Waiting… waiting…

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on May 20, 2013 @ 12:03 pm


Dog waiting for his owners to come (attribution)

Waiting for the decision of the Appellate Court.  It’s due soon… this month.  While that’s going on, Rochester Post Bulletin seems to have soy ink to spare to write about waiting.  Seems also Oronoco Township spent “a couple hundred thousand dollars” on “fighting the project.”

Below is what the Post Bulletin had to say, yes, it does go on, in search of hope that Oronoco will turn that decision around, and utterly ignoring the failure of the contractor, Barr Engineering, to get the “pre-existing corridor” characterization right, at BOTH dams where they had an interest, and then the Commerce employee in charge of this project, Matt Langan, resigned and went to work for Xcel Energy (on the other hand, the Xcel Energy employee in charge of this project (Tom Hillstrom) quit to work on light rail for the Met Council — does that make it even?  Noooooo!  Not even close.).

The PB has also taken a very narrow look at this and doesn’t know and/or omits basic facts.  From the sidebar:

Planning began in 2006 for the $2.2-billion CapX2020 project that will connect Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota to an improved energy grid by 2015, with South Dakota being added by 2017.

The route of the 345-kilovolt line from the Pine Island area to the Mississippi River has been one of the most controversial aspects of the project. Oronoco Township in Olmsted County has asked the Minnesota Court of Appeals to block the approved route across the township and send it back to the Public Utilities Commission for reconsideration.

About that first paragraph: Planning formally began in 2004, released in 2005 in the May 11, 2005 Capx 2020 Technical Update, in Kaul CapX letter – Sept 6 2005 – BSII, and October 2005 CapX Technical Update – Wisc PSC Docket 05-CE-136 entered by No CapX/CETF Item 5, but there are fingerprints in the WRAO Report from 1998 that gathered a the most amazing group of electrical engineers who put together a long laundry list of transmission lines, a transmission planner’s dream.  HELLO, it was APPLIED FOR in Minnesota in 2006 — search for PUC Docket 06-1115.

And that second paragraph: Have they not heard about the Minnesota River crossing on the Brookings line?  Or the Avon Township/St. John’s area on the Fargo line?  Wake up, it’s not all about the monied interests driving the Rochester Post Bulletin.

In this docket, they are ignoring the crossing of the Cannon River near Lake Byllesby, where the contractor, Barr Engineering, conveniently failed to disclose in the EIS that there was a massive transmission corridor along route 1P-003, the same area where that contractor had another contract to work on the Byllesby Regional Park Master Plan.  They’re completely ignoring the issues raised by Cannon Falls landowners and St. Paul’s Lutheran School and Church.  And then there’s the route in Wisconsin, through Holmen, next to the school…  “One of the most controversial aspects of this project?”

Appellate Court Briefs of note:

Initial Brief – St. Paul’s Lutheran School and Church and Cannon Falls Landowners

Reply Brief – Cannon Falls Landowners and St. Paul’s Lutheran School and Church

Laymen for Christ o/o of Woodland Camp (only one – Laymen for Christ is Respondent)

There have been at least one thousand very concerned people across Minnesota who put thousands of hours of time into fighting this CapX 2020 project over the last 9 years.  TAKE OFF THE BLINDERS!

And “pitting neighbor against neighbor” started in this Hampton-La Crosse routing docket when Oronoco Township strongly and specifically stated that it was advocating a “stick it there” strategy and said that the transmission line should go on the North Route, was even quoted as saying so in the Rochester Post Bulletin.  After they threw down the gloves, just before the intervention deadline, the  North Route Group intervened and presented factual, credible testimony and exhibits what were not challenged.  The manner in which the township approached this was disturbing, with witnesses making gross misrepresentations, such as Smith testifying about the impacts on supposedly existing developments, such as Zumbro Sound:

Oronoco witness Smith testified that when he said “developed” he meant they were “completed, construction is completed, ready for occupancy.” After plat maps of several subdivisions were entered into the record, and he was questioned about specifics of each subdivision plat map entered, and he then agreed, contrary to his prior testimony, that there were many vacant lots in the subdivisions. Ex. 86, Plat Maps of Landings at Sandy Pointe, Zumbo Haven, and Zumbro Sound.  Testimony of Smith, Tr. Vol. 2, p. 44-81. Smith testified that in Zumbro Sound subdivision, seven units were constructed, but agreed when questioned, that it was likely that only three homes had been built. Id. Broberg, when questioned about these subdivisions, also agreed there were many vacant lots. Testimony of Broberg, Tr. Vol. 2, p. 133-134. When questioned about the location of the subdivisions, Mr. Smith that the nearest one, Zumbro Haven, is about a quarter mile away from the proposed alignment, and Sandy Point, about one half mile away. Id., p. 82-84. None of these subdivisions is directly affected by the transmission line as proposed.  (See those citations — really, I couldn’t make this stuff up!!!)

And Oronoco witness Jeff Broberg, the guy who testified that Lake Zumbro is the only lake in Olmsted County, how credible can he be?  Well, here’s his “Exhibit 7” representing the boat as pulling up to the landing, when in fact you can’t get there from here, the boat landing at the White Bridge Road is closed and has been for years and has a big ol’ overgrown sand bar in front of it (Barr Engineering had a contract regarding dredging of Lake Zumbro, they should know!):


If you look in the upper right corner over the bridge, you can see the distribution line that crosses White Bridge Road.  More importantly, here’s what that boat landing really looks like, the rest of the story, the true picture, this is not new, it’s been this way for years:


It’d be nice if the Post Bulletin would report the entire story, and not just that of the monied interest in this mess.


Back to the Post Bulletin:

‘Nobody is a winner’ in CapX routing dispute

Elizabeth Nida Obert / enida@postbulletin.com

Substation construction site, 1 mile north of Pine Island along Highway 52, west side of highway.

Posted: Saturday, May 18, 2013 10:30 am

Brett Boese, bboese@postbulletin.com

If Lake Zumbro area residents and stakeholders were divided into winners and losers with regard to current CapX 2020 power line plans, David Nelson and his Christian camp would be among the winners.

That said, he’s not happy about it. The executive director at Camp Victory Ministries says it’s “sad” that his camp was able to claim victory only by others having to deal with the power line route approved last year by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

“One of the things I can’t stand about this thing, personally, is that it pits neighbor against neighbor,” said Nelson. The camp hosts 1,200 kids each summer and up to 200 people on weekend retreats.

“Nobody is a winner when they have power lines running through their property. It pits Minnesotan against Minnesotan. I don’t know that there’s a way to avoid that, but it’s disappointing.”


image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace