Initial Briefs for Wisconsin CapX 2020

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Wisconsin — posted by admin on March 30, 2012 @ 10:24 am

Whew… not enough time, not a clear head yet, still hacking away from this bout with allergies, BUT, it’s filed…

Here are the Initial Briefs for the CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse docket in Wisconsin:

CETF and NoCapX 2020 Post Hearing Brief

Applicants Initial Post Hearing Brief

Clean Wisconsin Initial Post Hearing Brief

Citizens Utility Board Initial Post Hearing Brief

ATC Initial Post Hearing Brief

MISO Initial Post Hearing Brief

WisDOT Initial Post Hearing Brief

“The Capx 2020 Model”

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,News coverage,Wisconsin — posted by admin on March 23, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

Public Utilities Fortnightly has published two (of how many?) posts on “The CapX 2020 Model.”  This is particularly important as the history of Capx 2020 comes out in the Wisconsin proceeding and at FERC with the advent of the NSP v. ATC Complaint, the history of which is no surprise to those of us tagging along for the last 8 years, but is quite different than the CapX 2020 party line thus far.  To me it feels like the truth is coming out, a little bent, but the truth.  It all goes back to WRAO and WIREs, that the purpose is to ship power eastward, and that they plan to build all the WIREs options, or as many as possible.

PUC Commissioner Phyllis Reha was touting CapX 2020 back in 2006, claiming “A Minnesota Initiative May Have Promise as a Model,” which in my view disqualifies her from making any decisions about CapX 2020, it should mean automatic recusal, oh well, the Motion for Recusal for the CapX Certificate of Need didn’t go far…

Commissioner Reha – Enhancing the Nation’s Electricy Delivery System

For those of us who’ve been tied to this CapX 2020 Vision Thang for 7+ years, we know all this, but it’s nice to see them talking about it, the history extending back to “It’s all connected” WIREs the full range of their dream, the big plan and how they made it happen.  Particularly gratifying to see them lay out how important the enviro “buy-in” or is it “sell-out” was to make this all happen:

The CapX2020 Model – Part I

The CapX 2020 Model – Part II

Here’s a great quote – methinks the “disappointment in the outcome” experienced by Crocker is that the dough ran out too quickly…

The other lesson really arose out of something back in the 1970s. We had an absolute disaster of a transmission project, with Great River Energy’s DC line from North Dakota. We had a lot of angry people, a lot of civil disobedience, and ultimately we had to use the police power of the state to enforce the law. It was a tragedy. I’d just started working for the cooperative and I was involved in the cleanup. We all knew we had to treat the public and landowners fairly, and do a great job of communicating. We sent the A team out there, and they spent two years meeting with anybody and everybody, from Chambers of Commerce to the Kiwanis Club, going on the radio and talking to newspapers. We listened to people and made adjustments. So because of that lesson, the CAPX2020 project hasn’t had any big issues. In fact George Crocker, one of the leaders of the protest movement in the 1970s, has been involved through the environmental group that he leads. When we went to the legislature, he was one of the collaborators. [Editor’s note: During Fortnightly’s fact-checking process, Crocker confirmed this is true, but he added caveats that indicate he’s disappointed with the outcome.]

George Crocker and Bill Grant, then Izaak Walton League and now the state’s Deputy Commissioner of Commerce in charge of Facilities Permitting, pushed the 2005 Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell that gave the utilities everything they wanted and needed to do CapX 2020, they said it was a deal, “it’s a deal, a package deal, and it’s a good deal.”  For them perhaps, but the public, the public interest, the landowners, and any chance of sustainable energy policy were all utterly screwed.  Thanks, guys, that’s one hell of a legacy… they couldn’t have done it without you.

As one of my all time favorite Asst. A.G.’s said, “I’m surprised they sold out, and surprised they sold out for so little!”

And where are we now?  Mired in CapX 2020…

NSP/Xcel v. ATC Catfight!!! …continued…

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on March 20, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

The underlying but unspoken motivation is clear: MVP projects, in particular, are desirable to transmission owners because they have the benefit of providing significant investment opportunity for the transmission owner’s shareholders while allocating the costs over the entire ratepaying MISO region, thus reducing the rate impact of that investment on the customers of the transmission owner claiming an interest in such project.

ATC’s Answer, p. 2. (kinda lays it all out there, doesn’t it!)

finger-baby

But wait, there’s more!

“So we know what’s really going on here… take that!” says ATC, in its Answer to Xcel’s Complaint claiming that 50% of the Badger-Coulee a/k/a North LaCrosse-North Madison transmission line is Xcel Energy’s.  ATC says, “it’s OURS” and “if you FERC decide that Xcel gets half, we want half of their Brookings-Hampton line and every other project based on these studies!”  Xcel Energy says, “ATC, that’s damn cheeky!  You’ve got your head implanted!”

To look at the whole docket and all the lovely filings go to and search for docket EL12-28:

http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/docket_search.asp

I love it when this happens!  Especially when it goes back to the WRAO and WIRES reports!  Those I know by heart.

Complaint – Xcel Energy Services and Northern States Power Wisconsin v. American Transmission Company (again)

ATC’s Answer to Xcel’s Complaint 3-5-12

Xcel Motion & Answer to ATC 3-20-12

catfight-300x191

Now let’s see if I understand this…

  • “the Applicants” refuse to disclose who the owners of the CapX 2020 projects will be, such that the MN PUC orders that they disclose ownership, which they have not yet done.
  • Disclosing interest in the Badger-Coulee/North LaCrosse-North Madison line would belie the necessary connection to Madison that’s the 800 lb. gorilla that no one will acknowledge.
  • ATC claims that the Arrowhead-Weston line was proposed by ATC? HELLO?  I was there in the WI A-W hearing and ATC did not yet exist.
  • It all goes back to WIREs, and WRAO, the study done by the greatest collection of engineers in the history of the universe who showed us how it’s all connected.

Read up on WRAO and WIREs here:

WRAO and WIREs Reports HERE

Deja vu all over again, folks, it’s all connected!

Byllesby dam route in Dakota & Goodhue Counties

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,PUC Docket — posted by admin on March 19, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

Finally over most of the wheezing and coughing of the last week, let it be said on the record, that CapX 2020 makes me sick!!!  Massive doses of prednisone and Doxycycline and I’m almost able to hobble around without keeling over.  A few more days, and look out world.

In the mean time, lots has been happening, like the Wisconsin public hearings, most of which I missed, and there’s rumor of tentative scheduling of the Minnesota Commission’s deliberation on the Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse TENTATIVELY for April 12, 2012.   No contract, no bets, it’s not official until the 10 day notice goes out (and that doesn’t mean 9 days)!.  Supposedly it’s all that’s on the agenda, argument and then deliberation.  So we shall see, let’s see what April Fools Day brings!

Now for some history…

byllesby

This is Henry Marison Byllesby (from the U of M Law Library’s Clarence Darrow Collection), THE guy who founded Northern States Power Company.  He was one of 5 investors who put together  the “Minneapolis General Electric Company” and then 17 or so years later,  Northern States Power.   NSP’s  “The Energy To Make Things Better” circa 1999 notes that “what Byllesby really wanted to do in 1892 was build and run waterpower developments.”  No surprise that the dam in Goodhue and Dakota County over the Cannon River is named after him.

That Byllesby Dam and surrounding area is a point of issue in the CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse transmission line route.  Here’s an aerial of the park in Dakota County:

byllesbyaerial1

Here’s an aerial of the proposed route, 1P-003 is the pink line, 1P-001 is the blue solid line and 1P-002 is the yellow dashed:

1p-003map1

Judge Sheehy recommended, in FoF 306 (p. 58), and Conclusion 7, p. 92, use of option 1P-003:

There are, however, significant problems following US 52 through the Cannon Falls area in the vicinity of Highways 19 and 24, because of the proximity of homes, churches, schools, and businesses.  Use of Option 1P-003 would bypass this area and would impact fewer total residences; would avoid the church, school, and businesses; would parallel existing transmission lines and use mostly existing road corridors; and would provide the opportunity to avoid potential conflicts with two future road projects (the railroad overpass and the County Road 24 interchange). (referencing the FEIS, Appendix A at A-11 Map NR 9, and Ex. 36, Sheetmap 10.

Here’s the Scoping Decision description:

1p-003

I’ve looked at the FEIS and note that it does not mention for 1P-001, 1P-002 or 1P-003 that there’s an existing transmission line down Harry Ave., across the dam, and then continuing south.  Although the FEIS does address corridor-sharing in Figure 8.1.4.11-1, the descriptions on FEIS p. 74-76 for 1P-001, 1P-002 and 1P-003 do not list the existing  transmission corridor on Harry Avenue, only the transmission line headed across on the south side of Hwy. 19, Route 1P-001.  What’s that about?  A look at maps.google.com shows the lines running north from the dam, and south down to Hwy. 19.

I last looked at this when Dakota County declared last June that power lines and parks do not mix and passed a resolution urging the ALJ to choose a route that does not go through the Lake Byllesby Park.  Here’s the post: Dakota County resolution about CapX 2020.  And what continues to astound me is that they don’t get the origin of the park, that it’s a monument to Byllesby, who was into hydro-electric dams, that the dam is to generate electricity, did then and still does, and that there is transmission running from it both north and south.  I also wonder if the land was donated to the Couties on both sides by Northern States Power — does anyone know?  But a dam honoring Northern States Power’s founder, with transmission on both sides, isn’t that the logical place for transmission?  Isn’t that in keeping with the theme of the park?

YES, found it, Northern States Power donated the dam, lake and surrounding land to Dakota and Goodhue Counties in 1969!  See p. 4.6-4., and check out the “Interpretive Themes” on 4.19:

Byllesby Master Plan 2005

1P-003 landowners and residents are now wanting to weigh in:

Krass Letter requesting PUC time on behalf of 1P-003 landowners

Probably connected is this effort: CapX should go along Hwy 52

I hope that they’ll take down the Commissioners’ individual emails, as ex parte contact is a no-no.  And they’re way off base about the dwarf trout lily only growing there in all the world (!), that plant, though rare, is quite common here in Goodhue County and SE Minnesota.   And here’s a strange statement from the head post — I wonder what attorneys are saying this?

The Minnesota Public Utilities Meeting is on April 12 and they will decide the final route. But the Lawyers say the decision will probably happen before then, behind closed doors.

There was quite a bit of testimony at the Public Hearing from people in the area, but mostly due to the late notice to those along Hwy 19 a day or two before the hearing — see p. 45 of the ALJ’s report:

ALJ Sheehy’s Recommendation

Stanton Township’s Paul Schluter was on the Task Force, wasn’t he reporting on the meetings?  From what I can see googling, Stanton was on the watch from as early as 2006, with reports saying “No news about CapX 2020” and an update from a newspaper report of a June 15 meeting (what year??):

CapX-2020

In other business, Paul Schluter reported on meetings he attended about the proposed CapX-2020 power line. There is a move to route it along Hwy. 56, he said, rather than Hwy. 52, so as to keep it away from the city area of Cannon Falls. The Board will oppose the Hwy. 56 route, pointing out the need to keep the line away from Stanton airport.

The applicants Preferred Route in this area has a problem, and when that came out front and center, that they didn’t have a workable option, it was right over a church and school, well, not “right over,” they’d NEVER do that… ahem… but right there, next to the church and school, right next to Joe Lopez’ house, and it encroached on (loomed near?) DOT Right of Way, and so then they tried to jury-rig another option at the last minute, sending notices to people the day before the public hearing, calling them, and that just isn’t right to foist it on people like that, like they did with the Myrick Road “alternative” in the Brookings case.  So if it’s going somewhere, the Byllesby dam becomes the logical route, to the north there are transmission lines heading north along Harry Ave.  and to the south there are transmission lines extending from the dam to just south of Hwy. 19.  I think Dakota County has a lot of gall to object to transmission through Byllesby Park.  Without Northern States Power there would be no Byllesby Park.

Dakota County Board Mtg – June 14, 2011

Dakota County Board Mtg – June 21, 2011

South of Hwy. 19 it becomes another matter, there’s no existing corridor. But that’s probably 2-3 miles, which in the cosmic realm probably wouldn’t alter the route, making it a matter of alignment adjustments.

Coverage of PSC Alma and Centerville hearings

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Wisconsin — posted by admin on March 15, 2012 @ 10:09 am

As you can tell,  I’ve been almost absent this week.  Majorly sick with allergies, can’t breathe, fits of hacking coughs, now on massive doses of prednisone, feeling incrementally better but it’s not over yet.  So just the basics, that’s all for a while.

The PSC held hearings in Alma and Centerville yesterday and Tuesday, and here are a few reports:

News 8 – WKBT:

Decision-makers listen to residents at CapX 2020 hearings

In the LaCrosse Tribune:

Energetic Debate

WXOW19 – Check this out – Irv is the talking head, not T&T Terror Twins!

CapX 2020: Public Hearings in Centerville

Linda Van Art’s LTE

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Wisconsin — posted by admin on @ 8:47 am

In the LaCrosse Tribune:

Linda Van Art: Lawmakers should stand up to power lines

There will be public hearings this week in Alma and Centerville regarding the largest civil engineering project after Interstate 90 to be built in western Wisconsin — the CapX2020 power line.

As the Tribune reported, the state’s Public Service Commission engineers remain unconvinced of its need for our area or our state.

A 150-foot-wide right-of-way will destroy about 200 acres of woodland, regardless of the route the monster line takes. The towers will be 15 stories tall and more than 30 feet in circumference. They will be sunk 50 feet into the ground and be strung and maintained by helicopter. Our landscape will be altered forever.

Opposition to CapX2020 is fierce. Thirteen local governments have opposed the project and its sister Badger-Coulee line based on lack of need and the harm it will do to our communities.

Frightened and heart-broken citizens have talked to Sen. Jennifer Shilling, and Reps. Steve Doyle and Jill Billings. They’ve asked them to speak out against this power line, but none of our three area lawmakers have spoken out in opposition to the power line project.

Many people find their silence hard to understand. We would like our representatives to speak out forcefully for our land, our homes and local economies at the public hearings.

In fact, the PSC general counsel encourages lawmaker participation in the process.

Who are these politicians representing — the citizens or the utilities guaranteed to reap profit from this line?

Environmental Opposition to Transmission

Filed under:Wisconsin — posted by admin on March 12, 2012 @ 9:45 am

So where are the Midwest “environmental” groups?  A good/horrific example is the performance of Clean Wisconsin and Citizens Utility Board last week at the PSC hearing for the CapX Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse line.

$36,830 Intervenor Compensation to Clean Wisconsin

$56,030 Intervenor Compensation to Citizens Utility Board

Take a look at the Transcripts to see what these “Intervenors” did for that $92,860:

Transcript Vol 2 – Monday March 5, 2012

Transcript Vol 3 – Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Transcript Vol 3 – Thursday, March 8, 2012

I was there, and can testify that they sat there like bumps on a log — add up the numbers of words spoken, look for challenges to the Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse project and puke.  Check out CUB’s promotion of a 161kV line despite demonstrating there is no need.  SAY WHAT???

And to think the PSC denied NoCapX 2020 ANY Intervenor Compensation because they said it would be duplicative of their “work” and Citizens Energy Task Force got not one dime for witnesses:

Order – CETF $14,905.50 Intervenor Compensation

Order – Denial of Intervenor Compensation for NoCapX 2020

It looks like that transmission-loving RE-AMP greenwash money was well spent — it pacified potential opposition.  Clean Wisconsin gets $115,000 annually to facilitate RE-AMP.  CUB is a participating member, and gets ???  They had a hissy fit when I challenged Clean Wisconsin’s position in this, questioning whether they would be opposing the project.  The Transcript shows that concern was well placed.

On the other hand, look what “environmental” groups in New Jersey are doing — they’re standing up to transmission!!!  What a concept!

Environmentalists Join Chorus Opposing Grid Expansion

Groups urge federal agency to overhaul incentives for upgrading transmission lines

By Tom Johnson, March 8, 2012 in Energy & Environment

It is not only consumer advocates who believe the federal government is being too generous in handing out incentives to utility companies to build new transmission lines.

In a filing made earlier this week, a number of leading environmental groups joined with state utility regulators, state attorneys general, and consumer advocates in urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to overhaul its system of awarding incentives to companies to upgrade the nation’s power grid.

“The current incentive structure places unwarranted burdens on consumers, and diverts ratepayer capital away from other important electric infrastructure improvements,” the groups said in a letter to the federal agency filed Monday.

The letter, signed by more than three dozen organizations, reflects the growing concern from consumer advocates and now environmentalists over the expansion of the nation’s power grid, a trend that is being propelled by overly generous incentives to utilities, according to critics of the system.

To promote the upgrading of the nation’s transmission system, the federal agency has developed special incentives to encourage high-risk projects to go forward. Since FERC initiated the policy, it has received more than 70 applications from transmission owners seeking special incentive rates for $50 billion worth of projects.

In response to the criticism, the federal agency has launched a notice of inquiry to look at the issue, a decision that prompted the letter from the organizations, which include the attorneys general of Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, as well as representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthjustice, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, and the National Audubon Society.

Stefanie Brand, director of the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, said the rising concern expressed by critics of the incentive system might help change minds at the federal agency.

“Enough people are stirring things up so that maybe people are beginning to realize that the status quo isn’t so perfect,” said Brand, who also signed the letter. “Maybe, FERC is beginning to see they need to take a look at some of these issues.”

Paul Patterson, an energy analyst at Glenrock Associates, agreed, noting the federal agency would not have launched the notice of inquiry unless it was serious about reviewing the incentives.

The incentives typically include higher rates of return on equity investments, as well as provisions that allow the owner of the transmission system to begin collecting payments from ratepayers while construction is in progress, in addition to a full recovery of costs if the project is canceled.

For instance, Public Service Electric & Gas has repeatedly won special incentive rates for various transmission project upgrades, which have been opposed by both the Division of Rate Counsel and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. In January, it was granted an 11.93 percent return on equity, far higher than the 10.30 percent it earns on investments in its local distribution system, which delivers power to homes and businesses.

PSE&G also has received special incentive rates for two other major transmission projects, including the controversial Susquehanna-Roseland project, which cuts through a number of national parks and recreation areas.

For environmentalists, the expansion of the power grid is designed in part to wheel so-called “dirty coal” into power markets where electricity prices are the highest, including the Northeast and New Jersey.

“We see this as a way to develop a market for coal plants in the Midwest into the metropolitan area,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “It will undermine investments in clean energy programs and energy efficiency projects.”

Copyright © 2010-2011, njSPOTLIGHT

Tune in to hearing tomorrow!

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on March 7, 2012 @ 7:46 am

dsc00713

We’re in Madison for the Technical Hearing on the CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse transmission line.  The room was packed on Monday, not so much on day two. Witnesses were not available today (so why were they so hot to trot about doing the hearing this week) so we have the day “off” and return Thursday.

There’s a very interesting cat fight happening between ATC and Xcel, and WisDOT is standing firm protecting their scenic easements.

A lot is happening, but what is most disturbing is what is NOT happening.  Tune in and see what I mean…

Here’s Monday’s and yesterday’s transcript (already, YEAAAAA!):

Transcript Vol 2 – Monday, March 5, 2012

Transcript Vol 3 – Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Alan noticed that they didn’t list CETF under Appearances, so I’ve requested that be corrected — odd because I wrote it on the appearance slip… on the other hand, I was only representing NoCapX at the Prehearing Conference, and maybe that’s where they got confused.

Here’s how to watch – go to www.psc.wi.gov and scroll down to left and click “Watch Webcast” or some such…

Hearing begins in Wisconsin – tune in!!

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on March 4, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

The PSC’s hearing on CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse begins tomorrow and will probably last through the week.  And it’s streaming:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH HEARING – STARTS AT 9:30 a.m.



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace