1/5 Comment Deadline – Fargo-St. Cloud Route

Filed under:Fargo-St Cloud — posted by admin on December 31, 2010 @ 9:34 am

Wednesday, January 5, is the Comment deadline for the Fargo-St. Cloud routing proceeding.

Comments should include the docket numbers, OAH Docket 15-2500-20995-2 and PUC Docket 09-1056, and be sent to Judge Heydinger by 4:30 p.m., January 5, 2010.

Judge Beverly Heydinger

Office of Administrative Hearings

P. O. Box 64620

St. Paul, MN  55164-0620

or

routecomments.oah@state.mn.us

The following is from Scott Hylla, North Route Citizens Alliance, regarding the Stearns County options(click on chart for larger version):

un-weighted-rank-summary-chart

norca-alj-comment-deadline2

norca-alj-comment-deadline3

OMD, Overland agrees with Fordice!

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on @ 8:58 am

Write this one down for the record book – on the short version of the Brookings “Recommendation” from Judge Luis, yup, I would agree with CapX Applicant GRE’s Randy Fordice:

Randy Fordice of Great River Energy said he was still reviewing the judge’s recommendation but “it doesn’t appear the judge made a firm recommendation on a river crossing and is leaving the final decision up to the Commission’s ruling.”

Why?  Because AGAIN he said, “LeSueur, and if not LeSueur, Belle Plaine” and specified AERIAL!  Can you believe it?!?!

ALJ Recommendation for Brookings CapX Transmission

ALJ Amendments to Findings of Fact

But he’s got the time period for exceptions wrong – it is 15 days.  Anyone affected by a recommendation can file exceptions– if there are specific parts, rewrite them, provide support for the changes (citations to documents in evidence, or statements in transcripts).  The transcripts can be found in the local libraries, and testimony and the exhibit list are online at www.puc.state.mn.us, then to “Search eDockets” and then search for 08-1474.

Send exceptions (be sure to write docket number, 08-1474, prominently) to:

Burl Haar  (or email, burl.haar@state.mn.us)

Public Utilities Commission

121 – 7th Place E, Suite 350

St. Paul, MN  55101

Here’s an article from the LeSueur News Herald:

Ruling in CapX2020 Minnesota River crossing released

By: Stephanie Hill

Posted: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 10:53 am

After three public hearings held in October, Administrative Law Judge Michael Luis issued his recommendation regarding the transmission line crossing over the Minnesota River.

In the 62-page Findings of Fact, Conclusions and Recommendations on Remand report the judge writes that the MPUC “grant a route permit for the segment between the Cedar Mountain Substation and the Helena Substation; (1) use the modified preferred route with an aerial crossing of the Minnesota River at Le Sueur or (1a) if the modified preferred route is not granted a permit then the ALJ recommends granting a route permit for the alternate route utilizing the Gibbon Crossover Route, with an aerial crossing of the Minnesota River at Belle Plaine.”

Randy Fordice of Great River Energy said he was still reviewing the judge’s recommendation but “it doesn’t appear the judge made a firm recommendation on a river crossing and is leaving the final decision up to the Commission’s ruling.”

Fordice said the PUC will now hold a 10-20 period for people to file exceptions to the judge’s ruling.

At the close of that period the PUC will hold a deliberation hearing probably mid to late January according to Fordyce.

He expects the PUC to make a decision on the crossing late January to early February.

Once the decision has been made by the PUC landowners affected by the crossing will be contacted.  Construction then would then possibly start in 2012.

Letter of Opposition from Mississippi River Commission

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on December 28, 2010 @ 2:43 am

Last week, this letter was filed in the CapX 2020 Hampton-LaCrosse transmission line docket (09-1448).  To review entire docket, go to www.puc.state.mn.us and click on “Search eDockets” and search for docket 09-1448.

Mississippi River Parkway Commission – December 16, 2010

It’s about as direct as a letter can get, here’s how it ends:

WHEREAS the cumulative impacts of the location, construction and maintenance of the 345KV lines from Bemidji to Grand Rapids, and from St. Cloud to  Monticello and from Hampton to La Crosse are greater to the byway, its travelers and its resources than each segment individually, and

WHEREAS degradation of the Byway intrinsic qualities jeopardizes future Federal Highway Administration program grants, and

WHEREAS alignments are presented by the CapX2020 study that avoid following the Great River Road National Scenic Byway in Minnesota and Wisconsin, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED that the Mississippi River Parkway Commission strongly supports the Minnesota and Wisconsin Mississippi River Parkway Commissions in opposing the CapX2020 Hampton to La Crosse 345kV high tower transmission lines that follow the Great River Road and support the alignments that avoid this National Scenic Byway.

Update – PPSA Annual Hearing

Filed under:Laws & Rules — posted by admin on December 23, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

Update – send Comments on issues below to:

Judge Eric Lipman (or email eric.lipman@state.mn.us)

Office of Administrative Hearings

P.O. Box 64620

St. Paul, MN  55164-0620

Mark 10:00 a.m. on December 28, 2010 on your calendar!

Notice – 2010 Power Plant Siting Act Annual Hearing

Notice – Additional Information – 2010 Annual Power Plant Annual Siting Act Hearing

10:00 a.m.  Tuesday, December 28, 2010

PUC Large Hearing Room – 3rd Floor

121 – 7th Place E.

St. Paul, MN  55101

It happens once a year, the Annual Power Plant Siting Act Hearing, which is our opportunity to tell them a thing or two, specifically what works and does not work about the Power Plant Siting Act.  If you’re affected by CapX 2020 transmission or other utility infrastructure, you sure know what DOESN’T work!!!  This is the time to let them know in technicolor, and to put together your legislative agenda for the coming session.

What’s new here is that they’re holding it before Eric Lipman, Administrative Law Judge, and are soliciting comments on specific questions:

l. In Chapter 2168, the Legislature directs the Commission to locate large electric power
facilities so that any siting is orderly, efficient and compatible with environmental
preservation. How well do the Commission’s procedures and practices meet these
mandates?

2. How well do the regulations found in Minnesota Rules Part 7850 meet the mandates of
Chapter 216E? Which rules, if any, should the Commission consider revising?

3. How well do the regulations found in Minnesota Rules Part 1405 meet the mandates of
Chapter 216E? Which rules, if any, should the Commission consider revising?
Comments are invited through presentation of oral or written statements.

Written statements may also be submitted to Judge Lipman by the close of business on February 1,2011 .  I’ll post the email address they’re using for this after the hearing or if I get it sooner.

We’ve been doing this for a while, here are the notes and reports to EQB/PUC — where there are no “Summary” notes, there were none online.  I’ve also noticed that the exhibits that the Reports say are attached are not, and yet if I go back to the docket, they are attached there (see 2007, taken from PUC eDockets, not Commerce site, which is missing the exhibits). To look at the full PUC eDocket for a particular year, look below for docket numbers, and then go to www.puc.state.mn.us and click “Search eDockets” and plug in the docket number.

2000 Summary of Proceedings

2000 Report EQB

2001 Summary of Proceedings

2001 Report EQB

2002 Summary of Proceedings

2002 Report to EQB

2003 Summary of Proceedings

2003 Report to EQB

2004 Summary of Proceedings

2004 Report to EQB

2005 Report to PUC

2006 Report to PUC – Docket 06-1733

2007 Report to PUC – Docket 07-1579

2008 Report to PUC – Docket 08-1426

2009 Report to PUC – Docket 09-1351

Here’s the law that’s the basis for it:

216E.07 ANNUAL HEARING.

The commission shall hold an annual public hearing at a time and place prescribed by rule in order to afford interested persons an opportunity to be heard regarding any matters relating to the siting of large electric generating power plants and routing of high-voltage transmission lines. At the meeting, the commission shall advise the public of the permits issued by the commission in the past year. The commission shall provide at least ten days but no more than 45 days’ notice of the annual meeting by mailing or serving electronically, as provided in section 216.17, a notice to those persons who have requested notice and by publication in the EQB Monitor and the commission’s weekly calendar.

History:  1973 c 591 s 8; 1975 c 271 s 6; 1977 c 439 s 11; 1980 c 615 s 60; 1982 c 424 s 130; 1984 c 640 s 32; 2001 c 212 art 7 s 17; 2005 c 97 art 3 s 9; 2007 c 10 s 12

Brookings ALJ Recommendation is out

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on December 22, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

The CapX 2020 ALJ’s Recommendation was just filed, here it is, haven’t read it yet.

ALJ Recommendation for Brookings CapX Transmission

ALJ Amendments to Findings of Fact

Call it what it is, another NON-DECISION!  “LeSueur, and if not LeSueur, then Belle Plaine.”

Oh, did I screw that up — and now reading it carefully, after skimming before, OH MY DOG!  I misread the Recommendation — that the line use the green “Modified Preferred” route to the “Gibbon crossover” (in pink on the map below — click it for a larger view) and then follow the blue “Alternate” route and cross near Belle Plaine, and continue on the blue “Alternate” route until it meets with the “Modified Preferred” route and continue eastward.  NO!!!  That’s not it.

Instead, it looks to me that he went with LeSueur anyway, even after Applicants backed away.  ???  And says, AGAIN, LeSueur, and if not, then Belle Plaine.”

Here is the clarification from the ALJ Amendments to Findings of Fact to yesterday’s “Recommendation” that the ALJ posted today:

amendmentsnippet

And so now he’s specifying an AERIAL crossing.  As if it couldn’t get any worse…

We now have 15 days to submit “Exceptions” to the Public Utilities Commission, meaning those parts of the Recommendation that we take exception to, and suggest other Findings and Conclusions.  Then the PUC sits on it until … whenever, usually at least a month, expect it to take longer for a decision as controversial as this one.  But then again, we may be surprised.  Particularly if the decisions already decided… we shall see.  There will probably be one day of argument and another for deliberation/decision, but that’s variable too.

Stay tuned!

Private company can’t condemn for transmission line

Filed under:Laws & Rules,News coverage — posted by admin on December 14, 2010 @ 10:08 pm

transmission1sunset.jpg

It’s about time… a judge in Montana has declared that a private entity that is building the MATL transmission line does NOT have the power of eminent domain!  Well DUH a lot of us will say, this is a PRIVATE company, they’re not a regulated utility, so of course they wouldn’t have power of eminent domain.

“No judicial decision that this court is aware of provides authority for MATL’s position that a private merchant transmission line, without express or implied authority for condemnation, may pursue eminent domain proceedings,” she wrote.

But wait… what about CapX 2020, and their transmission plans from hell across the Midwest.  Let’s be clear — there is NO entity organized under the laws of the state of Minnesota named “CapX 2020,” and they have NOT declared, and refuse to declare what entity will own it.  At the same time, the Minnesota PUC agenda lately has had Xcel transferring its transmission assets to ITC.  So, what do you think they’ll do with CapX 2020 transmission after it is built USING THE POWER OF EMINENT DOMAIN TO DO IT?  $50 says they’re transferring it to ITC, or TRANSLink or whatever transmission only company they can find.  It’s a shell game, we know what they’re doing, but try to get the PUC to care!

shellgame

Judge denies MATL use of eminent domain


By KARL PUCKETT • Tribune Staff Writer•
December 14, 2010

A district judge in Montana ruled Monday that a Canadian developer of a high-voltage power line has no authority to condemn private property for the project.

The decision, filed Monday, is a victory for landowners trying to limit the impact of the Montana Alberta Tie Line. It also could carry ramifications for other developers proposing transmission projects to meet demand from wind developers asking for additional shipping capacity.

“Larry Salois only wanted to protect his mother’s property from the transmission line going through historic Indian archaeological sites,” said Salois’ attorney, Hertha Lund. “He never wanted a legal battle.”

Salois is the guardian of his mother, Shirley Salois, the property owner. They live east of Cut Bank.

In July, a Montana subsidiary of Tonbridge Power Inc. of Toronto filed a complaint to condemn their land in Glacier County District Court after Salois argued the proposed route should be adjusted across his property farther from tepee rings and a wetland.

Lund argued Tonbridge could not exercise the right of eminent domain because it is not an agent of the state that has been given express legislative authority to acquire private property.

District Judge Laurie McKinnon agreed and granted Salois’ motion to dismiss the company’s condemnation complaint.

“No judicial decision that this court is aware of provides authority for MATL’s position that a private merchant transmission line, without express or implied authority for condemnation, may pursue eminent domain proceedings,” she wrote.

The Legislature’s grant of eminent domain power to governmental bodies must be strictly construed, the judge said.

Private individuals and corporations, like state agencies, have no inherent power of eminent domain, McKinnon said, and their authority to use it must be derived specifically from the Legislature.

(more…)

NoCapX hits You Tube!

Filed under:Fargo-St Cloud — posted by admin on December 9, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

We’ve been spending time in the CapX 2020 Fargo-St. Cloud transmission line hearing watching “flyovers” that the Applicants made using Google Earth.  And in looking for a way to get them spread around, well, they don’t work on email, too big… couldn’t post them here… SO, You Tube here we come:

Preferred Route Alexandria-Sauk Centre

Preferred Route Sauk Centre-Quarry

Route A Sauk Centre-Quarry

Route B Sauk Centre-Quarry

Route C Sauk Centre-Quarry

Route D Sauk Centre-Quarry

Route E Sauk Centre-Quarry

Route F Sauk Centre-Quarry

Route G Sauk Centre-Quarry

Route H Sauk Centre-Quarry

Flyovers of Fargo Route

Filed under:Fargo-St Cloud — posted by admin on December 8, 2010 @ 11:50 am

We got the CDs of the Fargo route flyovers, but they’re really big:

as-4-quarry-to-sauk-centre

as-5-quarry-to-sauk-centre

option-8-quarry-to-sauk-centre

option-10-quarry-to-sauk-centre

option-11-quarry-to-sauk-centre

option-12-quarry-to-sauk-centre

And all the rest are TOO BIG!!!

The ongoing saga of the Fargo-St. Cloud transmission line

Filed under:Fargo-St Cloud — posted by admin on December 7, 2010 @ 10:35 pm

Here’s last Tuesday’s last minute surprise testimony that the CapX 2020 proponents filed:

Surrebuttal of Dan Kline

Surrebuttal of Peter Valberg

And upon receiving that, I fired off a letter requesting leave to file responsive testimony with exhibits, it’s only fair, they filed NEW testimony on something that they should have anticipated, and timed it so we couldn’t address it:

December 1, 2010 NoCapX, U-CAN & NoRCA Letter Requesting Leave to File Responsive Surrebuttal

Nope, on Wednesday at Paul’s Pair-A-Dice in Albany, Judge Heydinger said NO, and suggested I look at the Prehearing Order, OK, fine, so I did, and found that she’d specifically ordered that  “Any new affirmative matter that is not offered in reply to another party’s direct case will not be allowed in rebuttal testimony and exhibits.”  Hmmmmmmm… after that “NO” I let my cohorts know that I’d be filing an Objection.

… then December 2, 2010, Valberg shows up to testify at the public hearing!

… and December 3 was the deadline for objections, so of course I filed an objection with the Order for backup for my position, and of course the ALJ knew I’d asked for leave to submit testimony and that was rejected:

NoCapX 2020, U-CAN & NoRCA Objection & Motion to Strike

Then it gets really strange:

Avon Twp Response to Motion

Oh… my… you’ve got to read it — taken out little quotes just doesn’t do it.   Something tells me somebody didn’t read my initial request after the filing of that testimony to “go forward and address this issue:”

snippet

So we argued this out yesterday, and the result?  I got what I’d requested originally, leave to file the Brookings docket testimony of David Carpenter.  Why does this have to be so difficult?

Brookings Direct Testimony of David Carpenter

“Suppression” my ass…

Susquehanna-Roseland Testimony of Dr. Martin Blank

Financing CapX 2020 transmission

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on December 2, 2010 @ 10:12 am

It’s been building, and here are two recent articles about it, they’re bonding to build transmission and upgrade the Laramie River Station coal plant to continue use of coal:

Agency that helps provide power to Alexandria to issue $141 million in bonds

The Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (WMMPA) will close December 2 on a $141-million power supply revenue bond issue.

By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press

The Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (WMMPA) will close December 2 on a $141-million power supply revenue bond issue.

WMMPA provides financing for electric utility-related projects on behalf of Missouri River Energy Services, which has 60 member municipal electric systems – including the city of Alexandria.

There will be three series of bonds and they will be used to refinance higher-interest debt and to fund construction of new transmission facilities and power plant upgrades.

WMMPA has a power supply agreement with Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) that entitles MRES to the output and use of all of the power generating and transmission facilities that WMMPA has financed. The two organizations also have an agreement under which MRES provides administrative services for WMMPA.

The first series will consist of $9 million in tax-exempt bonds to refinance older bonds. These will have maturity dates of 2017 and 2018. The second series of bonds also will be used for refinancing of older bonds. This $32 million issue will be taxable and will carry maturity dates of 2012, 2013, and 2016.

Almost $100 million in Build America Bonds or BABs will make up the third series. BABs are taxable, but because Western Minnesota is eligible to issue tax-exempt debt, it will receive a payment from the U.S. Treasury equal to 35 percent of the interest on those bonds. “The net cost of these bonds will be significantly lower than the cost would have been under traditional tax-exempt financing,” said MRES Finance Director and CFO Merlin Sawyer.

The BABs will mature in 2046 and will fund the WMMPA/MRES share of the CapX 2020 Fargo Project, as well as upgrades to the Laramie River Station. The Fargo project involves construction of new electric transmission facilities in the region. The Laramie River Station, a coal-fired power plant located in Wyoming, is the principal generating resource serving MRES members. “The reason for the long maturity of the third series is to take advantage of the current low long-term interest rates. While interest rates have increased in the last few weeks, the net interest rate on these bonds is the lowest ever realized by WMMPA for similar maturities,” Sawyer said.

Citi was the senior manager, with Barclays as co-manager for all three series of bonds. The true interest cost will be 4.37 percent.

Fitch Ratings has given the WMMPA bonds a rating of AA- with a stable outlook. WMMPA is one of just a few joint-action agencies in the nation to earn a rating in the double A category from Fitch. Meanwhile, Moody’s Investors Service had an A1 rating on the bonds and changed its outlook on WMMPA’s bonds from stable to positive.

And another, this time Rochester:

RPU board gives green light to joining transmission group

12/1/2010 8:23:26 AM

By Christina Killion Valdez  –  The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

Rochester Public Utilities has seen a benefit by buying and selling power through

Midwest Independent System Operator, a non-profit regional transmission organization. But joining MISO as a transmission owner could amp that up.

A recent economic analysis showed a projected savings of $16.6 million by 2025 if the utility invests its transmission resources in MISO as a transmission owner. That dollar figure prompted the RPU board on Tuesday to start the application process.

By joining MISO, RPU will generate revenue for investments in transmission that would otherwise fall on RPU customers, said Wally Schlink, director of power resources at RPU. That’s because through MISO the cost of investing in transmissions would be spread out to all power consumers, Schlink said.

If accepted as a transmission owner, RPU would get $600,000 a year in additional revenues for the first few years, but that would eventually grow as the utility invests $35 million to $40 million in new transmission lines through CapX2020.

“The real benefit is when CapX 2020 goes online,” said Larry Koshire, RPU general manager. “Right now, we have no debt on the transmission system. With CapX there will be a bond debt.”

The process of becoming a transmission owner is expected to take six to eight months and cost about $250,000, which was included in the economic analysis. On Tuesday, the board approved $100,000 to get the process started.

Plans are to have the application complete to be considered for acceptance as a transmission owner at MISO’s June meeting, Koshire said.


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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace