeper.

Here’s their response:

Xcel Energy Response to Information Request

And it seems their collective memory needs to be refreshed:

Finally, to the extent CETF seeks to propound discovery, such request is improper because CETF is not a party in this docket.


CETF Intervention Petition

Pre-Hearing Order – Granting CETF & MISO Petitions to Intervene – PUC Docket 06-1115

Citizens Energy Task Force is indeed a party to this docket.  So here we go again, once more with feeling:

No CapX 2020, U-CAN and CETF Comment – October 24, 2012

From the resistance, looks like Xcel Energy realizes the importance of these documents!  Onward!

Barr Engineering Complaint Before PUC Oct 4th


This Thursday, the PUC will be taking my the NoCapX 2020 Complaint against Barr Engineering of Conflict of Interest… again.


PUC staff recommendation is “no jurisdiction” and not action by PUC other than saying “no jurisdiction.”

PUC Staff Briefing Papers – October 4, 2012 Meeting

Here’s the filings on this — and no word from Barr Engineering on this, and they’re the respondent, together with Dept. of Commerce.  Not a peep from either of them.

Conflict of Interest Complaint Against Barr Engineering

Staff Briefing Papers for Barr Engineering Complaint, Sept 13, 2012 Meeting

Letter and Amended Complaint – September 10, 2012

Condemnation Notices going out

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Fargo-St Cloud,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Laws & Rules — posted by admin on August 28, 2012 @ 12:15 pm


Duck and cover!  Condemnation notices are being served for the CapX 2020 Brookings-Hampton transmission line in the Redwood Falls area.

IF YOU ARE SERVED WITH A NOTICE OF CONDEMNATION GET LEGAL COUNSEL RIGHT AWAY. Do NOT sit in this, it will not go away, and there is no venue for fighting this line, it is over and done, it is coming.  You need legal help because this moves fast, the Quick Take is just that, they take it and they do it quickly.

If you are considering Buy the Farm, talk to an attorney who can advise you about it, and do it quickly.  QUICKLY, FAST.  DO NOT IGNORE THE NOTICE.  There is only a 60 day window from the date you are served to properly elect the Buy the Farm option.

It’s important to get legal counsel because Xcel’s land acquisition people have been trying to limit what compensation landowners can get.  There have been cases in the District Court on the St. Cloud-Monticello line, where landowners won, and then Xcel dragged it to Appellate Court (hey, can’t have landowners win, after all),  and the Appellate Court tossed out the landowners win, so now it’s headed to the Supreme Court.

Wright County Order – July 13, 2011

Buy the Farm – NSP v. Aleckson, Pudas, Hanson, et al.

This is a serious problem for landowners, and many of the clients I represent are very concerned and looking at options to help.

PLEASE, again, if you’ve been served, do NOT delay in getting legal counsel.  And caution, I’ve seen evidence in both Minnesota and Wisconsin of non-attorneys jumping into the fray and taking landowners money to “represent” them in condemnation proceedings, and that’s UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW, and worse, landowners have been screwed.  Make sure you’re dealing with an attorney licensed to practice in your state and who has eminent domain experience.

Complaints about Unauthorized Practice of Law should be sent to:

Minnesota – Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility

FERC says Xcel owns % of Badger-Coulee

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Fargo-St Cloud,Uncategorized — posted by admin on July 23, 2012 @ 5:42 am

American Transmission Company just got slapped upside the head by FERC in the Order that came out Friday.  ATC claimed that IT was the owner of Badger-Coulee, the extension of CapX 2020 transmission from La Crosse to Madison (dashed line):


It’s the part of CapX that we know is connected, it’s a part of CapX that the Minnesota PUC’s ALJ’s Heydinger (Certificate of Need) and Sheehy (Hampton-LaX routing in MN) wouldn’t let us address in the dockets even though it’s obviously part of the plan, always has been, and it was demonstrated in the Wisconsin PSC proceeding that Hampton-LaX doesn’t do anything noteworthy without Badger-Coulee… and so during that Wisconsin hearing, Xcel Energy finally admitted the “necessity” of Badger-Coulee to its CapX plans:

Hearing Ex. 13, Big Picture Map

So here’s what FERC had to say, that Xcel Energy wins, in technicolor:

Order Granting Complaint (FERC’s language!)

Statement from FERC Chair Norris

Bottom line:

We disagree with American Transmission’s argument that MISO does not have the authority to require American Transmission to share the La Crosse-Madison Line with Xcel. Under the Tariff, MISO is responsible for approving a regional expansion plan that designates the transmission owners responsible for particular facilities.1 In similar vein, Wisconsin Commission avers that Wisconsin state law controls the ownership of the La Crosse-Madison Line. Although we do not dispute Wisconsin Commission’s statement that a prospective builder must receive a CPCN in order to build transmission facilities in Wisconsin, the issue before the Commission is whether the Transmission Owners Agreement requires American Transmission and Xcel to share responsibility for the La Crosse-Madison Line and whether MISO has appropriately exercised its designation authority in a manner consistent with the Transmission Owners Agreement and the Tariff – not whether a prospective builder must receive a CPCN in order to build transmission facilities in Wisconsin. We find that the Transmission Owners Agreement does require MISO transmission owners to share responsibility for interconnecting facilities and that MISO has exercised its designation authority in accordance with the Transmission Owners Agreement and the Tariff in designating both American Transmission and Xcel as the parties responsible for the La Crosse-Madison Line.

Buy the Farm at MN Appellate Court

Filed under:Appeal,Brookings Routing Docket,Cost Recovery,Fargo-St Cloud,FERC,Nuts & Bolts,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on May 21, 2012 @ 2:50 pm


Last week, Thursday to be precise, the “Buy the Farm” provision under the Power Plant Siting Act and Northern States Power’s challenge to compensation avenues available to landowners electing the “Buy the Farm option under Minn. Stat. 216E.12, Subd. 4 was at the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

This case stems from the St. Cloud to Monticello part of the Fargo to Monticello transmission line, the first to be permitted.  Now they’re trying to take the land.  The focus of the case is the landowners’ right to relocation compensation and other compensation, available both under Minn. Stat. ch. 117 (Minn. Stat.117.187 and 117.152), the Minnesota Uniform Relocation Act and federal law.  I don’t have a copy of the Stearns County District Court Order being appealed, but I do have a similar order that was issued in Wright County, reference in this brief:

Wright County Order – July 13, 2011

Here’s the court’s page for this case.


And here are the briefs, special thanks to a little birdie (and no thanks to our friends at NSP!):

Appellants NSP, et al., Initial Brief

Appellants NSP, et al., Initial Brief – Appendix

Respondents Enos Pudas – Brief

Respondents Hanson Stich – Brief

Appellants NSP, et al., Reply Brief and Supplemental Appendix

This case is in the news, as well it should be, it is THE appellate case of the year:

Landowners seek fair compensation for impact of CapX power line

May. 19, 2012

ROCKVILLE — Ken and Tess Koltes know the power line is coming, and they can’t stop it.

They know it’s not going to matter much whether they agree to the amount of money offered by the utility companies for the right to run the CapX 2020 line across their century dairy farm in St. Joseph Township, or whether they fight until the bitter end for every last dime.

Still, the Kolteses aren’t ready to go away quietly.

They have to live with the high-voltage transmission line scarring their rolling farm for the rest of their lives and the lives of their two sons, who started milking cows with them just two years ago. So they’re choosing to make it as difficult for the power companies as they can.

“We’ve got to do what we can,” Ken Koltes said. “We’re a small cog in the wheel, but we’ve got to try.”

The couple is among scores of Stearns and Wright county landowners caught up in a complicated legal process the CapX utilities are using to secure the land they need to build the 238-mile power line from Monticello to Fargo, N.D.

The condemnation process can be lengthy, expensive and sometimes daunting for landowners. It’s been used countless times to secure land for highways, buildings and pipelines, but rarely for high-voltage transmission lines.

In fact, this is the first time in four decades Stearns County has seen land condemned for a power line. And it’s the first test of a law passed in 1973 that allows landowners to force utility companies to buy their entire property rather than live beneath a high-voltage transmission line — an option known as “Buy the Farm.” That option has sparked legal debate and a case heard last week by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

“This is new to almost everybody involved,” said Igor Lenzner, an attorney with Rinke Noonan, a St. Cloud law firm representing dozens of landowners in CapX condemnation cases.

What makes this time different, observers say, is the sheer number of landowners and properties involved and the complexity of the cases, as well as the emotional nature of the cases.

“Nobody wants somebody to come and say, ‘Guess what? We’re buying and you’re selling. You don’t have a choice,’ ” Lenzner said.


Hampton-Roch-LaX at MN PUC tomorrow!

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Fargo-St Cloud,Uncategorized — posted by admin on April 11, 2012 @ 8:38 am

Tomorrow is THE day for the Minnesota side of the CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse transmission project.

Meeting Notice – April 12, 2012

Notice the notice says “North Route Citizens Alliance?”  Hello — that was Fargo, and this is Hampton-LaCrosse and it’s the North Route Group NRG)! That’s supposed to have been corrected, we shall see.  Yes, it MATTERS!

The meetings starts at 9:30, and the only item on the agenda is this project:

PUC 3rd Floor Hearing Room

121 – 7th Place East

St. Paul, MN  55101

It’s also webcast  live:  CLICK HERE TO WATCH

Here’s the ALJ’s Recommendation:

ALJ Sheehy’s Recommendation

And here’s what the Commerce subdivision formerly known as MOES recommends:

Commerce Staff Recommendation

Only two parties filed Exceptions to the ALJ’s Recommendation:

NRG U-CAN NoCapX Exceptions

Applicant Xcel Exceptions to ALJ Recommendation

Eagle injured by transmission line

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on December 30, 2011 @ 12:48 pm


An  eagle has been injured at the transmission line crossing the Minnesota River — where CapX 2020’s Brookings-Hampton routing permit said it could cross.

Just in, from the Belle Plaine Police Department’s Facebook page:

Thank you to City Council member Cary Coop for notifying us of an injured eagle that had struck some power lines, by the Minnesota River about 1/4 mile west of the Highway 25 bridge. We were able to respond with him and locate the eagle which appeared to be breathing, but seriously injured. Critter Getters was called to respond and we assisted in transporting the eagle through the woods and to awaiting transport. The eagle was brought to the Raptor Center for care. I just received word that they will be able to rehabilitate the eagle and it will make a full recovery. To us this is important, as we wear the symbol of the eagles wings on all our badges which stand for freedom and justice and the readiness to defend it for all.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace