Gov. Pawlenty in Plainview tomorrow a.m.

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on April 28, 2010 @ 4:50 pm


Tomorrow morning at 10:30, Gov. Tim Pawlenty, promoter of CapX 2020 transmission, will be in Plainview, at the Hassler Theater.

He needs a welcoming committee.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty

Thursday, April 29, 2010 @ 10:30-11:30 a.m.

Hassler Theater – Main Street

Plainview, MN

Be there or be square!


Greetings from Plainview!

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on @ 11:38 am

Today is the first meeting of the CapX 2020 North Rochester-Rivercrossing Citizen Advisory Task Force.  Thanks to Xcel’s Grant Stevenson for guidance on the AC!!!  What would we do without electricity!!!!  And even better, City of Plainview has wireless!


The work of the Task Force is to identify issues for scoping and to propose alternate routes.  REMEMBER THIS, there will be a quiz at the end.

For those of you do not have the application yet, go here:


Here’s what I handed out during the break:

Handout for Advisory Task Force & Routing Criteria

The statute all along has said “Advisory Task Force” and I’m familiar with “Citizen Advisory Task Force,” and I wondered where the “Citizen” went, and was concerned that it wasn’t there.  FOUND IT!!!  It’s in the rules:  Minn. R. 7850.2400 and Minn. R. 7850,3600.

I sent an email off to Karen Hammel, Asst. A.G. for Commerce on the Routing side of things, along with Ray Kirsch, the PUBLIC Advisor, and Matt Langen, the Project Manager for Commerce for this project:

Ms. Hammel, Mr. Langan, and Mr. Kirsch –

I attended the first meeting of the Hampton-North Rochester Advisory Task Force yesterday and was stunned to hear the facilitator’s statements, both to the group, and to me personally when I asked about it, that this was an exercise “ from the land use perspective” and that this would be done by “land use professionals” and that it was populated with “land use professionals” because it was to be from a “land use perspective” — and that this was the perspective and it was the one which he’d used for other groups he’d facilitated.  He would not address my concerns about the narrowness of the focus.

The purpose of the task force is to review the application and raise issues to be covered in the EIS (scoping) and to propose alternate sites.  As you know from the criteria in statute and rules (which Matt did provide to the members) there is much more than land use at issue — and these other issues will be shorted if members are trained on only the “land use” target.

I’m bringing this to your attention immediately — I’m not quite sure what else to do with it, though I’m sure I’ll think of something.  The information requests I sent yesterday have been assigned to Alberto Quintela, and I look forward to reviewing the results.

Carol A. Overland
for NoCapX 2020 and United Citizen Action Network

So here we are in Plainview today.  Only 7 members present, what a problem.

So far, questions about why only three meetings and whether the group could continue meeting, concern with the immense workload and volume of information (group can continue, but we can probably get our job done in 3 meetings, based on past experience), and a question about participation of U.S. Fish & Wildlife — answer was that USFWS won’t be sitting on this Task Force – the structure doesn’t provide for that.

Another question about other permits, and what permits are needed, noting that he didn’t want to be caught saying “Yeah, go ahead, it’s OK with me” when he really doesn’t know that much about what it means to cross a river and the impacts.

Charlie Moderator – Process – this is a concensus-based process, and if there is a vote, the vote has to be at least 60%, we try to balance.   and at times I’ll be taking down ideas, and if I state that I think we have consensus and you wonder, call for a vote!

Next meetings – May 12, Wednesday, at same time, 1-4:30 p.m. is OK; then June 3, Thursday 1-4:30 p.m. is OK too!

I’ll keep updating this as we go — right now I’ve got to move so Tom Hillstrom can do his dog & pony…

Back from break – and I got a note from a little birdie:

owlApparently there was a comment that a utility cannot take a Century Farm using eminent domain.  Is this true???  There was a lot of talk about Century Farms in the Brookings-Hampton transmission line routing, but I’ve not heard that they can’t use eminent domain before.  I checked with Grant Stevenson and he doesn’t know either… Hmmmmmmm, more on that later.

Now Grant Stevenson is explaining routing with an underbuild, saying that for 69kV they will do that, and for 161kV lines, they do not.  Every double circuit line, they’re OK electrically, and for these, we propose double circuit, there’s about a 35% premium, but for the 161kV lines, they propose running adjacent to the line.

There’s been confusion about stray voltage v. EMF, and impacts on animals and humans, and here it was characterized as “stray voltage” affects animals and “EMF” affects humans, and never the twain shall meet.  Hey, Tom Hillstrom, please google:

“stray voltage” human


EMF animal

Someone else brought up specific PUC criteria, another “recreation aesthetics” which MUST mean a ban on bike shorts!

bikeshortsNow they’re categorizing them, and this group has a much broader range of considerations.

There is much talk about using public corridors, and especially roads.  Right away at the outset, the DOT Policy of Accomodation has to come into play:

MnDOT Policy of Utility Accomodation

And a question — are there DOT scenic easements that should be taken into account?

Something else to be worked in — all the scoping comments for the RUS EIS should be integrated into this EIS scoping!

And now, back to the meeting, they’re getting into the cost of constructing and maintaining line, substations.

I got a photo of the results of today’s session, and if I ever find my camera case with the USB connector I’ll be able to post it!!!

So at the end of the meeting, Charlie tells everyone that they should pick out 3 or 4 of their most important issues, that he anticipated they’d be narrowing down from the many items on the board.  NARROWING DOWN?

QUIZ: What’s wrong with this picture?  What’s the problem with narrowing down?


Greetings from Cannon Falls!

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on April 27, 2010 @ 12:17 pm

This is the first meeting of the northern area Advisory Task Force for the Hampton – Alma (LaX) part of the CapX 2020 transmission project.  Here we go again.


Going?  Here’s how it’s going — only 7 members showed up, and there were only 10 chairs, only 10 spots allocated per their “charge.”  This Task Force may be the one with NO regular people and only government officials and NGOs — yes, that’s confirmed!  I spoke with Charlie, the “moderator” or “facilitator” about this, and he said that it was from a “land use perspective” and these are “land use professionals” and would NOT address that there are no regular people, only local government officials and NGOs.  He got defensive and repeated that he’d done 11 of these, this was his 12th, and it was always from a “land use perspective.”  I’m amazed… he refused to deal with the public participation issue I presented, and diverted and dodged.

So then after it was over I had a brief chat with Ray Kirsch, who is the “Public Advisor” on this docket.  He also was not concerned, said this was the way it was.  I reminded him that he is the “Public Advisor” and that I didn’t think that an Advisory Task Force without members of the public who are not representing local governments or NGOs (there are no NGOs appointed here either) met the statutory Public Participation requirements of Minn. Stat. 216E.08.

Thankfully, one member is concerned about so many townships that were missing, and first asked if she was responsible for contacting others who were not there, and later asked if she could contact missing townships — they agreed that it was OK to try to bring them in and they’d bring them up to speed.

“Land Use Perspective” eh? Where did that come from?  Here’s the statute:

Subdivision 1.Advisory task force.

The commission may appoint one or more advisory task forces to assist it in carrying out its duties. Task forces appointed to evaluate sites or routes considered for designation shall be comprised of as many persons as may be designated by the commission, but at least one representative from each of the following: Regional development commissions, counties and municipal corporations and one town board member from each county in which a site or route is proposed to be located. No officer, agent, or employee of a utility shall serve on an advisory task force. Reimbursement for expenses incurred shall be made pursuant to the rules governing state employees. The task forces expire as provided in section 15.059, subdivision 6. At the time the task force is appointed, the commission shall specify the charge to the task force. The task force shall expire upon completion of its charge, upon designation by the commission of alternative sites or routes to be included in the environmental impact statement, or upon the specific date identified by the commission in the charge, whichever occurs first.

And here’s the composition of the Task Forces per MOES:

  • Northern part – Hampton to Rochester: The ATF will include 13 local government members and up to an additional two representatives of governmental or nongovernmental entities, as appropriate.
  • Eastern part – Rochester to Alma: The ATF will include 8 local government members and up to two additional representatives of
    governmental or nongovernmental entities, as appropriate.

Here’s the charge for this particular Hampton-Alma section of CapX (the full doc is below):

OES herein charges the ATF members to:
1. Assist in determining specific impacts and issues of local concern that should be assessed
in the EIS by adding detail to the draft Scoping Document;
2. Assist in determining potential route alternatives that should be assessed in the EIS.

LaCrosse Project Task Force Charge

So were does Charlie get this line about “Land Use Perspective” and “Land Use Professionals?”  The exclusion of the public and this “Land Use Perspective” concept aren’t in the charge.  Who’s brilliant idea is that?

If regular people are excluded from participation, what does that do to the result?  If regular people are excluded from participation, does this meet the public participation requirements of Minn. Stat. 216E.08?

Nope, no sir, this sure isn’t how this has been done in the past, and it sure doesn’t comport with the statute (click and read it, does this sound like “public participation to you?) so, to get the real poop, I fired off first one Data Practices Act request and then another:

Task Force Data Practices Act Request

Task Force Data Practices Act 2

Need to get a little background to clarify just what they’re doing here…

CapX Hampton-Alma(LaX) EIS Scoping Meetings

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on April 25, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

Members have been appointed to the Citizens Advisory Task Force CapX 2020 transmission line from Hampton to Alma (f/k/a LaCrosse).  Rumor has it that there are NO CITIZENS on the CITIZENS Advisory Task Force.  SAY WHAT?!?!?!  More to follow on that.

Notice also went out on scoping meetings.  The Minnesota Office of Energy Security (MOES) will be holding EIS Scoping meetings for the  CapX 2020 transmission line from Hampton-Alam (formerly LaCrosse).

Here’s the notice:

CapX Hampton-Alma EIS Scoping Meetings

And although RUS held six meetings, MOES is only holding THREE:

May 4, 2010
American Legion
215 3rd Street SW

May 5, 2010
Pine Island
American Legion
108 1st Avenue SE

May 6, 2010
Cannon Falls
Grandpa’s Event Center

The OES will accept written comments on the scope of the EIS until May 20, 2010.   Please include PUC Docket No. TL-09-1448 on your comments. Comments should be mailed, emailed, or faxed to:

Matthew Langan
State Permit 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:

STrib at it again…

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on April 22, 2010 @ 10:32 pm


The STrib does it again.  For the ~240 mile CapX 2020 transmission line from Brookings to Hampton, the story is framed as a NIMBY victory for about 2 miles of landowners who are getting their way, and nothing at all about the 238 miles of landowners across the length of southern Minnesota who are getting screwed.

Hampton backed on power line

Last update: April 22, 2010 – 8:54 PM

A citizens group from Hampton, Minn., scored a partial victory Thursday in its fight to keep part of the 700-mile CapX2020 power line project out of its neighborhood.

Administrative Law Judge Richard Luis in St. Paul said Thursday he’s recommending that a leg of the high-voltage transmission project run one mile north of the farm town of Hampton instead of through the more densely populated area that had been proposed. Farmers affected by the more northern route opposed it there, too.

The decision was just one of several recommendations made in an unusually detailed 163-page document headed to the state Public Utilities Commission, which has 60 days to make a final decision.

The opinion includes comments from the more than 1,200 people who wrote in and testified at public hearings that Luis held from November to January.

The $1.7 billion CapX project, being led by Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy and Great River Energy in Maple Grove, is one of the largest expansions of the power grid in state history.

FINALLY it’s here – ALJ Recommendation

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on @ 10:43 am

Just came in for CapX 2020 transmission route for the Brookings-Hampton line:

FINAL Recommendation for CapX 2020 Brookings-Hampton route

At least we think it’s final…

Now they say “Disregard” yesterday’s filing?

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on @ 6:54 am

Remember yesterday’s Recommendation from ALJ Luis on the CapX 2020 Brookings-Hampton transmission line?  Now things get stranger… the following email arrived this morning:

The report released on 4/22/10 is incomplete and a Findings of Fact, Conclusions and Recommendation will be issued later today.  Please disregard the email received earlier.

Denise Collins
Office of
Administrative Hearings
(651) 361-7875
PO Box 64620
St. Paul, MN 55164
600 North Robert Street
St. Paul, MN 55101

OK, fine, whatever… I’ll forward the completed one when I receive it!

ALJ Recommendation on Brookings is OUT!

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on April 21, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

When it rains, it pours!  Just a couple of hours ago, we got the New Jersey BPU decision on the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line.  Now the CapX 2020 Brookings-Hampton Route Recommendation comes out.

eService says that it’s been filed, but for a while, only the 2nd half of it was retrievable… AAAARGH, go figure.  Anyway, here is the whole thing, at long last:

ALJ Recommendation & Findings – Part 1

ALJ Recommendation & Findings – Part 2

OK, folks, time to get to work.  We have 15 days to submit “exceptions” to the ALJ’s Recommendation.  That means we have 15 days to pick it apart and add, delete, and amend what’s there to make it what we think it should be.

PLEASE FORWARD ME YOUR SUGGESTIONS.  Specific suggestions, on p. __, para. ___, it says ___ and it should say ______ and here’s the exhibit/citation/whatever backs that up.  That will make it a lot easier to deal with.  THANKS!

Rochester area doesn’t NEED CapX

Filed under:Nuts & Bolts,PUC Docket — posted by admin on April 20, 2010 @ 9:36 am


Remember all the hype about Rochester, home of the Mayo Clinic, freezing in the dark on a respirator without a job?


A little birdie sent me this:

Rochester Public Utilities 2009 Electric System Engineering & Operations Report

On p. 18 there’s some important info.  First, the number of customers has increased slightly:

RPU 2009 - Electric Customers 2006-2009

And note that RPU’s peak demand was also in 2006 (I wish they’d go back a lot further):


From the CapX CoN docket, here’s testimony from Amanda King:


Here are the Rochester load specifics in chart form, substation by substation:

King – Schedule 2 – Rochester Substation Loading & Forecast

Here it is as Application, Appendix C-1, just slightly different:


Now look at this – the average MWH/customer:

rpu-averagemwhspercustomerHere’s some interesting information – their SAIDI, SAIFI and CAIDI reports — what changed in 2002 that dramatically altered the SAIDI statistics going forward:

CAIDI, SAIDI, SAIFI from RPU’s 2009 E&O Report

And the chart that says it all:


All in all, a very interesting report, clear, easy for non-wonks to understand, it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it, I’ll give it a 98!

Today – UPDATE – Citizens Advisory Task Force

Filed under:PUC Docket,Uncategorized — posted by admin on April 13, 2010 @ 12:10 pm



ALERT: Hampton-Alma (LaCrosse) Citizens Advisory Task Force!

NOW – Do I have your attention?

Today is the day that people are supposed to receive notice of whether they are selected to be on the Hampton-Alma (LaCrosse) Citizen Advisory Task Force.  However, supposedly due to lack of response, the deadline has been extended indefinitely.   SEND IN YOUR APPLICATION RIGHT AWAY!

Task Force meetings begin the week of the 27th.

General Advisory Task Force Solicitation with Candidate Form


If you haven’t sent in a Candidate Form, now’s the time, like RIGHT NOW.  Ask that members of the public be appointed, and ask for equal membership for both Task Forces, there is NO reason to limit the River Crossing Task Force to 10 members.

Here are a couple of problems with this Solicitation:

  • 15 members for Hampton to Northern Hills, only 10 members for Northern Hills to Mississippi River
  • Meetings will be held in the afternoon — who can do that?

So, again, this looks like an attempt to limit participation

And although the PUC has ordered the Task Forces, there is still no scheduled Prehearing Conference, at least not listed on the PUC docket site for this part of CapX 2020.

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