After the absurdity of the Oronoco attempt to run the transmission line over unsuspecting township residents and landowners (and away from others!) without notice:
…and the Post Bulletin reporting that “new” route, complete with the above “Exhibit 89” map, and then its suddenly “oh, that was an error, here’s a correction” move (yup, transparency is a good thing!!! How transparent can you get? You didn’t get the map from the PUC’s shut down site… it was GIVEN to the Post Bulletin in its backfiring PR attempt)…
… and then the Post Bulletin then does a forum featuring Oronoco’s position.
It was… interesting… particularly where the editor made a bizarre assumption in one of his “questions” asking why only Oronoco Township is being vocal about this (or some such)! As with misbehaving dogs, I had to make a quick “correction.”
Even more bizarre was consultant Jeff Broberg’s “taking the hit” for proposal and advocacy for the route on Exhibit 89 through his statement that he advanced the Exhibit 89 illegitimate route on his own without authority from the township! Uh-huh… right… I was there at the evidentiary hearing, and it’s too bad that the editor of the paper and forum moderator wasn’t there because then he’d understand the bizarreness of Broberg’s statements. Broberg testified at the hearing, when asked whether the landowners had been given notice, that it had been discussed at the Planning Commission meeting the night before (the Planning Commission? Oh really?!?!), and attorney Rod Krass pulled out the Exhibit 89 from his bag of tricks,Jeff Broberg testified about it at length. When it was introduced, they both looked like the cat that ate the canary…
… that is until it fell apart during cross-examination, when it was finally clear to them that they could not propose a route at the last minute, that there was a process to go through that they hadn’t bothered with, that their “new” route on Exhibit 89 could not and would not be considered by the ALJ or the PUC, and worse, they didn’t appear to even know what the rules were about it!!! Oh, my, goodbye catbird, hello deer in the headlights:
There they were, wedged into the grill, and cross-examination of Jeff Broberg continued for at least half an hour.
As soon as I can get at the transcript, we’ll set that record straight about his testimony about their Exhibit 89, above.
Back to the PB “create-some-news” event, here’s the KAAL piece (click below to get to their page and the video):
Collins represents Oronoco’s planning commission and says at least part of the proposed route doesn’t make sense.
She says, “[Oronoco is] much more populated than some of the other areas along the alternative routes.”
A judge has all the data and testimonies collected by both sides. She’ll give her recommendation to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. It’ll make the final call as to where the power line will go up.
And a pretty even-handed article from the Post Bulletin:
A decision is nearing on a route for the proposed CapX2020 power-transmission line through southeastern Minnesota, but opponents still hope to unplug the whole project with a legal victory in Wisconsin.
The power companies behind the project are about to unveil new plans for a segment of the line, called the Chester Line, to run south through Farmington and Haverhill townships in Olmsted County to a substation on U.S. 14 East near Rochester.
A decision on the route for the main line is in the hands of a Minnesota administrative law judge, who will issue a report, based on project studies and public testimony, this fall. A state Public Utilities Commission vote would follow, in December or January, and the 125-mile, 345-kilovolt line would be set for construction in this area starting in 2012 or 2013. The Hampton-to-La Crosse line is one of several that are part of the CapX2020 project.
But first, the regulatory process in Wisconsin will unfold. According to Carol Overland, an attorney representing a group of project opponents, decreased electrical demand in recent years might have weakened the power companies’ case for the need for the line. “The basis for the local need in Rochester was nominal,” Overland said, “and if you look at the reports for Wisconsin, it’s even less.”
Tom Hillstrom, who oversees the project for Xcel Energy, one of 11 partner utilities participating in CapX2020, said it is the first major upgrade of the electrical transmission system in this area in three decades. The region’s power system “is strained right now,” he said. “It needs to be improved.”
Overland and Hillstrom were joined at Wednesday’s discussion panel by Paige Collins, a member of the Oronoco Township Planning Advisory Commission, and Jeff Broberg, a principal of McGhie & Betts Inc., which was hired by the township to help with its opposition to a proposed transmission line route.
The preferred of three main routes passes through Oronoco Township, but Broberg said that other routes to the north in Wabasha County would pass through less-populated areas. “You avoid the greatest amount of human conflict by avoiding Olmsted County,” Broberg said.
In addition to the 345-kilovolt main line, the CapX2020 plan includes a 161-kilovolt offshoot from near Pine Island to a substation in west Rochester. In addition, Hillstrom said, plans are being introduced next week for a second 161-kilovolt offshoot to another substation east of Rochester. That line is being referred to as the “Chester line.”
The two lines would improve electrical transmission capacity and reliability for Rochester. Rochester Public Utilities is another partner utility in the CapX2020 project. Other partners include the Rochester-based Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency and Dairyland Power Cooperative.