MN CapX Hampton-LaX decision

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on May 30, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

AAAAAAGH!  Two in the same day…

Just now, the Minnesota version of the CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse routing permit:

PUC Order – Part I – Order

PUC Order – Part II – Permit

PUC Order – Part IIIa – Maps, Legend & 345 kV North to Middle

PUC Order – Part IIIb – Maps, 345 kV Middle to River, and 161 kV

Now, have to read these too!!!

FYI, right after the Order, in the part from Commerce, they used the original Commerce language and it’s wrong!  See?

Oh my…

WI CapX Hampton-LaX decision

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Wisconsin — posted by admin on @ 12:28 pm


(Map February 2010)

Well, they’ve done it.  The Wisconsin Public Service Commission has issued its written Order:

PSC’s Order 5-30-2012

Now, have to read it…

WI – Delayed Stevenson Exhibit 22

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Wisconsin — posted by admin on May 21, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

In Wisconsin, the Public Service Commission granted a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, and permitted a route for which they did not even have the COST!  They had not determined the inputs to calculate the “Environmental Impact Fee” (bribe to local governments to allow the transmission, a lump sum and an annual payment (so why don’t the landowners get something similar?).


And they did not have the environmental information to make a comparison of the routes…

After the PSC meeting where they granted the CPCN, they requested additional information to fill in the gaps, long after the record had closed (does anyone else have a problem with this?), and after they made their decision… AFTER:

Order – May 10, 2012

The categories of inputs into the EIF calculations in practice are a PSC determination, but in the Order they’re using language that appears to make it a matter for the applicants to determine!  It doesn’t ask what they want to include or how they want to calculate it, instead it says, “Information on costs related to lower voltage transmission and distribution work that would be excluded from the annual high-voltage transmission impact fee and the one-time environmental impact fee calculations to be consistent with the Commission’s discussion of record.”  “Would” is the operative word… sigh…

Xcel’s Stevenson Exhibit 22 – Map and Tables 1-5

We Intervenors have until High Noon on the 24th to Comment.

Buy the Farm at MN Appellate Court


Last week, Thursday to be precise, the “Buy the Farm” provision under the Power Plant Siting Act and Northern States Power’s challenge to compensation avenues available to landowners electing the “Buy the Farm option under Minn. Stat. 216E.12, Subd. 4 was at the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

This case stems from the St. Cloud to Monticello part of the Fargo to Monticello transmission line, the first to be permitted.  Now they’re trying to take the land.  The focus of the case is the landowners’ right to relocation compensation and other compensation, available both under Minn. Stat. ch. 117 (Minn. Stat.117.187 and 117.152), the Minnesota Uniform Relocation Act and federal law.  I don’t have a copy of the Stearns County District Court Order being appealed, but I do have a similar order that was issued in Wright County, reference in this brief:

Wright County Order – July 13, 2011

Here’s the court’s page for this case.


And here are the briefs, special thanks to a little birdie (and no thanks to our friends at NSP!):

Appellants NSP, et al., Initial Brief

Appellants NSP, et al., Initial Brief – Appendix

Respondents Enos Pudas – Brief

Respondents Hanson Stich – Brief

Appellants NSP, et al., Reply Brief and Supplemental Appendix

This case is in the news, as well it should be, it is THE appellate case of the year:

Landowners seek fair compensation for impact of CapX power line

May. 19, 2012

ROCKVILLE — Ken and Tess Koltes know the power line is coming, and they can’t stop it.

They know it’s not going to matter much whether they agree to the amount of money offered by the utility companies for the right to run the CapX 2020 line across their century dairy farm in St. Joseph Township, or whether they fight until the bitter end for every last dime.

Still, the Kolteses aren’t ready to go away quietly.

They have to live with the high-voltage transmission line scarring their rolling farm for the rest of their lives and the lives of their two sons, who started milking cows with them just two years ago. So they’re choosing to make it as difficult for the power companies as they can.

“We’ve got to do what we can,” Ken Koltes said. “We’re a small cog in the wheel, but we’ve got to try.”

The couple is among scores of Stearns and Wright county landowners caught up in a complicated legal process the CapX utilities are using to secure the land they need to build the 238-mile power line from Monticello to Fargo, N.D.

The condemnation process can be lengthy, expensive and sometimes daunting for landowners. It’s been used countless times to secure land for highways, buildings and pipelines, but rarely for high-voltage transmission lines.

In fact, this is the first time in four decades Stearns County has seen land condemned for a power line. And it’s the first test of a law passed in 1973 that allows landowners to force utility companies to buy their entire property rather than live beneath a high-voltage transmission line — an option known as “Buy the Farm.” That option has sparked legal debate and a case heard last week by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

“This is new to almost everybody involved,” said Igor Lenzner, an attorney with Rinke Noonan, a St. Cloud law firm representing dozens of landowners in CapX condemnation cases.

What makes this time different, observers say, is the sheer number of landowners and properties involved and the complexity of the cases, as well as the emotional nature of the cases.

“Nobody wants somebody to come and say, ‘Guess what? We’re buying and you’re selling. You don’t have a choice,’ ” Lenzner said.


“Atrocity” at the WI PSC

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Wisconsin — posted by admin on May 11, 2012 @ 9:29 am


Yesterday the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin gave Xcel Energy what it wanted – a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse transmission line.  During discussion, members of the PSC dissed the Dept. of Transportation arguments about restrictions along the Scenic Byway, and in the process, dissed the Great River Road National Scenic Byway.

It was online, but the video wasn’t working and it was difficult to retrieve.  So now I’ve just got to find it in the archives and look at the transcript to figure out what happened!

Here’s the Order directing Applicants to cough up some info, in the interim while they’re hammering out the details for the final Order:

Order, May 10, 2012

And here are a few of the reports:

CapX route OK’d by regulators

CapX route ‘still an atrocity,’ Holmen administrator says

American Transmission Co. expects to decide by fall on at least two possible routes connecting CapX to Madison that will be proposed to the Public Service Commission in early 2013.

“This is just the beginning,” Heinig said.

… and…
“I just see this as a very disappointing decision,” said Marilyn Pedretti, clerk for town of Holland and a La Crosse County supervisor. “I was hoping they would see there really isn’t a need and doing more localized energy… Instead they’re sticking with 1950s technology.”

Here’s one with an interview with CETF cohort George Nygaard:

The final decision is pending, we need to see it in writing!  AAAAAARGH… I can’t wait to see how they explain this, particularly given the way staff structured the Decision Matrix.

NoCapX & CETF Comments on Briefing Memo and Decision Matrix

Cupit’s retired… now what???

Filed under:Nuts & Bolts — posted by admin on May 2, 2012 @ 8:38 am


Bob Cupit, Energy Facilities Supervisor, is retiring from the Public Utilities Commission today… leaving me to wonder how… rephrase…  he CAN’T be replaced…  so what will happen now at the PUC?

Bob Cupit and Mike Casper are tied for “Most Influential” in subtle and not so subtle direction that helped get me to where I am today.  I began wrangling with him at the very end of 1994 in Nuclear Waste Daze, so it’s been a long time, and as Bret Ekness said, “a long strange trip.”

From my perspective, Bob has always provided a voice of sanity in a process that isn’t working, and I hate to see him leave because I can’t imagine them finding someone who recognizes or attempts to fix the problems that he had on his plate.

Here’s the PUC Staff Organizational Chart, soon to have a big hole.

The most difficult thing I’ve encountered in dealing with the Commission, other than some obviously utterly dreadful “decisions,” is that siting and routing is now handled by the Dept. of Commerce, which has no charge to protect the environment, and which is not representing the public interest.  The “work” by Commerce has been dreadful, process has been perverted, DEIS and EIS consistently leave out important information, and the public and the environment is left in the lurch.  Over and over and over again, they’re bumbling along, or intentionally screwing it up (Which is it?  I think it’s BOTH.).  They’re doing the “staff” work on these permits and then present it to the Commission, presenting only part of the story, and leaving the Commission exposed, making decisions on inadequate or inaccurate information, without “the rest of the story.”  I could go on and on (and I do elsewhere in this blog and at, search for more).

Years ago, when things were not going well, Kristen Eide-Tollefsen and I repeatedly riffed on obvious problems at public meetings and Cupit regularly responded with a measured lecture on the importance of all the aspects of permitting, the Certificate of Need, the Siting/Routing permit, and Environmental Review, that it was a three legged stool.  As an editorial comment, at one point, we presented him with a gold-painted strap-on one-legged milk stool.


Yes, the system was NOT working then… and for other reasons, it’s NOT working now.

Despite that, Kristen and I knew that as he retired, we had to give him one with THREE legs.  However, I had to give a disclaimer, that this is NOT to say that the system is working, because it isn’t.

Kate O’Connell, manager of energy regulation and planning for the Minnesota Department of Commerce (oh, I didn’t know that!), who worked in tandem with Bob, made comments from her “on the ground” perspective, heartfelt — and I wasn’t taking notes, so sorry, no specifics… but for sure over and over noted he will be missed.

Even LeRoy Kooppendrayer, former Commissioner and House Rep., and brother of current Commissioner and former Senator Betsy Wergin, came back to say goodbye:


Bill Grant, formerly of the Waltons, and now the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Energy Facilities Permitting, was there but thankfully didn’t get up to say anything — I’d forgotten to bring rotten tomatoes.

And the “Not Ready For Rate Base Singers” were on hand:


The room was packed, Bob said he was “overwhelmed” and so it appeared… and I am too… it’s a sad day for Minnesota, we’re losing too many MB’s of collective/institutional memory that we can’t replace.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace