CapX 2020 in the Beagle

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on September 29, 2007 @ 11:21 am

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This week in the Red Wing Republican-Eagle, why, LOOK!  It’s CapX 2020!!!!

Power line plan presented — but it remains vague

Mike Longaecker
The Republican Eagle – 09/26/2007

A group that wants to expand power lines across the state — including into southeast Minnesota — presented its case Tuesday in Red Wing.

Officials heading up the CapX 2020 project gave the public a look at plans that would extend power lines from the Twin Cities to Rochester via Hampton. An alternate option would be to run the lines east out of Hampton all the way to Xcel’s Prairie Island nuclear plant before heading south.

Project leaders spent Tuesday going over the proposal with attendees at the Red Wing Public Library, explaining plans and answering questions.

Despite the possibility of new high-voltage lines being pulled across private property, concerns among attendees were tempered by patience.

“No need to get worked up yet,” said Sandy Oehmke, a Dakota County resident who owns a large spread of land that meets Goodhue County.

Though concerned that her 2,300-acre divided parcel could drop in value if power lines became part of the landscape, the Ravenna Township resident didn’t jump to conclusions. Instead, Oehmke said she will wait until the state Public Utility Commission decides which direction the lines will travel.

That decision could be years off. Xcel Energy’s Grant Stevenson said his company and 10 others in the CapX 2020 consortium first have to convince the PUC that there is a need for the project.

The agency received the group’s request for a certificate of need just a few weeks ago, beginning a process that officials expect could take from 15 to 18 months.

Stevenson, who serves as Xcel’s CapX 2020 project manager, said that if the “why” is approved, then state officials can start tackling the “where.” He predicted consortium leaders will have narrowed the possibilities for route down to two or three in about a year.

Stevenson said existing “linear infrastructure” — namely, Highway 52 — would be the enabling corridor used to extend the transmission lines to Rochester.

That would provide a redundant current between the Twin Cities and Rochester if lines heading out of Prairie Island were to go down, he said — thus making it the preferred option.

But since that determination is a long way off, project officials are purposefully avoiding concrete statements.

Still, the lack of solid data left some at the meeting a little puzzled.

“I don’t think they’re telling us enough information to know if we should get excited or not,” said Red Wing resident Janice Hinsch, calling the CapX 2020 proposal “vague.”

Xcel, the leading partner in the venture, argues that the transmission line expansion is necessary due increased need for electricity.

New energy sources will also be pumping added power onto the electrical grid through implements like wind turbines, courtesy of Minnesota’s new renewable energy standard.

Opponents of the CapX 2020 project contend that power companies’ claims of higher need are inflated and that a strong enough case for more lines doesn’t exist.

Though concerned about possible implications, Oehmke said that Xcel’s claim struck a chord with her.

“I recognize the need,” she said.

Let’s see… Xcel is saying they need this huge web of lines, each 345kV line with a capacity of 2,085 MVA… and this is the company that in its Integrated Resource Plan “needed” just 375MW, and not until 2015, and now they’re saying that with the 2007 RES bill, they might not even need that and have submitted a “Notice of Changed Circumstances” to the PUC.

Here it is:

Xcel’s Notice of Changed Circumstances

This doesn’t add up, does it!  Well, DUH, of course not, because this is transmission for export… to a market that doesn’t exist… and no, DUH, it’s NOT for wind…

Northfield News on CapX 2020

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on @ 10:39 am

CapX 2020 has its evil eyes on a route through the Northfield area, north of town, and a meeting was held earlier this week at the Archer House — what can I say, I was incommunicado in the Black Hills! Anyway, I’ve been on this for a while now, holding a “Transmission 1001” meeting in Northfield, wrote an editorial or two, been telling them this for a while now, and it seems the paper has finally noticed! GOOD!

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Above is the corridor near Northfield, just to the north, traversing House District 25B. And below is the western part of that corridor:

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From Northfield News:

CapX 2020 project not one to gloss over

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

CapX 2020.

Sounds like an extreme sports event or super-secret military maneuver – something to pass by on your way to thinking about more important things.

It’s not.

CapX 2020 is joint initiative of 11 utilities to expand the electric transmission grid in the state of Minnesota and parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin by building 345-kilovolt power lines through all or parts of those states. They need the state Public Utilities Commission’s permission to do so.

The project’s estimated cost is in the billions.

Those who support the project say the upper Midwest’s current transmission grid will not support demand for electricity in the future. They believe the lines are needed to maintain the quality of service to which we’ve become accustomed – with no rolling blackouts like those in California and New York.

Those who oppose it say the utilities want the grid simply to sell power from parts of the upper Midwest that have too much electrical supply (read the Dakotas) to parts of the United States that do not (read East Coast). They believe the utilities want the lines only to boost their profit margin on the backs of landowners who will be asked – and forced, if necessary – to give up use of their land for the project.

The exact locations of the lines have not been determined. However, the full northern and eastern borders of Rice County are in what project coordinators call the “proposed notice corridor.” Those who live in these areas may have already received a letter from CapX 2020 officials alerting them to the possibility that the line may go through their property.

Once the final locations of the lines have been determined, homeowners can either negotiate an easement agreement with the utilities, allowing them to “rent” the right-of-way land needed for the project, or refuse to negotiate, at which point the utilities could attempt to take the land through eminent domain.

Tonight and Thursday, CapX 2020 representatives will be in the area to answer questions about the project. State law requires they do this, but more importantly, it is local government and residents’ first opportunity to ask questions about the project and weigh in on the location of the line.

Educate yourself by visiting the CapX 2020 Web site at www.capX2020.com and an opposition site called “No CapX” at nocapx2020.info.

If you’ve ever flipped on a light switch, this is not a meeting to miss.

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Going back to June, 2005, here’s my prediction/warning following the sell-out of Minnesota control over transmission in the Omnibus Transmission Bill of 2005, or more correctly, the “2005 Omnious Transmission Bill from Hell.” The Republicans actively supported it, but hey, so did the Democrats, and everyone who voted for this bill ought to be voted right out the door. We have them to thank, and we have George Crocker and Bill Grant to thank for convincing them that this was “a deal, a package deal, and it’s a good deal.” Yes, it was a deal, that’s why the bill has “an interesting group of supporters.” Good for who? Not for ratepayers who will pay for it and not for the tens of thousands of affected landowners. Time to start sending them “Thank You” notes, eh?

Here’s my Guest Column from June, 2005:

6/1/2005 1:24:00 AM

Transmission bill is policy disaster

Ray Cox supports the Transmission Omnibus Bill because “SF1368 contains some very good provisions. The bill has an interesting group of supporters.”

Sounds good, until you look deeper, and that’s the job of a legislator. I don’t hear the important questions: What’s the supporters’ interest in this bill? Is this bill in the public interest?

The bill’s supporters don’t speak for a broad coalition of “environmental groups.” They speak in their own names in their own self-interest growing from a transmission agreement in 2003, between the Izaak Walton League, ME3, North American Water Office and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.

The agreement contained a transmission agenda on which this bill is based, promoted by these groups, notably “Wind on the Wires” (WOW), a Walton/ME3 pseudo-organization based on a very large grant from the Energy Foundation. In 2001, WOW received $4.5 million and in 2003, the day after the TRANSLink agreement was announced, it was awarded $8.1 million. The purpose of this Wind on the Wires grant? To promote transmission.

WOW has joined with utilities, transmission organizations and coal companies with plants in North and South Dakota to promote transmission in the hopes that large wind developments will secure transmission access. WOW has pushed environmental groups to adopt its transmission agenda.

What’s wrong with that? It assumes that the many megawatts of planned coal upgrades and construction will not usurp transmission access, but that cannot be guaranteed. It also assumes that large central station wind developments which necessitate large transmission infrastructure, which is only one option to get renewables on line. The SEED coalition, composed of the major environmental groups, has repeatedly declined to adopt the WOW transmission agenda, a significant policy statement.

Yet on his blog, Ray Cox claims that SF1368 contains provisions that he’s “glad to see:”

* Creation of the Community Based Energy Development … or C-BED. This tariff will help Minnesota property owners finance small wind-energy systems.

* Promotion of bio-mass energy projects.

* Promotion of development of hydrogen energy technologies.

* Includes a Wind Integration Study to determine what is needed to reach a statewide 20 percent energy from renewable sources. The report will be presented to the Legislature in January 2006.

* Promotes construction of transmission lines that are needed for the delivery of wind energy.

It’s not that simple. C-BED corrects a problem created by “environmental” groups in the negotiation of the wind tariff, which was set too low for a competitive investors market to develop. C-BED front-end loads the contract, rather than correct the problem. An avoidant approach is not good policy.

Biomass and hydrogen projects are a mixed bag that requires a more thoughtful forum than legislation, because the green house gas and fuel preference issues of biomass and the issue of hydrogen production from onerous coal and nuclear sources have not been settled.

A Renewable Energy Standard is a good thing for Minnesota, but the WOW party line would not permit language that the energy be generated in Minnesota, conferring local benefits from taxes, jobs and investment. For that reason, the RES lost some grassroots support.

“Transmission for wind” is an illusion, as we learned in the southwest Minnesota transmission proceeding where only 213-302 megawatts of the 2085 capacity 345kV line is coming south from Buffalo Ridge into the line. The 1700MW of remaining capacity is for what? Transmission under federal law is “non-discriminatory,” as is electricity under the laws of physics, and no one can assure that transmission will be “for wind.” In fact, it is a lot easier to assure that much will be for coal, given the number of coal plants under construction, for example the Big Stone and Coal Creek additions of 1,100MW. The CapX2020 plan for transmission criss-crossing the state shows what’s in store for us.

The transmission provisions are significant changes in public policy. Ray Cox has been given resources for follow-up, he’s even attended my “Transmission 1001,” yet he accepts the Transmission Omnibus Bill.

This bill allows TRANSLink style companies to operate in Minnesota and divests our state of jurisdiction over that transmission. Ray Cox is willing to accept “regional” need as justification for new transmission rather than require it be based on need within Minnesota. He is also willing to accept language that gives transmission owners automatic rate recovery for transmission “for renewables” rather than have them prove up that claimed use.

All legislators have access to this information, and have the ability to ask questions. It’s their job. We’ll soon wake up and discover our energy nightmare.

— Carol Overland is an attorney and Northfield business owner.

Seems they’re starting to wake up — it took CapX 2020 notices, of course…

And you might want to take a look at just who owns the corporation called “C-BED” and note when it was formed. Hmmmm… ever heard of “special legislation?”

GRE out of BSII, is CapX 2020 next???

Filed under:News coverage,Uncategorized — posted by admin on September 17, 2007 @ 6:26 pm

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GRE, Great River Energy, has pulled out of Big Stone II, the 600MW coal plant just on the SD side of the border.

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GRE out!!! BS II down in flames?!?!?

Given the Big Stone II plant’s role in CapX 2020 transmission in the Southwest part of MN, what does this mean for CapX 2020? Could GRE, a co-proponent of CapX 2020, pull out of CapX too??? Wouldn’t that be too good for words?

Here’s a map that shows how it’s all connected:

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Big Stone II couldn’t go forward without CapX 2020. Now is the converse true?

Stay tuned…

Annual Xmsn Meetings around Minnesota

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on September 14, 2007 @ 8:28 am

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Your new neighbor? Pehaps — If you’re one of the 70,000+ landowners who received a notice regarding the CapX 2020 transmission lines roaring through Minnesota! And there are even more lines planned.

How do you find out about transmission lines planned around the state? One way is to go to the annual Transmission Planning meetings, were utilities ostensibly reveal their plans for the five “planning zones” around the state. It’s statutory, Minn. Stat. 216B.2425, they have to do it, and it’s probably the only way regular people find out about transmission plans. There are a few meetings left, so catch them if they’re in your neighborhood.

Who’s sponsoring the meetings? The “Minnesota Transmission Owners” are, and here’s their site:

Minnesota Electric Transmission Planning

Who is this? Hard to tell… the site doesn’t list a specific contact, just a form to fill out with a generic email. The ones presenting at these shindigs are a motley assortment of the utilities’ management and the transmission engineers who hang around at the NM-SPG meetings, and they’re a lot of fun to argue with. The utility transmission owners participating are listed on the left side of the home page, and to find out who’s promoting transmission projects, you’ll have to go to your “Zone Meeting” or fill out their form on the site and wait for a response.

Why have these meetings? It’s statutory, a lot of time went into figuring out this process, which really doesn’t work, grrrrrrrr, but here’s from their site:

The public is invited to join representatives from area utilities in a planning meeting to discuss the electric transmission system in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.

Discussion will focus on identifying problems with the existing system in meeting the demand for electricity in the area and possible solutions, including possible new transmission projects. A synopsis of public comments from the meeting will be included in a Biennial State Transmission Plan the utilities will submit to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC). The plan will also include a list of transmission lines each utility is requesting certification from the MPUC to build. The MPUC will provide opportunity for public comment on the plan.

It’s not a bad thing, it’s good to have notice, but they now are doing it in an “open house” format which makes it hard to learn what others are thinking about this, to learn from those who know the questions to ask, and to learn what questions they really don’t want to hear — there’s no give and take at an open house!!!

These meetings have been going on for years now, originally with a presentation included:

Transmission Planning in Minnesota

There are two left, the others were earlier this week (what can I say, I had the last day of the Chisago Transmission Project hearing and needed to recuperate!) but you can still catch the Metro Zone and NE Zone:

Twin Cities Planning Zone

Date: September 17
Time: 9 a.m. – 12 & 3-7 p.m.
Location: Canterbury Inn
Address: 1244 Canterbury Road
Shakopee, MN

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NE Planning Zone

 

Date: September 19
Time: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (?NO EVENING MTG?)

Location: Ramada Inn
Address: 2115 South 6th St.
(Bus Hwy 371 S)
Brainerd, MN 56401

Be there — don’t be surprised by your new neighbors!

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace