Quacks like a conflict…

Filed under:Cardinal-Hickory,News coverage,Nuts & Bolts,RUS EIS — posted by admin on December 12, 2018 @ 11:20 am

Looks like a conflict, quacks like a conflict, but maybe it’s just a duck?  A duck following the money?

ELPC in the news:

“It doesn’t fully do what’s required … which is to rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center. “It assumes that a huge and expensive interstate transmission line must be built and doesn’t fully and fairly evaluate all reasonable alternatives.”

Here’s the full article:

Power line opponents pan draft review of Dubuque-Middleton transmission project

Here are links to the USDA RUS EIS:

RUS EIS for Cardinal-Hickory Creek released!

Let’s think about this… it’s hard to wrap my head around… Howard Learner opposing a transmission project?  After all the dough Environmental Law and Policy Center got to promote transmission?  Remember the transmission love fest held by ELPC where transmission opponents were not allowed to attend??

Here’s the press release from the ELPC site:

New Environmental Study of Proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Improperly Rejects Alternatives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Chuck Tenneson, charles@driftlessconservancy.org, 608-930-3252

Sarah Eddy, seddy@elpc.org, 312-795-3710

DODGEVILLE, Wis., Dec. 10, 2018 – The draft environmental impact statement (EIS) released recently by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) for the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line includes only a cursory review of non-transmission alternatives to the high-voltage line such as greater energy efficiency, local renewables, and energy storage, despite requirements in federal law that alternatives be considered thoroughly. The draft EIS admits that non-transmission alternatives, along with lower-voltage and underground alternatives, were “not carried forward for detailed analysis.”

The proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line in southwest Wisconsin would cut a swath through the state’s scenic and ecologically unique Driftless Area. The cost of the project would be borne by electric ratepayers in Wisconsin and other states and energy experts have concluded that the new transmission line is not needed due to flattened demand for electricity in Wisconsin and recent advances in energy technology.

The costs and environmental damage that would be created by the transmission line has sparked opposition and legal challenges from local grassroots citizens and conservation groups. Wisconsin’s Dane and Iowa Counties voted to oppose the transmission line and have intervened in the Public Service Commission proceedings to fight the project.

“We wouldn’t think of putting a power line across the Grand Canyon, so why would we think of putting one through one of the most beautiful and unique landscapes in the Upper Midwest?” Said Dave Clutter, executive director of the Driftless Area Land Conservancy. “We have a national treasure in the Driftless Area, and we should treat it like one.”

“RUS is required by federal law to ‘rigorously explore and objectively evaluate all reasonable alternatives’ to proposed transmission lines like the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project,” said Howard Learner, one of the Environmental Law and Policy Center attorneys representing DALC. “RUS cannot simply look at different environmentally harmful routes for this huge transmission line and call it a day.”

“Iowa County residents have come together to adamantly oppose this unneeded high-voltage power line, which would irreversibly damage the landscape, ecology, and recreation economy we depend on,” said Betsy D’Angelo, a member of the Driftless Defenders’ leadership team. “There are alternatives that can improve our electric system without damaging the Driftless Area’s most important natural areas.”

“The draft environmental impact statement for the Cardinal-Hickory Creek project ignores the reality of new technology that has improved energy efficiency and decreased the demand for electricity,” said David Meylor, chairman of the Western Dane Preservation Campaign, the Mount Horeb area citizens group formed to oppose the line. “Recent analyses of electric demand demonstrate that the expensive, invasive Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line project simply isn’t needed.”

“The proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission line will have a significant negative impact on fish and wildlife habitat and the management of public lands in Southwestern Wisconsin and in light of other energy alternatives should not be constructed,” stated George Meyer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation.

The proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line would install towers of up to 175-feet along a 100-mile route that would affect sensitive natural areas and disrupt economic activity. The project could cost ratepayers more than $1 billion during the life of the project, including a profit margin for the transmission line’s utility owners that is guaranteed by Wisconsin law.

Legal counsel for the Driftless Area Land Conservancy will be reviewing the RUS’s draft EIS in greater detail and will submit comprehensive public comments to the agency. Members of the public are strongly encouraged to submit comments before the deadline of Feb. 5, 2019.

###

Issued by:

Driftless Area Land Conservancy

Driftless Defenders

Environmental Law and Policy Center

Western Dane County Preservation Campaign

Wisconsin Wildlife Federation

RUS EIS for Cardinal-Hickory Creek released!

Filed under:Cardinal-Hickory — posted by admin on December 3, 2018 @ 5:29 pm

It’s out, the USDA’s RUS EIS for Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission project:

Draft Environmental Impact Statement – November 2018

From the RUS Notice, how to send in comments and list of public meetings:

RUS page for Environmental Review for Cardinal – Hickory Creek Transmission Line Project – Iowa & Wisconsin

 

Cardinal-Hickory Creek slogs on

Filed under:Cardinal-Hickory,FERC,RUS EIS — posted by admin on November 17, 2018 @ 1:19 pm

Cardinal-Hickory Creek is the $492-543 million southern part of MPV5, running SW-NE, the line from near Dubuque to Middleton, near Madison, connecting into the 345kV overlay.  The Wisconsin EIS scoping period is happening now.  Scoping is the determination of the “scope” of the EIS and your comments on what should be included can, indeed, influence the scope.

Public “open house” style sessions were held in Dodgeville on November 8,  in Middleton November 12, and in Lancaster on November 14, 2018.  Now, they way to get comments in is to send them to the PSC.

EIS SCOPING COMMENTS ARE DUE JANUARY 4, 2019.

Meanwhile, the USDA’s RUS is working on an EIS, these two are separate… WHY?  That RUS EIS is due to be released December 7 or 14, 2018, though that could change.  For more info:

USDA-RUS Cardinal-Hickory Creek page

Has it occurred to USDA’s RUS that a massive transmission build-out hurts agriculture?  Has it occurred to USDA’s RUS that massive transmission build-out provides incentive and subsidizes generation projects that hurt agriculture?

Here are the PSC’s comment comments:

Note this caveat, where the PSC limits information it will be confronted with:

A comment may consist of the writer’s personal knowledge or personal opinions only. A reference document, newspaper article, professional journal article, white paper, study or any other prepared material not written by the person commenting is not considered a public comment, but may be referenced in a person’s comment.

That policy has been, and remains, infuriating.

To send comments, in order of my biased preference:

  • EIS Coordinator, Cindy Burtley: cindy.burtley@wisconsin.gov
  • Go to PSC site, psc.wi.gov, then click “e-Services” at top, then on left click on “File a Comment” and scroll down to “Cardinal-Hickory Creek” (they’re in alpha order). Another way on PSC home page is to scroll down and click “Comment” on left side of home page.  Either way takes to here, so just click here:  http://apps.psc.wi.gov/vs2015/ERF/comment/filecomment.aspx?util=5&case=CE&num=146

EIS SCOPING COMMENTS ARE DUE JANUARY 4, 2019.

Get it done, write up your comments.

I’m particularly concerned about this high voltage build-out, because the grid is already overbuilt.  This line, together with the others, increases reliance on central station power, and once built, provides a disincentive for distributed and dispersed power.  It’s not needed, it’s wanted. Why? Because utilities make a lot more money through FERC approved return on capital investments for infrastructure than they do selling electricity.  DOH!  Who benefits, who pays?  They benefit, we pay. Thanks, thanks a lot!

My comments from December 2016 to RUS:

 

MISO bars access to planning meetings

From the public meeting materials, here’s what they’re looking at, above.  These are significant additions to the transmission grid in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Look at the number of double circuits they want to add, and look at the new transmission planned for Minnesota and WIsconsin.  And note how, as with CapX 2020, it’s starting in the coal fields of the Dakotas.

MISO’s Economic Planning Users Group is planning a “Regional Transmission Overlay Study” and they’re having another meeting tomorrow, May 25, 2017 down in Metatairie, Louisiana.

Here’s the call in info:

WebEx Information
Event Number: 966 575 350
WebEx Password: Ts824634

Participant Dial-In Number: 1-800-689-9374
Participant Code: 823713

Meeting Materials from the MISO site:

Here’s the problem — they close the meeting, and people like me aren’t allowed to attend.  First I was told, back in January when I tried to register:

Thank you for registering for the Economic Planning Users Group (EPUG) on Jan 31.  The afternoon portion of this meeting will be held in CLOSED session and reserved from MISO Members or Market Participants only.  Please feel free to attend the morning session from 11:00 am to 12:45 pm ET / 10:00 am to 11:45 CT.

I filled out their “CEII – Non-Disclosure Agreement” form and fired it off.  But noooooo…

So next I went to the PUC’s Quarterly MISO update, where I was assured that we could make arrangements so that I could attend.  I resent the “CEII – Non-Disclosure Agreement” and went back and forth and it came to this (click for larger version).  Note this “explanation” of options to be able to attend:

The reason that you were not permitted to attend the closed session is because the meeting involved discussion of Critical Energy Infrastructure Information (CEII) and CEII access requests by Non-Member Individuals requires FERC clearance.  Another access option is to be included on Appendix A of a MISO member or Market Participant.

So that says there are two ways to gain access, 1) get “FERC clearance” or 2) “Another access option is to be included on Appendix A of a MISO member or Market Participant.”  One or the other. Emphasis added.  Here’s the email (click for larger version) laying out those two options:

Oh, I says to myself, off to FERC.  I sent in the requisite paperwork to FERC, and got “FERC clearance” and they shipped me the CEII information, including but not limited to the map.  I let MISO know I’d obtained “FERC clearance,” and here’s the response (click for larger version):

ARRRRGH, they have my CEII NDA on file, have had it since January 23, 2017.  I resent it to the writer of these emails on March 4, 2017, and I sent it again today, and objected to yet another change in their “rules” (click for larger version):

So the plot thickens — from MISO (click or larger version):

And from moi (click for larger version):

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!

LTE in Dodgeville Chronicle

Filed under:Cardinal-Hickory,ITC MN & IA 345 kV,News coverage,RUS EIS,Wisconsin — posted by admin on December 8, 2016 @ 8:12 am

mvp345

See the lower 1/2 of MISO’s MVP project 5, running from near Dubuque, IA to the northeast to the “Cardinal” substation near Madison?  That’s the Cardinal – Hickory Creek transmission line.

The Dodgeville Chronicle ran my Letter to the Editor, just in time for the meeting last night, held by Rural Utilities Service, about the Cardinal – Hickory Creek transmission project:

From 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 7th, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) is hosting a scoping meeting at the Deer Valley Lodge in Barneveld. RUS will again collect scoping comments for its Environmental Impact Study as it decides on a loan to Dairyland Power Cooperative for a share of project costs. RUS held scoping meetings October 31-November 3, 2016 – why more scoping meetings now?

The Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission project stretches from a substation near Peosta, across the Mississippi River and Wisconsin, near Dodgeville, to a substation near Madison. Last April, as reported in this paper, American Transmission Company’s Jon Callaway reported that the project schedule had been pushed out to 2018 or beyond. The reasons weren’t clear, and should be specified and made part of the RUS record.

Cardinal-Hickory Creek and the under-construction Badger-Coulee transmission lines are MISO’s (Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.) MVP project “five” revealed five years ago in MISO’s MTEEP 11 report. That was 2011, and it was “postponed” in 2016. Why the delay? MISO’s 12.38% rate of return for construction has been successfully challenged in federal court. There’s a glut of electricity where even marketing electricity cross country is not alleviating the industry’s overproduction. MISO’s MVP economic modeling no longer hold under current scenarios. And maybe the delay is that and more!

Now’s the time to tell RUS to consider the economics, need and causes of delay in its financing decision. If delay is right for the project developers, RUS should also delay, and put financing on hold.

Carol A. Overland, Esq.
Red Wing, MN

RUS’ Cardinal-Hickory Creek meetings

Filed under:Cardinal-Hickory,Laws & Rules,News coverage,Nuts & Bolts,RUS EIS,Upcoming Events,Wisconsin — posted by admin on December 7, 2016 @ 7:16 am

20161206_1655071

Slow evening at Rural Utilities Service’s (RUS) scoping meeting for the Environmental Impact Statement for the Cardinal – Hickory Creek transmission project.  RUS is involved because Dairyland Power Cooperative (DPC) plans to hold a 9% undivided interest in the project, and are looking to RUS to provide the funding.  RUS held two more meetings, following on prior meetings October 31 and November 1 & 2, because their notice for those meetings went out a day late, so another Notice went out:

Notice of Intent To Hold Public Meetings and Prepare Environmental Impact Statement (October 18, 2016

Second Notice_2016-27988-2

Where’s my prior post on these meetings?  It’s gone! Here’s the dates and locations (click for larger version) — the last one is tomorrow in Barneveld, Wisconsin:

noice12-6-7-2016

So to make quick work of it, this is cut and pasted from the RUS Cardinal Hickory Creek page:

I had a quick chat with Dennis Rankin who’s in charge of the environmental review on this and the Dairyland Q-1 South projects, and had a few quick things to register, particularly that ATC has announced that the project is delayed:

ATC postpones Cardinal-Hickory Creek project – The Dodgeville Chronicle -Dodgeville, WI

I had this article and a few comments to add tonight, and will file more detailed comments before the deadline — now January 6, 2017.

Overland-Legalectric Preliminary Comments Cardinal-Hickory Creek(don’t worry, I’ll get this looking pretty by the deadline!)

20161206_1654551

On the way in, there was new transmission marching across the countryside, so ugly:

xmsn-mvp

And look how close to this house in New Vienna, right up near the garage, and not far from the house either — this line cut right through the middle of town:

20161206_1550331

20161206_1551041

newvienna1

But all in all, it was a beautiful day for a drive today!

20161206_1543442

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

Southern part of MVP 5 through Dubuque, to Madison

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Cardinal-Hickory,ITC MN & IA 345 kV,Wisconsin — posted by admin on August 16, 2015 @ 12:49 pm

MVP345

Yup, the southern part of MVP 5 through Iowa and Wisconsin is in the news today:

Dubuque, Cassville or Guttenberg? Transmisison line routes considered.

A while back, the City of Dubuque stood up for its residents and viewshed and all its economic development along the riverfront and said NO to MVP 5 through their riverfront!

From No CapX 2020:

Dubuque says NO to MVP 5 Cardinal-Hickory?

ATC has been gearing up in Wisconsin:

Transmission line proposed

… and from the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, City staff weighed in against MVP 5:

Dubuque: No to Powerline

And then, yes, indeed, in June they DID vote NO, unanimously, 7-0.  Here’s the full story, short and very clear:

Council members back city staff in opposition to transmission line

Posted: Monday, June 15, 2015 9:59 pm

Dubuque City Council members members voted, 7-0, to oppose plans for a new high-voltage transmission line.

The vote was in support of a recommendation from city staff, who say the transmission line would negatively affect residents and violate city code.

ITC Midwest has proposed building a 125-mile transmission line from the Madison, Wis.-area to Dubuque County. The Cardinal-Hickory Creek Project would connect American Transmission Company’s Cardinal Substation in Middleton (Wis.) Township to ITC Midwest’s Hickory Creek Substation, east of New Vienna in Dubuque County.

Council members adopted a resolution that effectively tells ITC Midwest that pursuing a line through Dubuque “would not be in the public interest.”

In today’s Telegraph Herald, it’s up for discussion again:

Dubuque, Cassville or Guttenberg? Transmisison line routes considered.

Here’s something of note — if they’re shutting down these coal plants, that frees up a lot of room on the grid — so why add more transmission?

Stead said the bigger concern is the lost revenue Grant County will see in 2016 with the closure of DTE Energy’s Stoneman Station biomass plant and Cassville’s Nelson Dewey Generating Station, a coal-burning plant operated by Alliant Energy. Both are slated to close by the end of the year.

There’s a bizarre proposal afoot, to utilize existing structures build for a much smaller line:

One of the crossings would utilize a low-voltage transmission line that already spans the river, which ITC would tack onto by stringing a double-circuit using existing poles and towers.

WHAT?!?!  In every other proceeding where people have asked why they don’t do such a thing, because sometimes it seems to make sense, we’ve been told it can’t be done, the older and smaller structures can’t handle the load.  And now it would work?  $50 says no…

And a choice snippet:

The sites were chosen because of existing infrastructure on the river — transmission lines, bridges and locks and dams — which would enable the developer to reduce environmental impacts from the line, said ITC spokesman Tom Petersen.

He noted the company is in the early stages of exploring its options for crossing the river, and is working with elected officials, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Center for Rural Affairs in Dyersville, Iowa, to determine which option will have the fewest impacts.

What?  Our “good friends” at Center for Rural Affairs are weighing in, as if they’re important, and it’s not disclosed that they’re transmission toadies:

toad

And it should be disclosed, all the money that they’ve been paid via RE-AMP and otherwise should be disclosed!

Center for Rural Affairs toadies for transmission

A while back, Alan and I went on an infrastructure tour, and here’s a photo of the Cassville plant on the eastern short of the Mississippi, one of the ones slated to close:

CassvilleSub

And below are the economic development investments that the City of Dubuque is trying to protect.  From traveldubuque.com:

Grand-River-Center_Dubuque-IA-4-e1411672143714

riverfront200

It’s one of those times I wish my engineer, Art Hughes, E.E. Ph.D., was still around — he died not far from Dubuque, in Peosta, and just one week after he was photographed making comments before the Iowa Utilities Board on an ITC transmission line proposed in the area — a transmission line that provides the link between MISO MVP 4 and MVP 5 in Iowa:

Hearing generates electricity

Dubuque County landowners express concern about ITC transmission line

arthughes

Look at this map.  The line that Art’s objecting to here is the solid line connector  of 345 kV, the piece between the heavier dashed lines of MISO MVP 4 at Hazelton in Buchanan County and the Salem substation in Dubuque County where MIS MVP 5 picks up.  And I know what he’d think about this MISO MVP Portfolio of 17 projects and this MVP 5… oh well…

MVP345

 

Dubuque says NO to MVP 5 Cardinal-Hickory?

Filed under:Cardinal-Hickory — posted by admin on June 14, 2015 @ 9:29 am

MVP345

NO?  YES!  It’s likely to happen, and the Cardinal-Hickory 1/2 of MVP 5 will be coming before the Dubuque City Council soon.

Remember ITC’s 1/2 of MVP 3 (shown above the “3” on map) that it applied for, and which was permitted, last year?  Remember ATC and Xcel’s 1/2 of MVP 5 (“shown above the “5” on map) that it applied for, and which was permitted this year?  Well now, another piece of that MVP plan, the other 1/2 of MVP 5, the dashed line below “5” above, is gearing up, and is being met with some significant opposition.  And also well-funded promotion, with Center for Rural Affairs receiving at least $670,000 since 2010 to promote transmission, including these MVP projects (and they’re not the only one, check out RE-AMP funding!).

Dubuque: No to Powerline

According to this article:

Van Milligen concurs with a recommendation by Planning Services Manager Laura Carstens and City Engineer Gus Psihoyos that council members adopt a resolution stating that the filing of a petition by ITC and a formal hearing process would not be in the public interest.

“I think the memo is pretty straightforward,” Psihoyos said. “We have issues that we saw on all three routes, and a transmission line can’t be within 250 feet of a residence.”

Here’s the Telegraph Herald’s view of the alternate routes proposed and what it would do to Dubuque:

557d2d5e0dd92.image

A couple months ago, Alan and I went on a utility intrastructure tour which included the Cassville substation that they might try to use:

CassvilleSub

Dubuque has put a lot into its waterfront, and pass-through transmission is the last thing they need.  Interesting too is the city’s ordinance requiring a 250 foot distance from residences — something every township, city, county and state in the U.S. should adopt.

And here’s an interesting factoid from that Dubuque Telegraph Herald article:

Staff at the Center for Rural Affairs also is following the project. Dyersville, Iowa, was chosen for its new office, the only one in Iowa, because of its proximity to Dubuque and the high-voltage transmission line.

WOW!  The lengths they’ll go to in promotion of transmission — what does that office cost in rent, staff, expenses?  How much is Center for Rural Affairs getting to do this?  Center for Rural Affairs has been getting a lot of transmission specific dough:

Oh, look, more:

And more, so in three years, $520,000 to support transmission from Kresge Foundation:

And in 2014, McKnight Foundation takes over funding these transmission toadies, with another $150,000, so $670,000 over 4 years:

Center for Rural Affairs

Lyons NE

to engage local communities in establishing environmentally responsible siting for clean energy transmission in Wisconsin and Iowa, and to co-support the RE-AMP Rural Communities Caucus leader and staff coordinator

toad
$670,000… $670,000 over 4 years… a budget like that makes me green with envy.  How many transmission opponents have that sort of budget?  Think what we could do with that… or even half of that… or even a quarter of that!!!
If Center for Rural Affairs can get that kind of money to promote transmission, that says a lot about what these projects are worth to the developers!  This is not rocket science.  It’s all about the electricity market.  There’s a LOT of money at stake, a lot of profit to be made, and it’s profit made on the backs of all of us in transmission “flyover” land, using us, our land, to get to market.


image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace