Barr Engineering Complaint Before PUC Oct 4th


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


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

PUC Staff Briefing Papers – October 4, 2012 Meeting

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

Conflict of Interest Complaint Against Barr Engineering

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

Letter and Amended Complaint – September 10, 2012

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.


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!

Tell Obama what you think about transmission!

Here’s your chance!  Obama is coming to Cannon Falls on Monday morning, the press release says a “bus tour” so does that mean down 52 to 19?


If we can’t get in, we can line the route to let him know what we think about taking people’s land for private purpose transmission lines and his utter lack of a coherent energy policy.

11:45 a.m. the shindig starts in Lower Hannah’s Bend Park in Cannon Falls.

Remember when Clinton came to Carleton?  He flew into MSP and then hopped a helicopter to Stanton Airport.  Initially I figured that’d be how they do it this time, just head east instead of west, but considering that “bus” bit, 52 makes the most sense, and then down 52 to Decorah (so the FAA no fly zone VIP announcement says):

President Barack Obama is planning to stop in Minnesota on Monday to begin a three-day bus tour to promote his economic policies. The White House announced Thursday that Air Force One will land in Minneapolis on Monday morning and then the president will host a town hall meeting in Cannon Falls at Lower Hannah’s Bend Park.
Monday, Aug. 15, 2011:

Lower Hannah’s Bend Park (just north and west of downtown)

Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 – 11:45 AM

Tickets required.  Tickets may be picked up at 1 PM on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011, at 1 PM at the Cannon Falls City Hal, 918 River Road, Cannon Fallsl.

Only two tickets/person are allowed and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
(Rumor has it only 500 tickets being distributed.)

The bus tour will also include events in Peosta, Iowa, and in western Illinois.

From the White House Press Release:

For security reasons, do not bring bags and limit personal items.  No signs or banners permitted.  All attendees will go through airport-like security.  Due to limited space at the event the White House will only be able to fulfill a limited number of requests for tickets. Tickets are not for sale or re-sale.

Peosta, Iowa???  That’s where Art Hughes died!

Brookings Remand – Motion for Reconsideration & Reply

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on March 31, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

Brookings Motion for Reconsideration has been filed.

I just was eServed the CapX Applicants’ Reply to Motion for Reconsideration, but was there a Motion for Reconsideration? So I went to the docket, and sure enough, one was filed.  It didn’t come through eDockets eService notifications that I can see, and it didn’t come via email or mail… hmmmmmmm.

Well, anyway, here are the filings – it’s large:

Wolter – Motion for Reconsideration – Part 1

Wolter – Motion for Reconsideration – Part 2

What notified me of the Motion for Reconsideration was that this Response was filed, just in!

CapX Applicants – Response to Motion for Reconsideration

It looks like the Motion for Reconsideration was mailed to the PUC and stamped “received” on March 18, 2011, and then filed by the PUC on the 21st.  I’ve checked my Inbox and have a few things for 08-1474 going way, way back, but nothing.  Was it served?

I wish they’d have intervened in the Remand… I’d pushed for a reopening of the window for intervention, knowing there were people concerned who had sat out the initial Brookings proceeding, and the deadline for intervention was extended to September 2, 2010:

Prehearing Order 1 – Intervention Deadline September 2, 2010

…oh well… ya can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make ’em intervene.

So is there an appeal in the offing?  Perhaps.  MinnCan Redux?  Perhaps…

MinnCan Pipeline – Unpublished Appellate Case

Brookings line moves forward in South Dakota

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on January 6, 2011 @ 5:59 pm


Catching up here.  In November, CapX 2020 utilities filed their South Dakota permit application for the Brookings – Hampton transmission line:

CapX 2020 South Dakota application for Brookings-Hampton line

Does anyone remember the SDEIA study where they noted that there’s no market, and if they wanted to build transmission, well… WHY?

SDEIA Energy Study

And there’s a meeting about that part of the Brookings line TONIGHT!!!  The intervention deadline is January 24, 2011.

Notice of Public Hearing

Here’s from the Sioux Falls Argus Leader newspaper:

Hearing tonight to discuss line for wind farms in Brookings County

The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission will hold a hearing in Brookings tonight on a transmission line that would move power from wind farms in Brookings County to the Twin Cities.

Xcel Energy, representing the CapX2020 initiative – a group of 11 utilities proposing grid upgrades throughout the region – will make the pitch for the 10.6-mile, 345-kilovolt line.

The hearing is at 6:30 p.m. at the Swiftel Center, 824 32nd Ave., in Daktronics Banquet Room A.

USFWS Letter has arrived

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on October 30, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

Here it is — United States Fish & Wildlife Service acknowledging that either way, The CapX 2020 Brookings-Hampton  transmission line crossing the Minnesota River at either LeSueur or Belle Plaine, either way eagles will be killed, there will be an “eagle take.”

USFWS Letter to GRE October 29, 2010

Notice how they send it to Great River Energy, and they had a meeting on October 14, 2010, and parties to this project are NOT included???   Hmmmmmm… so what did they agree to on October 14?

What we do know: An aerial crossing is NOT feasible.  Don’t let the judge forget about all those underground estimates, particularly the ones from Power Engineering which were NOT that expensive, nothing like the Black & Veatch ones!



Many have been submitted already.  Here’s a very important one, if you haven’t read it yet, take a few minutes:

Affidavit of Bruce McKay, P.E. – Magnetic Field Calculations

Send your comments to:

or by mail directly to Judge Luis at:

Judge Richard Luis

Brookings Docket – 08-1474

Office of Administrative Hearings

P.O. Box 64620

St. Paul, MN  55164-0620

“Lessons learned from CapX 2020”

Filed under:Upcoming Events — posted by admin on August 27, 2010 @ 9:31 am

And what are you doing October 11-12?  How about going to an EUCI-PowerMarketers shindig in Chicago to give the industry a clue about siting transmission and what Capx 2020 is really about?

Transmission Expansion for Renewable Energy in the Midwest: October 11-12

Now whereever would they get the idea that CapX 2020 is “for Renewable Energy?”

Here’s direct info taken from their blurb that the sponsors just sent around:

  • Discuss key determinants shaping the grid build-out in the Midwest
  • Evaluate the findings of the MISO Regional Generation Outlet Study
  • Examine the planning and prioritization process for transmission expansion in SPP
  • Review Phase One of the SMART Study and how it’s sponsors will use the results to shape their transmission expansion plans in the Midwest
  • Describe lessons learned through the planning and siting process for CAPX2020
  • Discuss how state regulators balance planning and priorities for the transmission build-out in the Midwest
  • Identify how MISO is using visualization to improve renewable energy integration
  • Analyze the opportunities and challenges of a 765kV transmission superhighway meant to enable more renewable generation for more markets
  • Review HVDC technology as an alternative for transmission of renewable energy

A booth costs a fortune, so

9:30 a.m. Monday, July 12 Deadline to Preregister

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on July 11, 2010 @ 2:19 pm


CapX 2020 Brookings-Hampton transmission line is before the Public Utilities Commission on July 13, 2010.

This is our chance to storm the Bastille – but you have to sign up ahead of time to speak — they’re altering their process, disturbing that they see fit to do this now, to add another layer of “chill” to get through for people to speak out.  Don’t let that stop you!


Call 651-296-0406 or 800-657-3782 (”Option 1″) or email — tell them your name, phone number, and group affiliation if any.  CONTACT THEM by Monday, July 12 @ 9:30 a.m.

Here’s the MOES Staff Recommendation to the PUC, from their Brookings-Hampton page:

REVISED Staff Briefing Papers – Narrative

There are SO many maps, here’s how to find them:

  2. then click “Search Dockets “
  3. search for 08-1474.

Here’s the map of the proposed Minnesota River Crossing near Belle Plaine:

Maps CH 61-72 – eFiling No: 20107-52223-06



Call 651-296-0406 or 800-657-3782 (”Option 1″) or email — tell them your name, phone number, and group affiliation if any.  CONTACT THEM by Monday, July 12 @ 9:30 a.m.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010 @ 9:30 a.m.

Public Utilities Commission

121 – 7th Place East, Large Hearing Room

St. Paul, Minnesota

CapX2020 Brookings @ PUC July 13th & 15th

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,St.Cloud-Monticello,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on June 30, 2010 @ 2:51 pm

Wondering how to celebrate Bastille Day this year?  Come on, let’s storm the PUC!


Now’s the time to start figuring out your Public Comments for the PUC on the Brookings routing docket.




Notice is coming out tomorrow, Bob Cupit was kind enough to let us know that the PUC will hear Public Comments, and also Oral Arguments of the parties (all 2 of us!):

Tuesday, July 13, 2010 @ 9:30 a.m.

Public Utilities Commission

121 – 7th Place East, Large Hearing Room

St. Paul, Minnesota

Here’s a memo from Bob Cupit explaining the process:

PUC – Brookings Scheduling Memo

There are some important rules here to be aware of for those of you PUBLIC COMMENTERS — from the memo:

YOU MUST PREREGISTER TO SPEAK.  Call 651-296-0406 or 800-657-3782 (“Option 1”) or email — tell them your name, phone number, and group affiliation if any.  CONTACT THEM BY JULY 12 @ 9:30 a.m.

  • Public comment will be taken in the order in which registration was received.
  • Each person will have three to five minutes to speak.
  • Persons who wish to speak are encouraged to provide summary positions on the facts in the case record.
  • Please note that all comments from previous public hearings are in the official record, presented on pages 1-2 through 155 of the Report of the Administrative Law Judge, and reviewed by the PUC Commissioners prior to the meeting.  Because the hearing record is closed, no new evidence can be accepted.  However, commenters may provide written documentation that supports summary positions.  Nine (9) courtesy copies of any written submissions are encouraged but not required. [NoCapX Comment: BRING COPIES – THIS HELPS THEM FOLLOW YOUR COMMENT!]
  • Persons associated with one of the formal parties listed below should expect their positions will be presented during oral argument by the parties.

Get ready… we’ve got about two weeks.

Here’s the ALJ’s Recommendation for a little light reading:

FINAL Recommendation for CapX 2020 Brookings-Hampton route


And don’t forget that the St. Cloud-Monticello routing docket is before the PUC on Thursday, July 8th, at the tail end of the agenda!

ALJ’s Recommendation for St. Cloud to Monticello


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace