PUC’s remand to OAH of Brookings’ river crossing

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on July 27, 2010 @ 11:45 am

It’s out — in record time!  The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has issued its Order remanding to ALJ Luis the section of the CapX2020 Brookings transmission line from the Cedar Mountain substation to the Helena Twp. substation (hey PUC — Helena is in SCOTT County, NOT LeSueur County!):


Order Remanding to OAH- July 27, 2010

Here are the specifics:

The issue of which route is preferable for crossing the Minnesota River (a crossing at Le Sueur or a crossing at Belle Plaine) is remanded to the ALJ for further contested case proceedings as discussed above in this Order.

The ALJ is requested to hold a hearing regarding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s June 10,2010 letter and give the parties  adequate opportunity to develop the record with respect to that letter and then to determine whether, in light of that letter and the record developed with respect to it, the ALJ wishes to modify or augment his findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations.

The Commission also requests that the ALJ address which crossover route to the Belle Plaine crossing would be preferable and to make findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendations in that regard.

The Commission requests that the contested case proceedings on remand be conducted thoroughly but expeditiously, consistent with the discussion provided above in the text of this Order.

Here we go back to the ALJ.  What’s good is that CapX 2020 couldn’t sneak through the LeSueur crossing, that was appropriately stopped.  The bad news is that Belle Plaine has been left out of the mix, no hearings in Belle Plaine, and so if they’re interested, they’d better show up!

From the Belle Plaine Herald:

Minus River Crossing, PUC Approves Power Line Route

Decision Could Be Delayed Until End of Year

by John Mueller

With the exception of the segment including the Minnesota River Crossing at Le Sueur or Belle Plaine, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a route permit for CapX 2020’s high-voltage power line from Brookings, S.D. to Hampton, Minn. Thursday morning.

The PUC’s 4-1 decision excludes an approximately 65-mile gap between the proposed Cedar Mountain substation in Renville County and the proposed Helena substation. CapX’s proposed river crossing at Belle Plaine or Le Sueur is within that span.

Thursday’s meeting came after a three-plus hour public comment meeting Tuesday (July 13) where residents along the proposed corridor raised concerns about the route, impacts a line would have on them and their property and the process.

A river crossing from Faxon Township into Blakeley Township would extend the power line along Stoppelmann Boulevard, about a quarter-mile from Oak Crest Elementary School.

LaX to Madison route announced… again…

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on @ 10:22 am

Deja vu all over again… Remember this map?

Hearing Ex. 13, Big Picture Map

The Dakotas to Wisconsin big picture of CapX 2020 goes way back…

CapX Interim Report December13, 2004

May 11, 2005 Capx 2020 Technical Update

CapX 2020 Update June 14, 2006

And the JCSP nightmare to the East Coast:


But it goes back further than that, back a decade, all the way to the Wisconsin Reliability Assessment Organization — WRAO — Report:

WRAO Report – and WIREs Report – 1998 & 1999

Look at this map:


Remember this press release?

Sandok Xcel/GRE Press Release April 3, 2009

It said, and I quote:

The studies also found that further upgrades in Minnesota and the Dakotas (beyond the 230-kilovolt line upgrade) will not provide significant benefit prior to installation of a high-voltage transmission line between the La Crosse,  Wis., area and the Madison, Wis., area. Without a line to the east of Minnesota, the transmission system will reach a “tipping point” where reliability is compromised, according to the studies. The studies found that the combination of the new 345-kilovolt double circuit line between Granite Falls and Shakopee and a new Wisconsin line would increase the transmission system transfer capability by 1,600 megawatts for a total increase — with the 2,000 megawatts from the new 345-kilovolt line in Minnesota – of approximately 3,600 megawatts.

Id., (emphasis added).

And now… here we go — (drum roll please) from our friends at ATC:

American Transmission Company announces plans for 150 mile, 345kV transmission line in Western Wisconsin.

Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project is a multi-benefit project demonstrating reliability, economic and renewable benefits.

WTAQ Radio:

Environmental Groups Worried About Proposed Electric Line

And in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Large power line is proposed between Madison and La Crosse

By JUDY NEWMAN | jdnewman@madison.com | 608-252-6156 |
Posted: Monday, July 26, 2010

American Transmission Co. wants to build a major, high-voltage transmission line from the La Crosse area to just north of Madison, at a cost of up to $425 million.

No specific route has been designated for the 150-mile, 345-kilovolt Badger Coulee transmission line. But it could connect with transmission lines planned at either end:

• The 32-mile, 345-kilovolt Rockdale-West Middleton line that ATC plans to build across Dane County’s width, from the town of Christiana to west of Middleton. Approved one year ago by the state Public Service Commission, construction of the $215 million transmission line is slated to begin in mid-2011 and be completed by summer 2013.

• A series of 345-kilovolt lines spanning more than 700 miles from the Dakotas across Minnesota to La Crosse, called the CapX2020 project. Approved by Minnesota utility regulators, developers have not yet submitted an application to the PSC for the Wisconsin portion.

ATC said the La Crosse-Madison line could benefit the state in three ways. “Badger Coulee enhances electric system reliability; it provides direct energy cost savings to electricity users, and it supports the public’s desire for the greater use of renewable energy resources,” ATC president, chairman and chief executive officer John Procario said, in a written statement.

In an interview Monday, Procario said the proposed La Crosse-Madison line will help uphold stability of the region’s electrical system in case of line outages. He also said it will help Wisconsin hook into cheaper power from western states and Canada, and will help bring electricity from area wind farms onto the grid.

Local environmental groups are not saying much until they can learn more about the project.

“The bottom line is: Is the project needed to help provide better service in Wisconsin? We don’t know the answer to that,” said Charlie Higley, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board.

A spokeswoman for the Sierra Club in Madison said her group will try to determine if the project aims to promote green power. “Generally speaking, any new investment in transmission infrastructure needs to be done in the context of our need to transition off of coal and to maximize energy efficiency and renewable energy,” said Jennifer Feyerherm, who works with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

But citizen groups that opposed CapX2020 say the proposed Badger Coulee line is part of an attempt to push coal-fired power plants at a time when electricity use is decreasing, and to send the power along lines that eventually will stretch as far as the East Coast.

Demand for electricity in this region hit its highest level in 2006 and has fallen since then, said Carol Overland, attorney for the groups No CapX2020 and United Citizen Action Network.

“People will say it’s for wind, but it’s not; it’s for coal. Look at the (route) maps. They start in the coal fields of North Dakota,” Overland said. She said the Badger Coulee line would become a conduit carrying the power down to Chicago and beyond.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace