Prehearing Conference Tuesday on Brookings line

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on August 28, 2009 @ 11:17 am

Tuesday, September 1, at 3 p.m. Central, we’re having a Prehearing Conference, thankfully by phone, on the Brookings line.  The agenda is primarily “where are the hearings and when” within the constraints of the already issued Prehearing Order, which sets the hearings for a three week “road show” from November 23-December 14 (how convenient) with additional days in St. Paul on December 17 & 18th.

Here’s the Prehearing Order:

Prehearing Order – includes Proposed Schedule

Applicants Proposed Hearing Locations

NoCapX 2020 & U-CAN proposed schedule

Please let me know what you think of the scheduling for this before the 1st!!!  The Prehearing Order schedules them for Nov. 23 – December 14th, and the  idea is to have hearings, both evidentiary and public, where the transmission line would be.  Xcel’s cuts out that first week (note that hearings like this are ALWAYS scheduled around holidays).  I’ve used Monday and Tuesday that week for Marshall, and then the rest of the week off, and added locations that Xcel… er… Applicants, did not include.  Because LeSueur is so hot about this, it deserves the same time as Marshall and New Prague, and New Prague had more people at the public hearings than any other place, so maybe it should be three days.  And it seems to me that Lakeville doesn’t go far enough east, and there’s not a good place for hearings in Hampton, well, maybe the church?  But I put Farmington in there.  Let me know please before the conference call on Tuesday.

The Scoping Decision for the Environmental Impact Statement has been out for a while, but do take some time to review what they’ll include or exclude — there will be public hearings on this October 26 through November 2:

Commerce EIS Scoping Decision

I’m not looking forward to this road show, but it’s important… necessary… here we go!

It’s time to appeal the Certificate of Need decision

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on August 23, 2009 @ 8:24 am

The “final” decision is out on CapX 2020’s Certificate of Need, the one where they altered the “conditions” for the Brookings line in the most amazing display of servile toadyism I’ve ever seen:

PUC’s Final Order – CapX 2020 Certificate of Need

It’s time to file the appeal.

My major hook is the new information that the ALJ and PUC refused to consider — that demand is down, has been for some time, and yet they’re still claiming we’ll freeze in the dark in an incubator without a job.  Absurd.

Meanwhile, though CapX mantra was “this is just Minnesota” we know from all their earlier plans, their Technical Report from October 2005, so many exhibits and maps, and so much testimony in the record, that it incorporates the Dakotas and Wisconsin too…

It’s particularly infuriating in light of the Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative (DUH, taking initiative and developing transmission) effort and the Gov’s unproductive efforts to coordinate MN and WI actions to “save money” and CapX was specifically addressed there.


Here’s the CapX section:


Project Description

CapX 2020 is a proposed series of transmission lines that will cross the Upper Midwest region and will be built, if approved, in four stages. One of the stages will involve crossing from Minnesota over the Mississippi River towards the greater La Crosse area. The proposed lines are intended to increase
service reliability to utility customers in this multi-state region, improve congestion and ease of deliverability of renewable energy within the region and ultimately, strengthen the current grid in this area.1 The multi-state nature of this large construction project provides collaboration prospects and
efficiency opportunities between Minnesota and Wisconsin in the review and selection of an approved route upon which the transmission lines will be built.

The first step to streamline this routing process will involve staff from the respective state Commissions sharing information about project timelines and considering the synchronization of the timelines. While differences exist between the Minnesota and Wisconsin project review processes, more efficiency
opportunities exist if the applications are cooperatively timed on each side of the river. While greater opportunities for joint analysis or collaboration on this project exist if the states are sharing a similar timetable, there may be opportunities for Wisconsin and Minnesota staffs to share information and
collaborate for maximum efficiency, regardless of timing. Project elements the two states may collaborate on include, but are not restricted to, the following: sharing needs analysis information, distributing information for their respective Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) reports or coordinating on a joint EIS, working collaboratively with federal agencies on river crossing options and exploring opportunities to work together at scoping meetings or hearings.

Opportunities for Improved Efficiency and/or Financial Benefits

Generally speaking, a good working relationship and similarly timed project review process between Minnesota and Wisconsin could streamline this effort and garner a faster and more mutually acceptable result for both states. While it is unclear at this time what level of efficiencies we can expect through coordination on this project in its entirety, it does seem that the public and decision makers could be well served by coordination within the environmental review process, which constitutes an important component of the routing process. Working collaboratively on this project may capture staff efficiencies in both of our agencies over the next year. Coordination at the staff level also might lessen the possibility of conflicting decisions by the two states.

The opportunities for how Minnesota and Wisconsin might collaborate in this instance lie within similar processes at work in the respective states, which are summarized in the following list.

Possible Barriers to Implementation

Coordination possibilities will likely be maximized if the two states are working through their respective examinations of this application at approximately the same time and considering their process differences. Below is a list of timing and process differences both agencies should consider in their initial
discussions to work through possible project barriers:

Timeline for Implementation

Initial contact between Minnesota and Wisconsin Commission staff members should take place during March of 2008 to explore collaboration and information sharing possibilities.

Program Contacts

Wisconsin: Scot Cullen, 608- 267-9229,
Dan Sage, 608-267-9486;
Minnesota: Deborah Pile (OES), 651-297-2375;

Isn’t that enough to make you puke?

Sept. 8 – Mark your calendars!

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on August 13, 2009 @ 7:46 am


TUESDAY, September 8, 2009
12:00 PM
Legislative Energy Commission
Room: 123 Capitol
Chairs: Sen. Yvonne Prettner Solon, Rep. Bill Hilty
Agenda: Transmission

12:00 p.m. — is it a potluck?

These meetings are often a big yawn, toadies on parade yammering our precious lives away, but this one we cannot let slip by.  It’s an opportunity to tell them what’s going on in transmission.  Not that they’d let anyone like us on the agenda, but we can show up in force, do a lot of prep work with the members, and have handouts aplenty at the meeting.

From what I’ve heard, they’re going to hear from “the PUC” and “Office of Energy Security,” and also from MISO about “Cost Allocation.”  And PUC will address UMTDI (Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative).  Hmmmmmmm… it’s the PUC’s job to promote transmission?

Simple run-down of Cost Allocation a la MISO & FERC

CLICK HERE, if you’re a serious masochist, for MISO’s cost allocation results in a search.

There will also be a section about “siting issues” including input from “landowners” (?) and “CapX utilities” for an update on how it’s been going.  More hmmmmmmmm…

Updates will be forthcoming…

In the meantime, UMTDI has some things to comment on (again, note that this is an “entity” PROMOTING transmission, its purpose is “TRANSMISSION DEVELOPMENT):

UMTDI – Cover Letter – August 6, 2009

UMTDI – Survey on Cost Allocation

UMTDI – Legal Report

Check out the Survey and do your best to make some Comments, due by close of business AUGUST 28, 2009.  Directions are on the “Survey” link.   PLEASE TAKE SOME TIME TO GO OVER THIS AND SUBMIT SOME SUBSTANTIVE COMMENTS.

Note they want to “ensure that all pertinent stakeholder groups are represented in the responses received.”  Sounds pretty offensive to me… speaking as someone deemed an “impediment to transmission” and impertinent…

And what does it mean that Randy Pilo, WI-PSC, sent out this cost allocation survey the same date as FERC’s trashing in the 7th District Appellate Court?

Illinois Commerce Commission v. FERC – August 6 2009

A decision worth a read…

Xcel demand keeps going down…

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on August 10, 2009 @ 7:24 pm


Xcel’s 1Q 2009 8-K

Xcel’s 2Q 2009 8-K

Here’s what the first two quarters of 2009 look like, and remember, this is after the 11% decline in 2007-2008:

xcel8-k2009jpeg(click the chart to make it bigger)

So, do tell, how can they justifiy CapX 2020?

Minn. Stat. 117.189 Legislative History

Filed under:Laws & Rules — posted by admin on August 6, 2009 @ 12:51 pm

This is one of those things that’s been bugging me for a long time, and I’m finally getting around to looking it up.  There are a few twists and turns, and this is a long post, with a lot of links and a lot of audio listening for you to dig in if you’re interested.  If you’re a landowner, you sure better be!  If you’re a landowner affected by utility infrastructure, this is required reading and listening!

Here we go!

History of Minn. Stat. 117.189

Here’s the statute (the specific statutory cites below are linked):


Sections 117.031; 117.036; 117.055, subdivision 2, paragraph (b); 117.186; 117.187; 117.188; and 117.52, subdivisions 1a and 4, do not apply to public service corporations. For purposes of an award of appraisal fees under section 117.085, the fees awarded may not exceed $500 for all types of property.

2006 c 214 s 14

Short version – this bill was a bipartisan sell-out that exempted CapX 2020 and any other public service corporation project from eminent domain that every other entity must comply with.  Why on earth would they do this… or rather, what innocent explaination is there for this 117.189 section of the bill?

So far that I’ve heard (only ~6 hours thus far), Sen. Scott Dibble is
the only one asking “Why exempt public service corporations?”

The only Senators who voted against this were:

Anderson, Cohen, Dibble, Hottinger, Marko, Moua, Pappas, Ranum, Skoglund

The only Reps who voted against this were:

Davnie, Ellison, Goodwin, Hausman, Hornstein, Huntley, Johnson, S., Kahn, Lanning, Lenczewski, Mahoney, Mariani, Mullery, Paymar, Thao, Wagenius, Walker

Please take a few minutes and send them a thank you note!  Here’s a link to their emails:

House Members

Senate Members


First, some more history, going back to my all time favorite bill:


Remember, this was the bill that grew from the deal the enviros did in 2003, incorporating the material terms of that deal into the 2005 Omnibus bill.

ME3, MCEA, Waltons, NAWO -TRANSLink deal

And… why… look, there’s language in the 2005 Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell mandating an “Eminent Domain Landowner Compensation — Landowner Payments Working Group!”

55.35                             ARTICLE 11
56.2      Subdivision 1.  [MEMBERSHIP.] By June 15, 2005, the
56.3   Legislative Electric Energy Task Force shall convene a landowner
56.4   payments working group consisting of up to 12 members, including
56.5   representatives from each of the following groups:
56.6   transmission-owning investor-owned utilities, electric
56.7   cooperatives, municipal power agencies, Farm Bureau, Farmers
56.8   Union, county commissioners, real estate appraisers and others
56.9   with an interest and expertise in landowner rights and the
56.10  market value of rural property.
56.11     Subd. 2.  [APPOINTMENT.] The chairs of the Legislative
56.12  Electric Energy Task Force and the chairs of the senate and
56.13  house committees with primary jurisdiction over energy policy
56.14  shall jointly appoint the working group members.
56.15     Subd. 3.  [CHARGE.] (a) The landowner payments working
56.16  group shall research alternative methods of remunerating
56.17  landowners on whose land high voltage transmission lines have
56.18  been constructed.
56.19     (b) In developing its recommendations, the working group
56.20  shall:
56.21     (1) examine different methods of landowner payments that
56.22  operate in other states and countries;
56.23     (2) consider innovative alternatives to lump-sum payments
56.24  that extend payments over the life of the transmission line and
56.25  that run with the land if the land is conveyed to another owner;
56.26     (3) consider alternative ways of structuring payments that
56.27  are equitable to landowners and utilities.
56.28     Subd. 4.  [EXPENSES.] Members of the working group shall be
56.29  reimbursed for expenses as provided in Minnesota Statutes,
56.30  section 15.059, subdivision 6.  Expenses of the landowner
56.31  payments working group shall not exceed $10,000 without the
56.32  approval of the chairs of the Legislative Electric Energy Task
56.33  Force.
56.34     Subd. 5.  [REPORT.] The landowner payments working group
56.35  shall present its findings and recommendations, including
56.36  legislative recommendations and model legislation, if any, in a
57.1   report to the Legislative Electric Energy Task Force by January
57.2   15, 2006.

Now, let’s take a look at who was on that Committee:


1. Jim Musso (Xcel Energy) representing transmission owning investor-owned utilities
2. Bob Ambrose (Great River Energy) representing electric cooperatives
3. Mrg Simon (Missouri River Energy) representing municipal power agencies
4. Chris Radatz-representing the Minnesota Farm Bureau
5. Tim Henning (farmer) representing the Minnesota Farmers Union
6. Jack Keers (Pipestone County Commissioner) representing county commissioners
7. Robin Nesburg (Rural Appraisal Services) representing real estate appraisers


8. Beth Soholt (Wind on the Wires)
9. John Nauerth III (farmer)
10. George Crocker (North American Water Office)
11. Bob Cupit (Public Utilities Commission)
12. Bill Blazar (Minnesota Chamber of Commerce)


Let’s look at the Senate bill, SF 2750 and the House bill, HF 2846.

SF 2750

Senate Authors, none added after introduction:    Bakk ; Kiscaden ; Bachmann ; Chaudhary ; Kubly

Bill as introduced, had the Public Service Corporation exemption AND the appraisal fee limitation:

12.9    Sections 117.031; 117.036; 117.055, subdivision 2, paragraph (b); 117.186; 117.187;
12.10   117.188; and 117.52, subdivisions 1a and 4, do not apply to public service corporations.
12.11   For purposes of an award of appraisal fees under section 117.085, the fees awarded may
12.12   not exceed $500 for all types of property.

On the Senate side, there are some interesting statements in the first Committee hearing, Judiciary, discussion about limiting who can speak at county meetings about eminent domain (!!!), limitations of attorneys’ fees… and there’s a discussion that I’m trying to transcribe … will post soon…

Senate Judiciary – March 9, 2006 – PART I

Senate Judiciary – March 9, 2006 – PART II


HF 2846

Introduced with these authors: House Authors    Johnson, J. ; Thissen ; Smith ; Davids ; Dill ; Paulsen
By the end, here is who signed on to this:
House Authors        Johnson, J. ; Thissen ; Smith ; Davids ; Dill ; Paulsen ; Penas ; Moe ; Garofalo ; Nelson, P. ; Wardlow ; Magnus ; Cybart ; Olson ; Westrom ; Erickson ; Klinzing ; Charron

As introduced it had the Public Service Corporation exemption:

5.25         Sec. 9. [117.189] PUBLIC SERVICE CORPORATION EXCEPTION.
5.26     Sections 117.031, 117.186, 117.187, and 117.188 do not apply to public service
5.27     corporations.

*** The sentence about appraisals did not appear in it as introduced or in the 5 engrossments online.

Here’s the House Research explanation of that paragraph:

12      Public service corporation exception. Provides that the provisions for attorneys’ fees (section 4 ), compensation for loss of going concern (section 8 ), minimum compensation (section 10 ), and limitations (section 11 ), do not apply to public service corporations.


Conference Committee

04/12/2006      Senate conferees       Bakk, Murphy, Betzold, Higgins, Ortman
04/12/2006      House conferees       Johnson, J.; Abrams; Davids; Anderson, B.; Thissen


Here are the reports of House and Senate adoption of Conference Committee Report, including votes:

Senate Adopted Conference Committee Report, bill repassed

House Adopted Conference Committee Report, bill repassed

Lies, more lies… RPU demand forecast released

Filed under:Nuts & Bolts,Reports - Documents — posted by admin on August 2, 2009 @ 8:37 am


Utilities’ demand forecasts are getting closer to the truth, exposing the CapX 2020 demand forecast lies.

An example in point, from RPU’s blog post:

Draft Infrastructure Plan Update presented at the July 28th Board Meeting

Color me PISSED OFF!!!  Yes, I know, it’s nothing new, but I really hate it when these lies of “increasing demand” are conveniently exposed in new “updated” forecasts  — after the PUC denies multiple Motions for Reconsideration regarding decreased demand.  CapX 2020 depends on a three part claim of need, and claimed that Rochester had an URGENT need for electricity due to increasing demand and they needed CapX 2020 to get enough juice in the area.  Yes, DUH, we know that is not true.  We know the forecasts are inflated.  The CapX 2020 record already reflects that the claimed Rochester local demand was utter bullshit, that the claim did not take the new 161kV lines into consideration, that the claim did not take the planned 100MW “West Side” gas plant into consideration, and that the forecasts were overestimated…

And folks, here’s the proof, straight from the horse’s… errrr… mouth, yeah, that’s it:

Rochester Public Utilities 2009 Infrastructure Update (using 2006 data)


Click here for RPU’s page with its forecasting and planning reports.

And I’ve heard that Comments will be taken on this, now’s your chance — I’ll post an email to send Comments to soon:

Tony Benson
Infrastructure Planning Comment
Rochester Public Utilities
4000 East River Road N.E.
Rochester, MN  55906
or email to:

Here’s the old report — we’ll be comparing:

RPU 2005 Report (using 2005 data)

And why am I so pissed off, you may ask?

It’s simple.  Here’s a little chart to elucidate:


And where did these numbers come from?  From these charts in the RPU reports!  First, the 2005 RPU Report:

2005-tableii-1And for comparison, the 2009 RPU Report just released:



Thanks to a little birdie, I have another cute little chart from RPU’s annual report:

RPU Annual Report – 2008 “Thinking Global, Acting Local”

rpuannualreportNote the 30+% decrease in Wholesale Sales?  Note the decreasing demand since 2007?  Sound familiar?

There’s even more in the 2009 MAPP Load & Capability Report.  In the MAPP L&C, check out the RPU pages starting on p. II-307, and see if that makes any sense to you.  It shows a lot lower demand numbers, it shows sales, but it doesn’t show purchases, and the numbers don’t add up to those in their own reports.  Their demand is mixed in with other nearby utilities and that must be where it is, but you’d think it would show up in purchases or sales…

So, looking at the new RPU report, yup, Rochester sure needs CapX 2020’s bundled and “double circuit ready” 345kV transmission line, eh?


How stupid do they think we are?  And of course they wait until our Motions for Reconsideration are rejected to release this information, and remember, it’s old information at that, the 2006 numbers are the last ones before demand started going down, so real forecasts, updated with “2007-present” information, will be a lot lower.

Send your comments to RPU, and I’ll have an email address posted as soon as I can find one:

Tony Benson
Infrastructure Planning Comment
Rochester Public Utilities
4000 East River Road N.E.
Rochester, MN  55906

or email to:

South Heart coal gasification — coal on the wires

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on August 1, 2009 @ 8:20 pm


The South Heart North Dakota coal gasification is now going to be an ELECTRIC GENERATION plant.  DUH!  The 800 pound gorilla has just bared his teeth and started jumping around the room.  This IGCC plant will be up and ready
just in time to use CapX 2020 transmission — DUH!  And if you’re surprised, you’re in the wrong business.

Published August 01 2009

A change in plant plans

What was slated to be a coal gasification plant near South Heart will now produce electricity, a company spokesman said Friday.

By: Jennifer McBride and Beth Wischmeyer, The Dickinson Press

What was slated to be a coal gasification plant near South Heart will now produce electricity, a company spokesman said Friday.

of the Industrial Commission of North Dakota continue to support Great
Northern Project Development/Allied Syngas Corp.’s ongoing development
of the South Heart project. The commissioners prepared a letter of
support to Chairman Charles Kerr of GNPD, after discussing the project
at their Friday meeting in Bismarck. Commissioners have supported the
project and $10 million has been committed to it, along with
legislative and technical support, according to the letter.

site is ideally located to take advantage of the existing transmission
infrastructure and GNPD’s unique access to extensive, low-cost coal
reserves,” according to the letter.

The plant will be located four miles south and two miles west of South Heart and will be a

coal-to-hydrogen electrical generation plant.

Voss, Great Northern vice president, said the company asked the
commission for support because it is applying for U.S. Department of
Energy funding for its plant. Voss said this plant will be more
marketable and is a very clean project carbon-wise. He hopes plant
construction will begin in 2011 and said permits for the 2 million
ton-per-year coal mine are likely to be filed late this year or early
next year.

originally were going to be a power plant, then a gasification plant
then a coal-drying plant, so the next logical attempt will be
electricity,” said Mary Hodell, a member of Neighbors United, a
citizen-awareness group based out of South Heart. “I don’t know what is

said Great Northern and GTL Energy, a company seeking to operate a coal
beneficiation plant also near South Heart, are independent companies.

are not working together,” Voss said. “We will use their technology in
our plant when they build it and prove that it works, but we won’t use
their equipment.”

The cost to build Great Northern’s plant is estimated at $1 billion.

county does have a comprehensive plan that is in place to protect the
livelihood of the people and it would be nice if that was followed,”
Hodell said.

Are we going to let them get away with this?  I love it when my
hunches are right, but I hate it when anyone has the audacity to
propose something so utterly stupid as this.  It will be hard for them
to get it up and running… except who has a power plant application
ready to rock (except that it’s a joke, but it takes some time to prove
that to the PUC)?  Drat… and here I thought Tom would be down in
Honduras trying to build Mesaba down there…