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

MTEP 11 steamrolling its way across the Midwest

Here it is, MTEP 11, the Midwest Transmission Expansion Plan for 2011 (CLICK HERE, look on lower right), and it’s in the news too.  The main report and some appendices:

MTEP 11 – Draft Report

MTEP Appendices A B & C

MTEP 11 Appendix A-1_2_3 – Cost Allocation

Page listing all the Appendices

MTEP Appendix e52 Detailed Proposed MVP Portfolio Business Case

Please take note that this includes not only the CapX 2020 Brookings-Hampton line (#2 on map), but also the LaCrosse-Madison line (#5 on map), the one they need to build or they’ve got a lot of system instability goin’ on.


From my perspective, the most important thing to be aware of is that MTEP 11, and the MTEPs that preceded it, are about the shift to economic dispatch and development of the electric market.  At the outset, MISO studied potential benefits of this shift, and found massive economic benefits, of which they speak in their press release.  The economic benefits are realized by optimizing use of lower production cost generation, and in their own words, to “displace natural gas with coal.”  Don’t believe it?  Read this study that ICF did for MISO:

ICF – Midwest ISO Benefits Analysis

This is the worst possible result for those of us who breathe, and means that tens of thousands of landowners will have very high voltage transmission lines on their land, taken from them by eminent domain.  These projects, almost all of the MTEP projects, are not about electric reliability, they’re “need” is to deliver market transactions of electric generation from any “point A” to any “point B,” and this is a private interest, a desire for market profits, and not a public interest.

Another issue looming is “what does MISO ‘approval’ mean?”  Transmission lines are regulated by states, individually, and there is a movement to strip states of their regulatory authority and transfer that to federal entities.  Look no further than Obama’s transmission “fast track” proposal, naming one of the CapX 2020 projects!  States must make their energy regulatory decisions in an open, transparent process and based their decisions on ratepayer and public interest.  That focus is not present in federal top-down edicts.  States’ rights are at issue and we need to keep on our toes so this power shift doesn’t slide through.

And it’s not “just” the ICF report above, that’s it’s all about coal is clear from prior press.  Here’s an important sentence, quoting GRE’s spin-guy Randy Fordice — explaining what we all know, that the MISO effort to get the “benefits” of displacing natural gas with coal:

They now consider the line to be a multi-value project since system reliability- and service to existing substations and existing fossil fuel plants- are also benefited, he said.

Coal with benefits, yesiree…  Gotta hand it to Fordice for being honest!

Here it is in the news:

$730M transmission line to harness South Dakota wind

Wind?  NOT!  Recall that honest quote from Fordice, above!

Power line projects advance, despite opposition

And in the St. PPP:

Power line project to Dakota County clears last hurdle

By Leslie Brooks Suzukamo
Updated: 12/08/2011 10:22:15 PM CST

The operators of the Midwest’s power grid on Thursday approved a $730 million high-voltage transmission line from Brookings, S.D., to the town of Hampton in Dakota County.

The transmission line is one of 17 big projects given the green light by Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, better known as MISO, in an initiative designed to strengthen the grid and speed up the development of renewable wind energy.

Called the Brookings Line, the 230-mile project could carry wind energy from the Dakotas and southern and western Minnesota, say a group of regional utilities led by Xcel Energy and Great River Energy, who back the project.

Opponents who live along proposed path of the 345-kilovolt line have questioned the line’s necessity. Some of have expressed concern about their health by living close to such high voltage; others say the line will become a conduit for coal power from the Dakotas instead of a green project carrying wind power.

But the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted to go ahead with the project in April 2009, and the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld that decision a year later.

The line has received all needed permits from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, said Randy Fordice, a spokesman for CAPX 2020, a consortium of regional utilities. Construction could begin next April, Fordice said. The project is an example of wind transmission projects being drawn up across the Midwest that MISO is trying to accommodate.
These projects are envisioned to help states meet their standards or targets for adding renewable energy such as wind power to their energy mix in order to reduce dependence upon coal-fired power plants that spew emissions that are unhealthy and linked to climate change.

Minnesota has the region’s strongest renewable energy mandate, requiring its utilities generally to provide 25 percent of their energy from renewables by 2025.

The mandate puts a heavier burden upon its largest utility, Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy, requiring it to derive 30 percent of its power from renewables by 2020.

The unanimous vote by the MISO board in Carmel, Ind., marked the first time the grid operator took into account the policy needs of states, said Beth Soholt, executive director of Wind on the Wires, a St. Paul advocacy group for wind energy.

“I would call it historic,” she said. Before this, MISO primarily focused on the reliability of the grid and not concerned with the kind of power transmitted over it, she said.

MISO’s approval will make it easier for Minnesota to export wind energy in the future, MISO vice president of transmission asset management Clair Moeller said in a press conference.

Although the MISO board’s decision approves 215 projects worth $6.5 billion, the 17 green power projects like the Brookings line account for $5.2 billion of the cost.

Ultimately, ratepayers will pay for all these projects, but so-called multivalue projects like the Brookings Line carry a tariff that spreads the cost across MISO’s 12 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba.

So, instead of Minnesota being saddled solely with the cost of the Brookings Line, states as far away as Michigan will help shoulder the burden. And vice versa.

The MISO board reasoned that all states benefit from these projects, because they strengthen the grid, shoring up aging infrastructure. They also allow states to add renewable energy and clear out congestion on the lines so states can have better access to cheaper electricity when they need it, which makes the grid more efficient.

“It’s hooking up Midwest power to meet Midwest needs,” Soholt said. The grid MISO operates stretches from the Dakotas to Michigan and Manitoba to Indiana.

The projects “will allow the region to build a robust transmission grid that will bring reliability and economic benefits to the region as well as smoothing the way for the Midwest to tap its considerable wind resources,” said Rob Gramlich of the American Wind Energy Association.

In other states, some projects will next have to undertake lengthy regulatory approval.

Last year, some states in MISO had balked at the new Multi-Value Projects tariff, saying they were too far from Minnesota and the Dakotas to benefit from their wind power on the grid.

But other Midwestern states have already started tapping into the prairie winds. Indiana Power and Light Co. has a purchase agreement with a wind farm in Lakefield in southwest Minnesota.

Fargo-St. Cloud-Monticello – landowners speak out!

Filed under:Fargo-St Cloud,St.Cloud-Monticello — posted by admin on November 9, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

There has been a flood of public comments in response to, and because a comment period opened about, Xcel’s request for permit amendments.  The lion’s share of them are regarding the short stretch of E-5 and AS-1, from landowners near the Quarry substation.  Because that substation was selected in the St. Cloud-Monticello routing docket, that’s the terminus for the Fargo-St. Cloud line, which is why I didn’t think the Fargo-Monticello route should have been split up.

To check out the flurry of comments, go to, click “Search eDockets” and search for docket 09-1056.

… and further south, problems brewing as landowners are faced with condemnation, or worse, shifting it just off their land so they get the impacts and no compensation.  From an article in the St. Cloud Times, it seems landowners were approached about easements, and then suddenly, the alignment shifted:

The Walshes say they would have taken the “Buy the Farm” option and others were considering it.

“We think they realized, ‘We’re going to have to compensate all seven of these people. Let’s get it out of here,’ ” Belinda Walsh said.

CapX spokesman Tim Carlsgaard said the utilities are trying to keep the transmission line as far away from houses as they can.

“Our goal was to stay off their property to have as least impact as possible,” he said. However, Carlsgaard said, “There hasn’t been any deliberate effort to say, ‘We’re going to keep it off your property so we don’t have to pay you.’ ”

Uh-huh… right…

Here’s the full article:

CapX 2020 power line worries neighbors who aren’t part of compensation deal

11:41 PM, Nov. 7, 2011

Written by Kirsti Marohn

ST. JOSEPH — When the CapX 2020 transmission line is built along Stearns County Road 2 south of St. Joseph, Scott and Belinda Walsh and their four children will get a front-row seat — but not much else.

The Walshes worry that the power line will loom across the skyline in front of the two-story, gray house where they have lived for six years, lower their home’s value and possibly affect the health of their children.

But because the power line won’t actually touch their land, the Walshes — along with their six neighbors — won’t get any financial compensation, the power to negotiate for damages or the option of having the utility companies buy their property. It’s put the residents in the unique position of wishing the power line would be built closer to their homes, rather than across the road.

“Legally we don’t have any rights with it just off our property,” Belinda Walsh said.

Buy the Farm cases on St. Cloud to Monticello line

Filed under:Fargo-St Cloud,St.Cloud-Monticello — posted by admin on October 26, 2011 @ 9:04 am

Remember not too long ago that landowners challenged the utilities’ attempt to limit their compensation if they chose the Buy the Farm option?  Buy the Farm is Minn. Stat. 216E.12, Subd. 4:

Subd. 4. Contiguous land.

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 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, shall have the option to require the utility to condemn a fee interest in any amount of contiguous, commercially viable land which the owner or vendee wholly owns or has contracted to own 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. The owner or, when applicable, the contract vendee 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.

AND LANDOWNERS WON!!!!  The court’s opinion is at this link:

Buy the Farm – a landowner win in District Court!

So now that Xcel’s been slapped down by the court, the landowners are challenging the offers and Commissioners have been appointed by the Court to determine compensation (that’s how eminent domain works under Minn. Stat. ch. 117).

From the St. Cloud Times:

CapX hearings over land payment begin in Stearns

11:17 PM, Oct. 24, 2011

Written by David Unze

The first contested hearings on compensation for property owners whose land was taken for the CapX 2020 high-voltage transmission lines begin today in Stearns County.

Cases will go before a panel of commissioners who will decide what the landowners should get, and two of them will use for the first time a Minnesota statute that was created after the bitter power-line disputes of the 1970s.

The “Buy the Farm” statute was created in response to the controversy that resulted when farmers were served with condemnation notices in preparation for a power line that was to be built through Central Minnesota.

That high-voltage power line was the most controversial energy project in state history and was built despite political, legal and physical challenges from nearby farmers.

The Buy the Farm statute allows certain landowners to force a power company to purchase the landowner’s entire home or farm rather than buy an easement over the property.

Because the law is specific to high-voltage, power-line land takings, and because there haven’t been any such takings since the law was enacted, this is the first chance for a landowner to use the statute, said James E. Dorsey, the attorney who represents Xcel Energy, one of the energy companies behind the CapX project.

There are about 34 contested cases in Wright and Stearns counties from the condemnation cases involving the Monticello-to-St. Cloud segment of the CapX line.

A handful of those involve the Buy the Farm statute.

There are more condemnation cases expected to be filed soon involving the segment that runs from St. Cloud to Alexandria.

Contested hearings on compensation go to a three-person panel appointed by a district court judge. Those panel members meet with the property owners, view the parcels of land and set a value based on the market.

The utility and the landowner have the right to appeal the commissioners’ decision back to the district court judge.

If no resolution is reached, the case could go to trial.

CapX 2020 steamrolling Virgil Fuchs?

Filed under:Fargo-St Cloud — posted by admin on October 17, 2011 @ 3:45 pm


Virgil Fuchs has been around this powerline concept a time or too.  But it now seems that one of the Permit Amendments that Xcel is requesting for the CapX 2020 Fargo-St. Cloud route would run right over Virgil Fuchs’ land (to see Xcel’s permit amendment requests, go to, then click “Search eDockets” and search for 09-1056).  Announced at this late date, AFTER the permit was granted.  Can you believe??!?!?!

Comment on “Adjustment 13” – Paula Maccabee for Virgil Fuchs

I filed a late Comment – yes, sleeping at the switch, after filing the Hampton-LaX Reply Brief and the Goodhue Memorandum, I’ve been trying to get this house ready, and there’s just too much going on.  Anyway, I heard Virgil speak so many  times, and it was in the last round, the Public Hearings, where he was cut off, and he was cut off because he was commenting and either ALJ Heydinger asked him or Xcel whether it would affect him directly and it wasn’t going to, so he was cut short.  Brent remembers this too.  Hmmmmmmm… So I filed this quick:

NoCapX 2020 and U-CAN Comment re: Adjustment 13

Virgil Fuchs was an integral part of the opposition to the CU line way back when.  He’s been present from the very beginning, during the Certificate of Need meetings, and since then, on pre-application routing meetings, EIS scoping and DEIS Comment meetings, and Public Hearings, and at the Public Hearing he was cut short, ostensibly because he wasn’t going to be affected directly by any of the proposed options.  And now they want a change, to go right over his land!

On November 18, 2010, in Alexandria, he testified before ALJ Steve Mihalchick, who was filling in for ALJ Heydinger, and Mihalchick had this to say:

We should honor the work that your group and others did 30 years ago. One consideration is to use existing RoW, so that is a consideration now. Do we have to consider today’s impacts, where they were 30 years ago?  I’m trying to figure out how to handle it. There’s many many factors that have to be considered, all those things have to be considered.

However, on December 2, 2010, in St. Joseph for the last public hearing, his treatment at the hands and gavel of ALJ Beverly Heydinger was not nearly so respectful.  She interrupted him at least three times, first to find out where the land was that would affect him, the second time to tell him, “You’re losing your audience,” which did not seem to be the case to me, people in the crowd nodding in agreement, and then a third time… sigh… maybe more.


You can get a flavor of what Virgil Fuchs is about here, from GoogleBooks:

Virgil Fuchs Profile – from Powerline: The First Battle of America’s Energy War, Wellstone & Casper

Mike and Paul must be rolling over at this development, lots of seismic activity happening.  Going across Virgil’s land, a second time, after telling him that they would not???  I wonder whose brilliant idea this was?

Fargo- Xcel’s minor route changes & PUC rejects late Reconsideration

Filed under:Fargo-St Cloud — posted by admin on September 28, 2011 @ 2:45 pm

There’s also been some things happening on the Fargo route.  The decision came down some time ago, June 23, 2011, with some additional time for Reconsideration because the state was shut down.  Route changes first.  Xcel filed a HUGE packet of minor route changes, minor in the cosmic realm of things, but awfully important to those affected:

Xcel Route Adjustments:

Cover Letter Requesting Amendment 20119-66518-01

2 – 3 20119-66518-02

4- 5 20119-66518-03

6 8 9W 20119-66518-04

9C 20119-66518-05

11-13 20119-66518-06

15 20119-66518-07 (at issue in Undersander filings below)

And here are the Motions for Amendment of Permit, PUC’s Rejection as untimely, and Undersander’s Response:

Undersander 20119-66344-01

Eikmeier 20119-66344-02

Undersander2 20119-66344-03

Weisbrich 20119-66344-04

Richert O’Neil 20119-66344-05

PUC Haar’s Letter- rejecting as untimely:

PUC Letter to Undersander, et al 20119-66560-01

And then the plot thickens:

Undersannder Reply to PUC’s Haar 20119-66620-01

Will keep you posted with any additional filings!  I want to see what that “AG investigation” means!

What Xcel says about local need in LaCrosse

Filed under:Fargo-St Cloud,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Reports - Documents,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on September 1, 2011 @ 6:52 pm

The new “need” report is out, Xcel Energy filed it yesterday, in WISCONSIN, and it’s a doozy, reverse engineering, shifting nuts in the shell game, and pinning the tail on the moving donkey..


Xcel Supplemental Need Study – August 2011

When I got to p. 34, well, I pert near blew a gasket, because it’s more made up numbers, and if you look at just a few simple documents for LaCrosse “need” that THEY filed:

Here’s what it looks like on a spreadsheet (I’ve not added in the King Direct Sched 2 for Rochester yet):

Comparison of Certificate of Need and CPCN substation peaks


And this filing is not just about LaCrosse “need” that doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.  A lot of this, in my view the more important pat, is about a shift in rationale/justification to market desires, laid out in the MISO “Benefits” report (check “Conclusions” on p. 14 and at end):

ICF – MISO Benefits Analysis Study

It’s also clear here, found googling the “new” MVP transmission cost allocation absurdity:

MISO – MVP transmission powerpoint – August 2011

What struck me was this succinct description of what’s happening in transmission – take a look at slide 4 f the powerpoint:

Conditions Precedent to Increased Transmission Build

Before transmission is built a number of conditions must be met

– Increased consensus on energy policies (current and future)

– A robust business case that demonstrates value sufficient to support the construction of the transmission project

– A regional tariff that matches who benefits with who pays over time

– Cost recovery mechanisms that reduce financial risk

It’s all about market, it’s all about transfer capability/capacity.  Well DUH, but they’re out and out saying it here.  And an important part is also connected here on the first page:

As outlined below, the presence of a 345kV line from Minnesota into LaCrosse compbined with the expected LaCrosse to Madison 345kV line will provide significant regional benefits that will not be achievable with the completion of an alternate project.

DUH!  On to p. 4:

Transfer study analysis indicates the additional capacity, depending on the eastern termination, could be as high as 1200 MW over current system levels… This 1200 MW increase is not realized if a lower voltage alternative is constructed initially.

DUH! And it gets even more hilarious on p. 25:

For 2019, CapX 2020 additions, including the Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse 345kV transmission project and the Brookings County-win Cities 345kV project, relieve the Minnesota trapped generation identified in the 2010 and 2014 models.  Congestion in SE Wisconsin expands geographically to all of eastern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.


This filing refers to the “State of the Market Report for the MISO Electricity Markets” published in June 2011.  Here it is, have fun:

2010 MISO State of the Market Report – FINAL

And as you’re reading it, ask what precisely congestion has to do with reliability, and why we’re using market concepts to drive build-out of transmission.  There’s no relation between FERC economic policy and NERC reliability criteria, the economic market drivers are not related to state need and routing criteria — market wants are not “need.”  Makes me want to puke!

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace