RUS Scoping Report and MN Task Forces on Hampton-LaX/Alma route

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on March 24, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

… sigh…

How much more could be going on at once?

It’s out — it’s dated FEBRUARY — how did that happen?  Did any of you get notice?


Rural Utilities Service Scoping Report for EIS

Appendices A-D

Appendices E-F

Appendices G-H

Appendix I – Part I

Appendix I – Part 2

Appendix I – Part 3

Appendix I – Part 4

Appendix J

Compendium of Public Comments

So on to the State of Minnesota Routing Docket for the Hampton to LaX/Alma transmission line.  I’m sitting here looking at the Task Force docs, where MOES is notifying local governments about the formation of Task Forces:

MOES Notice of Task Forces

Solicitation of Task Force Nominations

… and looking at the route map enclosed with the MOES ditty:


… and looking at the township maps, there are a LOT of townships potentially affected by this, and few spots for township officials/representatives on the Task Forces.


If you’re in this area and live in a township, contact your township officials and let them know how important it is to participate in the Citizen Advisory Task Force and get the local perspective on impacts, what’s important to include in the EIS and particularly how important it is to work jointly and incorporate the federal environmental review being conducted by Rural Utility Services.

CapX CoN appellate arguments in the news

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on @ 10:46 am


Here’s the old railroad bridge outside of Kenyon, if you go down Home St. to Hwy. 56 and walk south a bit, there it is, on the east side of 60.  This is from the days when they really used railroads, and there was that massive influx of Norwegians.  If anything, Kenyon is a Norwegian town… but that didn’t help me fit in there.  But Kenyon Vet Clinic is the best!!!

Anyway, I digress… here it is, from yesterday’s Kenyon Leader:

Need of CapX2020 argued in court

By: Corey Butler Jr.
Posted: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 11:24 am
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Opponents of a proposed energy project through the region were in court last week to challenge an issuance from the state’s Public Utilities Commission.

Carol Overland, an attorney and opponent of the CapX2020 project, said in an e-mail the issuance of a Certificate of Need for the proposed transmission lines are not necessary.

CapX2020, a group comprised of 11 utilities, is proposing the construction of a 345-kilovolt electric transmission line and associated facilities to run between Hampton and Rochester. The proposal includes a 345 kV transmission line from a substation near Hampton to a proposed substation in north Rochester, then on to a new or existing substation near La Crosse, Wis.

Three other transmission lines are proposed throughout the region.

If the preferred line from Hampton to Rochester isn’t approved, a backup route would head south from Hampton along Hwy. 56 through Holden Township and then head east through Wanamingo.

Speaking on behalf of groups NoCapX and United Citizen Action Network before the Appellate Court, Overland said the energy usage CapX2020 says is needed to power the region are wrong. She said in the time since the project began, energy usage has decreased.

“Demand has decreased so dramatically that utilities are canceling or withdrawing infrastructure projects, and since the peak in 2006, it’s down,” she wrote. … “The CapX project is not needed by any measure.”

CapX2020 utilities were granted a Certificate of Need from the PUC on April 16, 2009. According to CapX2020’s Web site, the expansion of the electric transmission grid is needed to ensure continued reliable and affordable service. It says planning studies show that customer demand for electricity will increase by 4,000 to 6,000 megawatts by 2020.

On March 9, the PUC accepted a completed application from CapX for the transmission project route permit from Hampton to Rochester to La Crosse.

As part of the Minnesota Route Permit process, the PUC determines the transmission line’s final route. The rules for the permit require that the applicant identify at least two routes and state a preference for one.

Should the preferred line ultimately be denied, landowners in Holden Township and Wanamingo could be faced with battles over their land.

State law currently allows government entities to use eminent domain to purchase private land without the owner’s consent but with fair compensation in effort to boom economic development.

Last month, Rep. Steve Drazkowski (Wabasha), the lead Republican in the House Civil Justice Committee, became an author of a bill that would remove an exemption for public service corporations when it comes to eminent domain.

Lawmakers are looking at the law again after CapX2020 proposed its project including four major utility lines throughout the state, worrying landowners who could fall in its routes of not receiving proper compensation.

But that discussion could become moot, should the argument by NoCapX and UCAN be welcomed by the Appellate Court.

Overland said she expects a decision from the court within three months.

HF 1182 passes in the House!

Filed under:Laws & Rules,News coverage — posted by admin on @ 10:04 am


IT PASSED IN THE HOUSE — THE FULL HOUSE!  Now on to finish up in the Senate.

Thanks to Rep.  David Bly for authoring HF 1182, to remove the eminent domain law exemptions for public service corporations — our “good neighbor” utilities who thought they were special.  Thanks also to the other co-authors  Falk ; Paymar ; Buesgens ; Brod ; Morrow ; Drazkowski ; Haws

Here’s Bly’s press release — and kudos to Russ Martin, United Citizens Action Network, for all his work, all Judy’s work… and then there’s Joyce Osborn too!  Anyway, the press release:


Bipartisan legislative victory passes 123 to 5

ST. PAUL – Legislation authored by Rep. David Bly (DFL – Northfield) passed the House today that would increase fairness and balance for Minnesota homeowners whose land may be taken through eminent domain process. Passed on a wide bipartisan vote of 123 to 5, Bly’s bill repeals the special exemptions for eminent domain given to utility companies involving high-voltage transmission lines and natural gas and petroleum pipelines. Bly called the bill a victory for private property rights for all Minnesotans.

“A constituent of mine named Russell Martin came to me in 2008 when he found out an oil pipeline was going to be built across his land. A year later he found out the CAPX 2020 powerline was sited to cross his property. I began hearing from other property owners across the state on this issue and drafted the current bill,” said Bly. “This bill will protect homeowners like Russell who deserve to have a fair process when they are put in this unfair position.”

After United States Supreme Court broadened the ability of government to use eminent domain in 2005, the Minnesota Legislature took action to limit the power of state government to use eminent domain in order to protect and increase fairness to property owners. However, as part of those changes, “public service corporations” (PSC) were exempted from the new regulations and restrictions. Bly said this exemption has created a paradox in state law that is unfair to Minnesota property owners.

“If a non-profit entity like the state government wants to use your land for a public park, you have far more protections than if a for-profit utility company wants to run a high-voltage power line through your property,” said Bly. “In the interest of fairness to Minnesota’s property owners, we are simply holding these specific utility companies to the same standard we hold our own government.”

This legislation is a direct response to the proposed CapX 2020 line that is moving forward that will affect many regions of the state. The CapX 2020 line will go from Brookings to Hampton affecting Minnesotans in Lincoln County in the west through, Scott, Rice, Dakota and Goodhue counties and points south toward the Wisconsin border.

“The CapX 2020 power lines are moving forward as we speak and it’s critical we ensure that the rights of Minnesota property owners are protected,” said Bly.

The Minnesota Senate is expected to act on a similar bill soon at which point it will be sent to the Governor for his signature.

Here’s what Rep. Steve Drazkowski has to say about it — he wouldn’t co-author last year, but this year, with all the constituents calling, his name is on it — this is from his email blurb (I omitted the part about the federal health care bill, sorry, but my stomach just cannot abide by his rant):

Over the past year in southeastern Minnesota, property owners have been dealing with the uncertainties brought forward by the development of the CapX2020 project and the plans for the development of a 345 Mhz high powered transmission line. The proposed route runs right through house district 28B. From the outset, there were two items that I have communicated my commitment to doing to help limit the impact that this line would have on private property rights in our district.

The first was to work with government agencies, the CapX consortium, and other legislators to encourage the selection of a route that maximized the use of existing corridors and minimized the impact on private property. At this point, it appears that our work has paid off, as the proposed route uses existing corridors to a high degree, and the impact on private property should be minimized.

The second goal was to have eminent domain reform passed into law - so that the very same eminent domain restrictions applied to utilities as it does to local units of government. This will ensure that when property is taken for utility projects like CapX, that property owners are placed in the very best position to ensure fair and honest compensation from the utility company. I am happy to report that this afternoon, HF1182, a bill that I co-sponsored - and a bill that accomplishes the eminent domain reforms that our state lacks, passed the House Floor a vote of 123-5! I am confident that the senate companion will also pass, that we will get a favorable conference committee report, and that the bill will be signed into law very soon.

Now, everyone call the Governor and let him know that we expect him to sign that bill when it lands on his desk.  Oh, but wait, he’s not there… where is he campaigning these days…

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace