The Gall of Kaul

Filed under:PUC Docket — posted by admin on April 30, 2009 @ 3:33 pm


Will Kaul, VP of Transmission at GRE, let loose in response to David Morris’ opinion piece a few days ago.  What a doozy!  How dare he!  Talk about out of touch with reality!  Maybe he’d better ask a few of the thousands who showed up and commented on this insane series of transmission projects across Minnesota known as CapX 2020.

You can call him and tell him what you think.   Will Kaul @ GRE (763) 241-2380!


Will Kaul: Citizens have plenty of input on utilities

The facts on three new power lines came out in dozens of public events.


Last update: April 30, 2009 – 11:05 AM

The above quote, “to be a formal intervener, an individual or group simply had to sign up,” is false, and the utmost in arrogance. Kaul … read more sure wasn’t at the CapX proceeding that I was at, and it looks like he hasn’t read the transcript. If he had, he’d know that a couple weeks into the hearing, the judge issued an Order to Show Cause to two intervenors, the Prairie Island Indian Community and United Citizens Action Network to explain why they shouldn’t be booted out! Prairie Island Indian Community said they’d withdraw and maybe intervene in the siting docket. U-CAN, landowners in the route corridor, succinctly told the judge they had every right to be Intervenors, there were no requirements for level of participation, and btw, they were in the middle of condemnation proceedings for the MinnCan pipeline (another of her dockets and recommendations!) and didn’t have resources to do much in CapX. The judge then graciously allowed them to remain in the proceeding. Electric use is down, down, hence NoCapX 2020’s Motion to Reopen (November and last month), and soon, Motion for Reconsideration and then appeal. The forecasts are old, 2004-2005, and Xcel admits in its SEC filings that 2007 and 2008 saw declining beaks, SIGNIFICANTLY declining peaks, over 11% in just two years rather than their 2.49% increase, 1.5% increase, or whatever other number was dreamed up for the occasion. Those two years alone push any claimed need for this project way out there in time. And even if there was the “need” that they claim, the physical conductor is way over-spec’d, many many times what’s necessary for even the most generous forecast, and then they have the nerve to upsize it, doubling it, with zero justification! “The PUC upheld the recommendation of the judge…” Of course, they’re supporting MISO’s economic dispatch, rather than ratepayer interests, rather than the public interest. It’s time for a shake-up, not the usual shake-down. Yes, the many pages of transcripts, testimony, exhibits reflect the facts, but the ALJ recommendation and PUC decision do not reflect those facts or the purpose and reality of CapX 2020. From the utility squeals, it’s clear David Morris hit a nerve by being right on target.

An April 24 opinion piece by David Morris (“If it’s citizens vs. utilities, utilities win”) criticized the process state regulators use to review and approve new transmission lines and questioned whether Minnesotans had an opportunity to participate in the recent proceedings concerning three 345-kilovolt lines proposed by CapX2020, a group of 11 utilities.

The piece also made a rather bizarre comparison between sports stadiums and electric transmission lines. Electricity is an essential service that every Minnesotan depends on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The state regulatory process encourages public participation. It requires an independent review to ensure that utilities’ plans undergo a thorough and comprehensive vetting.

In the CapX2020 case:

•The Minnesota Department of Commerce held 10 public meetings, and an administrative law judge held 19 public hearings. Any interested citizen could attend and speak.

•To be a formal intervener, an individual or group simply had to sign up.

•The utilities hosted more than 100 public meetings and made more than 150 public presentations about the projects.

Following that extensive review, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously that the three lines are needed. The decision upheld the recommendation of an administrative law judge, who reviewed thousands of pages of testimony and public comments and conducted seven weeks of evidentiary hearings and three weeks of public hearings.

Among the points the utilities made:

•Since the last major transmission system upgrade in Minnesota 30 years ago, much has changed. Electricity consumption has doubled, as has the number of electricity customers. Communities such as St. Cloud, Alexandria, Rochester and the Twin Cities have experienced significant growth and are facing serious electricity reliability issues.

•Despite today’s economic slowdown, electricity use is projected to continue growing, particularly peak electricity use.

•The transmission system must be designed to withstand the loss of one line by instantaneously transferring power to other lines.

•Minnesota has the most aggressive renewable energy standard in the country, requiring that 25 percent of electricity be from renewable sources by 2025. The Buffalo Ridge in southwestern Minnesota is one of the country’s greatest wind resources. Transmission lines are required to move that energy to customers.

The CapX2020 transmission lines aim to ensure that Minnesota communities continue to enjoy reliable electricity service and that the state’s renewable-energy mandate is met. The regulatory process aims to ensure that citizens have a say in determining whether the lines are needed and where they should be routed.

Will Kaul is vice president of transmission for Great River Energy and is chairman of the CapX2020 organization.

CapX in the news – very one sided report

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on April 27, 2009 @ 8:01 am

This looks like a utility press release, nothing whatsoever from anyone other than project developers and promoters.

Albert Lea Economic Development Agency Executive Director Dan Dorman said the proposal would benefit Freeborn County.

And Mr. Dorman, exactly how would a pass through benefit Freeborn County?

There’s an “opportunity for comment” and it’s easy, so comment away!  It starts on Green Power Express and digresses into CapX 2020:

Idea for energy lines has route in southern Minn.

Proposal for transmission lines could be one of largest in U.S. ever

By Tim Engstrom | Albert Lea Tribune

Published Saturday, April 25, 2009

(cut out GPE — just the CapX part below)

There is another plan for additional transmission lines in Minnesota. Only these are 345-kilovolt lines.

Xcel Energy and 10 other Minnesota utilities have joined to propose CapX2020. In the first phase there is not a route proposed for Freeborn County.

CapX2020 Co-Executive Director Terry Grove of Great River Energy said the utilities came together because it had been too long since the last major revision to transmission lines statewide.

“The CapX2020 organization was formed in 2005 to develop the new transmission lines,” reads a news release. “The planned 700 miles of electric lines is the largest development of new transmission in Minnesota in nearly 30 years, a period in which electricity demand has dramatically increased.”

There isn’t one proposed for Freeborn County, Grove said, the proposed corridors are driven by load-service needs. The critical sites were Red River Valley, St. Cloud, Rochester and Alexandria.

On April 16, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission granted a certificate of need to CapX2020. The application was filed in August 2007.

Approved were:

A 240-mile, 345-kilovolt line between Brookings County, S.D., and Hampton, plus a 345-kilovolt line between Marshall and Granite Falls.

A 250-mile, 345-kilovolt line between Fargo, N.D., and Alexandria, St. Cloud and Monticello.

A 150-mile, 345-kilovolt line between Hampton, Rochester and La Crosse, Wis.

Now CapX2020 is seeking the route permits.

Grove said CapX2020 recently issued a new round of studies that could include a 345-kV transmission route through Freeborn County. A line could be part of a later phase of CapX2020.

Grove said Midwest ISO ultimately determines how transmission will be managed in the region. Calling the proposals “building blocks,” he said the CapX2020 plan for Minnesota could integrate with the Green Power Express plan for the seven-state region.

Albert Lea Economic Development Agency Executive Director Dan Dorman said the proposal would benefit Freeborn County.

“More transmission in our area is going to mean more wind turbine development, which I think is a good thing,” he said.

CapX in news… Alexandria

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on April 24, 2009 @ 7:52 am

Here’s another report of the Public Utilities Commission’s dreadful decision, from the Alexandria Echo, and there’s a COMMENT SECTION:


Map courtesy of CapX2020 The green lines show potential route alternatives for a new power line within the project’s corridor. Areas outside of the highlighted areas, however, may still be considered in the final routing. A route line permit application is expected to be filed this summer.

Power line plan gets green light

Alexandria Echo Press
Published Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Thursday gave CapX2020 utilities a green light to construct three 345-kilovolt electric transmission lines in Minnesota – including one that goes through Douglas County.

The utilities still need permits for the routes, however, and the exact path of the routes has not been determined.

According to CapX2020 leaders, Thursday’s decision confirms the need for a major upgrade of the region’s transmission system to meet customers’ growing demand for electricity and to increase access to new resources, including renewable energy in southern and western Minnesota and in North Dakota and South Dakota.

“The planning and regulatory review for high-voltage transmission lines is detailed, extensive and comprehensive,” said Laura McCarten of Xcel Energy, a CapX2020 co-leader. “The commission’s decision affirms the need for new infrastructure that will serve Minnesota customers with affordable, reliable electricity for years to come.”

The projects’ “certificate of need” application was filed in August 2007, starting a state review process that culminated in Thursday’s decision.

New Prague – CapX EIS Scoping Meeting

Filed under:Information Requests,News coverage,Nuts & Bolts,PUC Docket — posted by admin on April 21, 2009 @ 11:39 am


(Stolen from New Prague Times )Judy Marchif was among nearly 400 people attending the public meeting on the proposed CapX 2020 transmission line in the New Prague High Schools common area on Tuesday, April 7. (Patrick Fisher Photo)

Over 400 people!

Here’s the article from the New Prague Times — 400 people showed and stood up!  Special cheers for Nancy Sackett and her tremendous job of organizing, and U-CAN for getting the Task Forces rolling:

Questions, Opposition in majority at CapX meeting

Thursday, April 16, 2009

By Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

A crowd estimated at nearly 400 people attended a public meeting at New Prague High School Tuesday, April 7, regarding the route permit application for the 345-kilovolt CapX 2020 transmission line.

Nearly everyone who spoke at the meeting listed concerns about the project in general or about having the line cut through the area.

CapX 2020 is a joint initiative of 11 utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region. One of those agencies is Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, of which New Prague Utilities is a member.

The line would stretch along a 237-mile corridor from Brookings, SD, to Hampton in Dakota County. Locally, two possible routes have been identified for the line. The preferred route crosses the Minnesota River north of Le Sueur, veers north into Scott County in the Union Hill area, then heads east in the area of Scott County Road 2. An alternate route crosses the river south of Belle Plaine, goes south into Le Sueur County, then heads east approximately two miles south of New Prague into Rice County.


Rep. Tim Walz goes off the deep end…

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on April 20, 2009 @ 6:22 am

… toadying for utilitites!


In the inbox today, from a cohort near Northfield, a link to an article, and the succinct comment:

Is he some kind of boob?

Well put, and from this article, it appears he is that and more:

Walz acknowledges transmission controversy

4/16/2009 10:35:02 AM

By Sarah Doty
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

As federal economic stimulus funds trickle down and make their way toward renewable energy initiatives like wind and solar power, 1st District Rep. Tim Walz says transmission of that power remains a “political hot potato.”

Walz, a second-term Democrat from Mankato, spoke Wednesday in Rochester to the Midwest chapter of the Association of Energy Services Professionals about the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The event was at Rochester Community and Technical College’s Heintz Center.

“If we are going to have wind energy, we are going to have to move it somehow,” he said. “We are going to have to build some of these things (transmission lines). Let’s build them, though, so that they last a lifetime.”

Calling it a “political hot potato,” Walz said it still needs to be addressed.

Most of the people at the meeting, representatives of power companies, were interested in transmission, the use of power lines to deliver the power to the markets.

“A big chunk (of the recovery package) was aimed at tax cuts, a chunk was aimed at infrastructure and development, but a big chunk of it was aimed right at you,” Walz said.

He said there is funding for transmission in the federal legislation.

“As I have always said, we can pass the best renewable portfolio standard, we can pass mandates and all that, but the fact of the matter is the actual doing it and the delivery of power is easier said than done,” Walz said. “The group that is sitting here, you understand that as well as anyone. With that being said, there is no doubt we are going to heavily incentivize some of the renewables.”

It will take time, though, he said for much of this to take place.

Walz also joked about the opposition he receives through e-mail about adding transmission lines.

“I am very empathetic to all sides on this, but I also have to put some reality back into it when opponents of any transmission line send me e-mails,” Walz said. “I have asked my staff to get back to them, and send it by regular mail, because the power lines sent the e-mail to me, so if you are absolutely opposed to that power line, you aren’t going to send that e-mail. You need to start from that position.”

He said he recognizes the concern most people have, with the environment and wetlands, but said that “we are going to have to do this” and do it right.

“I think it is very difficult when I hear people saying that we are going to become the Saudi Arabia of wind and then say, we aren’t going to build any power lines,” he said. “Well, where is it going to go?”

CapX 2020 Certificate of Need approved

Filed under:News coverage,PUC Docket — posted by admin on @ 6:14 am

… what more is there to say?  LOTS, but I’ve been moving my mother and on the road, so no time.  I’ll post more later today.

Back to the PUC today…

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on April 16, 2009 @ 6:35 am

Today – it’s back to the Public Utilities Commission for the Certificate of Need deliberation.

PUC – Large Hearing Room

121 – 7th Place East, 3rd Floor

St. Paul, MN

It was odd yesterday, Mike Krikava, CapX 2020, seemed subdued, not blustery as usual, as if he wasn’t sure of victory.  Most strange, but maybe he’s sleep deprived like the rest of us.

…dig this – Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy’s Beth Goodpaster, representing the “Environmental Organizations” in this proceeding was asked specifically what their position was on the adequacy of the Environmental Report — that is an issue before the Commission — and these “environmental organizations” TOOK NO POSITION ON THE ADEQUACY OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT.   …sigh… are y’all paying attention?

From the StPPP:

PUC asked to reopen power line debate –

From MPR:

PUC hears arguments on 600 miles of high voltage lines

I can’t upload here, so maybe the link doesn’t work — if so, just google “CapX” and hit “news”

CapX 2020 applies for “Monticello” line route

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on April 14, 2009 @ 5:19 am

Hearing Ex. 13, Big Picture Map

Hot off the press, CapX 2020 is having a busy week!  Yesterday, they applied for the route for the “Monticello-St. Cloud” line (so what happened to the Fargo to Benton County line — the part to bring in the coal generation from the middle of North Dakota).  And it’s not showing up in Google Alert for any papers… go figure… stealth application perhaps.

CapX2020 Utilities File Route Permit Application

by NAW Staff on Monday 13 April 2009

CapX2020 utilities have filed a route permit application for the Monticello-St. Cloud 345 kV transmission line, one of several lines the group is proposing in the Upper Midwest to preserve system reliability, serve increasing community electricity needs and increase capacity to accommodate renewable energy.

The application was filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. It is the second route permit application filed for the three proposed CapX2020 345 kV transmission line projects.

A separate route permit application will be filed later this year for the Fargo-St. Cloud 345 kV transmission line project. A route permit application was previously filed for the line between Brookings County, S.D., and Hampton, Minn., and work continues on an application for a route between Hampton and Rochester, Minn., and La Crosse, Wis.

The Monticello-St. Cloud route permit application contains three route options for the commission to review. The application process also requires significant route option review by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security. The process provides numerous opportunities for public comment and input before the commission decides on a final route.

The public process on the route permit application formally begins when the Office of Energy Security hosts public scoping meetings to develop a draft environmental impact statement. Local governments, organizations, landowners and other stakeholders will be able to comment on the project’s environmental and routing aspects during the scoping meetings, while the impact statement is being drafted and again after it is published.

The commission also will schedule public hearings where stakeholders can formally comment on the proposed route options. These comments will be included in the official record. A final commission decision on the route is expected in 2010.

Approval of the route permit application also depends on approval of the Certificate of Need application, which currently is under review. The commission is scheduled to hear oral arguments and deliberate on April 15 and April 16 on whether the three 345 kV lines are needed.

SOURCE: Xcel Energy

Do they think we won’t notice?

Here’s the CapX 2020 page with COMPLETE FILING

Here’s their press release, dated April 9, 2009:

CapX2020 utilities file Route Permit application for Monticello-St.Cloud transmission line

Dates: PUC Hearing & Comments on EIS

Filed under:Information Requests,PUC Docket,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on April 13, 2009 @ 6:18 am


Time to wake up and get to the hearing!

CapX Certificate of Need Argument & Deliberation

April 15th & 16, starting at 9:30 a.m.

Public Utilities Commission

Large Hearing Room – 3rd Floor

121 – 7th St. East

St. Paul, MN  55101

And Comments are due on April 30 – be sure to insist that they consider the impacts of “phased and connected actions” because there are so many, and the impacts are HUGE!  There’s CapX 2020, we’ve now got Phase I in front of us, and  there’s CapX 2020 Phase II and Phase III, there’s Joint Coordinated System Plan, there’s MTEP 08, there’s Green Power Express, there’s the announcement Friday Apri. 3rdof yet another Transmission Plan from Hell... the impacts are staggering…

Please include PUC Docket No. ET2/TL-08-1474 on your comments. Comments should be mailed, emailed, or faxed to:

Scott Ek

Project Manager
Minnesota Office of Energy Security
85 7th Place East, Suite 500
St. Paul, Minnesota, 55101-2198
Fax: 651-297-7891

Comments may also be submitted on the Commission’s energy facility permitting website:

NoCapX files Motions in CapX Certificate of Need Docket

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on April 10, 2009 @ 9:29 am

Busy day today.  NoCapX 2020 filed three Motions today:

NoCapX Motion to Consolidate

NoCapX Motion to Recuse Commissioner Reha & Exhibit A – Reha Power Point Presentation

… and the most important one given last Friday’s announcement of EVEN MORE transmission:

NoCapX Motion to Reopen 2

NoCapX Motion – Exhibit A – Sandok Xcel/GRE Press Release April 3, 2009

NoCapX Motion – Exhibit B – MTO Study-Reports March 31, 2009

NoCapX Motion – Exhibit C – NY Testimony US Senate Energy March 26, 2009

NoCapX Motion – Exhibit D – JSCP 2008 Executive Summary February 8, 2009

NoCapX Motion – NYISO & ISL-NE withdrawal from JSCP February 4, 2009

Given all that has recently been flying around about these massive transmission proposals, the Commission must take a closer look before making any decision as to the “need” for CapX 2020.

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