USFWS Letter has arrived

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Upcoming Events — posted by admin on October 30, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

Here it is — United States Fish & Wildlife Service acknowledging that either way, The CapX 2020 Brookings-Hampton  transmission line crossing the Minnesota River at either LeSueur or Belle Plaine, either way eagles will be killed, there will be an “eagle take.”

USFWS Letter to GRE October 29, 2010

Notice how they send it to Great River Energy, and they had a meeting on October 14, 2010, and parties to this project are NOT included???   Hmmmmmm… so what did they agree to on October 14?

What we do know: An aerial crossing is NOT feasible.  Don’t let the judge forget about all those underground estimates, particularly the ones from Power Engineering which were NOT that expensive, nothing like the Black & Veatch ones!

+++++++++++++++

COMMENTS ARE DUE MONDAY, NOVEMBER 1st.

Many have been submitted already.  Here’s a very important one, if you haven’t read it yet, take a few minutes:

Affidavit of Bruce McKay, P.E. – Magnetic Field Calculations

Send your comments to:

capx.oah@state.mn.us

or by mail directly to Judge Luis at:

Judge Richard Luis

Brookings Docket – 08-1474

Office of Administrative Hearings

P.O. Box 64620

St. Paul, MN  55164-0620

MOES’ RoW & Easement Fact Sheet

Filed under:Laws & Rules,Nuts & Bolts — posted by admin on October 26, 2010 @ 12:15 pm

moes-tavern

Hot off the press – MOES (Minnesota Office of Energy Security) files its Right of Way and Easement Fact Sheet.

ROW & Easement Fact Sheet

Any thoughts about this?

GRE & Xcel hustling for $$$$$

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Apparently Great River Energy and Xcel Energy are outlooking for money.  Gee, I wonder why?  I remember the snorts and hoots that broke out in the room way back during the CapX Certificate of Need hearing when they admitted to presenting their CapX 2020 financing dog & pony show to Lehman Brothers.

As for GRE, from Monday’s article in Finance & Commerce:

For example, GRE’s 2009 revenues fell $42.1 million to $787.8 million at the same time the utility was paying to develop a coal-fired plant in North Dakota and helping develop the CapX2020 system of transmission lines with 10 other state utilities.

Xcel just made an SEC filing that shows some creative efforts:

The primary purpose of the Plan is to provide our common and preferred shareholders as well as new investors with a convenient and economical method of purchasing our common stock.  Once enrolled in the Plan, you may reinvest cash dividends and, through optional cash payments, purchase additional shares of common stock from time to time or at regular intervals.  Although we expect the Plan to appeal to many shareholders, it is entirely optional.  A secondary purpose of the Plan is to enable us to raise additional capital by selling newly issued shares of our common stock under the Plan.

“Secondary purpose of the Plan…”  (click the quote for the full filing)  “Secondary purpose…”

Yup, uh-huh…   …WHAT… EVER!

Here’s the full article from Finance & Commerce about GRE’s capital raising efforts:

Great River Energy to sell $450M in mortgage bonds

Posted: 4:35 pm Mon, October 18, 2010

By Bob Geiger

Faced with declining power-usage revenues and rising utility-plant costs, Maple Grove-based Great River Energy (GRE) on Monday issued $450 million in taxable first mortgage bonds to meet costs and pay down debt.

The mortgage bonds are intended to fund capital spending for the utility’s power generation and transmission as well as paying off $325 million of GRE’s $2.4 billion outstanding debt, said Susan Brooks, GRE treasury director.

“It’s part of our long-range plan to meet member costs in the most cost-effective manner,” said Brooks, who expects bond pricing to be set today.

The mortgage bond sale is the second such transaction in 2010 by GRE, which in April announced it would sell $106 million in tax-exempt first mortgage bonds issued by McLean County, N.D.

It’s not unusual for utilities to sell mortgage bonds to help make ends meet at a low cost. Such financing makes sense because GRE is making additions to its system and paying for generation and transmission improvements in the wake of the recession.

For example, GRE’s 2009 revenues fell $42.1 million to $787.8 million at the same time the utility was paying to develop a coal-fired plant in North Dakota and helping develop the CapX2020 system of transmission lines with 10 other state utilities.

Fitch Ratings assigned an A- credit rating to the $450 million mortgage bond sale. Fitch noted that, “while GRE’s debt level remains a concern, (it) has been effective in managing the higher debt loads, even in what has been a difficult operating environment.”

Background information on GRE’s mortgage bond offering from Fitch stated that GRE is working to lessen its debt-load by paring its five-year capital spending plan by $350 million.

GRE serves more than 645,000 residential and small-commercial customers through 28 member cooperatives. The utility maintains 3,647 megawatts of generation capacity, of which 2,751 megawatts is owned by GRE.

Additional capacity is expected to come online in 2012 when Spiritwood Station, a coal-fired plant near Jamestown, N.D., begins operation.

The start-up of Spiritwood, which has a peaking capacity of 99 megawatts, was delayed until early 2012 earlier this year because plans for an ethanol plant to use steam from the nearby coal plant failed to materialize.

Therese LaCanne, GRE spokeswoman, said Spiritwood also will provide steam for a Cargill Malt plant in the industrial park.

Of GRE’s 2009 power generation, 78 percent was coal-fired, with the remaining 22 percent coming from 7 percent renewable energy, 1 percent natural gas and 14 percent other energy sources.

Combined with the planned firing up of Spiritwood and wind energy contracts, GRE projects it will have adequate capacity to meet its member needs beyond 2020.

The utility projects compounded average annual peak load growth of 1.4 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to Brooks.

Brookings Comments

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on October 19, 2010 @ 9:11 am

Here’s the most important one:

Affidavit of Bruce McKay, P.E. – Magnetic Field Calculations

And filed by OAH, three big piles:

Public Comments – October 15

(can’t load Oct 18 comments — too big)

More to follow… gotta run… will post when I have time to divide the documents up so they’ll upload

Fargo DEIS Comments due TODAY

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on October 18, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

Here’s the DEIS for the CapX 2020 Fargo-St. Cloud transmission line:

Fargo-St. Cloud DEIS page – VIEW AND DOWNLOAD HERE

Here’s Notice of it and official info:

Notice of DEIS Release and Public Meetings

Send Comments to David Birkholz, the MOES Project Manager:

david.birkholz@state.mn.us

or mail to:

David Birkholz

Fargo-St. Cloud EFP Project Manager

MN Dept of Commerce

85 – 7th Place East, Suite 500

St. Paul, MN  55101

Brookings update – Request for Extension GRANTED!

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on @ 10:27 am

eagleeyeThe whole world is watching…

Order Granting Extension & Extending Briefing Schedule

In short:

Public Comments due November 1, 2010 @ 4:30

Initial Briefs of Parties – November 8, 2010

Reply Briefs of Parties – November 18, 2010

Once more with feeling, Public Comments on Brookings are now due November1,2010@ 4:30 p.m.:

capx.oah@state.mn.us

or by mail directly to Judge Luis at:

Judge Richard Luis

Brookings Docket – 08-1474

Office of Administrative Hearings

P.O. Box 64620

St. Paul, MN  55164-0620

Request for Extension:

Friday late I got a call from Lisa Agrimonti asking whether NoCapX 2020 and United Citizens Action Network were OK with an extension of the Comment period for USFWS to submit a comment.   Hmmmmmmmm… I don’t see why they can’t get it together before today’s deadline, and rumor has it they might, but I’m all for getting their latest info in the record.  With any luck (and considerable effort) they might even recognize that the impacts are the same at either crossing and that a non-aerial crossing is not workable, with any luck they’d say they won’t permit an aerial crossing because the alternative of undergrounding is available.

Applicant’s Request for Extension

NoCapX 2020 & U-CAN – No Objection to Extension

Johnsons – No Objection to Extension

MOES – No objection to extension – objection to extension for public responsive comments

moes-tavern

No objections, except that MOES objects to an extension of time for the public to respond to any USFWS comment as suggested by Paula Maccabee, for the Johnsons.  I’d asked for at least 48 hours for parties to address this in briefs, because the comment deadline for USFWS may be extended to the same day Initial Briefs are due, and that’s not fair.

We shall see…

Here’s their Comment letter for the Potato Lake transmission line in northern Minnesota where they noted “that nesting data provided by the DNR’s Natural History Database may not reflect current eagle nest status,” “that eagle concentration areas, including winter feeding and roosting areas, are not reflected in the Natural History Database,” (as in the Minnesota River Valley) and “that both northern and southern routes are likely to bisect important eagle foraging areas, as well as travel corridors used by other migratory birds.”  Here’s that Comment letter:

USFWS Comment Letter – October 8, 2010

Here’s how National Park Service (same NPS, different region, that has the Susquehanna-Roseland transmission line crossing of the Wild & Scenic Delaware Water Gap under review) came down on the Stillwater Bridge crossing of the St. Croix – a big NO!

National Park Service – Transmittal Letter

National Park Service – Stillwater Bridge – Section 7a Review Final

Is there a trend?  We can only hope…

CapX delivers false statements on status of Brookings

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on October 15, 2010 @ 9:55 am

CapX 2020 delivers false statements (false hope?) on status of the Brookings CapX 2020 transmission line — and the paper repeats them.  And the STrib picks it up and republishes the same false information.  Others too:

All Business

Midwest Energy News

Morris Tribune

Buffalo Transmission Company

istockanalyst

Yup… Very strange, reports from further west of CapX 2020’s Brookings line “on the fast track.”  WTF?  And the request of Applicants for a delay?  That’s not “fast track.”  And the REMAND to the ALJ?  That’s not “fast track.”  Give me a break…

I’ve written to ask for a correction.

And here’s an important sentence, quoting Randy Fordice — because we know it’s all about coal and the MISO effort to get the “benefits” of displacing natural gas with coal:

They now consider the line to be a multi-value project since system reliability- and service to existing substations and existing fossil fuel plants- are also benefited, he said.

Coal with benefits?  Yup, here’s the MISO report, once more with feeling:

ICF – MISO Benefits Analysis Study

Here’s a quote from p. 14 and repeated at 83:

RTO operational benefits are largely associated with the improved ability to displace gas generation with coal generation, more efficient use of coal generation, and better use of import potential.

Here’s the full article – parts of it were taken and put in the STrib today under “Currents” and others quoting the WC Tribune:

CAPX line expansion on the fast track, YM board told

GRANITE FALLS — A new and larger power line could be humming with wind-generated electricity through west central Minnesota in 2015.

By: Tom Chevron, West Central Tribune

GRANITE FALLS — A new and larger power line could be humming with wind-generated electricity through west central Minnesota in 2015.

Permits are in place for the 240-mile-long CAPX 2020 electrical transmission line to run from Brookings, S.D., to the Hampton substation in Scott County. Randy Fordice, representing the CAPX 2020 project, outlined the project’s progress to the Yellow Medicine County board of commissioners on Tuesday.

The estimated, $700 million to $725 million project calls for upgrading an existing 115-kilovolt line with a larger capacity, 345-kilovolt line. Timber ‘H’ shaped utility poles will be replaced with single steel poles 140- to 170- feet tall.

The route approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission essentially follows the existing line, according to Fordice. The approved route runs through portions of Yellow Medicine and Renville counties.

The project also calls for building a new electrical sub-station in Hazel Run Township southwest of Granite Falls, and upgrading the branch from the main line to the new substation. It will connect to the existing, Minnesota Valley substation owned by Xcel Energy at its plant in Granite Falls.

The utilities have identified a 15-acre site for what will be called the Hazel Creek substation.

A consortium of power utilities — including Great River Energy, Otter Tail Power and Xcel Energy — are among the partners involved in the CAPX 2020 project to increase the electrical transmission system in the upper Midwest.

The Brookings to Hampton line is likely to be constructed between 2012 and 2014. Fordice said affected landowners within a corridor along the route will be contacted next year with information on the plans.

The line is being built to improve system reliability and increase capacity for the electrical transmission network in the Midwest.

Initially, the project was defined by regulators as a generation outlet line. Consequently those sending power over the line would have been responsible for its construction costs. In that case, it was estimated that wind power generators would have been paying most of the freight, according to Fordice.

Subsequently, regulators revised the assessment. They now consider the line to be a multi-value project since system reliability- and service to existing substations and existing fossil fuel plants- are also benefited, he said. That means the costs for the line’s construction will be shared by power consumers in all 15 of the states and one Canadian province that are part of this regional grid.

Fordice said the greater transmission capacity will benefit wind generators in the northern portion of the Buffalo Ridge. There is also a long list of proposed wind power projects waiting for approval to build connect to the expanded system.

Prairie Wetlands Learning Center – Fergus Falls

Filed under:Fargo-St Cloud — posted by admin on October 12, 2010 @ 10:22 am

A little catching up to do. I got a new camera out in Washington, and started filling it up, but then when I got back I couldn’t find the USB cord, and once I did, I didn’t hide it and it disappeared, I figured it would show up in puppy output, well, close, I found it mangled in the living room doggy bed.  IT WORKS!

September 27 started the CapX 2020 Fargo-St. Cloud road show, the search for DEIS comments (meetings, not hearings!).   I got out late, of course, so it was clear I wouldn’t be up to Barnesville for much of the meeting, so I went to Fergus Falls to check in and check the email before the hearing.  At the exit, I found the USFWS Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, and had the opportunity to meet with head honcho of the Fergus Falls Wetland Management District (USFWS).  As I was driving up, I was noticing wetlands and thinking of transmission siting, and was curious about USFWS role in the Fargo-St. Cloud CapX 2020 transmission line.  I picked up maps of the USFWS wetlands along the way, there are a LOT of them, and got them in the record later on the road show.

It was a beautiful day, and I took some time to wander around, there were four school busses of kids there, loaded down with backpacks like they were camping for a week.  I had Kady with, but they don’t allow dogs, so she was stuck in the van.

There are a lot of wetlands to get around, and I’d say this area presents a transmission siting “challenge.”

Sightings at the USFWS Prairie Wetlands Learning Center in Fergus Falls:

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Fiber Optic & Transmission – OOPS!

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Fargo-St Cloud,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Reports - Documents — posted by admin on October 11, 2010 @ 8:13 am

damags03

This is in the OOPS! category.  Thanks to Tim Carlsgaard for reminding me of this report that I’d mentioned at a hearing recently — it’s got one of those technical findings that cracks me up:

The issue of safety of service personnel and the public arises in situations when low-voltage power is brought from a distribution system to the vicinity of high-voltage power lines to operate the electronic equipment. A fault or a switching surge on the high-voltage line may induce very high voltages in the low-voltage system.  This can cause damage to the equipment and also present a hazard to nearby humans.  In addition, concerns exist that the fault current flowing to ground in situations of high tower footing impedance can raise the potential of the local ground (GPR) to hazardous levels.  If the low-voltage supply system is also grounded at the fault location, the GPR can be transferred long distances through the low-voltage neutral (Transferred Potential) into the distribution system and into residences.  Experience has shown that these situations are rare, but can be very hazardous, leading to electrocution and residential fires, when they occur.  At this time, no obvious solutions can be suggested.

Here’s the full study:

EPRI – Fiber Optic Cables in Overhead Transmission Corridors

Brookings routing comments due 10/18

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on October 10, 2010 @ 8:12 am

October 18th is a big day.  Fargo DEIS Comments are due and Brookings routing comments are due.

Send Brookings Routing Comments by 4:30 p.m. on October 18 to:

capx.oah@state.mn.us

or directly to Judge Luis at:

Judge Richard Luis

Brookings Docket – 08-1474

Office of Administrative Hearings

P.O. Box 64620

St. Paul, MN  55164-0620


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace