Barr Engineering Conflict Complaint

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on July 31, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

We’re moving toward the PUC Meeting on August 9th.

August 9th at 9:30 a.m.

Public Utilities Commission

121 -7th Place E, 3rd Floor

St. Paul, MN  55101

Just filed, what with the computer crash, it got a lot more difficult to get anything done, so delayed, but here it is:

No CapX 2020 – Conflict of Interest Complaint against Barr Engineering

And I just heard from a little birdie:

littlebirdie-cardinalCardinal, how’s that for an appropriate “little birdie” in this world electrical?  Anyway, here’s the scoop – Oronoco Township is hiring a bus for August 9th, and my question… who’s going to get tossed under it?

Those opposing the poorly reasoned decision by the PUC to override the Administrative Law Judge’s recommendation and instead send the 180′ powerlines through the more heavily populated Elk-Run/Oronoco-Township/White Bridge route are encouraged to join us in making our presence known at a reconsideration hearing on August 9th. If we have enough participation (and I can’t figure out why we wouldn’t), we will line up buses to transport us up there (and save on fuel and parking expense).



Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on July 30, 2012 @ 10:50 am

So they were going to ask for delay, for more time to address the Motions for Reconsideration:

Original August 9 PUC Meeting Agenda

Where the issue was:  Should the Commission toll the time period for reconsideration of its May 30,2012 Order?

And now, probably because there is no referral to OAH, that it’s been addressed, here we go:

Corrected Notice of August 9 PUC Meeting

And now, here’s what’s at issue:

**1 E002/TL-09-1448 Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy In the Matter of the Route Permit Application for the CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse 345 kV Transmission Line.
Should the Commission reconsider its May 30,2012 Order Issuing Route Permit as Amended? (PUC: Kaluzniak)

The Commission has the authority to accept or decline a petition for reconsideration with or without a hearing or oral argument. (Minnesota Rules 7829.3000, Subpart 6) In other words, a decision on a petition for reconsideration can be made without taking oral comments at the Commission meeting.

If you have questions about this particular docket, please contact Michael Kaluzniak at 651-201-2257.

Here we go!!!

PUC 8/2 meeting notice

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on @ 10:38 am

Here we go – notice came out a week ago Friday that there was a Commission meeting scheduled to refer our ex parte complaint to Office of Administrative Hearings:

PUC Meeting Notice for August 2, 2012

Under the rules, it must be referred to OAH:

Staff Briefing Papers

And given the massive staffing cuts and all that OAH has on their plate that it was a good time for a Stipulation, an Alford Plea as it will, and here it is, filed Friday:

Stipulation between Laymen for Christ and Oronoco Twp

And so the ex parte Complaint is probably off the agenda for the August 2 meeting, no notice yet.

But wait — now Reconsideration is on the agenda for the August 9 meeting… sigh…

Corrected Notice of August 9 PUC Meeting

FERC says Xcel owns % of Badger-Coulee

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Fargo-St Cloud,Uncategorized — posted by admin on July 23, 2012 @ 5:42 am

American Transmission Company just got slapped upside the head by FERC in the Order that came out Friday.  ATC claimed that IT was the owner of Badger-Coulee, the extension of CapX 2020 transmission from La Crosse to Madison (dashed line):


It’s the part of CapX that we know is connected, it’s a part of CapX that the Minnesota PUC’s ALJ’s Heydinger (Certificate of Need) and Sheehy (Hampton-LaX routing in MN) wouldn’t let us address in the dockets even though it’s obviously part of the plan, always has been, and it was demonstrated in the Wisconsin PSC proceeding that Hampton-LaX doesn’t do anything noteworthy without Badger-Coulee… and so during that Wisconsin hearing, Xcel Energy finally admitted the “necessity” of Badger-Coulee to its CapX plans:

Hearing Ex. 13, Big Picture Map

So here’s what FERC had to say, that Xcel Energy wins, in technicolor:

Order Granting Complaint (FERC’s language!)

Statement from FERC Chair Norris

Bottom line:

We disagree with American Transmission’s argument that MISO does not have the authority to require American Transmission to share the La Crosse-Madison Line with Xcel. Under the Tariff, MISO is responsible for approving a regional expansion plan that designates the transmission owners responsible for particular facilities.1 In similar vein, Wisconsin Commission avers that Wisconsin state law controls the ownership of the La Crosse-Madison Line. Although we do not dispute Wisconsin Commission’s statement that a prospective builder must receive a CPCN in order to build transmission facilities in Wisconsin, the issue before the Commission is whether the Transmission Owners Agreement requires American Transmission and Xcel to share responsibility for the La Crosse-Madison Line and whether MISO has appropriately exercised its designation authority in a manner consistent with the Transmission Owners Agreement and the Tariff – not whether a prospective builder must receive a CPCN in order to build transmission facilities in Wisconsin. We find that the Transmission Owners Agreement does require MISO transmission owners to share responsibility for interconnecting facilities and that MISO has exercised its designation authority in accordance with the Transmission Owners Agreement and the Tariff in designating both American Transmission and Xcel as the parties responsible for the La Crosse-Madison Line.

Rulemaking on OAH process & procedure

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on July 22, 2012 @ 7:28 pm


OAH Rulemaking Request for Comments

OAH Rulemaking Draft Changes

Well, folks, here we go, just got notice TODAY from Judge Lipman of the rulemaking at Office Administrative Hearings. Send Comments to:

Honorable Eric L. Lipman, Assistant Chief ALJ

P.O. Box 64620

St. Paul, Minnesota   55164-0620,

Electronic Mail:

Here’s the “purpose” according to OAH (listed in numbers, not letters):

The purpose of these draft revisions to Parts 1400 and 1405 is to:

  1. streamline hearing procedures across different types of administrative proceedings;
  2. leverage the broader familiarity with contested case procedures to improve predictability in the hearing process for other types of cases;
  3. better reflect contemporary hearing practice and the technological changes occurring since September of 2001 (when the last revision of OAH’s procedural rules was completed); and
  4. improve predictability in the hearing process by more closely aligning OAH’s procedures with the General Rules of Practice of the District Courts.

I have a vested interest in this because I’d filed a Rulemaking Petition ages ago:

Overland – Petition for Rulemaking – OAH

That was March, 2011, IT TOOK A YEAR AND A HALF!

Here are a few things I hope you’ll look at — the parts cited with a page number are from the OAH Rulemaking Draft Changes:

  • Draft Changes, p. 2, definitions of Participant and Person – narrowing definition of person:

As proposed, on p. 4:

20   Subp. 6a. Participant. “Participant” means a nonparty who:
22  A. files comments or makes a formal appearance in a
23   proceeding authorized by the Minnesota Public Utilities
24   Commission, other than those commission proceedings that
25   are conducted to receive general public comments; or,
27   B. with the approval of judge, offers testimony or
28   evidence pursuant to part 1400.7150 or 1400.8605.

37  Subp. 8. Person. “Person” means any individual, business,
38   nonprofit association or society, or governmental entity.

As found in the PUC’s Rules, Minn. R. 7829.0100, Subp. 13 and 15:

Another in a trend of limiting participation by the public, QUESTIONING WITNESSES IS OUT – SAY WHAT????  See Draft Changes, p. 14-15 (see also p. 59-60):

45   Subp. 5. Participation by public. The judge may, in the
46  absence of a petition to intervene, nevertheless hear the

1    testimony and receive exhibits from any person at the
2    hearing, or allow a person to note that person’s appearance,
3    or allow a person to question witnesses, but no person shall
4    become, or be deemed to have become, a party by reason
5     of such participation.
Persons offering testimony or exhibits
6    may be questioned by parties to the proceeding.

Where then PUC’s rules provide for much more — check out current Minn. R. 1405.0800, which they want to just ELIMINATE!  It starts here:

7829.0900 PARTICIPANT.

A person may file comments in a proceeding before the commission without requesting or obtaining party status. A participant may also be granted an opportunity for oral presentations.

Here’s one of the really limiting changes that is NOT OK:

22 At all public hearings conducted in proceedings pursuant to
23 an order of the Commission parts 1405.0200 to 1405.2800,
24 all persons will be allowed and encouraged to participate
25 without the necessity of intervening as parties. Such
26 participation shall include, but not be limited to:
28 A. offering testimony or other material at the public
29 hearing;
31 B. questioning any agency official or agent of an
32 applicant who participates in the public hearing; or,
34 C. offering testimony or other material within the
35 designated comment period.
37 A Offering direct testimony with or without benefit of oath or
38 affirmation and without the necessity of prefiling as required
39 by part 1405.1900.
41 B. O offering direct testimony or other material in written
42 form at the public hearing or within the designated comment
43 period following the hearing. However, testimony which is
44 offered without benefit of oath or affirmation, or written
45 testimony which is not subject to cross-examination, shall be

1  given such weight as the administrative law judge deems
2 appropriate.
4 C. Questioning all persons testifying. Any person who
5 wishes to cross-examine a witness but who does not want to
6 ask questions orally, may submit questions in writing to the
7 administrative law judge, who will then ask the questions of
8 the witness. Questions may be submitted before or during
9 the hearings.

Comments are due by 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 31, 2012.  Guess they’re in no hurry here!

From the notice:

Written comments, questions, requests to receive a draft of the rules, and requests for more information on these possible rules should be directed to: Honorable Eric L. Lipman, Assistant Chief Administrative Law Judge, P.O. Box 64620, St. Paul, Minnesota, 55164-0620, Telephone: (651) 361-7900, Facsimile: (651) 361-7936, Electronic Mail:; TTD users may call the OAH at (651) 361-7878.

Another odd thing from the notice, as this is a PRE-Rulemaking Comment Period:

NOTE: Comments received in response to this notice will not necessarily be
included in the formal rulemaking record if and when a proceeding to adopt rules is
started. The agency is required to submit for review only those written comments received in response to the rules after they are formally proposed. If you submitted comments during the development of the rules, and you want to ensure that those same comments are part of the later review, you should resubmit the comments after the rules are formally proposed.

PUC to address Ex Parte Complaint

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on July 20, 2012 @ 11:58 am

Here we go — on the agenda for the August 2, 2012 meeting is the CapX 2020 Hampton-LaCrosse docket, where the PUC will take up our Ex Parte Complaint against Oronoco Township and address the question:

Should then Commission provide additional guidance in referring the Ex Parte Complaint to the Office of Administrative Hearings?

Notice of PUC Meeting – August 2, 2012

Time for a Stipulation??

Oronoco Appeal Dismissed

Filed under:Appeal,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on July 18, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

Seems that last week the Appellate Court dismissed the Oronoco appeal of the CapX 2020 Hampton-LaCrosse decision by the Public Utilities Commission, as well it should:

Order- Dismiss Notice or Stipulated

We weren’t served a copy so I guess it’s a good thing I checked back at the online case file.  Apparently there was a Stipulation to Dismiss, as had been inferred in an earlier email between Oronoco counsel and the PUC’s Asst. A.G.  This means that they agreed that it was not the right time to file an appeal, and that Oronoco can file again when the time is right.

On one hand it was just too early, and on the other it was a day late, so this is a good thing for Oronoco, they’ll get another whack at the apple.

Citizens League and “Electrical Energy?”

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on July 17, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

Citizens League has an “Electrical Energy” project sponsored by none other than Great River Energy, Xcel Energy, District Energy and University of Minnesota Energy Management:


So what is Citizens League doing “to develop and advance policy recommendations?”  What are the sponsors after?  Looking at their report, it seems the focus is on advancement of utility desires for utility benefit and profit, and given the assumptions in this report, I don’t want to see ANY 0olicy recommendations come out of it.

Here’s the report:

Electrical Energy Project, Phase I Working Document: Defining the Outcomes of Minnesota’s Ideal Electrical Energy System

They’ve hosted several meetings across the state so far and there are more to come:

Worksite June 5, 2012

Minneapolis June 21, 2012

St Paul June 26, 2012

Morris July 9, 2012

Upcoming Meetings (click date/location link for their page for that meeting):

July 24 — Rochester
5:30-7:00 p.m.
University Center Rochester
Main campus building, room CF206/208 in Coffman
851 30th Ave SE, Rochester (building map)

July 25 — Maple Grove
6:00-7:30 p.m.
Great River Energy
12300 Elm Creek Blvd N, Maple Grove 55369

July 31 — St. Paul
5:30-7:30 p.m.
Rondo Community Outreach Library, Multi-Purpose Room
461 N Dale Street, St. Paul

So what’s the problem?  In large part, it’s how they’re framing the problem!

  • It starts off with a sense of urgency — “We must start now, before crises arise.”  “Now is the time to act.”  “We must confront these issues now, before they reach a crisis point.”  “This is the time to ask:…”  But it’s years too late,   In 2002 the wheels were set in motion to put us where we are today with the enviros deal to support CapX 2020 and other transmission, and then their support of the 2005 Transmission bill:

Settlement Agreement – ME3(Fresh Energy), Izaak Walton League, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, North American Water Office

$8.1 Million Wind on Wires grant from McKnight/Energy Foundation

MCEA CapX Fact Sheet

2005 Ch 97 – Xcel transmission perks and C-BED

After all this, it’s waaaaaaay too late!  With CapX 2020, we’re now committed to 50+ years of central station business-as-usual power.  It’s too late to create a “vision.”

  • Report operates on false and outdated presumptions of need – of demand for electricity, of infrastructure needs and reliability.  Claims “we cannot assume we’ll use electricity in the same way in 30 years as we do today,” but with CapX we’ve just locked in to another4 50 years of central station power.   Xcel itself admits dramatically reduced demand, both peak and energy demand, significantly to alter forecasts to 0.5% and 0.7% respectively:

Xcel’s Resource Plan Update – Dec 2011

Look at the reserve margins (p.46 et seq.) in the NERC 2011 Long Term Reliability Assessment!

  • They talk a lot about retail rates, and that “the price of electricity has been rising over past decades; however, this increase has not kept up with inflation.”  This is a REGULATED industry!  Rates have kept up with utility costs, and I guess it’s a safe bet that retail rates have NOT dropped in relation to the crash in wholesale costs.  Wholesale rates are so low, and have been for so long, that they probably owe us one massive refund!  So what is this section supposed to mean?  (see p. 8-10).
  • Green House Gas emissions are way down, they state that it is due to a “reduced reliance on coal.”  How about impact of decreased demand for electricity, decreased burning of coal, focused on lower need, not “reduced reliance.”  There’s a difference!  Xcel’s Sherco is down, has been for what, a year now?  Xcel’s Black Dog is down, Minnesota coal plants are not running and it has nothing to do with a choice in fuel, but more to do with unplanned explosions at the generators at a time when that capacity is not needed!  At least we presume the explosions are unplanned.
  • Claims of inefficiency belie the reliance on transmission and CapX 2020 and other commitments to continued use of transmission that is inherently inefficient, and to plan to use it even more inefficiently in transferring bulk power over long distances.  “It would be inefficient to invest heavily in infrastructure with a life cycle of 100 years, for example, if a key resource supporting that system is expected to become rare or expensive in 20years.”  Well DUH, but that’s exactly what we’ve done, what we’re doing, with CapX.  Anyone making noises about efficiency has no business promoting transmission!  And yet look at the plans promoting transmission across the country!


No way do they want our transmission out to the Mid-Atlantic:

East Coast Governors STAND UP AGAIN!

  • Throughout, this report does not distinguish between transmission and distribution issues, but it should!  Particularly in discussing outages, and even in the discussion of “back-up generators for business” where reliability does NOT presume back-up generators as redundancy!
  • Pay attention to the order of “Key Characteristics of the Electrical System”  — RELIABILITY is not first!  It’s about money!
  • Appears to advocate for perpetual motion in stating “A system that cannot continue indefinitely without bankrupting the participating people or institutions cannot be sustained.”  Very odd concept of economic viability.  Energy systems will always require more input that what is received as output.

As I look at this report, and its trajectory, it seems like a prelude to a dis!  Perhaps increased rates for lower MWhr sales, or perhaps even claiming unused and unneeded coal plants as stranded costs!

RUS issues FEIS for Hampton-LaX route

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on July 14, 2012 @ 2:00 pm


The USDA’s Rural Utilities Service has released the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse transmission line.

COMMENTS ARE DUE ROUGHLY AUGUST 20, 2012, that’s 30 days after the Notice of FEIS should be published in the Federal Register.  But that could change, so let’s watch the Federal Register (yeah, right…).

Here’s where you can find the FEIS:

RUS CapX Hampton-LaCrosse EIS page

Get out those highlighters and post-its and start going through this thing.  And take note of what RUS says is its preferred route (and note they didn’t give more than lip service to addressing “need” for the line).  If you need a hard copy, contact Stephanie Strength below.


Stephanie Strength, Project Mgr.
USDA Rural Development Utilities Programs
1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 2244
Mail Stop 1571
Washington, DC  20250-1571

or by email:

Remember, send by August 20, 2012 (estimate date based on publication of Notice).  If you have any questions, email Stephanie or call her at 970-403-3559.  I’d guess that by this time she’s had her baby and is now back to work!  Dogs are difficult enough, I really don’t get how anyone can do it all!


More Objections from Oronoco

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Laws & Rules,Nuts & Bolts — posted by admin on July 10, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

Here we go with today’s filings:

Oronoco Reply to NoCapX/Laymen for Christ Motion to Strike

Oronoco Objection to NoCapX/Laymen for Christ Amended Response

And our response just now:

NoCapX and Laymen for Christ Reply to Objection of Oronoco Township to Amement of Response

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