Brookings “CH” Prehearing Conference 8/16

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on August 4, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

Hot off the press, notice from Bob Cupit:

On behalf of Judge Luis, I’m providing an informal notice of a prehearing/scheduling conference on this matter so participants can get it on your calendars.  I believe an official notice will follow.  Please forward to anyone I may have overlooked.

Date:                Monday, August 16, 2010

Time:               2:30 – 4:30 PM

Location:         PUC Large Hearing Room

Event:              Prehearing Conference on remand for additional hearing on route segment CH.

Docket No:      08-1474

Docket Name:  In the Matter of the Route Permit Application for a 345kV Transmission Line from Brookings County, South Dakota to Hampton, Minnesota:.

ALJ:                 Richard Luis (Phone 651-361-7843)

Here’s the PUC’s Order remanding part of the Brookings route:

PUC Order Remanding Brookings to OAH July 27, 2010

Tomorrow – CapX Certificate of Need at PUC

Filed under:PUC Docket,Uncategorized — posted by admin on @ 5:48 pm

Don’t forget – tomorrow, August 5, 2010, is the CapX 2020 Certificate of Need at the PUC.  At issue is Xcel’s request for a delay in construction to 2015.

Come on down to the PUC, we’re 3rd on the agenda, meeting starts at 9:30 a.m.

Thursday, August 5, 2010 @ 9:30 a.m.

Public Utilities Commission

3rd Floor, Large Hearing Room

121 – 7th Place East

St. Paul, MN  55101

You can watch online by clicking THIS LINK and then  “Watch Webcast”

Here are some of the filings, the Staff Briefing Papers are… are… ummmmmm…

Staff Briefing Papers for August 5, 2010

CapX Notice of Delay for Brookings In-Service Date

NoCapX & U-CAN Comment and Request for Hearing

CETF – Comment Brookings CoN Delay & Request for Hearing

EPA gives CapX Bemidji-Grand Rapids EIS “EC-2”

Filed under:Bemidji-Grand Rapids — posted by admin on August 2, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reviewed the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) prepared by MOES as a joint MOES/Rural Utilities Service Environmental Impact Statement.

To see the DEIS, go to www.puc.state.mn.us, then “Search eDockets” and then to docket 07-1327.

The result of the EPA’s review?  EPA gave it the raspberries, an EC-2 rating:

EPA Comments on DEIS – April 15, 2010

EC-2 – that means the DEIS needs more information

I started copying snippets to post here, but the EPA cited problem after problem, there are so many, and such obvious issues, such as jurisdictional issues where the EIS claims the state has jurisdiction over NPDES permits on reservations, when it’s the EPA that has jurisdiction; inaccurate information about the St. Regis Superfund site…  Pretty basic stuff.

Do read the entire letter–> EPA Comments on DEIS – April 15, 2010 .  This is an example of why it is important to have public comment after we’ve had a chance to review the FEIS and the comments of those who know what to look for, know the lingo, know the law.

Public Comment period requested

Filed under:Bemidji-Grand Rapids — posted by admin on @ 12:01 pm

NoCapX 2020 and United Citizen Action Network have requested that public comments on the CapX 2020 Bemidji-Grand Rapids transmission line be open until at least September 7, 2010, which is one week after the FEIS is due to be released.

Request for Public Comment to September 7, 2010

Please contact Judge Lipman, by email preferably, and ask that the Public Comment period be extended:

Eric Lipman                  eric.lipman@state.mn.us
Administrative Law Judge
Office of Administrative Hearings
P.O. Box 64620
St. Paul, MN 55164-0620

I’m still digging around in theCapX 2020 Bemidji-Grand Rapids transmission line docket.  What I’m finding is disturbing — at first the state process, Certificate of Need (07-1222) and Routing (07-1327), were a joint proceeding.

To view the entire dockets, go to www.puc.state.mn.us and then “Search eDockets” and search for 07-1222 (CoN) or 07-1327 (Routing).  Remember that the Energy Facilities Permitting site for the Bemidji-Grand Rapids is NOT the official site, it’s the PUC eDockets site, as above!

And a part of that is the joint Minnesota/Commerce and federal/Rural Utilities Service EIS.   Look what happened — on PUC initiative, the state joint process was bifurcated, which eliminated the RUS from the need equation.  Very slick…  First the PUC says to MOES, “hey, this Certificate of Need is simple and the Routing is a mess, so separate them out,” and MOES says, “sure, WTF!” and then MOES issues first the scope for the Certificate of Need “Environmental Report” which is nothing… and then MOES issues the scope for the Routing Environmental Impact Statement.”  Read carefully the “Agency Comments” below, which were first made public, filed in the PUC’s eDockets, A YEAR AND A HALF after they were filed with MOES.  These federal agency comments were filed before the state’s bifurcation to limit the scope of the EIS, the EPA comments, read them carefully, those were filed in September, 2008!

Feb 10, 2009 PUC Burl Haar to Commerce Bill Glahn

Feb 12, 2009 Commerce Bill Glahn to PUC Burl Haar

March 3, 2009 Scoping Decision – ER – Glahn separates CoN & Routing Environmental Review

March 31, 2009 Scoping Decision – Routing EIS

April 20. 2010 MOES files agency comments from 2008

RUS Notice of Availability of DEIS – Federal Register March 3, 2010

The FEIS still isn’t out, and the end of last week, ALJ Lipman issued a
revised scheduling order:

Fourth Prehearing Order – July 28, 2010

… replacing this Third Prehearing Order March 16, 2010

And here’s the specifics:

4phosnippet

Do you see anything there about Public Comment after the EIS?  Under the terms of the Third Prehearing Order, Public Comment closed May 3, 2010, and the Final EIS wasn’t even out yet!  Oh… my…

So NoCapX 2020 and United Citizens Action Network have requested Public Comment be open until September 7, 2010.

Request for Public Comment to September 7, 2010

We’ve asked for at least a week after the FEIS is released, and if it’s not available on September 2, as scheduled, for a week after it is available to the public.

Again, please contact Judge Lipman, by email preferably, and ask that the Public Comment period be extended:

Eric Lipman                  eric.lipman@state.mn.us
Administrative Law Judge
Office of Administrative Hearings
P.O. Box 64620
St. Paul, MN 55164-0620

Looking at the Bemidji-Grand Rapids docket

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on August 1, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

In doing the previous post, I started looking at the Bemidji-Grand Rapids docket.  If you’re interested, go to www.puc.state.mn.us and then “Search eDockets” and search for 07-1327, the Routing docket.   It’s still underway, and anyone affected by this line can file exceptions.  The ALJ’s report is due out on September 15, 2010, and by Order, Exceptions are due by September24, 2010.

Anyway, after going over the Routing docket, I went back to look at the Certificate of Need, docket 07-1222.

This is yet ANOTHER case of a Certificate of Need being granted, at a Commission meeting July 9, 2009, and a written order July 14, 2009, and like the larger 06-1115 CapX 2020 Certificate of Need Order, this Order requires a COMPLIANCE FILING regarding OWNERSHIP:

PUC Order Granting Certificate of Need – July 14, 2009

Specifically:

Required a compliance filing on final ownership within 60 days.

No Compliance filing has been made — just like the bigger 06-1115 docket.

Back to the Routing docket, still underway.  One of the things that caught my attention in the Routing docket, was the posting in April 2010, of a pile of agency comments, some dating back to 2008.

This Routing docket is a rare bird — note the scoping decision and its commitment to work WITH the RUS and… well… read for yourself and compare with their approach and lack thereof to dealing with RUS for the CapX Hampton-LaCrosse line:

state-fedcooperation1From there,  check out the agency comments filed April 20, 2010:

Agency Comments

There’s some good stuff here, like from the EPA on September 30, 2008:

epa-need… “discuss whether the projected energy demand identified during the CapX 2020 planning effort has changed.”  Oh my… an end run around the EPA, splitting off the two dockets, and does the EPA have a clue that the Routing EIS won’t address need, won’t touch it with a 10 foot pole?

… and from RUS to Suzanne Steinbrenner at MOES, noting the necessity of addressing CUMULATIVE IMPACTS:

cumulativeimpactsWell, DUH, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why MOES doesn’t want anything to do with an EIS with the RUS for the CapX2020 Hampton-LaCrosse line — and why it’s so necessary that it be a joint EIS.

The Hampton-LaCrosse scoping decision is due any day now.

Reminder of August 9 Prehearing Conference

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on @ 3:36 pm

Here’s another reminder of the Prehearing Conference coming up for the CapX 2020 Hampton-LaCrosse (Alma) transmission line.  Here are their proposed route maps.

NoCapX 2020 and United Citizens Action Network have been admitted as intervenors already — we put in our Petition for Intervention the second this was filed… well, almost!  No one objected and we’re in as intervenors.

Notice of Prehearing Conference

The Prehearing Conference is the start of festivities before the Administrative Law Judge, and we’ll have input on the schedule and then the judge will decide how it will go forward.  Things like the intervention deadline, the hearing schedule and locations, that will be determined so that’s why it matters.  SHOW UP!!!

Monday August 9, 2010 @ 1:30 p.m.

Public Utilities Commission

3rd Floor Small Hearing Room

121 – 7th Place East

St. Paul

It had first been announced for the 10th, but was moved because that’s the primary (like we can’t vote and be there on the same day?  Whatever…).

Once more with feeling, here’s what we’ve filed as our suggestions for the schedule — it took a year for Brookings to go from Scoping Decision to PUC decision, well 12.5 months, so this is similar:

NoCapx & U-CAN Proposed Schedule

Note also that I’m trying to correct for, avoid, some of the problems we’ve experienced in the CapX Brookings docket and other PUC dockets too.  Things like having the hearing at a time when the FEIS is out, of requiring agency comments be entered into the evidentiary record PROMPTLY, so we can avoid the DOT & USFWS problems this time around.  I also want notice to be provided PROMPTLY to those pulled under the lines in the scoping decision, because it took two and a half months for those people to get notice last time.  Landowners were receiving notice AFTER the public hearings and evidentiary hearings had closed because routes were “discovered” not feasible and alternatives were proposed.  That is NOT acceptable, period.  There is no excuse for that.

As we’ve heard, the Rural Utilities Service Draft Environmental Impact Statement is due out “at the end of summer.”  So December?  This reminds me of waiting for the DOE’s EIS for Mesaba, and I sure hope it won’t be that bad, delayed to absurdity!  Why should we care about the RUS EIS?  Well, for one, it’s considering THREE locations for river crossings, at Alma, Winona, and LaCrosse.  For the state application, the applicants put in only one river crossing, and the state’s PUC said that’s OK.  Nevermind the state’s laws and rules say that they must submit TWO routes… the PUC says that’s fine… sigh…

For the Bemidji-Brainerd part of CapX, I see that’s also RUS, and the CapX site says there’s a link to the “Proposed Routes under consideration by the OES and RUS for the Bemidji-GrandRapids 230kV project” but it’s one big 404!

And for this Bemidji-Grand Rapids route, here’s their position:

state-fedcooperation

Why is the CapX 2020 Hampton-LaCrosse line any different???  But nooooo, they’re not working together.

Here’s the RUS site for the CapX EIS:

CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse 345kV Transmission Line Proposal

Look at how detailed that is, and that’s just the preliminary info!  You won’t see the likes of that in any Minnesota “Environmental Review” done by the Dept. of Commerce.  We already know they’ve left out the Cannon, Zumbro and Belle Creek watersheds.

To see the full PUC docket, go to www.puc.state.mn.us, click on “Search eDockets” and search for 09-1448.

Show up, folks, so you won’t end up in a fix like Belle Plaine!


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace