Badger-Coulee Circuit Ct. Oral Arguments Monday!

Filed under:Appeal,Wisconsin — posted by admin on October 4, 2016 @ 7:57 am

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The Town of Holland has challenged the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s Badger-Coulee transmission project decision, where they issued a Final Order 05-ce-142 and permit for this transmission line.

1:45 p.m. on Monday, October 10, 2016

Town of Holland — Circuit Court Hearing

La Crosse Circuit Court

Branch 3 –  Courthouse & Law Enforcement Center

333 Vine Street

La Crosse, WI

Here are the Town of Holland’s Briefs and PSC and utility responses:

Holland Initial Brief June 20, 2016  Court File: 15-cv-219

PSC Brief in Opposition to Petition for Judicial Review   August 11, 2016

Intervenors Response Brief   August 15, 2016

Holland Reply Brief   September 21, 2016

Interveners Motion to Strike Brief  September 29, 2016

Holland’s Response to Intervenor to Respondent’s Motion to Strike   October 3, 2016

MISO Brief  October 3, 2016

Lots to read to be able to make informed comments… so let’s get to it!

Michael Kauper and Town of Holland Circuit Court Decision

Filed under:Appeal,BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin — posted by admin on March 1, 2016 @ 3:26 pm

SeptemberCompliance_20149-102954-01_MoreGreenfieldXmsn

There’s an editorial by Deb Severson in today’s La Crosse Tribune about the Badger Coulee Transmission Line Circuit Court Decision regarding the PSC’s grant of the permit, and here’s the Decision and Order  — check it out:

2-23-2016 Circuit Court — Town of Holland (2) and Michael J. Kauper

This decision grants the Town of Holland’s Petition for Consolidation of the two Holland Petitions for Review in La Crosse County (two filed due to procedural weirdnesses of Wisconsin law); denies the PSC’s Motion to Dismiss Holland’s Petition; denies the PSC’s Motion to Consolidate Michael J. Kauper’s Petition for Review into the La Crosse County proceeding allowing it to proceed separately in Dane County; and allows the Town of Holland to amend one of its Petitions.  Sort of confusing with all the Petitions and Motions flying around, but bottom line, PSC was not successful in booting these cases out of court.

Onward…

Town of Holland files challenge in Circuit Court

Filed under:Appeal,BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Wisconsin — posted by admin on May 4, 2015 @ 9:22 am

Last week, Frank Jablonski, representing the Town of Holland, filed an appeal challenging the Wisconsin Public Service Commission Badger Coulee decision.  Holland went directly to the court, and didn’t bother with an administrative Motion for Reconsideration at the PSC.  Given their decision, and lack of substantive review or consideration, I can see why!

Here’s the PSC’s Final Order – Badger Coulee – 05-CE-142.

Here’s the Town of Holland’s Circuit Court – Petition for Judicial Review.

Others?  We shall see…

A Petition for Rehearing has to be filed within 20 days of the April 23, 2015 service of the Final Order. by my count, the 13th of May:

Petition for Rehearing

And for a Circuit Court Petition for Judicial Review, its 30 days, with Saturday the 23rd the 30th day, so Monday the 25th would be the deadline (but hey, do it on Friday the 22nd just because!):

Petition for Judicial Review

In an administrative decision, the further away from the decision, the further away you are from success in challenging it.  The important action is at the PSC, building the record for the decision, and the specifics in the Final Order.

And if someone wants to challenge it, what to do?  In Wisconsin, you have your choice, as above (in Minnesota, it requires a Petition for Reconsideration, and then after that’s resolved, on to the Appellate Court).  Either way, whether a Petition for Rehearing, or a Petition for Judicial Review to a Circuit Court, it’s an uphill battle to say the least.  If a Petition for Rehearing is filed, they’ll have to take it up, but can just say, “No, we’re not interested in a Rehearing,” and that’s the end of that.  If it goes directly to the Circuit Court, skipping the Petition for Rehearing step at the PSC, it’s still tough going.  Courts give administrative decisions “great deference,” as they are the “experts” in their field of jurisdiction, and it is a rare PSC Order that is remanded by a Circuit Court.  We can argue whether they’re “experts” or not (most of us would agree that they’re NOT!), but that won’t change the order.

 

Another Buy the Farm win in MN Supreme Court!

Filed under:Appeal,Buy the Farm,Laws & Rules,News coverage — posted by admin on March 4, 2015 @ 4:15 pm

cheeringsection

YES, another Buy the Farm win, just released today!

OPA131474-030415

Check it out, read the decision.

On MPR: Supreme Court backs farmers in CapX 2020 powerline fight

On KSTP: State Supreme Court Rules Against Utility Companies in Farmland Dispute

For all of you across the country who live in states that do not have a “Buy the Farm” option, and that’s all of you anywhere but here in Minnesota, send our “Buy the Farm” to your state legislators and tell them you need it.  The relevant text is below, and if you click on it, you’ll get the Legislative Revisor’s site for the whole Minn. Stat.  216E.12.

216E.12, 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.

DENIED – Oronoco’s Petition to Supreme Court

Filed under:Appeal,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on August 21, 2013 @ 9:43 am

boat-landing

Oronoco Township had petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court for review of the Appellate affirmation of the Public Utilities Commission to route the CapX 2020 Hampton- La Crosse transmission line through Oronoco Township near Co. Rd. 12.

Supreme Court – DENIAL OF PETITION

I don’t think “Aunt Bea” will be pleased… but even if it does buy Rochester, it doesn’t buy everything!

auntbee

Oronoco Twp Appeals Transmission Decision

Filed under:Appeal,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on July 11, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

boat-landing

Oronoco has Petitioned the Supreme Court to review the Appellate Court’s affirmation of the decision of the Public Utilities Commission to route CapX 2020 transmission through Oronoco Township.  I don’t have a copy of the Petition yet, they send mail by ox cart, but I found out, thanks to a little birdie:

vulture

Appellate Court Case Search site – plug in docket A12-1632 and click on “Petition – Further Review”

This might get you there directly: Petition – Further Review

HERE IT IS!!!  It arrived in the inbox!  Maybe it’ll appear in the mail tomorrow.

Oronoco Petition to the Supreme Court

I’m having a hard time understanding why they think it’s a good investment of public money to challenge this decision — the Rochester paper says they’ve spent $300,000 on this — but why?  The further you get from the administrative process, the harder it is to turn it around, the more deference a court gives the administrative process, which starts out at “great deference” and goes up from there.  WOW!  Well, here goes!

In the Rochester Post Bulletin:

Oronoco Township continues to fight CapX transmission line

(more…)

Schedule for Minnesota appeals

Filed under:Appeal — posted by admin on October 15, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

court-of-appeals

The Minnesota appeal of the Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse CapX 2020 transmission line is lumbering forward.  Today we reached an agreement for briefing and also that no transcripts would be required because they are already a part of the record (and those who can afford transcripts have them).

Briefs are coming due, and because the PUC served the list of documents in the record on Friday, which triggers the 30 day time period for the first round of briefs, we’re getting a little extra time here, about two weeks:

November 28 – (or earlier) Relator’s Initial Briefs (St. Paul’s Lutheran School and Church and Cannon Falls Landowners for Segment 1, and Oronoco Township for Segment 3).

December 27 – (or earlier) Respondents’ Briefs (PUC and Xcel/Northern States Power) 30 days after last Relator’s Initial Brief served.

10 days after that – Relator’s Reply Brief

Here’s the Stipulation:

Stipulation regarding Briefing and Transcripts

Onward… one foot in front of the other…

Wisconsin – Response to PSC’s Motions

Filed under:Appeal,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on October 14, 2012 @ 6:26 am

As you may recall, the PSC had filed Motions to have the No CapX 2020 and CETF Petition for Judicial Review booted out, and to have me as attorney for No CapX 2020 and CETF  booted out as well.

Here is the No CapX 2020 and CETF response to the latest PSC filing:

No CapX 2020 and CETF Response Oct 12 2012

The best part of Friday’s Response is that the PSC had used a Marathon Circuit Court Order as basis for tossing me out, stating in their brief that:

On the other hand, at least one circuit court has found that permission to practice before a state agency is not sufficient to entitle a nonresident lawyer to practice before a circuit court.  SOAR v. DNR, No. 11-CV-0833 (Wis. Cir. Ct. Marathon County October 10, 2011)(courtesy copy attached).

PSC Reply Brief September 17, 2012, p. 4.  THIS IS AN OUTRIGHT LIE. REALLY!  Look at the Marathon County Order they cite and attach and compare with what they SAY it says:

Marathon County Circuit Court Order, October 11, 2011

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.  That Court Order states twice that “it was not signed by an attorney licensed to practice in Wisconsin.”  That’s all.  There’s NO statement that “permission to practice before a state agency is not sufficient to entitle a nonresident lawyer to practice before a circuit court.” Nothing, nothing whatsoever.

Not only that, but the nonresident attorney at issue didn’t even practice before a state agency!  The nonresident attorney at issue is Margaret (Meg) Sheehan, Ecolaw, in Massachusetts, an expert in air permits and biomass burning dedicated to fighting and shutting down incinerators.  She’s someone Alan has worked with, lobbied with, a burning cohort.  We knew they were misrepresenting that dismissal, and she quickly sent an Affidavit about that, specifically that she had NOT represented any party before the agency, before either the DNR or the PSC prior to filing the appeal that was dismissed, and that the Marathaon County case is not relevant:

Affidavit of Meg Sheehan

The two statements they make about that decision are false. It is SOOOOO naughty of PSC Counsel to misrepresent like this. See .”>Wis. Stat. 802.05(2). I’d love to file for sanctions, but I don’t think it would help any, so I’ll sit back and wait for the judge to decide.  The PSC gets one more round, and we’ll see what they have to say in reply.

Xcel Energy/Northern States Power is sitting out this dance.

Here are all the filings leading up to this, in chronological order:

PSC’s Objections filed 8/29/12

PSC Reply Brief September 17, 2012

NoCapX and CETF Response to PSC’s Motions

Xcel Letter – No Briefing on PSC’s Motions

Judge Smith’s Letter and Scheduling Order

CapX Coverage in “Crime and Courts”

Filed under:Appeal,BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on August 26, 2012 @ 7:35 am

capx2020-powerpoint-p-7-big-picture-map.jpg

CapX Vision Thang, Exhibit 13, from the Minnesota PUC Certificate of Need proceeding, Docket 06-1115.

There’s been some good coverage, particularly TODAY in Cap Times and by Wisconsin Public Radio last week, but I can’t find a link to that.  Here’s from the Journal Sentinal:

Citizen groups go to court to stop Minn-Wis power line

LaCrosse Tribune:

CapX2020 power line opponents file lawsuit in Dane County

Today in the Cap Times, in the CRIME AND COURT section (I love it when that happens!), a great article, do exercise the option to comment!!!

Crime and Courts: Power line opponents take PSC to court

Groups opposing high-capacity power lines are hoping that a court challenge will torpedo plans to set up an electricity transmission system they say the state doesn’t need.

NoCapX 2020 and Citizens Energy Task Force are asking a Dane County judge to review the state Public Service Commission’s decision approving the CapX 2020 line, which will run from the Dakotas, through Minnesota, then from Alma to Holmen to serve the La Crosse metro region. It’s one of eight high-capacity lines either under way or proposed in Wisconsin.

For more on the state’s high-capacity transmission line plans, read Mike Ivey’s recent report.

If the court rules in favor of the power line opponents, another proposed transmission line, the Badger Coulee line, would be threatened. The Badger Coulee line would connect the CapX 2020 line from La Crosse to Madison, where it would hook up with high-capacity lines currently under construction. If the CapX 2020 line doesn’t happen, the Badger Coulee line doesn’t have anything with which to connect.

The project’s opponents hope the judge will either reverse the PSC’s order approving CapX 2020 or remand it to the commission for another hearing on the application.

“We’re not simply challenging CapX 2020. We’re challenging the Public Service Commission’s decision-making process, which should affect all future applications,” says activist Deb Severson. “We’re saying you need to follow the letter of the law when it comes to defining whether the benefits to Wisconsin ratepayers are proportionate to the costs.”

Severson is a member of the Citizens Energy Task Force and also works with Soul of the Kickapoo, which opposes the Badger Coulee line. She says the PSC made several errors and omissions of fact when it approved the CapX 2020 line in May. Among them was that the commission vastly understated the cost of the project, which Wisconsin ratepayers will in part be on the hook for.

The petition for judicial review filed on Aug. 16 in Dane County Circuit Court says the PSC estimated the cost of the project at $211 million, while the actual costs will be $507 million. That’s because Wisconsin will be sharing the cost for the Minnesota portion of the line as well as the Badger State segment.

The Badger Coulee line, Severson says, will add another $340 million to the ratepayer burden if that application is approved by the PSC.

Tim Carlsgaard, spokesman for CapX 2020 and Xcel Energy, one of several utilities that are involved in the project, says from a financial standpoint, consumers stand to gain from the line. Some power lines need to be rebuilt, and it makes sense to build one line rather than have each utility build their own.

“They’re going to benefit far better under that kind of scenario than having each of those companies go out and build new transmission lines,” he says.

While the utilities proposing the build-up of transmission lines say they are needed to provide Wisconsin with reliable service, opponents say the proposals are not about delivering electrical service to Wisconsin citizens — they’re about delivering profits to the utilities.

Severson and other critics maintain that the real motivation behind the high-capacity lines for the utilities is the ability to purchase cheap energy in the Dakotas, then ship to the East Coast.

“It’s all about wholesale energy and being able to sell the generation capacity to a larger market, most often the East Coast because prices are higher there,” Severson says.

The power line opponents also say the PSC used outdated data when determining the need for the project.

“Wisconsin currently has enough excess in-state generation that we don’t need to ship more electricity in,” Severson says.

Carlsgaard disputes the suggestion that the La Crosse area, where the CapX 2020 line ends, has an adequate electrical supply to meet future needs. He says Xcel has seen increasing demand from growth in the poultry industry, and sand mining, and has had to deal with record-breaking demand because of unusually hot summers.

“If you want to see the metro La Crosse area continue to grow, you have to have a reliable source of electricity,” he says.

He adds: “The important thing is this, when you plan your transmission system, you have to plan for those hottest days of the year. You plan for those peak days.”

In addition to the outright monetary costs detailed in the court petition, the opponents of the high-capacity lines say other costs to ratepayers and citizens in general will be declining property values, unsightly transmission towers throughout Wisconsin’s scenic landscape, and fallout from electromagnetic fields emanating from the lines, which some say can result in a variety of ailments, including increased incidents of cancer.

“Every one of those issues has been addressed several times over,” says Carlsgaard, pointing out that two states and the federal government have approved the project. “The state of Wisconsin did a full-blown environmental impact statement that looks at everything from health to other environmental issues. They did not find an issue as far as moving forward with this project and approving it.”

Oronoco squeals about “new testimony?!?”

Filed under:Appeal,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on August 18, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

Curiouser and curiouser — Oronoco Township loudly declares it is appealing the PUC’s decision, and also that it’s hiring a new attorney for the appeal:

The Oronoco Town Board previously voted to appeal the PUC ruling to the Minnesota Appellate Court if its reconsideration motion were denied, Thein said. The township has 60 days to file that paperwork. Thein says new legal counsel will be hired by the end of the month to handle the specifics.

Previously Oronoco Township appealed too early and that was dismissed without prejudice:

Order- Dismiss Notice or Stipulated

Bringing someone else in at this point is difficult, so few know anything about this, and it’s a HUGE record… and I would hope anyone looking at taking this one on would read the transcript, look at the record and see things like Xcel’s DEIS Comments, Oronoco’s last minute new route in “Exhibit 89” and Exhibit 7 below from Broberg’s “testimony” filed with the Oronoco Motion for Reconsideration.

cheshire

After the PUC Meeting where the PUC denied all Motions for Reconsideration, Javon Bea stood up and squealed about Appeal, that they’d be going to the Appellate Court because the Commission made its decision based on the NEW TESTIMONY of FOUR PEOPLE.  It’s just not true!  I had to object, that is so offensive.  Yet that’s the Oronoco mantra, demonstrably false.  That the PUC based their decision on “new testimony” of “four people” is such a bizarre notion, particularly in light of the record (check out Xcel/Hillstrom’s DEIS Comments, pointing out errors in the EIS, DUH!) filings of Oronoco Township, because they’re attributing to others what they did — look at filings like Exhibit 89 where they tried to introduce an utterly new route at the very end of Oronoco’s testimony at the evidentiary hearing, without any notice to landowners in their own Township.  And then there’s the NEW TESTIMONY of Broberg that they filed with their Motions for Reconsideration.  Their new testimony included this Exhibit 7:

boat-landing

Which is just a bit different than the reality of that boat landing:

dscf0475

The photo in Exhibit 7 is either very old or it was taken standing on the sand bar.  Anyone from the area knows that this boat ramp is closed.  The boat ramp is much like nuclear waste, the “temporary” closure has been YEARS, there’s a sandbar in front of it has been there so long it’s overgrown with tall weeds, it makes the closed boat ramp inaccessible, the weedy sand bar is so large you can see it on Google Earth, and Xcel’s Exhibit 35, even on google maps, yet Oronoco presents Exhibit 7.  That is “misleading” at best.  And “Exhibit 7” was new information NOT IN THE RECORD filed by Oronoco Township in their Motion for Reconsideration, a part of NEW TESTIMONY of Jeff Broberg.  And yes, there were more than 7 new exhibits, plus there was all of Broberg’s “testimony.”  They submitted new information repeatedly, and they were not following rules regarding how to propose new routes, and after the PUC’s decision, when the record was close, submitted new information including “testimony” and “exhibits” with their Motion for Reconsideration long after the record had closed.  What are they thinking?

What precisely is the “new information” that they’re complaining about?  They don’t say.  Come on, out with it!!!  They can’t be specific because there was no “new information” at the April 12, 2012 PUC meeting.  I’ve got the transcript and have read it.

Yet they  whine about “NEW TESTIMONY of FOUR PEOPLE” when it’s not even true?  Where does this mantra come from?  Particularly when Oronoco Township is the one entering new testimony and the Commission made its decision on the record.

This is the same Oronoco Township whose expert testified that there were developments (housing subdivisions) that were directly affected by the transmission line when they were 1/2 mile away… and who testified that the same developments were “constructed” when they were not:

NRG – NoCapX – U-CAN Initial Brief

See p. 45-46 of Initial Brief; see also Hearing Ex. 86, Plat Maps of Landings at Sandy Pointe, Zumbo Haven, and Zumbro Sound.; Testimony of Smith, Tr. Vol. 2, p. 44-81.

From the behavior I saw at the Public Utilities Commission meeting last Thursday, I can’t help but wonder where Oronoco Township is getting its information, why they’re doing what they’re doing.  After the Motions for Reconsideration were denied, Javon Bea… yes, THIS Javon Bea:

Javon Bea 09-1448 DEIS Comments

And the same Javon Bea is a member of the Oronoco Planning Advisory Commission where he is supposed to be representing the interests of the township, and it is the OPAC that is driving the Oronoco challenge (that and their large war chest).  Javon Bea spoke at the OPAC meeting a few months ago, after the April 12, 2012 PUC decision, and told people to contact the PUC Commissioners directly.  Three of the four’s contact info was given including business address for Commissioner Boyd and home address for Commissioner Wergin:

Laymen for Christ Ex Parte Complaint against Oronoco Twp

Oronoco Township Response to Ex Parte Complaint

Stipulation between Laymen for Christ and Oronoco Twp

Yes, this Javon Bea stood up in the middle of the room, intending to lead the charge to the Appellate Court, and he stated that the PUC made its decision based on the NEW TESTIMONY of FOUR PEOPLE!  EH?  This shows he hasn’t a clue, he hasn’t reviewed the record.  I do wish he’d read a transcript of the full evidentiary hearing, the public comments at the public meetings, and the transcript of the April 12, 2012 PUC meeting where they made their decision about the route through Oronoco.

He may be special because, according to the points he raised in his DEIS Comments, he is the CEO of a $1.8 billion dollar corporation, has three houses (a 10,000 square foot, 4,000 square foot, and a 2,000 square foot), in the area, a barn he rents for events with $80k income annually, property consisting of speculative purchase of 8 separate farmsteads on 292 acres “for development” valued at $7,230,500, claiming a loss of $4.8 million due to CapX 2020.

I wonder how many of the hardworking Oronoco Township residents would like to earn $80k annually like his BARN does!?!?

FULL DISCLOSURE:  Alan and I have three houses, his in Delaware, mine in Red Wing and our “new” one in Red Wing, maybe his circa 1742 house is just over 2,000 square feet and the Red Wing ones are 1579 and 1870, all “need work” and are modest to put it mildly, the newest one was built in 1924, none have central air or a TV or a bit of granite!!!  But we are rich in dogs… Summer, Kady-Kate and Little Sadie.

Can you tell that I’ve about had it with these statements that are so far off base?  Please, folks, read the record, read the briefs, read Xcel’s DEIS comments, read the EIS, read the transcripts.

From the Rochester Post Bulletin:

PUC denies reconsideration for CapX2020 route

Posted: Aug 15, 2012, 12:55 am

By Brett Boese

The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

SAINT PAUL — A dispute over the route of CapX2020 high-voltage transmission lines through southeastern Minnesota appears destined for a courtroom challenge, after the state Public Utilities Commission last week declined a request to reconsider a past decision.

In so doing, the PUC’s April 12 decision, to route the high-voltage transmission lines through a suburban slice of Oronoco Township, stands.

Months before that decision, an administrative law judge recommended a different route, slightly to the north, crossing the Zumbro River at the Lake Zumbro hydroelectric dam. The PUC’s selected route crosses the river at White Bridge Road — a route that initially was project proponents’ preferred route.

The 345-kilovolt power lines will trace a 150-mile route from near Hampton, Minn., to LaCrosse, Wis., in an arcing path that follows U.S. 52 south into Olmsted County, then east to cross the Mississippi River near Kellogg.

It is one segment of several in a four-state project to update the region’s transmission system. The project, called CapX2020, is led by Xcel Energy and backed by an 11-member partnership of transmission-owning utilities that also includes Rochester Public Utilities. The project also includes two 161-kv lines leading from the 345-kv mainline to substations near Rochester.

But no landowner wants the high-voltage lines anyplace nearby. Shortly after the PUC’s April 12 decision, Oronoco Township formally petitioned commissioners to reconsider. Others who submitted petitions included Oronoco Township, nine Cannon Falls landowners and the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School located in Cannon Falls.

Oronoco Town Board chairman Mark Thein said about 90 people filled the PUC chambers on Thursday in hopes that the PUC might change its mind. Instead, they left without even hearing a discussion.

“We had 90 people up there and the PUC spent one minute to tell us to go home,” Thein said.

The Oronoco Town Board previously voted to appeal the PUC ruling to the Minnesota Appellate Court if its reconsideration motion were denied, Thein said. The township has 60 days to file that paperwork. Thein says new legal counsel will be hired by the end of the month to handle the specifics.

“We made some valid legal points on why (the PUC) should reconsider, including that they heard new testimony on a case that was already closed — which is against the law,” Thein said. “That seems to be what swayed the PUC to ignore the administrative law judge’s 300-page (recommendation).”

On the other side of the issue, groups including Laymen for Christ, Inc., Woodland Camp and Xcel Energy filed briefs in support of the PUC decision. Carol Overland, an attorney representing some of the groups, could not be reached Thursday.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace