RUS process for CapX 2020

Filed under:RUS EIS,Wisconsin — posted by admin on July 28, 2009 @ 6:35 am

Got word today, as those of you who sent comments did, that “comments were received” and a blurb about how it goes.

Here’s the poop:

All comments will be analyzed and summarized in a public scoping report, which will be posted on the following web address in approximately 60 days:,%20Inc.

The scoping comment period is now closed.  Please see the attached timeline for future public comment opportunities in the Environmental Impact Statement process.

RUS NEPA process fact sheet

If you have further comments or questions please send them to:

Stephanie A. Strength
Environmental Protection Specialist/RD
1400 Independence Ave. SW Room # 2244
Washington, DC 20250-1571

To get a feel for where this is going, take a look at their “Scoping Report” for Dairyland’s coal plant that had been proposed for St. Ansgars or New Hampton, IA.    St. Ansgars is a Big Stone II redux, with the plant just south of the Minnesota border.  It’s my understand that this was cancelled, but I’ll check that out after I get this posted.  CapX would probably help this little puppy just as it’s helping Big Stone II…

Public Scoping Report – Dairyland St. Ansgars/New Hampton Coal Plant

Note what they do with comments, they just list them, under a one word topic, and a short on word to short phrase description.  This is not fine art here, so don’t worry, comments don’t need to be particularly artful.

And again, here’s what there is for this process on CapX 2020 thus far:

Alternative Evaluation Study

Macro Corridor Study (they mean MACRO, 66MB)

Chapters 1-4

Chapter 5

Chapters 6-7


RUS Comments are DUE!

Filed under:Nuts & Bolts,RUS EIS — posted by admin on July 24, 2009 @ 11:54 am

Here’s the official poop from Stephanie Strength, USDA’s RUS:

When the deadline falls on a weekend, comments will be accepted postmarked the following business day or emailed through midnight of that day. In this case that would be Monday July 27, 2009. That said, it generally takes at least a month to prepare the scoping report and comments coming in past the close of the comment period will be incorporated as much as is practicable. Comments not considered in the scoping report will be carried forward into the public comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

That means your comments will be accepted if you:

  • email 11:59 p.m. Saturday, July 25th (why a Saturday deadline?)

email by 11:59 p.m. Saturday to:

  • Mail and have POSTMARKED sometime on Monday

Mail, postmarked no later than Monday, to:

Stephanie Strength
Environmental Protection Specialist
USDA, Rural Utilities Service
Engineering and Environmental Staff
1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Stop 1571

Washington, DC 20250-1571

It seems that comments after the deadline may also be incorporated, but it’s not certain.  Sooooo… get them in.

That said, I’ve been nosing around on the internet again, and am finding some interesting tidbits, like this one going way back, showing the intent of CapX as an integrated unit:

Legislative Electric Energy Task Force – Utility Perspective – Sept. 14, 2004

And then there’s the Cerificate of Need Scoping Decision for the “Environmental Report” that side-stepped joint environmental review with the RUS by flat out lying about the potential for RUS EIS:

CoN Environmental Report – Scope

July 25th – RUS Comments on Scope of EIS due

Filed under:RUS EIS — posted by admin on July 21, 2009 @ 9:13 am


It’s coming soon — Friday — Comments are due to the Rural Utilities Service on the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement for the CapX 2020 project — so let them know what you think should be addressed.

I know, it’s redundant, but this is important, just a few days left.

Send Comments to:

Stephanie Strength
Environmental Protection Specialist
USDA, Rural Utilities Service
Engineering and Environmental Staff
1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Stop 1571
Washington, DC 20250-1571


Filed under:PUC Docket — posted by admin on July 15, 2009 @ 7:07 am

… and thus the orchestrated train to remove conditions on the Brookings line was derailed.  Commissioner Phyllis Reha, the one who had given a presentation in 2006 saying CapX 2020 was a good model for the rest of the country (!!), was the conductor, speaking from notes, putting the Conditions on the table, they invited Steve Rakow, Commerce, to argue Commerce position, essentially testify, and going beyond the record, and there was the most tortured discussion of “oh, we don’t want to go beyond the record,” and “it’s good we didn’t go further,” it was most unfortunate I’d left my waders at home, and then Marya White was invited up to close the sale.   So rather quickly, in a devious process, the train had left the station, fully loaded, was headed downhill, nearing the bottom when Marya White got carried away and I just couldn’t take any more.  I mean really, saying that the majority of the MISO queue is wind… to convince the Commissioners that there was no need for concern, that the Brookings line is for wind.  What utter bullshit.  Maybe in numbers, but as MTEP-07 notes, with a cute and very graphic chart and WHICH I HAD USED IN MY BRIEF, and which they state very clearly in the narrative, the MISO queue is “predominately” coal.   PREDOMINATLEY coal, that is the word they use.

mtep-07-misoqueuepdfMTEP-07 October 4, 2007 Final

Don’t do that around me — I hate it when people grossly misrepresent reality.  So she was loudly and specifically challenged, and suddenly it was time for the pre-announced noon break.  Afterwards, it was a whole different tone and the train to remove conditions was long gone, and for some reason, Marya White did not come back up to the table.

And as I said yesterday, I don’t believe in conditions, will not argue for conditions, because conditions presume the line, and our (NoCapX 2020 and U-CAN) position is NO LINE.  Paula Maccabee, representing Citizens Energy Task Force, said on the record that she represented landowners on the Brookings line, and that landowners had “acquiesced” with conditions that assured it was for a “higher purpose.”  Oh my…do THEY know that?  EEEEEUW, that was disturbing — landowners I represent on the Brookings line would be awfully pissed off to hear that!!!  Landowners I represent certainly have not acquiesced, do not approve of conditions, do not think transmission through their property is OK if for a “higher purpose.”  I wonder if the CETF members on the Brookings line know they have acquiesced to transmission.  And I wonder if they understand the impact that even the perception of their acquiesence has on the rest of the landowners on the Brookings line.  It certainly is a statement against the interests of NoCapX 2020 and U-CAN and many landowners the length of the Brookings line.

So for that reason, I had mixed feelings about derailing the “remove conditions” train, but I could not condone the misrepresentations or the process by which they were removing the conditions, hence… OBJECTION!

The PUC meeting yesterday was… well, it’s over, thankfully.  The Motions for Reconsideration of Xcel and MOES to remove the conditions on the Brookings line were accepted, it was Reconsidered, “a discussion was had,” and the conditions sort of remain, although slightly neutered (not enough for Xcel, I’d guess).  I’ll post the Order so we know precisely how it ends up.  All of the other motions, those of NoCapX 2020/U-CAN and CETF, were denied.

So now it’s off to the races — the Appellate Court.

Oh, and there was also a curious statement by… I believe Commissioner Pugh, about UMTDI, about wanting to see what the “Upper Midwest Governors’ Transmission group decides,”  something like that, using the word “Governors” for sure.  Who’s leading who here?  Who is making the decisions?  In whose interest?  Chair Boyd is a big part of that group, I believe a co-chair, and it’s transmission toady heaven, PRESUMING massive transmission is needed, purpose as I see it is to promote the JCSP massive transmission buildout agenda, and, per “CapX 2020 Comment,” transferring costs of this massive transmission buildout to those outside the UMTDI five-state area.  Promotional activities that presume transmisison in the absence of need… great idea…

Here’s my Comment to UMTDI last February:

Overland Comment

TOMORROW – PUC considers Reconsideration

Filed under:PUC Docket — posted by admin on July 13, 2009 @ 3:55 pm


RECONSIDERATION… It’s tomorrow, at 9:30 a.m., well, shortly thereafter, we’re number 3 on the agenda.  The PUC is going to decide on all of our Reconsideration Motions.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 – 9:30 a.m.

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission

Large Hearing Room

121 – 7th Place E., 3rd Floor

St. Paul, MN  55101

Here’s the PUC Staff Briefing Paper:

Staff Briefing Papers re: CapX 2020 – July 14 Meeting

The order that started this flurry:

Order Granting CoN with Conditions

And all the Motions for Reconsideration:

CETF Attachment A

CETF Attachment B

Ex A – Surprise drop in power use

Ex B – Xcel 2008 Summary

Ex C – Otter Tail Corp SEC 10-K

Ex D – EIA Electric Power Monthly Chap 5

Ex E – 2008 NERC Reliability Assessment

Ex F – Press Release Sandok 4-3-09

Ex G – MTO Study Reports 3-31-09

Ex H – NYISO & ISO-NE 2-4-09

Ex I – JCSP 08 Executive Summary 2-8-09

Ex J – NY Testimony – US Senate Energy

PUC July 14 Staff Briefing Papers

Filed under:PUC Docket — posted by admin on July 10, 2009 @ 9:02 pm

Staff Briefing Papers have been released for the July 14 PUC Agenda Meeting, where we’ll be addressing our Motions for Reconsideration on the CapX 2020 Certificate of Need.

Staff Briefing Papers re: CapX 2020 – July 14 Meeting

Read ’em and yawn…

CapX 2020 in Wisconsin

Filed under:Wisconsin — posted by admin on July 8, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

CapX 2020 is ramping up in Wisconsin, and they’re jumping on the “it’s for wind” bandwagon.  What’s so hard to understand about “OFFSHORE WIND” and cutting fossil generation?  There’s plenty of coal along the lake to shut down!

Here’s the wind resource at 100 meters:


And as to coal plants just waiting to be shut down, from CoalSwarm:

Plant Name County Owner Year(s) Built Capacity 2006 SO2 Emissions SO2/MW Rank
Pleasant Prairie Kenosha Wisconsin Energy 1980, 1985 1233 MW 28,566 tons 120
South Oak Creek Milwaukee Wisconsin Energy 1959-67 1192 MW 13,594 tons 198
Columbia Columbia Alliant Energy 1975, 1978 1023 MW 22,396 tons 145
Edgewater Sheboygan Alliant Energy 1951, 1969, 1985 770 MW 15,759 tons 128
Weston Marathon Integrys 1954-60, 1981 492 MW 12,596 tons 127
Pulliam Brown Integrys 1943-64 410 MW 10,869 tons 100

It’s all about wind?  NOT!  It’s more transmission lies…

ATC studies more high-voltage lines to import wind power

By Thomas Content of the Journal Sentinel

July 7, 2009

American Transmission Co. will start public outreach in the coming months to discuss the possibility of building a high-voltage power line from La Crosse to Madison, in conjunction with Xcel Energy.

“This has really been identified as a circuit that would be desirable to move wind generation from west to east,” said John Procario, president and chief executive of American Transmission Co.

Xcel Energy, ATC and Dairyland Power Cooperative have been studying a possible Madison-La Crosse line for more than a year.

But in a new wrinkle, ATC said it will study the possibility of an even higher-voltage power line, at 765,000 volts. That would be capable of carrying more power than any other power line in Wisconsin.

Xcel is planning to build a line in Minnesota that would tie in to the La Crosse area, as part of Xcel’s CapX2020 series of transmission projects.

ATC is also exploring other projects to beef up the state’s ability to transport wind power, including a possible line from Dubuque, Iowa to Madison. Also under consideration: another 345,000-volt line in eastern Wisconsin along Lake Michigan, Pewaukee-based ATC said.

ATC and Xcel would collaborate on a La Crosse-to-Madison project, said Procario.

“We’d work together on it, but we’re hoping that we have a sizable portion of the project,” he said.

Detailed cost estimates aren’t yet available, but a 150-mile 345,000-line is likely to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, he said. If studies and public outreach meetings proceed well, the company could file formal plans with state regulators seeking approval of the project in late 2011.

Consideration of a 765,000-volt line comes at a time when ITC Holdings of Michigan has unveiled plans for an upper Midwest network of power lines of that scale. That project, estimated to cost $10 billion across the region, has been named the “green power express.”

Commerce issues “Scoping Document” for CapX Brookings line

Filed under:Reports - Documents — posted by admin on July 5, 2009 @ 8:50 am

The Department of Commerce has issued the Scoping Document for the CapX 2020 Brookings line.

Commerce Scoping Decision – June 30, 2009

Look at this list of what’s outside the scope:


The “No Build” option is specifically excluded, and yet got zero serious attention in the “Environmental Report” for the Certificate of Need.  In the ER, they assumed applicants’ stated “need” and so dissed the “no build” saying it couldn’t meet all three types of need that applicants were claiming.  YEAH, SO???!!!???  And the PUC approves that lame excuse for environmental review of a project with this extreme level of impacts?

This whole siting docket is such utter bullshit.  If you recall, this is the docket where they had only two Citizen Advisory Task Force groups, despite interest across the line from east to west.  AND, this is the docket where both, not one, but BOTH, Citizen Advisory Task Force groups REFUSED to vote on route segments Commerce put before them — as I understand it, it was because of the way Commerce framed the “choices” so as not to be choices at all.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t there and, well, is it just me, or do the notes from the Task Force meetings refuse to come up for you too?

Minnesota River Crossings to New Prague Task Force Page

Lake Marion to Hampton Task Force Page

I’ll keep working on pulling those notes up from these pages in my spare time… SNORT!

July 14 – PUC & Motions for Reconsideration

Filed under:PUC Docket,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on July 4, 2009 @ 10:51 am


Yes, folks, it’s this coming TUESDAY!!!

The many CapX 2020 Motions for Reconsideration are on the docket for July 14, 2009.  Note that they may or may not take public comment, so the agenda says and the Minnesota Rules allow.

If’ you want to come to the PUC for the show, the meeting starts at 9:30.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 @ 9:30 a.m.
Public Utilities Commission
3rd Floor – Large Hearing Room
121 – 7th Place East
St. Paul, MN  55101

Here’s the agenda item — #3 on a not very long list:

3. E002/CN-06-1115

Great River Energy;
Northern States Power Company d/b/a Xcel Energy

In the Matter of the Application of Great River Energy, Northern States Power Company (d/b/a Xcel Energy) and Others for Three 345 kV Transmission Lines.

Should the Commission reconsider its May 22, 2009 Order Granting Certificates of Need with Conditions? (PUC: Eknes)

The Commission has the authority to accept or decline a petition for reconsideration with or without a hearing or oral argument. (Minnesota Rules 7829.3000, Subpart 6) In other words, a decision on a petition for reconsideration can be made without taking oral comments at the Commission meeting. If you have questions about this particular docket, please contact Bret Eknes at 651-201-2236.

Here’s the Order at issue

Order Granting CoN with Conditions

And here are all the Reconsideration pleadings:

Applicants Request for Reconsideration

MOES – Reconsideration

CETF Petition for Reconsideration

CETF Attachment A

CETF Attachment B

NoCapX & U-CAN Motion for Reconsideration

Ex A – Surprise drop in power use

Ex B – Xcel 2008 Summary

Ex C – Otter Tail Corp SEC 10-K

Ex D – EIA Electric Power Monthly Chap 5

Ex E – 2008 NERC Reliability Assessment

Ex F – Press Release Sandok 4-3-09

Ex G – MTO Study Reports 3-31-09

Ex H – NYISO & ISO-NE 2-4-09

Ex I – JCSP 08 Executive Summary 2-8-09

Ex J – NY Testimony – US Senate Energy

More CapX 2020 in the news… errr… NO CapX!

Filed under:News coverage,RUS EIS,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on July 3, 2009 @ 8:15 pm

In the Red Wing Republican Beagle (picked up from the Kenyon Leader):

Transmission line proposal floors some area residents

And in the Houston County News:

Feds make entrance into CapX 2020

By Ryan Stotts of the Houston County News

The U.S. Agricultural Department’s Rural Utilities Service officially has begun looking into the proposed CapX2020 high-voltage line project.

The federal agency hosted a meeting June 23 at La Crescent’s American Legion to collect public comment and explain the review process.

The service will do a single environmental impact statement for the project, said Stephanie Strength of the RUS, which will be the lead federal agency on the project.

Dairyland Power Cooperative had approached the RUS about financing its portion of the project, an estimated 11 percent, she said.

It will take at least two years to complete the federal review and make a funding decision, she said.

Dairyland first asked the agency about funding at least three years ago, said Chuck Thompson of Dairyland Power. It would take Dairyland 30 to 35 years to repay the approximately $50 million needed.

The environmental impact statement, including comments from the meeting, likely will be completed by summer 2010, followed by a public hearing, Strength said.

Tim Carlsgaard, of CapX2020, said they have identified dual routes for the 345-kilovolt power lines along existing routes into La Crosse, Winona or Alma, Wis., but a preferred route has not been chosen.

Also yet to be determined is where the lines would cross the Mississippi River, he said.

Lines could run along or just north of Interstate 90, then cross south into La Crescent, he said.

If the lines go into Winona, he said, the route could run through agricultural land north of I-90. The Alma route would run through farmland north of Plainview.

A routing permit application will likely be filed some time in the fall, Carlsgaard said, and that will start a 12- to 15-month process when more public meetings will be held.

Early in the process, he said, after the Office of Energy Security has a chance to review the application, people will be able to propose and suggest alternative routes.

“Whether it’s just a small segment,” Carlsgaard said, “a small area, or 20 miles, or whatever it is.”

On the Wisconsin side, he said, a single routing and need permit will likely be filed before the end of the year.

Jeremy Chipps, of the Citizens Energy Task Force, said the massive project isn’t needed — and the group has petitioned the state to look into whether it should be built.

Chipps said even the most “sophisticated electric minds” in the industry, on a state and federal level, are doubting the efficacy of such a project.

He believes localized renewable energy should be investigated and analyzed, he said.

But, Chipps said, the truth is “the country lacks the very analytical tools to do the research to find out what our needs will even be.”

With federal coffers now being opened to fund the project, the decreasing demand for power, as well as safer alternatives than CapX2020, should be scrutinized, he said.

Gene Semin of La Crescent Township said he supports the project, even though he already has two large power lines in front of his house.

“We’re going to need the electrical power in this country to develop our manufacturing base so that our economy can recover,” Semin said.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace