ITC Midwest at PUC 1/29

Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on January 22, 2015 @ 4:15 pm


Remember this map?  The ITC Midwest MN/IA  line is the ITC Midwest part of MISO’s “MVP 3” which on the above map is the red part.  The other part of MISO’s “MVP 3” is to be built and owned by Warren Buffet’s Mid-American Energy, and that’s the green line above.  MISO’s MVP 3 is one of those touted and promoted by our “friends” at Center for Rural Affairs (oh, what people will do for money!)  The tan/orange and blue are what’s known as MISO’s “MVP 4.”  And yes, it’s all connected, moving east to MISO’s MVP 5, the northern part of which is Badger Coulee, from La Crosse to Madison, and the southern part of which is the Cardinal-Hickory Creek (Spring Green?) that runs from MVP 4 to Madison.

The biggest thing at issue here is whether ITC Midwest is a “public service corporation” in the state of Minnesota.  That designation gives it special status, specifically, the door to use of eminent domain, to condemn land for the transmission line.

The second most important issue in his case is the Minnesota assessment for the 17-20 MISO MVP Projects, not just this one little piece of MVP 3.  That assessment is in a MISO tariff that was “approved” by FERC:

Exhibit B_Schedule 26A Indicative Annual Charges_02262014

Here’s the PUC Order for Certificate of Need and for the Route Permit, where they’re ducking the major issues:

Order_Certificate of Need_201411-104931-01

Order_Route Permit_14-0120_12-1337

PUC Staff Briefing Papers have been filed:

Staff Briefing Papers – Motion For Reconsideration_20151-106480-01

Here are the Motions for Reconsideration that were filed:

No CapX 2020 Motion for Reconsideration – Certificate of Need

Jagodozinski_Reconsideration – Route

Responses of Applicant and Commerce DER in Certificate of Need docket (12-1053):

Reconsideration_CoN_Applicant’s Reply_201412-105705-01

Commerce DER Response_201412-105704-01

Response of Applicant in Routing Docket (13-1337):



12/19 – Annual Hearing – Power Plant Siting Act

Filed under:Upcoming Events — posted by admin on December 12, 2014 @ 10:36 am

It’s that time of year… the time that we get to tell the Public Utilities Commission what does and does not work about the Power Plant Siting Act.  We’ve been doing it for years, 15 or so years, and have spent over a year now in a rulemaking on the PUC’s rules, Ch. 7849 (Certificate of Need) and Ch. 7850 (Power Plant & Transmission Siting) where some of these long complained of problems will be address (with any luck).  And now, again, it’s time to reinforce those comments with another round of comments:


How to file comments?  From the notice:


After the hearing, now officiated by an Administrative Law Judge (new as of a few years ago), a report is issued to the PUC and then ???  It used to go to the legislature, guess I have to find out what happens now.

December 19, 2014 beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Public Utilities Commission

3rd Floor Large Hearing Room

121 – 7th Place East

St. Paul, MN  55101

Each of you who have experience siting and routing of large electric energy facilities — this is the time to weigh in.  You can do it in person, and you can do it by filing comments.

Here is the Power Plant Siting Act, which governs the siting and routing of large energy facilities:

Power Plant Siting Act – 216E

Here are some prior dockets (to access the entire docket, individual comments, etc., go to th PUC’s “SEARCH” site and plug in the docket numbers :

2000 Summary of Proceedings

2000 Report EQB

2001 Summary of Proceedings

2001 Report EQB

2002 Summary of Proceedings

2002 Report to EQB

2003 Summary of Proceedings

2003 Report to EQB

2004 Summary of Proceedings

2004 Report to EQB

2005 Report to PUC

2006 Report to PUC – Docket 06-1733

2007 Report to PUC – Docket 07-1579

2008 Report to PUC – Docket 08-1426

2009 Report to PUC – Docket 09-1351

2010 Report to PUC – Docket 10-222

2011 Report to PUC – Docket 11-324

2012 Report – Docket 12-360 –2012 Report Exhibits

2013 Report  – Docket 13-9650143-96999-01

Let the Badger Coulee hearings begin!

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Upcoming Events,Wisconsin — posted by admin on December 9, 2014 @ 9:38 am

Power line hearing today in Holmen


Public Comment period ends on January 5. Here’s a link!

And here are some articles about Badger Coulee:

Our view: PSC can't forget public service mission

Our view: PSC can’t forget public service mission

Rachel Teske: We don’t need power line expansion

And tell Michael Vickerman what you think of his support of the “it’s all connected” massive grid build-out:

Michael Vickerman: Badger-Coulee catalyst for renewable energy

And as to the Public Service Commission attendance at the hearings — what are you gonna do?

PSC commissioners may skip Badger-Coulee hearings

PSC chairman may attend public hearings after all

PSC Commissioner reverses course

Hearing dates, and CapX 2020 in the news

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Upcoming Events,Wisconsin — posted by admin on November 23, 2014 @ 10:55 am

CapX 2020 in the news… see below.


And in Wisconsin — public hearings on Badger Coulee, La Crosse to Madison, start the week after next:


Condemnations start along CapX2020 powerline route

Posted: Friday, November 21, 2014 7:50 pm

To clear the way for an 11.4-mile segment of new transmission lines, a power utility has started the process of condemning properties stretching from Chester to Oronoco.

The project is part of CapX2020, a massive plan designed to upgrade the electric transmission system in parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In total, the plan will cost $2.2 billion, cover 800 miles and finish in late 2015.

CapX2020 has negotiated deals with 43 land owners to build this 161 kV segment to connect Rochester to the main network, according to project spokesperson Tim Carlsgaard. Tree removal work could begin on the those parcels yet this month.



Icy water, eagles factor into CapX2020 river crossing


ALMA, Wis. — On a blustery November morning on an island in the Mississippi River, a construction crew was hard at work using a massive crane and welding equipment to tear down a 70-foot-tall section of lattice tower.

It was all part of a $30 million effort to string the new CapX2020 transmission lines across the Mississippi River near Alma. The project is a daunting one, requiring the use of barges to transport 3,280 cubic yards of concrete, a 250-ton crane and 6 miles of steel pipe to an island and a peninsula in the river being used for the river crossing. Making that work even more difficult has been the earlier-than-normal cold weather.

“It’s been cold. We’ve been fighting with the ice, so we’re looking to get done in the next couple of weeks,” Zach Pontzer said on Friday morning.





PSC Issues Notice of Hearing for Badger Coulee

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Laws & Rules,Upcoming Events,Wisconsin — posted by admin on November 1, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

The PSC has issued the Notice of Hearing for the Badger Coulee transmission project.  Dates, times, locations below.  Because there’s something even more important — look at the restrictions for those who want to comment:

CommentRestrictionsThere’s nothing in the docket of anyone, objecting to this.  WAKE UP!!!  Parties representing “the public” better stand up!

Here’s even more limitations, setting out the ways people can comment, and that a person may make only ONE comment:


And this too:


Now ain’t that encouraging?  Doesn’t that make you want to run right out and comment?

But remember, there is the option of writing a “Non-Party Brief” as described in the Prehearing Memorandum — see p. 9:

Prehearing Memorandum_Scheduling


Here’s the ALJ’s acknowledgement of that option, and how to do it, from the Prehearing Conference back in August (FYI, it’s Motion for Leave to file a non-party brief, not “relief”):


Here’s the Public Hearing schedule — you’ve got a month to get ready:


When you make your public comment, be sure to let Judge Newmark know what you think of all these restrictions.

ITC Transmission at Commission 10/23

Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on October 10, 2014 @ 2:02 pm

PUC Sept 11 2014

Stop everything — FREEZE — mark your calendar for October 23 at the PUC!

The ITC Midwest MN/IA 345 kV Transmission Project Certificate of Need (12-1053) and the Routing Permit(12-1337) will come before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on October 23, 2014.

Thursday, October 23, 2014 @ 9:30 a.m.

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

121 – 7th Place East, 3rd Floor

St. Paul, Minnesota

It’s #2 on the agenda, so it will begin at a little after 9:30, but get there by 9:30 because these things sometimes go FAST!


In the No-CapX-2020-Exceptions-to-ALJ-RecommendationI’d requested Oral Argument for the parties.  Will there be a public comment option?  If you’re interested in making your comment directly to the Commission at that meeting, email and and request time for public comment.  They don’t always allow public comment, so it would be best to ask for it ASAP.

Some time before October 23, staff will post their “staff briefing papers,” one for the Certificate of Need, and one for the Route Permit, and also DoC-EERA (the routing side of Commerce) will have their recommendations too focused on the route.  I’ll send them around before the meeting, but do keep an eye on the dockets over the next week!  The Briefing Papers will give you an idea where staff is on this, if they have a recommendation.

They’ll be looking at the ALJ’s Recommendation and Exceptions filed by the parties.  Here’s the ALJ’s Recommendation:


And here are the DNR, No CapX, DOC DER and ITC Comments and Exceptions filed:

DNR Comments_20149-103238-02

DNR Exceptions_0149-103238-01



DOC DER Exceptions_20149-103215-01

ITC Midwest Exceptions_20149-103220-02

PUC Rulemaking — send Comments on Drafts

Filed under:Buy the Farm,Laws & Rules,Nuts & Bolts,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on September 1, 2014 @ 9:40 am


The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is winding up its rulemaking on the Certificate of Need (Minn. R. Ch. 7849) and Siting/Routing (Minn. R. Ch. 7850) chapters.  My clients Goodhue Wind Truth and North Route Group have been participating all along, and their experience with the Certificate of Need and Routing/Siting process has helped inform this record and we sure hope leads to more sensible and workable rules, AND increased public participation.

Now is the time to download and make your comments on what should be included, what’s included that’s important and needs to go forward, and what needs to be reworded.

August 13 Draft 7849

7850 July 8 draft

August 13 Ch. 7850 comparison

Send Comments to:

  • and/or post to the Rulemaking Docket.  To do that go HERE to the eDocket Filing Page, register if you’re not registered (it’s easy and almost instant), and post to Docket 12-1246.

It’s highly likely that the LAST meeting of the PUC’s Rulemaking Advisory Committee will be the one on September 24, 2014 (9:30 a.m. at the PUC, in the basement).

A few things that need work:

  • Ch. 7849 & 7850: Need language mirroring statutory language regarding testimony by members of the public UNDER OATH (ALJs have refused to offer people opportunity to testify under oath, and PUC has stated that it makes a difference, “but were those statements made under oath” and if not, less weight.
  • Ch. 7849: Advisory Task Forces need language of statute, and membership not limited to “local units of government.”
  • Ch. 7849 & 7850: Transcripts available online — need to address this in rules and reporter contracts.
  • Ch. 7849: Scoping and Alternatives — compare with Ch. 7850.  Similar process?
  • Ch. 7849.1450: When is it Commerce EER & DER
  • Ch. 7849 & 7850 – timing should be similar for completeness review, etc.
  • Ch. 7850: Public Meeting separate from Scoping Meeting (Public Meeting is to disseminate information, Scoping Meeting is for intake).
  • Ch. 7850: Power Plant Siting Act includes “Buy the Farm.”  Need rules regarding Buy the Farm.

Now is the time to review the drafts, above, and send in Comments.  There may be, I hope there are, revisions released prior to the next meeting, but usually it happens just before, and there’s no time.  So here’s where we are now, and Comments would be helpful.

Scoping Meetings for Badger Coulee!!!

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Upcoming Events,Wisconsin — posted by admin on May 29, 2014 @ 10:40 am

Yesterday was the first scoping meeting for the Xcel Energy/ATC Badger Coulee transmission line — I must confess, I was booked, so I couldn’t get there.  But there are more next week and the week after.

Here’s the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin’s notice:

Scoping Meetings – Order

And the specifics:


Why go?  Because this is where you get to let them know what should be addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement, and in Wisconsin, it addresses need!  “The EIS will cover the need for the project, its cost, and potential environmental, community, and private property impacts. ”  Let’s see them define the need on this one, other than stuffing money in their grubby big pockets.

So saddle up and let’s let them know what we think they should look at through their magnifying glass!



FERC – Reliability and the Bulk-Power System

Filed under:FERC,Nuts & Bolts,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on June 16, 2013 @ 8:33 am


July 9th – mark your calendars!

FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, is at it again.  Join in on the free webcast, also no need to register, and it’s really stimulating stuff! “Reliability of the Bulk-Power System”  Doesn’t get much better than that!

FERC Webcast – Tuesday July 9 @ 9 a.m. EDT

This webcast could be useful, because we all know that Reliability and the Bulk-Power System are one of those conflated things, because the “Bulk-Power System” is about marketing and shipping everywhere and anywhere, and “Reliability” is more the inverse of these bul-power transfers, which can trigger instability by promoting such a high-capacity grid that the magnitude of the transfers, the long distance, and need for reactive power puts the system at risk.

SD Coal Connection Announced

Filed under:News coverage,South Dakota,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on February 24, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

transmission_towers =coal


Finally, the South Dakota to Minnesota transmission line is announced.

Transmission equals coal, the “benefits” of transmission are realized when coal displaces natural gas, when coal can be shipped anywhere:

ICF – MISO Benefits Analysis Study

And that can only happen with a massive transmission build-out, the likes of which we’re seeing with CapX 2020, and with a 765kV transmission web waiting in the wings:

RGOS – Regional Generation Outlet Study

We weren’t allowed to address coal and transmission lines from the Dakotas to Minnesota in the CapX Certificate of Need proceeding, even though their own map shows the full plan, from the Dakotas to Madison, yes, old news, but here we go again — see those transmission lines starting in the Dakotas?


Finally, they’ve announced the South Dakota transmission lines, in this case, from Ellendale, SD to Big Stone, SD:

$300 million transmission line project to be discussed

By Jeff Natalie-Lees,

11:16 p.m. CST, February 23, 2013

One of the largest electrical transmission line projects proposed in years will be discussed at five open house meetings this week.

The line from Big Stone City to Ellendale, N.D., would cover 150 to 175 miles and cut across land owned by several hundred farmers. The cost is estimated at $300 million to $340 million.

“It is definitely one of the biggest ones we have participated in,” said Mark Hanson, spokesman for Montana-Dakota Utilities.

The line, which would be jointly operated by Montana-Dakota Utilities and Otter Tail Power Company, would provide many benefits to the region, including providing transmission capacity for wind energy.

The meetings are designed to allow people to see the proposed corridors for the line and ask questions.

“We will be taking all this feedback from landowners and agencies and developing a preferred route,” Hanson said. “That is what we need when we file the route permit with the South Dakota and North Dakota public utilities commissions.”

Construction on the line would begin in 2016 and take three years to complete. In the meantime, the utilities will be working on securing easements from landowners and completing permits.

Landowners who sign an easement will receive a one-time payment for purchase of land at pole sites, Hanson said. The poles will be between 700 feet to 1,200 feet apart.

While precautions will be made to avoid damaging any crops during the construction of the poles and lines, landowners will be compensated for any damage, Hanson said.

The line has been recommended by the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, the independent regulatory agency for electrical transmission in 15 states and parts of Canada, as a “multivalue project.”

A study determined the need for the the line, Hanson said, and provide benefits such as:

While landowners are the most affected by the transmission line, everyone is invited to the meetings to learn more about the project, Hanson said.


Open House meetings are scheduled in the following towns:

Groton: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, Groton Area School; presentation at 6 p.m.

Ellendale, N.D.: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Fireside Restaurant and Lounge; presentation at noon.

Britton: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Britton-Hecla High School; presentation at 6 p.m.

Webster: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, The Galley; presentation at noon.

Milbank: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Milbank Visitors Center; presentation at 6 p.m.

So why did it take so long?  Looks like it’s timed to begin as Minnesota ends…


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace