Cannon Falls Beacon – CapX in the news!

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on May 31, 2010 @ 9:23 pm

Oh, great, look at this, “THE MEETINGS HAD ALREADY TAKEN PLACE AT THE TIME THE EMAIL WAS SENT.” (EMPHASIS ADDED).  It’s in the Cannon Falls Beacon:


Township Concerns about CapX2020

Debbie Stark, township clerk, received an email about a task force that is being formed to study the routes of the CapX2020 powerline. The email was outdated and the meetings had already taken place at the time the email was sent. Because the power line runs through the township, Keith Smiley had asked the clerk to respond and ask that the township be allowed to send a representative. One township resident had called concerned that the route might run along the service road on Highway 52. The route of the power line would affect property values and limit what can be built under the power lines. The board will continue to follow the CapX2020 project as it continues.


… and on the Editorial page:

Filed to suspend CapX

To the editor:

There’s big news on the CapX2020 transmission project. NoCapX2020 and U-CAN have filed Motions to Suspend the Proceedings in both Brookings-Hampton and Hampton-Alma/LaCrosse transmission routing dockets. Why? Because last week, CapX 2020 and Xcel gave notice that the Brookings-Hampton line will be delayed by at least one year. It’s already delayed and the lights haven’t gone out! This proves CapX 2020 is not about electricity or reliability – it’s economically driven – there is no local load need, and without Big Stone II interconnecting, there’s no big generator to pay for it. We filed to suspend because if Brookings is delayed, the Hampton-Alma line should be too, they’re connected physically and electrically at Hampton.

CapX and Xcel’s admission of delay was timed carefully. In the next month, the Appellate Court is expected to rule on NoCapX 2020 and U-CAN’s challenge that the PUC should look at the evidence of sharply decreased peak demand, down over 15% since 2006. Also pending is the PUC’s decision whether to issue a route permit for Brookings.

Why did CapX file notice of delay? Supposedly because it will take time to establish methodology to recover costs of building the line, in limbo at the federal level. Plus last month at the state, the PUC denied Xcel’s cost recovery for construction work in progress on Brookings, $1.9 million of a $2 billion project. That’s chump change for Xcel. Xcel has asked the PUC for “clarification” and whether they should continue already slowed work, delay or cease work! Cease work? Yes, we’d appreciate that “clarification.”

If Xcel is delaying Brookings over just $1.9 million, 1% of CapX Phase I cost, why? What’s the real story? We’ll have updates at www.nocapx2020.info. It’s not over yet!

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

Data Practices Act Request on CATFs

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Laws & Rules — posted by admin on May 30, 2010 @ 8:28 pm

You all know how disgusted I’ve been watching Citizen Advisory Task Forces devolve over the last decade, from a group that could meaningfully participate in a routing/siting proceeding to a neutered exercise in choreographed futility.  In these proceedings, we’ve had to Petition to get a Task Force, and MOES has objected and is wanting to do ONE, for the Brookings line, and again ONE for the Hampton-Alma/LaX line.  HOW ABSURD!  Both to claim that one is sufficient, and to have to fight for it!

And then, after winning an increase from what MOES wanted, it’s still a fight, to get people appointed, to get a Marshall Task Force which was denied, and to have the Task Force do what the CHARGE states, not what MOES wants (it is not the same).

Who is eligible to be on a task force?

Who is appointed?

How many times to they meet (it’s been limited to 3 meetings for the last few!)

What is the charge?

Who runs the group?

Does the “facilitator” facilitate according to the charge?

Is there a report and if so, who writes it?

Does the way Task Forces are handled these days meet the statutory criteria and intent?

Here’s the statute:

216E.08 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION.
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.

In this round, for the Hampton-Alma/LaCrosse line, they’ve utterly ignored the statutory purpose of public participation, and are limiting it to elected officials in the area, who they term as “land-use professionals,” and there are no regular people!  At least two local groups, the Cannon River Watershed Partnership and the Zumbro Watershed Partnership were not contacted and asked to participate!  “Land Use Perspective” eh? Where did that come from?

So to gather background info,  I fired off a Data Practices Act request to get info on the specifics over the last decade:

Task Force –  Data Practices Act Request – 1

Task Force – Data Practices ActRequest – 2

And a partial response came in Friday — this has links to make it easier, it’s the info that they were able to find on the web:

Advisory Task Forces – Web-based information 2002-2010

Background info for what???  We shall see… I’ll be posting info as it comes in.

Comments filed in CapX rate recovery docket

Filed under:Cost Recovery — posted by admin on May 27, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

NoCapX 2020 and United Citizen Action Network have filed Comments in the Xcel CapX 2020 rate recovery docket, well, really, it’s Xcel’s docket, and they’re claiming rate recovery, ENTITLEMENT to rate recovery, for the CapX projects.  Meanwhile, they’ve not complied with the PUC’s Order that they must disclose ownership that was Order Point 4 of the CapX 2020 Certificate of Need.  The PUC says that “uncertainty” is a problem so no rate recovery for Brookings, but hey, the whole thing is uncertain, because they don’t even know who will own it because CapX 2020 utilities aren’t saying!  Can you believe!

So here’s what’s in this docket since the inexplicable decision to let Xcel recover for CapX 2020 expenses:

Xcel’s Request for Reconsideration or Clarification (!)

MOES Comments – May 27, 2010

NoCapX 2020 & U-CAN Comments

To look at the whole docket, which isn’t much, go to www.puc.state.mn.us and “Search Documents” and search for 09-1048.

CapX 2020 delay of Brookings line in news today

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on May 26, 2010 @ 7:58 pm

In the Marshall Independent today:

CapX Economically Driven

And hot off the press, i.e., 22 minutes ago, in the STrib — a report on the delay of the Brookings line.  GOOD, that’s a start, but once again, they only report on part of the story.  And they’ll probably pull this one before sunrise like the last article.  Anyway, if you’re at all wondering about the STrib’s failure to address NoCapX 2020 and U-CAN’s part in this, such as our  Motion to Suspend Proceedings (yes, the reporter knows about it, she was personally sent a press release and copy of our Motion) because the delay proves the lines are not NEEDED — or that CapX is willing to delay over just $1.9 million in cost recovery — the STrib will not touch substantive issues or the meanings of the facts — do call the reporter and ask her what’s up with the STrib’s continued news blackout of the work of NoCapX 2020 and United Citizens Action Network!  And ask for her Editor’s phone number!  The reporter is  Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683

And of course leave a comment on the online version.  Just click anywhere in the article below to go to their site.  I for one am really getting tired of this biased reporting.  From the Editor: “Isn’t this better than the lack of coverage before?”  Really…  The STrib’s blackout on the CapX 2020 transmission proceeding, and blackout of NoCapX 2020 and U-CAN’s work in this has got me pert near ready to rent that billboard sitting there at Hwy 52 and 50, in Hampton!!!

Perhaps they can take a clue from the Marshall Independent!  Yes, I’m ranting today, I’m disgusted:

Once again, only a small part of the story

NoCapX 2020 and United Citizens Action Network filed a Motion to Suspend Proceedings at the PUC last week based on this delay, to suspend proceedings on Brookings-Hampton and Hampton-Alma route. The STrib won’t cover it (yes, they got a copy direct) so you’ll have to read it here: www.nocapx2020.info/?p=2037 NoCapX 2020 and United Citizens Action Network also filed to intervene in the FERC case, and will be submitting comments on their rate recovery scheme. And stay tuned for more, because CapX 2020 just did a post-hearing info dump in the Brookings docket: www.nocapx2020.info/?p=2071 There are instructions to search the PUC docket and see for yourself. These last-minute filings by CapX 2020 will merit at least as delightful a response from NoCapX 2020 and U-CAN. As always we will copy the STrib. Will the STrib be on it or will you once again only get part of the story? Stay tuned…

Here’s the STrib’s view:

Utilities want big power line delayed

The 240-mile transmission line’s developers are seeking a two-year delay to hammer out how the line would be financed.

By JENNIFER BJORHUS, Star Tribune

A controversial high-voltage power line across southern Minnesota to the metro area now faces a two-year delay as regulators decide who will pay for the $700 million-plus price tag.

The utilities developing the 240-mile power line have asked state utility regulators to move the date for the Brookings transmission line to become operational from 2013 to 2015, citing “considerable uncertainty” about the tariff structure they’ll be allowed to use to recover development and construction costs, according to a filing the utilities made with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) last week.

The line is one leg of CapX2020, a network of high-voltage power lines that Xcel Energy, Great River Energy and other utilities plan to build across Minnesota. The $1.7 billion project, one of the largest grid expansions in the state’s history, would add about 700 miles of overhead wires. The utilities want to delay the Brookings line, they said, until they know what kind of new tariff structure will be in place, a formula officials at the Midwest Independent System Operator (Midwest ISO) have until July 15 to file with federal regulators. Federal regulators must then approve it.
(more…)

Info dump by CapX in Brookings docket

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on May 25, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

piles-of-files
Here we are, long after the CapX 2020 Brookings transmission routing docket has been closed, and what do we see as of yesterday? Piles and piles of paper filed by CapX Applicants.  The first one filed is odd pages only, so don’t be surprised. The rest of it, well, it seems pages are missing… we shall see.

To see them in the docket, go to:

  • www.puc.state.mn.us
  • and “Search Documents”
  • and search for docket 08-1474

LOOK AT THE TOP DOCUMENTS, THOSE FILED 5/24/2010.

May 24 CapX filings – spreadsheet to help locate docs

I put this spreadsheet together so it’d be easier to figure out what all is here, because the mishmash of things is confusing.  The files are outrageously large, I don’t know what they’re doing, but it sure is effective — the docs are too big to email or post, and I’m going to have to break them all down.  That, I believe, is what they’re doing.  There’s just no excuse for pdfs to be that large.

THIS FILING IS A BIG DEAL.  We are in the pause between the ALJ’s Recommendation (a non-recommendation in this case) and the arguments before the PUC and the PUC’s decision. And NOW this info comes out?

There are nine huge pdf files.  I’ll start loading them here after I break them down.  But it may take a day or two, today is Kenya’s last day with us and she’s the priority and I’m in no frame of mind to deal with CapX today.

Please check out the spreadsheet and if there’s anything that interests you, go to the PUC site and look it up — directions are above. This is a lot of new information, a lot of important information, including, inexplicably, undergrounding estimates for the Mississippi River crossing for the Hampton to Alma/LaCrosse line and undergrounding through Lakeville, from the Lake Marion substation to near Farmington.  There’s undergrounding information for the Fargo line too.   And an undated “summary” of undergrounding issues.  Some of this is info from 2008, some recent.  And now it’s produced… Go figure.

Suffice it to say, there will be a response to this from NoCapX 2020 and U-CAN!  Stay tuned!

CapX 2020 Responds to NoCapX Motion to Suspend

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on May 24, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

Here’s their Response:

CapX Response to NoCapX & U-CAN Motion to Suspend

Where they actually say:

Intervenors’ assertion that uncertainty about Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”) cost allocation methodologies somehow warrants delay of the Brookings Project routing proceeding is unfounded.  MISO’s cost allocation issues relate to how the Brookings Project will be funded and
have nothing to do with route determination. There is no question that the project should be built, as determined and ordered in the CapX2020 345 kV Certificate Need order.

NoCapX/UCAN’s contention that the La Crosse Project should be put on hold is unfounded as well. There are no cost allocation or cost recovery issues regarding the La Crosse Project. Simply because the two projects interconnect at the Hampton Substation does not mean that a change in timing in one project affects review of the appropriate route for the other.  As fully considered in the Certificate of Need proceeding, the two projects serve distinct needs in distinct geographic areas and neither is dependent on construction of the other to meet these needs.

Now do tell, what happens if the Hampton substation is not built, or delayed, delayed, delayed…?  The substation is in the Brookings routing docket — what would the Hampton to Alma line connect to???  Just the Prairie Island-Blue Lake?  And where?  Neither is dependent on the construction of the other to meet these needs?  Uh-huh… right….

To steal a line from NSP’s Jones, “It’s all connected!”

CapX 2020 – OAH Recommendation for St. Cloud-Monticello

Filed under:Fargo-St Cloud — posted by admin on @ 1:17 pm

heydingerJudge Heydinger has released her Recommendation for the route of CapX 2020’s St. Cloud-Monticello transmission line:

ALJ’s Recommendation for St. Cloud to Monticello

Those of you who are affected by this Recommendation and/or the coming PUC decision regarding the route may submit “Exceptions” to the Recommendation.  That means “correct” it to say what you want it to say, include facts that support the result you want; change “facts” that you think are off and cite to source in the record, like testimony, exhibits; and build the case that leads to the conclusions you want to see.  Does that make sense?

The easiest way to do it is to convert the pdf’d Recommendation to WORD and then use track changes so it’s in the right format, easy to work with.

Mn DOT’s & MRPC Comments on Hampton-Alma/LaCrosse

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on @ 11:26 am

logo

The Minnesota DOT’s comments on the scope of the EIS for the CapX 2020 transmission line from Hampton to Alma/LaCrosse are posted.

Mn DOT Scoping Comments May 20, 2010

And the Mississippi River Parkway Commission comments are posted too:

Mississippi River Parkway Commission – Comment Letter

It’s good to see these Comments and the concerns raised out there now, and not at the last minute as in Brookings!  This is good stuff!!!

CapX 2020 in the news!

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,News coverage — posted by admin on May 23, 2010 @ 8:10 am

CapX 2020 transmission is in the news again:

Power substation won’t eat up 20 acres of Holmen TIF district

By ADAM BISSEN Special to the Tribune | Posted: Saturday, May 22, 2010 12:00 am

HOLMEN – Holmen won’t lose 20 acres in the middle of its tax increment finance district to a power substation.

Xcel Energy officials have decided against using the site as part of its CapX2020 power line project, Village President Nancy Proctor told the village board.

The village is working on editing the master plan for the 7 Bridges Tax Increment District, 941 acres on the village’s north side surrounding Hwys. 53 and 35.

The board has assigned the village’s Economic Development Committee to shepherd development of the district. One of the committee’s first steps will be fine-tuning a $17,000 Schreiber/Anderson Associates market study village trustees consider unsatisfactory because of map errors and other issues.

The village plans to spend more than $20 million to bring sewers, roads and other infrastructure to the TIF district. Taxing jurisdictions, including the village, school district and county, will continue to collect taxes on the base value of the property in the TIF district. But as development occurs, taxes on the increased value of the property will be used to repay infrastructure costs.

Schreiber/Anderson’s master plan suggests native grasses be maintained and roads follow natural swales in the district, but private landowners are not obligated to follow those suggestions.

“We can’t dictate that that’s the way it would have to be, but it would look nice,” Proctor said.

From Pine Island, here’s their update:

CapX 2020 Scoping Process Update – May 17, 2010

And from the Zumbrota News Record:

May 20 deadline for submitting suggestions on CapX2020 project


CANNON FALLS – The Minnesota Office of Energy Security (MOES) is holding meetings to get public comment about the proposed CapX 2020 high voltage transmission line that may come down Highway 52 from a proposed new substation in Hampton to a proposed new substation in the Pine Island area before heading to Alma, Wisconsin.

The City of Zumbrota has asked that the power line be diverted to the west, off of Highway 52 from County Road 7 past Zumbrota, before it returns to the highway so that it does not intefere with future city development.

On May 5 there was a meeting in Pine Island. One woman asked if wind companies could hook onto the transmission line and she was told that they could. More information about the meeting can be found in the Pine Island EDA update in this edition of the paper.

On May 6 a meeting was held in Cannon Falls where there was discussion about diverting the line away from the Highway 52/19 interchange. That is because MnDot requests that power lines go around and not through interchanges.

To divert the line around the interchange would mean that it would come very close to businesses like Sandstrom Auto and Truck Repair, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School, and a number of residences. Those who would be affected by the change voiced their concerns and asked if an alternative route could be considered.

Matt Langan, permit manager with MOES said that MnDot sometimes grants hardship routing variances if the hardship can be proven. The result would be a change of the proposed route. He told those with concerns to write detailed comments about why they want the line diverted away from their property and to submit detailed alternative routes.

Comments and suggestions from all citizens who are affected by the Hampton to Alma portion of the CapX 2020 project will be accepted until May 20.

Detailed maps of the proposed preferred route and an alternative proposed route are available at capx2020.com and at energy facilities.puc.state.mn.us [click “Search Documents” and search for docket 09-1448 (admin comment)].

Comments can be submitted to matthew.langan@state.mn.us. or at 85 7th Place East, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN, 551010-2198.

Motion to Suspend Proceedings!

Filed under:Appeal,Brookings Routing Docket,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on May 20, 2010 @ 8:39 am

touche

We’re tryin’ — the fun never sets…

Today NoCapX 2020 and United Citizens Action Network filed a Motion in two routing dockets — the Brookings-Hampton (PUC Docket 08-1474) and Hampton-Alma (PUC Docket 09-1448) — to suspend the proceedings based on the Xcel and CapX filings Monday:

Motion to Suspend Proceedings – NoCapX & U-CAN

Included as an Attachment to that filing is our other Motion of the day to Intervene at FERC:

Motion to Intervene Out-of-Time – NoCapX & U-CAN

Here’s what Xcel and “CapX” filed Monday, their Request in the Cost Apportionment docket objecting to the Commission’s rejection of their cost apportionment scheme for the Brookings line, and their Notice to all of us in the Certificate of Need docket that the Brookings line would be delayed for more than one year:

Xcel’s Request for Reconsideration or Clarification (!)

CapX Notice of Delay for Brookings In-Service Date

We have 15 days to respond to the CapX Notice of Delay, and there’s about a month until the Appellate Court issues a decision regarding the CapX 2020 Certificate of Need.

To look at these dockets

  • Go to www.puc.state.mn.us
  • Hit “Search eDockets”
  • Search for:

06-1115 – Certificate of Need for CapX 2020 Group I

08-1474 – Brookings-Hampton Routing Docket

09-246 –   St. Cloud-Monticello Routing Docket

09-1056 – Fargo-St. Cloud Routing Docket

09-1448 – Hampton-Alma Routing Docket


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace