NoCapX’s Barr Engineering Complaint on agenda

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on August 31, 2012 @ 11:17 am

Thursday, September 13, 2012, the Public Utilities Commission will address the Complaint of Conflict of Interest on the part of Barr Engineering in its contract with Commerce to prepare the CapX Hampton-La Crosse Environmental Impact Statement:

No CapX 2020 – Conflict of Interest Complaint against Barr Engineering

There’s been no response from Respondent Barr Engineerng that I know of, or the other Respondent, the Dept. of Commerce, c/o Bill Grant, Energy Facilities Permitting, but I guess I’d be the last to know?!?!

PUC Meeting Agenda for September 13, 2012

The question before the Commission is framed as whether they “have jurisdiction to take further action regarding the Complaint of NoCapX 2020 against Barr Engineering.”  Given that, I’d guess they’re looking for a way to say they have no jurisdiction, and toss up their hands.  Let’s see, the EIS is prepared to help them make their decision on routing, that IS their jurisdiction, in essence Commerce staff is acting as PUC staff on environmental review.  Does Commerce do any conflicts check?  What’s their policy, if any?

The misinformation in the Hampton-LaCrosse EIS has put the Commission in a sticky spot.  The EIS information regarding the Byllesby dam crossing did not reflect the massive transmission corridor to the north of the dam, and the 69 kV line south from the dam; the EIS information regarding the Zumbro dam falsely stated there was transmission on both sides of the dam when there was not, and when Xcel noted this error in DEIS comments, the FEIS was only partially corrected, and folks, that’s not good enough.  Both of these dam crossings are contested, and had the information in the EIS been correct, I’d guess there would be less controversy.  The ALJ clearly noted the transmission along Harry Road by Byllesby Dam and that was the basis for her choice of route 1P-003 in her recommendation.  The ALJ also based her Zumbro Dam crossing on misinformation that there was a transmission corridor at that crossing, which there is not.  And Barr Engineering has worked on projects on both dam areas, the Lake Byllesby Regional Park Master Plan and regarding dredging of Lake Zumbro.

What does this look like to you???

WEBCAST HERE – CLICK BLUE BUTTON TO WATCH LIVE

Tune in on Thursday, September 13, 2012 at 9:30, it’s first on the agenda.

Condemnation Notices going out

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,Fargo-St Cloud,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Laws & Rules — posted by admin on August 28, 2012 @ 12:15 pm

high-voltage-warning-sign-s-2217

Duck and cover!  Condemnation notices are being served for the CapX 2020 Brookings-Hampton transmission line in the Redwood Falls area.

IF YOU ARE SERVED WITH A NOTICE OF CONDEMNATION GET LEGAL COUNSEL RIGHT AWAY. Do NOT sit in this, it will not go away, and there is no venue for fighting this line, it is over and done, it is coming.  You need legal help because this moves fast, the Quick Take is just that, they take it and they do it quickly.

If you are considering Buy the Farm, talk to an attorney who can advise you about it, and do it quickly.  QUICKLY, FAST.  DO NOT IGNORE THE NOTICE.  There is only a 60 day window from the date you are served to properly elect the Buy the Farm option.

It’s important to get legal counsel because Xcel’s land acquisition people have been trying to limit what compensation landowners can get.  There have been cases in the District Court on the St. Cloud-Monticello line, where landowners won, and then Xcel dragged it to Appellate Court (hey, can’t have landowners win, after all),  and the Appellate Court tossed out the landowners win, so now it’s headed to the Supreme Court.

Wright County Order – July 13, 2011

Buy the Farm – NSP v. Aleckson, Pudas, Hanson, et al.

This is a serious problem for landowners, and many of the clients I represent are very concerned and looking at options to help.

PLEASE, again, if you’ve been served, do NOT delay in getting legal counsel.  And caution, I’ve seen evidence in both Minnesota and Wisconsin of non-attorneys jumping into the fray and taking landowners money to “represent” them in condemnation proceedings, and that’s UNAUTHORIZED PRACTICE OF LAW, and worse, landowners have been screwed.  Make sure you’re dealing with an attorney licensed to practice in your state and who has eminent domain experience.

Complaints about Unauthorized Practice of Law should be sent to:

Minnesota – Lawyers Board of Professional Responsibility

CapX Coverage in “Crime and Courts”

Filed under:Appeal,BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on August 26, 2012 @ 7:35 am

capx2020-powerpoint-p-7-big-picture-map.jpg

CapX Vision Thang, Exhibit 13, from the Minnesota PUC Certificate of Need proceeding, Docket 06-1115.

There’s been some good coverage, particularly TODAY in Cap Times and by Wisconsin Public Radio last week, but I can’t find a link to that.  Here’s from the Journal Sentinal:

Citizen groups go to court to stop Minn-Wis power line

LaCrosse Tribune:

CapX2020 power line opponents file lawsuit in Dane County

Today in the Cap Times, in the CRIME AND COURT section (I love it when that happens!), a great article, do exercise the option to comment!!!

Crime and Courts: Power line opponents take PSC to court

Groups opposing high-capacity power lines are hoping that a court challenge will torpedo plans to set up an electricity transmission system they say the state doesn’t need.

NoCapX 2020 and Citizens Energy Task Force are asking a Dane County judge to review the state Public Service Commission’s decision approving the CapX 2020 line, which will run from the Dakotas, through Minnesota, then from Alma to Holmen to serve the La Crosse metro region. It’s one of eight high-capacity lines either under way or proposed in Wisconsin.

For more on the state’s high-capacity transmission line plans, read Mike Ivey’s recent report.

If the court rules in favor of the power line opponents, another proposed transmission line, the Badger Coulee line, would be threatened. The Badger Coulee line would connect the CapX 2020 line from La Crosse to Madison, where it would hook up with high-capacity lines currently under construction. If the CapX 2020 line doesn’t happen, the Badger Coulee line doesn’t have anything with which to connect.

The project’s opponents hope the judge will either reverse the PSC’s order approving CapX 2020 or remand it to the commission for another hearing on the application.

“We’re not simply challenging CapX 2020. We’re challenging the Public Service Commission’s decision-making process, which should affect all future applications,” says activist Deb Severson. “We’re saying you need to follow the letter of the law when it comes to defining whether the benefits to Wisconsin ratepayers are proportionate to the costs.”

Severson is a member of the Citizens Energy Task Force and also works with Soul of the Kickapoo, which opposes the Badger Coulee line. She says the PSC made several errors and omissions of fact when it approved the CapX 2020 line in May. Among them was that the commission vastly understated the cost of the project, which Wisconsin ratepayers will in part be on the hook for.

The petition for judicial review filed on Aug. 16 in Dane County Circuit Court says the PSC estimated the cost of the project at $211 million, while the actual costs will be $507 million. That’s because Wisconsin will be sharing the cost for the Minnesota portion of the line as well as the Badger State segment.

The Badger Coulee line, Severson says, will add another $340 million to the ratepayer burden if that application is approved by the PSC.

Tim Carlsgaard, spokesman for CapX 2020 and Xcel Energy, one of several utilities that are involved in the project, says from a financial standpoint, consumers stand to gain from the line. Some power lines need to be rebuilt, and it makes sense to build one line rather than have each utility build their own.

“They’re going to benefit far better under that kind of scenario than having each of those companies go out and build new transmission lines,” he says.

While the utilities proposing the build-up of transmission lines say they are needed to provide Wisconsin with reliable service, opponents say the proposals are not about delivering electrical service to Wisconsin citizens — they’re about delivering profits to the utilities.

Severson and other critics maintain that the real motivation behind the high-capacity lines for the utilities is the ability to purchase cheap energy in the Dakotas, then ship to the East Coast.

“It’s all about wholesale energy and being able to sell the generation capacity to a larger market, most often the East Coast because prices are higher there,” Severson says.

The power line opponents also say the PSC used outdated data when determining the need for the project.

“Wisconsin currently has enough excess in-state generation that we don’t need to ship more electricity in,” Severson says.

Carlsgaard disputes the suggestion that the La Crosse area, where the CapX 2020 line ends, has an adequate electrical supply to meet future needs. He says Xcel has seen increasing demand from growth in the poultry industry, and sand mining, and has had to deal with record-breaking demand because of unusually hot summers.

“If you want to see the metro La Crosse area continue to grow, you have to have a reliable source of electricity,” he says.

He adds: “The important thing is this, when you plan your transmission system, you have to plan for those hottest days of the year. You plan for those peak days.”

In addition to the outright monetary costs detailed in the court petition, the opponents of the high-capacity lines say other costs to ratepayers and citizens in general will be declining property values, unsightly transmission towers throughout Wisconsin’s scenic landscape, and fallout from electromagnetic fields emanating from the lines, which some say can result in a variety of ailments, including increased incidents of cancer.

“Every one of those issues has been addressed several times over,” says Carlsgaard, pointing out that two states and the federal government have approved the project. “The state of Wisconsin did a full-blown environmental impact statement that looks at everything from health to other environmental issues. They did not find an issue as far as moving forward with this project and approving it.”

Oronoco squeals about “new testimony?!?”

Filed under:Appeal,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on August 18, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

Curiouser and curiouser — Oronoco Township loudly declares it is appealing the PUC’s decision, and also that it’s hiring a new attorney for the appeal:

The Oronoco Town Board previously voted to appeal the PUC ruling to the Minnesota Appellate Court if its reconsideration motion were denied, Thein said. The township has 60 days to file that paperwork. Thein says new legal counsel will be hired by the end of the month to handle the specifics.

Previously Oronoco Township appealed too early and that was dismissed without prejudice:

Order- Dismiss Notice or Stipulated

Bringing someone else in at this point is difficult, so few know anything about this, and it’s a HUGE record… and I would hope anyone looking at taking this one on would read the transcript, look at the record and see things like Xcel’s DEIS Comments, Oronoco’s last minute new route in “Exhibit 89” and Exhibit 7 below from Broberg’s “testimony” filed with the Oronoco Motion for Reconsideration.

cheshire

After the PUC Meeting where the PUC denied all Motions for Reconsideration, Javon Bea stood up and squealed about Appeal, that they’d be going to the Appellate Court because the Commission made its decision based on the NEW TESTIMONY of FOUR PEOPLE.  It’s just not true!  I had to object, that is so offensive.  Yet that’s the Oronoco mantra, demonstrably false.  That the PUC based their decision on “new testimony” of “four people” is such a bizarre notion, particularly in light of the record (check out Xcel/Hillstrom’s DEIS Comments, pointing out errors in the EIS, DUH!) filings of Oronoco Township, because they’re attributing to others what they did — look at filings like Exhibit 89 where they tried to introduce an utterly new route at the very end of Oronoco’s testimony at the evidentiary hearing, without any notice to landowners in their own Township.  And then there’s the NEW TESTIMONY of Broberg that they filed with their Motions for Reconsideration.  Their new testimony included this Exhibit 7:

boat-landing

Which is just a bit different than the reality of that boat landing:

dscf0475

The photo in Exhibit 7 is either very old or it was taken standing on the sand bar.  Anyone from the area knows that this boat ramp is closed.  The boat ramp is much like nuclear waste, the “temporary” closure has been YEARS, there’s a sandbar in front of it has been there so long it’s overgrown with tall weeds, it makes the closed boat ramp inaccessible, the weedy sand bar is so large you can see it on Google Earth, and Xcel’s Exhibit 35, even on google maps, yet Oronoco presents Exhibit 7.  That is “misleading” at best.  And “Exhibit 7” was new information NOT IN THE RECORD filed by Oronoco Township in their Motion for Reconsideration, a part of NEW TESTIMONY of Jeff Broberg.  And yes, there were more than 7 new exhibits, plus there was all of Broberg’s “testimony.”  They submitted new information repeatedly, and they were not following rules regarding how to propose new routes, and after the PUC’s decision, when the record was close, submitted new information including “testimony” and “exhibits” with their Motion for Reconsideration long after the record had closed.  What are they thinking?

What precisely is the “new information” that they’re complaining about?  They don’t say.  Come on, out with it!!!  They can’t be specific because there was no “new information” at the April 12, 2012 PUC meeting.  I’ve got the transcript and have read it.

Yet they  whine about “NEW TESTIMONY of FOUR PEOPLE” when it’s not even true?  Where does this mantra come from?  Particularly when Oronoco Township is the one entering new testimony and the Commission made its decision on the record.

This is the same Oronoco Township whose expert testified that there were developments (housing subdivisions) that were directly affected by the transmission line when they were 1/2 mile away… and who testified that the same developments were “constructed” when they were not:

NRG – NoCapX – U-CAN Initial Brief

See p. 45-46 of Initial Brief; see also Hearing Ex. 86, Plat Maps of Landings at Sandy Pointe, Zumbo Haven, and Zumbro Sound.; Testimony of Smith, Tr. Vol. 2, p. 44-81.

From the behavior I saw at the Public Utilities Commission meeting last Thursday, I can’t help but wonder where Oronoco Township is getting its information, why they’re doing what they’re doing.  After the Motions for Reconsideration were denied, Javon Bea… yes, THIS Javon Bea:

Javon Bea 09-1448 DEIS Comments

And the same Javon Bea is a member of the Oronoco Planning Advisory Commission where he is supposed to be representing the interests of the township, and it is the OPAC that is driving the Oronoco challenge (that and their large war chest).  Javon Bea spoke at the OPAC meeting a few months ago, after the April 12, 2012 PUC decision, and told people to contact the PUC Commissioners directly.  Three of the four’s contact info was given including business address for Commissioner Boyd and home address for Commissioner Wergin:

Laymen for Christ Ex Parte Complaint against Oronoco Twp

Oronoco Township Response to Ex Parte Complaint

Stipulation between Laymen for Christ and Oronoco Twp

Yes, this Javon Bea stood up in the middle of the room, intending to lead the charge to the Appellate Court, and he stated that the PUC made its decision based on the NEW TESTIMONY of FOUR PEOPLE!  EH?  This shows he hasn’t a clue, he hasn’t reviewed the record.  I do wish he’d read a transcript of the full evidentiary hearing, the public comments at the public meetings, and the transcript of the April 12, 2012 PUC meeting where they made their decision about the route through Oronoco.

He may be special because, according to the points he raised in his DEIS Comments, he is the CEO of a $1.8 billion dollar corporation, has three houses (a 10,000 square foot, 4,000 square foot, and a 2,000 square foot), in the area, a barn he rents for events with $80k income annually, property consisting of speculative purchase of 8 separate farmsteads on 292 acres “for development” valued at $7,230,500, claiming a loss of $4.8 million due to CapX 2020.

I wonder how many of the hardworking Oronoco Township residents would like to earn $80k annually like his BARN does!?!?

FULL DISCLOSURE:  Alan and I have three houses, his in Delaware, mine in Red Wing and our “new” one in Red Wing, maybe his circa 1742 house is just over 2,000 square feet and the Red Wing ones are 1579 and 1870, all “need work” and are modest to put it mildly, the newest one was built in 1924, none have central air or a TV or a bit of granite!!!  But we are rich in dogs… Summer, Kady-Kate and Little Sadie.

Can you tell that I’ve about had it with these statements that are so far off base?  Please, folks, read the record, read the briefs, read Xcel’s DEIS comments, read the EIS, read the transcripts.

From the Rochester Post Bulletin:

PUC denies reconsideration for CapX2020 route

Posted: Aug 15, 2012, 12:55 am

By Brett Boese

The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

SAINT PAUL — A dispute over the route of CapX2020 high-voltage transmission lines through southeastern Minnesota appears destined for a courtroom challenge, after the state Public Utilities Commission last week declined a request to reconsider a past decision.

In so doing, the PUC’s April 12 decision, to route the high-voltage transmission lines through a suburban slice of Oronoco Township, stands.

Months before that decision, an administrative law judge recommended a different route, slightly to the north, crossing the Zumbro River at the Lake Zumbro hydroelectric dam. The PUC’s selected route crosses the river at White Bridge Road — a route that initially was project proponents’ preferred route.

The 345-kilovolt power lines will trace a 150-mile route from near Hampton, Minn., to LaCrosse, Wis., in an arcing path that follows U.S. 52 south into Olmsted County, then east to cross the Mississippi River near Kellogg.

It is one segment of several in a four-state project to update the region’s transmission system. The project, called CapX2020, is led by Xcel Energy and backed by an 11-member partnership of transmission-owning utilities that also includes Rochester Public Utilities. The project also includes two 161-kv lines leading from the 345-kv mainline to substations near Rochester.

But no landowner wants the high-voltage lines anyplace nearby. Shortly after the PUC’s April 12 decision, Oronoco Township formally petitioned commissioners to reconsider. Others who submitted petitions included Oronoco Township, nine Cannon Falls landowners and the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School located in Cannon Falls.

Oronoco Town Board chairman Mark Thein said about 90 people filled the PUC chambers on Thursday in hopes that the PUC might change its mind. Instead, they left without even hearing a discussion.

“We had 90 people up there and the PUC spent one minute to tell us to go home,” Thein said.

The Oronoco Town Board previously voted to appeal the PUC ruling to the Minnesota Appellate Court if its reconsideration motion were denied, Thein said. The township has 60 days to file that paperwork. Thein says new legal counsel will be hired by the end of the month to handle the specifics.

“We made some valid legal points on why (the PUC) should reconsider, including that they heard new testimony on a case that was already closed — which is against the law,” Thein said. “That seems to be what swayed the PUC to ignore the administrative law judge’s 300-page (recommendation).”

On the other side of the issue, groups including Laymen for Christ, Inc., Woodland Camp and Xcel Energy filed briefs in support of the PUC decision. Carol Overland, an attorney representing some of the groups, could not be reached Thursday.

Wisconsin – Petition for Judicial Review filed

Filed under:Appeal,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on @ 9:29 am

NoCapX and CETF filed a Petition for Judicial Review with the Dane County Circuit Court for review of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission’s Final Order on the CapX 2020 transmission line from Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse:

Appeal Filings August 16, 2012

Right after filing in the District Court, it was personally served on the PSC.  And copies have been mailed to all parties in the proceeding.

From the Wisconsin State Journal:

CapX 2020 transmission line opponents file lawsuit in Dane County

Wisconsin is odd, after it’s been filed with the court, there are 30 days to mail to the parties — we could have kept Lisa Agrimonti sitting on the edge of her chair, but I wanted to get this all done.

Onward!

Something that I found strange and disheartening, but not surprising, is that there are very few appeals of Public Service Commission decisions.  Why?  I think that the Commission’s Intervenor Compensation case-by-case payments and their additional newer annual payouts to specific groups does a lot to limit true resistance and challenge — who is going to rock the boat and risk their PSC gravy train!?!?! Every year, the “usual suspects” get a LOT of money from the PSC.

CUB got $96K and Clean Wisconsin got $36k (plus their annual kicker).  NoCapX got nothing and CETF got $15k, NO money for witnesses, and not enough for expenses.  Our proposal was for $36k for MSB on need and $6 or 9k for an appraiser.  Neither of the others proposed an approach like ours, no one proposed a property valuation expert and CUB’s proposal was distinct from ours.  Yet PSC staff says it’s duplicative.  No it was not!

We were not able to present a Direct case without witnesses, and then the judge tried to limit what we could present in cross, saying in the prehearing order that we had to pre-file hard copies of all cross exhibits, that the hard copies had to be in color if the ERF filed exhibit was in color (cost prohibitive to say the least) and when we filed them, costing over $1,000, they then said that was silly, that CD was OK and we could bring those to the hearing, I spent a day copying on CD and then they said that wasn’t necessary — they were putting up road blocks and then changing their rules after we’d spent considerable time and money complying.  VERY frustrating and procedurally bizarre.

During the hearing, the funded intervenors just sat there quietly during the testimony, no cross examination (check the transcript, it’s astounding), instead just sitting there, taking few notes, checking email and surfing and playing with phones.  CUB’s witness did not challenge need and instead advocated for a low voltage line that isn’t needed.  Clean Wisconsin didn’t even challenge the line and instead presented tedious testimony on tussocks.  I nearly blew a gasket.

The transcript is on line at the PSC site, scroll down and plug in docket 05-CE-136.  It’s appalling.

PUC denies Motions for Reconsideration

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on August 10, 2012 @ 6:54 am

Yesterday, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission denied the two Motions for Reconsideration.  It will come out in writing sometime soon, sooner because there wasn’t anything to the decision, just NO.

They denied Oronoco Township’s Motion for Reconsideration… WHEW!

They denied the Cannon Falls landowners Motion for Reconsideration … sigh…

They did not address the outstanding No CapX 2020 – Conflict of Interest Complaint against Barr Engineering.  … sigh…

And it was Tom Hillstrom’s last day — Goodbye Hilly!

DOE’s Preliminary Findings 2012 Congestion Report

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on August 7, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

.

bistransmissiontower

The DOE is hosting webinars on its 2012 transmission congestion study:

DOE 2012 Transmission Congestion Study Page

The study isn’t released out, even a draft, and the powerpoint isn’t available yet online.  GRRRRRRRR, we need that to have an idea what’s going on… oh, that’s probably why it isn’t there.  Soon, I’ll post it when it appears.

The first webinar was today, just over, and there are two more — just click on linked date to register:

What I’m seeing here from the powerpoint is that congestion is a non-issue.  And what is very clear from the congestion maps for 2009-2011 is that in 2009 there was essentially NO congestion, and it got worse in 2010, and then not so bad in 2011 but still far more than in 2009.  In essence, apparently what they’re doing has made it worse.

They did ask my question, based on the above observation of the 2009, 2010 and 2011 maps, and asked what the explanation was for absence of congestion in 2009:

A: He said that the relatively low level of economic activity was certainly a factor.  Temperatures were more severe in 2010 so that was a factor.  Yes, congestion, in terms of these three graphics, congestion is worse in 2010 than in the other two years, that is generally in the context of a generally declining pattern over a couple of years we’ve been looking at.  Don’t want anyone to get the impression that …. So part of this is that this is a function of scaling also?  Yes…

Uh-huh… right…

And then from slide 22, Preliminary Regional Findings: Midwest:

  • Data indicate on significant, persistent constraints, apart from those related to the development of remote renewable resources
  • Data do not indicate any areas with major reliability problems
  • The economic congestion that is occurring is small in relation to the total cost of wholesale electricity traded in organized spot markets.
  • Inconsistent market designs and practices between RTOS — as distinct from lack of transmission capacity — are a significant impediment to economically beneficial electricity trade.

But hey, we knew that!

Here are the prior “studies” from DOE:

2009 DOE Congestion Study

2006 DOE Congestion Study

And remember, the purpose of this is, in THEIR words, from THEIR site:

DOE’s Congestion Studies may contribute information needed to support the future designation of one or more National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (National Corridors). On the basis of a congestion study, and after reviewing and considering public comments, the Secretary of Energy is authorized but not required to designate related geographic areas as National Corridors. Designation of a National Corridor has two effects:  1) it emphasizes that the Department considers the particular congestion problem to which the corridor pertains to be sufficiently acute to merit federal concern; and 2) it enables the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to exercise “backstop” authority (under conditions specified in the Federal Power Act) to approve the siting of transmission facilities within the area of the corridor. In particular, the Commission may exercise its jurisdiction if a state agency has “withheld approval” for more than one year of an application to site a transmission facility within the corridor.

But wait, even they admitted in today’s Webinar that the courts have invalidated the designation of National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors both generally and specifically:

So we’re doing this … why???

It’s all about market, it has nothing to do with electric reliability, and billions are being spent to address a problem that does not exist and which is illegal to implement.  WRONG?  Prove it, please…

Buy the Farm takes major hit

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on August 6, 2012 @ 11:45 am

screamhomer

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has just released a devasting decision — that Buy the Farm landowners are not “forced” to leave their property and are not entitled to other benefits under Minn. Stat. ch. 117 including relocation compensation.

Buy the Farm – NSP v. Aleckson, Pudas, Hanson, et al.

Thanks to the crass little birdie who sent word, errrrrrr…  tweet…. errrrrrr, email.

birdie-eveninggrosbeak

I hadn’t checked the missive from the court this morning, was on phone with distraught landowner facing condemnation when it came over the wire… how ironic.

This decision?  It’s grim, utility mantra all the way.  Here’s the meat of it:

Minimum Compensation

We agree with the district court that neither the Buy-the-Farm statute nor the minimum-compensation statute explicitly exempts application of the other. But the relevant eligibility requirements of the minimum-compensation statute must still be satisfied. The minimum-compensation statute only applies to landowners who must relocate. See Minn. Stat. § 645.44, subd. 15a (2010) (“‘Must’ is mandatory.”). Here, respondents chose to make their Buy-the-Farm elections and therefore chose to relocate. As such, we conclude that respondents are not landowners who “must relocate,” and therefore are not entitled to maintain a claim for minimum compensation under section 117.187.

Relocation Benefits

As discussed above, respondents were not required to relocate. The transfer of the fee interest in their property to appellants was a result of respondents making an election under section 216E.12. And while respondents had every right to make such an election, their claim that appellants are “forcing” them to move is disingenuous. The fact remains that appellants sought to condemn only an easement across respondendents’ properties. Respondents voluntarily decided to make their Buy-the-Farm elections, requiring appellants to acquire the fee interest in their entire parcels. As such, respondents are ineligible for relocation benefits under Minn. Stat. § 117.52.

This is SO offensive:

The fact remains that appellants sought to condemn only an easement across respondents’ properties.

“Only” — can you tell they’ve never dealt with transmission?

Only… how dare they!

Odds are it’s now headed to the Supreme Court.  I feel an Amicus Brief coming on.

horsesassaward



YES! Appeal Wisconsin CapX 2020 Order!

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on August 5, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

Citizens Energy Task Force and NoCapX 2020 are ready to forge on ahead with a challenge of the Wisconsin CapX 2020 Order.

WE NEED MONEY!

PLEASE SUPPORT OUR EFFORTS

WITH A DONATION TODAY!

From CETF:

NOT THE END OF THE LINE!

We raised some crucial issues in our Petition for Rehearing, particularly regarding need:

NoCapX & CETF Petition for Rehearing

The deadline is approaching and we must act quickly.  Please consider supporting this effort.  You can contribute in a number of ways:

  • Use Pay Pal “DONATE” button in the upper right corner of CETF site – CLICK HERE
  • Send contributions to CETF, P.O. Box 3571, La Crosse, WI 54602
  • Tax deductible, send check payable to MRR/CETF Fund to the CETF address.

We need dollars.  Nothing else will do!  Use any of these options above to support our appeal of the Wisconsin CapX 2020 Order.

Legal Issues Regarding Decision to Approve Capx2020:

  • The PSC made an error of law because its Order did not address the statutory criteria for transmission need and siting. The PSC did not make requisite determinations; instead it made conclusory statements with “Findings of Fact” that did not reference facts in the record. A reviewing court would have no basis to affirm the Commission’s decision because there are no facts associated with the “Findings” and no way to tell what in the voluminous record supports the Order. Wis. Stat. §196.491(3)(d).196.491(3)(d).
  • The PSC made a significant error of fact by using the wrong cost amount. The PSC is to address costs to Wisconsin ratepayers and perform cost/benefit analysis. In its Order, the PSC considered only the cost of the Wisconsin portion of the project, and not the entire project, from Hampton, MN to La Crosse which will be borne, in part, by Wisconsin ratepayers. Wisconsin ratepayers will be charged a percentage of the estimated cost in the record of $507 million, not just the $211 million for the WI segment. Wis. Stat. §§ 196.491(3)(t); 196.49(3)(b).
  • The PSC erred in its determination that the project provides regional benefits because Wisconsin law requires the PSC address “regional reliability benefits.” The difference is that “regional benefits” is an economic measure, and “reliability” is an electrical measure. In removing “reliability” from its Order, it has not met the statutory requirement. This shift in criteria in the PSC’s decision relies on economic and market factors such as claims of powerline congestion and the need for transferring electricity to other places. These address market issues, not the electric reliability benefits to be considered under state law. Wis. Stat. § 196.491(3)(d)3t.
  • The PSC made an error of law because it did not properly address conservation and efficiency and Wisconsin’s energy hierarchy. In this decision, the PSC must evaluate conservation, efficiency and renewable options, individually and in combination, and must reject all or part of the project if it does not utilize the statutory energy hierarchy. Instead, PSC staff rejected conservation and efficiency measures without requisite consideration of system alternatives in combination. Wis. Stat. §§ 1.12(4); 196.025(1)(b)(1).
  • The PSC made an error of law by failing to review the eastward La Crosse – Madison/Badger-Coulee transmission project in conjunction with the Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse project. The record demonstrates the Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse does not provide independent benefits, and is instead a radial line not connecting the 345 kV system, setting up system instability. The 2 projects are phased, cumulative and connected actions, closely related and each is necessarily dependent on the other for functioning as described and as applied for, parts of a larger action and which uses the larger action as the basis for claimed “need.” Wis. Stat. §1.11; WI Admin. Code SC 4.30; NEPA 40 C.F.R. §1508.25(1).
  • The PSC made an error of law in its analysis of Dept. of Transportation (DOT) easements and failed to defer to the WI DOT expertise regarding DOT easements. Where an administrative decision is subjected to judicial review, the courts defer to the agency, based on agency expertise. In this case, the PUC is not the agency with the expertise in DOT easements – the agency with the expertise, the agency to which the courts would give great deference regarding DOT easements, is the DOT. In its Order regarding DOT easements, the PSC’s decision is not reasonable. See e.g., Clean Wisconsin, Inc. v. Public Service Commission, 2005 WI 93, 282 Wis. 2d 250, 700 N.W.2d 768, 04-3179; see also Wisconsin End-User Gas Ass’n v. PSC, 218 Wis. 2d 558, 565, 581 N.W.2d 556 (Ct. App. 1998).


image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace