ALJ Recommendation is out

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on February 27, 2009 @ 4:06 pm


I haven’t read it yet, just the punch line, which is not good…

OK, I’ve been reading some…




CORRECTION – LaCrosse route CapX meetings tonight and Monday

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on February 26, 2009 @ 2:56 pm


I’m trying to find out if tonight’s meeting is still on… it’s been snowing a lot, letting up some and no lightning and thunder for a while, but it’s still snowing.

Tonight’s meeting:

Tonight, 7 p.m.

Zumbro Township – moved from Town Hall

At ____ church on County Rd. 7, just west of 63


Route Planning Meeting

10 -2 p.m.

Rochester Event Center, by airport

Sick as a dog… back soon!

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on February 24, 2009 @ 8:13 pm


A “must read” about transmission grid

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on February 21, 2009 @ 3:34 pm


Special thanks to Ann Rasmussen, of Dorchester Citizens for Safe Energy, in Maryland, for sending this article:

What’s wrong with the electric grid?

It’s nearly six years old, but is the most concise and clear statement of what’s going on that I’ve read, very well done.

NoCapX 2020 & U-CAN in New Prague Times

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on February 19, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

NoCapX 2020 and U-CAN in the New Prague Times — oh, and CapX 2020 too!

The meeting at St. Patricks Sunday was great, the place was packed, in Belle Plaine too on Saturday, people are getting word that CapX 2020 is targeting southern Minnesota, and we aren’t real pleased…

CapX 2020 explains routing to city

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

“I think our city does have an interest and a concern of where the proposed routes are.”

Mayor W.A. “Bink” Bender said that at the beginning of the CapX 2020 presentation at the Tuesday, Feb. 17, meeting of the New Prague City Council. Nearly 30 residents attended the meeting for the presentation.

Randy Fordice and Dan Lesher represented CapX 2020, a joint initiative of 11 utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region that seeks to expand the electric transmission grid to accommodate customer demand for electricity. One of the utilities is the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, of which New Prague is a member.

Fordice noted the project is the first major upgrade to the grid in 25 years and there are vast differences in electric usage as people have become more dependent on computers, TVs and other electronic devices.

Part of the project includes a proposed 345-kilovolt power line to be built along a 210-mile corridor stretching from Brookings, SD, to Hampton, in Dakota County. Towers for the power lines will be 8 to 10 feet wide at the base and approximately 150 feet tall.

CapX 2020 submitted its proposed route to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in December, hoping to build the line as early as 2012. This line and three others in the project are estimated at a cost up to $1.7 billion.

CapX 2020 has filed a certificate of need with the PUC for the proposal. A decision on the application is expected around the middle of this year.

The route for the power line comes near New Prague with a preferred route to the north of the city, mostly along Scott County Road 2 and an alternate one that is about two miles south of the current city limits. The PUC will hold public hearings on the route with a decision to come in 2009/2010.

Lesher explained how the organization came up with the routes. They received opinions from local governments, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and US Fish and Wildlife Service. He noted that CapX 2020 is taking suggestions from the public for alternative routes.

New Prague Planning Director Ken Ondich noted the southern route is one mile away from the city’s southern 2030 Growth Boundary and the northern route touches on the city’s northern boundary. Much of the area along County Road 2 is being planned for low density, single family housing and some commercial use.

Councilmember Kay Wilcox asked if construction will be in the road right of way and if the land will be purchased.

Lesher said the towers will be three feet from the edge of the road right of way. The organization will use an easement for property, but will pay for the land. The route will try to follow roads so it doesn’t subdivide property.

Several residents voiced their concerns and opinions about the proposed routes. Some said they felt CapX hadn’t done a very good job of notifying them about the route and others stated they were not asked about the route prior to it being designated near their homes.

Bender said the city had to decide whether it wanted to be part of an advisory task force on the route.

“I think we need a voice present from the city,” noted Councilmember Ken Betterton.

The council unanimously approved Ondich to represent the city.

Group opposing CapX meets

Seventy area residents met at the St. Patrick Social Hall on Sunday, Feb. 15, to discuss opposition to the proposed CapX 2020 transmission line.

United Citizens Action Network (UCAN) and NoCapX organized the meeting. There will also be two future meetings to get information out and get people together. The upcoming meetings will be at the New Prague Public Library at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 15.

The local group of residents also wants people to know that task forces of citizens and elected officials can be set up, although the task force applications have to be in to the Public Utililies Commission by the end of February.

SmartGrid meeting at PUC March 25

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on February 18, 2009 @ 10:00 am


Xcel has been pushing “SmartGrid,” a demo project out in Boulder, and it’s been the subject of quite a bit of testimony in the  CapX 2020 Certificate of Need evidentiary hearing.

The PUC is holding a meeting, separate from the CapX 2020 docket, about SmartGrid.

PUC Notice of March 25 SmartGrid Meeting

Here’s the poop:

Wednesday, March 25 @ 9:30 a.m.

PUC – 3rd Floor (Large Hearing Room?)

121 – 7th Place East

St. Paul, MN

This meeting is “for the purpose of receiving information from representatives of Xcel Eenrgy on Xcel’s SmartGrid project in Boulder, Colorado.”

This meeting will be limited to Xcel’s experience with its SmartGrid City project.  Representatives of Xcel will present information about the Boulder project and will be available for questions on that project.

Xcel’s Smart Grid Page

Why is this in their “birdcam” web section?

Handouts from today’s Belle Plaine meeting

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on February 14, 2009 @ 9:13 pm



We had a standing room only crowd in Belle Plaine today to talk about CapX 2020 transmission.  It was encouraging to see so many people showing up on a Saturday morning, Valentine’s Day no less, with transmission on their mind.  Like WOW!

I might be having trouble uploading, this doesn’t look right.  I’ll try again tomorrow morning.

NoCapX 2020 – Belle Plaine Dog & Pony

In todays inbox… Green Power Express

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on February 12, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

Just in from Jeremy Chipps and Guy Wolf from LaCrescent and LaCrosse, they’re covering the waterfront… CapX 2020, now Green Power Express – where do you think this will cross???

Microsoft PowerPoint - 090105 Green Power Express.ppt

From Land Letter, An E&E Publishing Service

RENEWABLE ENERGY: Midwest transmission boom worries land conservation, wildlife advocates  (Thursday, February 12, 2009)

Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter

MINNEAPOLIS — It used to be that the most imposing structures in the Midwest farm belt were the grain elevators handling feed and seed shipments between farmers and food consumers in the urban centers of Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis and points East.

Soon, however, the Heartland could have a new look, one characterized by hulking transmission towers carrying high-voltage power lines snaking their way to the very same population centers that gave rise to the grain elevators a century ago.

The change is expected as utilities seeking to harness the Midwest’s newest cash crop, wind power, begin investing billions of dollars in new transmission lines to carry large quantities of renewable energy from the windswept plains to the rest of the country.

Just this week, Michigan-based ITC Holdings Corp., announced it would pursue the largest renewable energy transmission project in the United States — a 12,000-megawatt electricity superhighway dubbed the “Green Power Express.” The ITC project is the second major expansion of high-voltage transmission lines announced for the region, following the $2 billion CapX 2020 project announced in 2007 by Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy Inc. and 10 utility partners.

The ITC project, expected to cost between $10 billion and $12 billion, would be among the nation’s largest transmission expansions, adding approximately 3,000 miles of “extra high voltage” lines rated to carry 765 kilovolts of power across six states from North and South Dakota to Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois.

“The Green Power Express is in many ways the true definition of a ‘smart grid,'” said Joseph Welch, ITC’s chairman, president and CEO, in a statement announcing the project early this week.

In addition to creating a “much-needed link between the renewable energy-rich regions of the Midwest and high-demand population centers,” Welch said the new transmission network will advance the Obama administration’s goal to both expand and modernize the electricity grid, which in many areas are saddled by old and undersized lines, maintenance problems and other inefficiencies.

But while such projects come with laudable environmental benefits — including the promise of moving thousands of megawatts of new, emissions-free renewable energy to the grid — they pose equally large challenges to the landscapes where they are built.

Impacts to farmland, wildlife habitat

Transmission lines, and the rights-of-way needed to build and maintain them, bisect lands that produce much of the nation’s food, offer bucolic views and passive recreation, and provide habitat to dozens of native species. They often indiscriminately cross lakes and rivers, national and state parks, wildlife refuges, private hunting grounds and myriad other places prized for their undeveloped character. For many average citizens, they are simply industrial eyesores that, once built, can never be concealed.

For Guy Wolf, co-chair of the Downriver Alliance, a coalition of Mississippi River corridor environmental groups, the question boils down to simple math: “How many homes are they going to take away? How much property is going to be destroyed?

“The thing you have to understand is that with transmission at this scale, we’re talking orders of magnitude in terms of the number of farms and homeowners that are impacted,” Wolf said.

Those impacts, particularly on the region’s farms and sensitive wildlife habitats, could be significant, according to wildlife experts and conservation groups.

Don Buckloh with the American Farmland Trust, the nation’s leading advocacy group for farmland conservation, said Midwestern farmers have had a long and often contentious relationship with power transmission owners whose easements are often secured by eminent domain and whose rights of way can remove valuable land from production. Over time, he said, high-quality farmland in transmission corridors can be seriously damaged due to soil compaction, disruption of water drainage systems or other impacts associated with the building and maintenance of the lines.

“That’s a consideration that farmland owners … need to consider when new projects are proposed,” Buckloh said. “The more informed they are and the more involved they are in the process, the happier they’ll be with the outcome. If they say farming is dying in our community and we don’t care, that’s one thing. But by and large the United States still has a lot of prime farmland left.”

Where the Midwest farms meet undeveloped forest area, such as the Mississippi River Valley, concerns range from habitat fragmentation associated with the clearing of natural vegetation underneath the lines to bird strikes and even electrocutions of raptors that are attracted to power lines as perches to scout for prey and tower structures to build nests.

Don Hultman, refuge manager for the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, spanning 260 miles of river and adjacent forestland from Wabasha, Minn., to Rock Island, Ill., said his office has made it clear to utilities seeking to build new transmission lines that they should look to use existing rights of way through the 240,000-acre refuge, and that the Fish and Wildlife Service would oppose any project that calls for constructing new river crossings.

“One of goals here is to try to preserve the scenic beauty of the refuge and the river valley,” Hultman said. Plus we have two national scenic byways on each side of us going the whole length of the refuge. So even if it’s off refuge, we have a concern with that kind of thing, and others do too.”

Negotiations caught between two environmental goals

To date, however, Hultman said negotiations with transmission line developers like Xcel Energy, which is spearheading the CapX 2020 project, have been mostly positive and productive. “They ask us to tell us what we think early and often, which is how we like it,” he said.

Other stakeholder groups say their concerns have gone largely ignored by proponents of new, large-scale transmission projects in the region.

For much of the past year, the Minnesota-based Citizens Energy Task Force has dedicated itself to fighting the CapX 2020 project, which like ITC would carry new generation from the Dakotas across southern Minnesota and into Wisconsin. Unlike ITC, however, CapX 2020 calls for the phased construction of 600 miles of new 345-kilovolt lines and a single 230-kilovolt line that it argues are needed to shore up reliability and meet existing regional power demand.

But with this week’s announcement by ITC of a project with twice the voltage capacity, five times the length, and potentially six times the cost of CapX 2020, activists like Wolf sense that their work is going to become much more difficult in the months and years ahead, especially as billions of dollars in new federal money begins to flow toward new energy projects and the retooling of the nation’s electricity grid.

“It would be the saddest thing, considering the current state of the economy, if all of this [stimulus] money winds up going to a few private companies and their shareholders,” said task force member Jeremy Chipps. “We need to be asking the hard questions: ‘What are the alternatives, how much is it going to cost, and why is it that ratepayers are being saddled with the enormous costs of infrastructure building?'”

Lisa Aragon, ITC’s director of strategic initiatives, said this week that the company’s “Green Power Express” proposal had undergone extensive review, which included independent energy consultants, and was rolled out this week to help advance President Obama’s renewable energy goals as well as those of states like Minnesota, which is requiring utilities to meet a 25 percent renewable energy mandate by 2025.

While acknowledging the high level of public concern about the project’s siting and construction, Aragon stressed that the project offers a significant environmental benefit because of its potential to move thousands of megawatts of clean renewable power onto the region’s power grid. According to one independent study commissioned by ITC, the addition of 12,000 megawatts of wind power to the grid would offset up to 34 million metric tons in carbon emissions.

She also said the project’s landscape footprint would be smaller than expected because its 765-kilovolt design requires only a 280-foot-wide right of way. Moving the same amount of power on smaller lines would require a right of way three times larger, she said.

But for now, critics are not buying the notion that the Midwest’s latest transmission boom will play out as an environmentally benign event.

“They call it the Green Power Express. We call it the Greenwash Express,” Wolf said.

If you thought CapX was bad, check this!

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on February 10, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

Here we go, the Green Transmission Machine is here and is trying to leave the station, and what a crock.  ITC Holdings, transmission only company a la TRANSLink, has announced “The Green Power Express” and here’s their press release:

ITC Holdings – Green Power Express Press Release

And look at this map, here it is:

Microsoft PowerPoint - 090105 Green Power Express.ppt

Once again, they’re calling it the “Green Power Express,” saying “it’s GREEN” from wind in Dakotas to Chicago… oh, but doesn’t it start in ANTELOPE VALLEY?  Isn’t that where all those coal plants are?  Isn’t that where they want to build new coal plants?  And isn’t Illinois the state where they have thousands of MW of wind in the MISO queue?  And for this we should give them $10-12 BILLION to build this?  I don’t think so…

Green Power Express – FERC Rate Filing

And while you’re at it, this is MTEP, so check this out the JCSP/MTEP plan:

JCSP08 Executive Summary

Here’s the upshot of what they’re proposing:


All of this is tied in with the “Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative” which is a bunch of utility transmission oriented folks who have a lot to gain from this, Governors lead by Pawlenty the utility toadie, and regulators who don’t seem to be able to think their way out of a box — they’re promoting transmission without addressing need, claiming a transmission solution for a problem that doesn’t exist:


FEBRUARY 11, 2009

1:30-3:00 p.m.

PUC Large Hearing Room

3rd Floor

121 – 7th Place East

St. Paul, Minnesota

What dries me crazy is that this so obviously isn’t necessary, because there’s SOOOOO much wind already in Illinois and here’s the MISO queue, in Excel and sortable, for your edification:


Here’s an ILL WIND for this project, sorted from above MISO Queue (note that some of that 11,281MW is already in service):


But this is all about the MISO Midwest Market and displacing natural gas with coal:

ICF Final Deck – PowerPoint

ICF’s Independent Assessment of Midwest ISO Operational Benefits

Here’s the STrib article about the Green-with-Nausea Power Express:

Huge power line may be coming to Minnesota


February 10, 2009

A massive high-voltage power line that would connect the wind turbine farms along Buffalo Ridge and points west to the Midwest’s biggest cities was unveiled Monday.

ITC Holdings Corp. of Novi, Mich., announced Monday that a 765,000-volt line would run 3,000 miles across seven states, including Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa and Wisconsin, carrying power to the Chicago region and points east.

The project, dubbed the “Green Power Express,” would cost as much as $12 billion to transmit as much as 12,000 megawatts of power from windy, sparsely-populated areas.

Company officials touted the project as being line with the goals outlined by President Obama in his national energy agenda, specifically mentioning his desire “to get wind power from North Dakota to population centers, like Chicago.”

Nonetheless, the project is likely to face host of hurdles, starting with its cost and size, given the fact that power lines throughout the Upper Midwest have consistently sparked fierce opposition by local residents.

Further stressing its “green energy” credentials, the company estimated that hooking the wind farms into the region’s electric grid could lead to a reduction of up to 34 million metric tons of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of as many as nine 600-megawatt coal-fired power plants.

ITC Holdings began the process of winning approval of its plans Monday by filing an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It is likely to also need to pass regulatory hurdles from individual states that the power line would cross.

CapX 2020 in Jordan Independent

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on February 9, 2009 @ 8:49 am

Obviously there’s a lot more to the story…

Talks heat up on CapX 2020 power line

Submitted by Mathias Baden on February 8, 2009 – 1:30am.

NEW PRAGUE — Talks about the CapX 2020 electrical transmission lines are heating up.

The proposed 345-kilovolt power line would pass through Helena Township, near the New Prague city limits.

Recently, during town hall meetings, opponents of the plan have pleaded with Jordan Republicans Rep. Mark Buesgens and Sen. Claire Robling to do whatever they can to stop the project.

But representatives from 11 utility companies in Minnesota and the Midwest argue that the region has not significantly upgraded its electrical grid in 30 years, despite the demand for electricity doubling, the New Prague Times has reported.

The power line would run from Brookings, S.D., to Hampton.

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