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 impermissibly affecting rail communication

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,RUS EIS,Wisconsin — posted by admin on November 5, 2016 @ 10:11 am

With all these highly volatile oil tankers whizzing by, we need secure rail communication networks.  But what did we just learn?  CapX 2020 transmission is affecting rail communication, along Hwy. 35 in Wisconsin, and that’s not OK.  “…the combination of those lines with another nearby 69-kilovolt line likely triggered the interference.”  Really?  Combination?  Not addition of a big honkin’ 345 kV line?

CapX 2020 transmission owners are now fixing it, which involves what?  And why was that info so long in coming, where BNSF has already spent over $1 million to fix CapX 2020’s interference problem?  Shouldn’t that be on CapX owners?

CapX transmission lines interfering with railroad signals in Buffalo County

Owners of the recently completed CapX2020 transmission line are making modifications to a nine-mile stretch in Buffalo County where a combination of high-voltage power lines is interfering with signals on nearby railroad tracks.

The problem is expected to generate several million dollars in additional expenses for the transmission line and BNSF Railway.

BNSF crews discovered the problem in May, shortly after the completion of a second transmission line that’s part of the $500 million project to link the Twin Cities, Rochester and La Crosse. CapX reported it this week to Wisconsin utility regulators.

“We knew this was a risk,” said project manager Grant Stevenson. “It’s not that the line is not operating as expected.”

The 345-kilovolt line runs from Alma to Holmen, hugging the railroad corridor for about nine miles, where a 161-kilovolt Dairyland Power line shares the same towers. Stevenson said the combination of those lines with another nearby 69-kilovolt line likely triggered the interference.

The systems are regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration and are set up to go into safe mode if a problem arises — for example, closing gates even if no train is approaching.

“That’s by design,” said David Peterson, who teaches railroad engineering and operation at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Everything is on stop or red.”

BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said the fail-safe design worked as intended.

The railroad initially deployed flaggers in the field and installed insulated joints and another signal to mitigate the intermittent interference. McBeth said BNSF has spent about $1 million on those short-term solutions.

Xcel Energy, the lead partner of the 11 utilities that built the transmission line, is expected to begin work this month on a more permanent solution that is expected to cost roughly $2 million.

Over the winter, crews will install an aluminum wire below the conductor that is intended to reduce interference. A second copper wire will be buried in the railroad right-of-way next spring.

Stevenson said there are 27 landowners near Cochrane, Wis., who will be affected by the construction, though he said it will be on a much smaller scale than during construction of the 345-kilovolt line.

Even with the additional costs, Xcel says the 48.6-mile Wisconsin segment of the project is below the $183.3 million price tag approved by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission. The costs are shared by electricity customers in 15 Midwestern states and one Canadian province.

The entire 156-mile Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse project was energized in September. It was the fourth line in what is now a $1.85 billion project to connect wind-rich areas of western Minnesota and the Dakotas to population centers where that electricity is needed.

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

20140512_161838_resized

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.

20140512_161913_1_resized

CapX 2020 at Hwy. 61 looking towards the Mississippi

Put on your waders — CapX 2020 Report!

CapXCap1

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:

CapX_Xmsn2005

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

HumphreyCapXReport

… 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.

XcelPeakDemand2000-2015

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:

rakownapkindemand

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:

ManureSpreader

ATC’s Construction Meeting and “Economic Planning”

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Upcoming Events,Wisconsin — posted by admin on April 7, 2016 @ 2:29 pm

ATCBuilding

American Transmission Company (ATC) is holding a “Construction Meeting” about the Badger Coulee transmission project on April 14, an open house from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Town of Springfield Town Hall, 6157 County Highway P, Dane County, Wisconsin.

ATC to host construction meeting in Springfield

 

ATC is also holding a round or two of planning meetings, and the next “Customer and Stakeholder” Meeting is planned for April 19, 2016, from 1-3 p.m. at ATC HQ in Pewaukee.

What’s important about this is that in addition to the annual “10 Year Assessment,” they’re also doing “Economic Planning.”

2015 10-Year Assessment Summary

2016 10-Year Assessment Study Design

What goes on at these ATC “stakeholder” meetings?

2-24-2016_Compiled Meeting Questions and Comments

Here are materials for that 2-24-2016 meeting:

Meeting Agenda

ATC 2015 Assessment Summary Presentation

2016 Assessment Preliminary Study Design

ATC MTEP Appendix Data

ATC 2015 Economic Planning Study Results

ATC 2016 Economic Planning Study Kickoff

Here’s ATC’s Annual Report:  ATC releases 2015 Annual Report

They have an entire page on “Economic Planning” and the entire notion of “Economic Planning” goes to the private purpose of transmission, moving bulk power for profit.  That’s very different than the regulated utilities’ need to supply their native (captive) load with electricity.  The wholesale market was deregulated, electricity is now on economic dispatch, and the basis of electric generation, transmission, distribution, and use, is fundamentally changed.  As a society, we’ve not yet grasped this concept, and what it means to us as ratepayers, landowners, and humans.

In light of this, Comments made at a recent Transmission Confab and captured by RTO Insider are enlightening (though note the questioning is from Allohina, a witness and proponent in the CapX 2020 buildout, it’s questionable, because they’ve already got their project!):

RTO Insider

Economic benefits have been sketchy at best for some projects, and so grossly overstated as to be hilarious in others, where it’s clear that the benefits go to the generators as decreased production costs:

ICF-Independent Assessment MISO Benefits

As above, ATC is hosting another “Customer and Stakeholder” Meeting on April 19, 2016, from 1-3 p.m.  The ATC page says it’s at ATC HQ in Pewaukee, WI, but ATC HQ address is not listed on the ATC site, and there are two ATC offices on Ridgeview Parkway, close, but which?  Message sent, will report back.

ATCBuilding

What is Onalaska thinking?

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Wisconsin — posted by admin on April 5, 2016 @ 10:36 am

IMG_2905

A little birdie just sent this graphic photo.

bluebird

How’s this for a scenic view overlooking the Mississippi, at the Onalaska scenic overlook, no less?!?!?!

Onalaska, what are you thinking?  Did you consider the impact of this transmission line on the City’s observation area?  Are you thinking of $$$$?  Was there a payment to the City to allow this?  Did the City review the plan?  Did anyone go out and walk the line?  Did the City know this was Xcel’s intent?  Did the City’s Planning Commission understand this was in the works as it approved its Comprehensive Plan update that addressed transmission impacts and planning?

La Crosse approved this move and issued a variance under their Airport Overlay Ordinance, and Xcel Energy told me after the meeting that there would not be clear cutting — but you know how Xcel Energy operates.

Worse, Onalaska Mayor Joe Chilsen testified IN FAVOR of La Crosse granting the variance for this project!  You might want to tell him what you think of Sunny’s new friend!

Joe Chilsen (2016)
500 10th Avenue North
Onalaska, WI 54650
City: (608) 781-9530
Home: (608) 783-2422
jchilsen@cityofonalaska.com

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…

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…

XcelPeakDemand2000-2015

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

Huebsch should resign from WI PSC

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Laws & Rules,Wisconsin — posted by admin on December 18, 2015 @ 12:20 pm

MikeHuebsch

Well, we all knew that… but in the LaX Tribune:

Former cabinet members: Top Walker aide [Mike Huebsch, now on PSC] ordered them to avoid state email, phones.

And this guy now sits as one of three Commissioners on the Wisconsin Public Service Commission?

Mike Huebsch was appointed on March 1, 2015, and disclosed a potential conflict on March 6, 2015:

Huebsch – Conflict Routes O & P

Huebsch1

and…Huebsch2

… and of course…

Huebsch3

He didn’t recuse himself.

SHAME!  Mike Huebsch should be ejected from the Public Service Commission immediately.

Tuesday night in Onalaska

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Laws & Rules,Nuts & Bolts,Q-1 Upgrade,Wisconsin — posted by admin on December 17, 2015 @ 9:55 pm

20151215_185850[1]

AS you scroll down, keep in mind the tremendous job that the City of Onalaska did presenting their case in the Badger Coulee transmission docket (go HERE and search for docket 05-CE-142, and look for Onalaska filings).

Grace – Direct Testimony

Tuesday night, the Onalaska Plan Commission took up the revised Comprehensive Plan.

Onalaska Comprehensive Plan Final Draft – 12-07-2015

Here’s where you can check out the new Comprehensive Plan (search for “transmission” and you’ll find not much):

City of Onalaska 2015 Comprehensive Plan Page

The current Zoning map (click for larger version):

MAP_Current_Onalaska_Comp_Plan_Report_12-07-2015Future:

MAP_Future_Onalaska_Comp_Plan_Report_12-07-2015

Do you see any transmission lines on that map?  Any pipelines on that map?  The City doesn’t have a map of transmission lines, or pipelines, yet it’s a prominent feature of Onalaska, just drive up Hwy 35 or Hwy 53 and you’ll see what I mean.  The City Land Use & Development Director said in the meeting that they don’t have one, it would be very difficult to put together and that this info can be regarded as “proprietary.”  Not quite, it could be “CEII” information, but when you see it driving down the road, when you look at google and there it is, there’s no reason the City can’t draw a line on the map!

There’s a lot of transmission through Onalaska, lining both sides of the highways, in the middle of the city bottlenecked in-between the river and the bluffs (like Red Wing), and it runs right through the heart of the city.  Here’s ATC’s “map” of transmission:

Onalaska_xmsn

Here’s WI-PSC’s map:

PSC Xmsn Map As you can see, it’s not rocket science to put a map together of transmission through Onalaska and its potential expansion areas.

Dairyland is wanting to tear down its old line on the west side of Highways 53 and 35 and virtually double the height of the towers and the capacity.  That’s not updating or maintenance, that’s “tear down the old line and build a new one” construction.

NOW is the time, because there’s not yet a Dairyland application, and because Xcel’s line on the east side of Highways 35 and 53 is also old, they’re going to want to “upgrade” soon too.  The routing of transmission through Onalaska in light of Wisconsin’s adoption of its Electrical Code which prohibits construction under a line, means that new construction should be carefully reviewed.  And right now, rebuilding, tearing down and new construction of something much bigger, shouldn’t be allowed over and next to homes and businesses.  What to do?  It’s a narrow area with a lot of transmission!  But this is what “planning” is all about.  Looking into the future and figuring out what they want the City to look like, how they can address the extreme impacts of transmission, and if they can minimize or mitigate these impacts.  Here’s an example of it running through people’s back yards, stars indicate pole placement in people’s back yards, and the white/red lines are access roads through people’s back yards!

10th AveN

On behalf of No CapX 2020, I sent the Planning Commission and City Council these comments:

NoCapX2020 Comment_OnalaskaCompPlan

At Tuesday’s meeting, there were few commenters, and they quickly wrestled with the issues raised, and sent it back to the Committee for consideration of transmission issues and impacts.

THANK YOU, ONALASKA PLAN COMMISSION!


next page


image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace