Good morning! I’ve just filed my Withdrawal of Counsel for Citizens Energy Task Force:
Overland is a free agent!
HUH? Well, you’ll just have to wait for the book…
Good morning! I’ve just filed my Withdrawal of Counsel for Citizens Energy Task Force:
Overland is a free agent!
HUH? Well, you’ll just have to wait for the book…
last week the Wisconsin Public Service Commission released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement … and it’s a biggie, as ATC’s Anne Spaltholz would say, “Cuddle up with your Kindle and enjoy the read!”
The Comment period is open until Friday October 3rd, 2014, and because the PSC’s on-line comment page says that comments made are not part of the record, are only for staff consideration regarding the environmental review, send directly to the Environmental Coordinator for the Badger Coulee Project, Marilyn Weiss: Marilyn.Weiss@wisconsin.gov
CAUTION: PLEASE USE THE PSC’S COMMENT PAGE WITH CAUTION — USE IT WITH THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT PART OF THE RECORD. On most of the Comments filed in this docket: “NOTE: Public comments are currently being solicited by Commission staff for this docket. These comments will be used by staff in its scoping and analysis of this case, but will not be part of the official record.” Many, many of the comments submitted on the Comment page will not be included in the project record. If you have filed a comment intending it to be part of the record, please check yours for that notice (theirs is not in red, though it should be!). The PSC policy on Comments is: Only comments submitted in response the notice of hearing will be included in the record from which the Commission makes its decision.
To be clear, there are two tracks — comments to be considered by staff that are NOT part of the record, and, AFTER the “notice of hearing” comments that WILL be part of the record if filed during that window of time. That means that once that “notice of hearing” is issued, you’ll need to refile any comments you’ve made earlier and resubmit them during that window after the “notice of hearing” or they will not be part of the record, and will not be considered by the Commission. This is very important — I’m sure many of you were making comments thinking it was part of the record for the Commission. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t weigh in on environmental review, but it does mean that if you want your Comments to be part of the project record, remember to resubmit during that window.
In the meantime, here’s the DEIS:
Draft EIS Volume 1 (13969KB)
Draft EIS Volume 2 Cover (130KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Index (640KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 01 (6892KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 02 (6550KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 03 (5210KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 04 (4591KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 05 (4917KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 06 (5089KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 07 (4608KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 08 (4579KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 09 (6209KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 10 (9006KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 11 (10054KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 12 (9426KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 13 (5948KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 14 (4841KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 15 (5261KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 16 (5432KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 17 (5237KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 18 (5105KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 19 (5636KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 20 (5097KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 21 (6477KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 22 (5527KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 23 (4994KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 24 (4405KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 25 (4543KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 26 (3959KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 27 (4469KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 28 (5324KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 29 (4425KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 30 (4779KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 31 (4559KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 32 (4057KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 33 (5201KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 34 (5211KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 35 (5941KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 36 (5675KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 37 (5504KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 38 (7227KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 39 (6885KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 40 (4858KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 41 (5035KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 42 (3698KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 43 (3783KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 44 (3920KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 45 (4269KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 46 (4059KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 47 (4280KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-1 – Route Map 48 (4720KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-2 – Proposed route alternatives and existing electric transmission system (1912KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-3 – Ecological regions and elevations in the project area (7568KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-4 – Trout streams and outstanding and exceptional resource waters (8339KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-5 – Depth to bedrock in the project area (9114KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-6 – Important bird areas in the project area (510KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-7 – Leopold-Pine Island Important Bird Area Partnership properties (5848KB)
Draft EIS Figure Vol. 2-8 through 2-40 – Construction photographs (3782KB)
Here are some photos I took yesterday of the CapX 2020 transmission project being constructed at White Bridge Rd. over the Zumbro River — UGLY UGLY UGLY, it’s ugly wherever it goes.
From KAAL-TV, filmed yesterday near Pine Island and Oronoco:
A long-time energy activist recently called “Buy the Farm,” Minn. Stat. 216E.12, Subd. 4, MY statute. And in a way, it is… For at least 15 years now, since the Chisago and Arrowhead Project, its been a constant mantra. I’ve been raising “Buy the Farm” in the administrative dockets, the courts and the legislature. If I had a dollar for every “Buy the Farm” flyer I’ve handed out at transmission line meetings and hearings, every mile driven across Minnesota, every hour greeting attendees, every legislator hounded, I’d never have to work again.
In 1999, World Organization for Landowner Freedom went to the Appellate Court after Minnesota Power filed for an exemption of its Arrowhead Transmission Project at the Environmental Quality Board and the exemption was granted by the EQB. Minnesota Power requested this exemption because the line was so short it was exempted from a Certificate of Need, so what the heck, let’s try to get it exempted from Power Plant Siting Act’s Routing requirements as well… and they did. One “unintended consequence” was that because it was exempted from the Power Plant Siting Act, landowners affected by the project were not able to elect “Buy the Farm” because it is part of the Power Plant Siting Act. But of course, I don’t think that was “unintended” at all.
What did the court say to our argument that the landowners didn’t receive notice that exemption would mean they couldn’t elect Buy the Farm? Well, can you spell “raspberries?”
In eminent-domain proceedings for projects subject to the siting act, landowners can elect condemnation and compensation for owner’s entire fee interests. See Minn. Stat. 116C.63, subd. 4 (2000) (take-the-whole-farm option). WOLF argues that due process requires that notice to landowners should have included notice that if an exemption is granted, the take-the-whole farm option will not be available to them. The siting act is unambiguous, however, and provides all the notice required that the take-the-whole-farm option does not apply to projects exempted from the act. MP complied with the specific application-for-exemption notice requirements in the siting act. See Minn. Stat. 116C.57, subd. 5 (2000). No one challenged the sufficiency of notice to landowners in the proceedings before the board. We find WOLF’s argument on this issue meritless.
Ja, tell that to the landowners under the 345 kV line… (and btw, sufficiency of notice WAS raised).
In 2001, when the legislature changed the definition of “High Voltage Transmission Line” to a transmission over 100 kV, utilities realized it would mean lines such as the SE Metro line or the Chisago Transmission Project would be affected, so they went to the legislature to get the threshold for Buy the Farm raised to 200 kV. There was strong resistance, we stormed the Capitol, showed up and testified, but they won, lined up their toady legislators and got it through. The result? Landowners under all of these 69 kV “upgrades” to 115 kV and 161 kV are not able to elect the “Buy the Farm” option, despite it now being categorized as “High Voltage Transmission.”
Then the utilities began their transmission build-out, and massive it is. Having to comply with “Buy the Farm” would greatly increase their construction costs, though they are required to sell BTF land acquisitions within a few years. And over a decade later, in the St. Cloud area, with the first of the CapX 2020 projects to wind through the courts for condemnation, Xcel fought kicking and screaming against landowner elections of Buy the Farm and demands for relocation compensation. Jerry Von Korff led the charge for landowners and No CapX 2020 and United Citizens Action Network filed an Amicus brief. Xcel lost:
That decision, for the landowners fighting for their right to elect Buy the Farm and for an award of relocation expenses, was a big slap upside the head for those utilities trying to limit landowner compensation — Xcel fought it through the Appellate Court and all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court — losers again:
Did they learn? Naaaaaaaaaah… and here they go again, with another great win for landowners in the District Court:
This decision establishes yet another point on the “Buy the Farm” line showing that landowners do have rights, and can elect the Buy the Farm option.
What’s particularly important in this case is that the judge recognized that it’s NOT about the substantive issues of EMF, that causation is not at issue in an eminent domain condemnation proceeding (anymore than it is in an administrative permitting proceeding, but see Power Line Task Force v. Public Utilities Commission (2001) for the appellate view on EMF and the PUC’s responsibility for safe electricity), that experts are utterly irrelevant and should be disregarded and really, shouldn’t have been admitted — that framing by Xcel is distraction:
If only the Public Utilities Commission and the Administrative Law Judges working these cases would get that message.
The trend continues… Buy the Farm is the law in the state of Minnesota. Utilities, get used to it. If you want to take land, pony up.
Will Xcel challenge this District Court decision? We shall see, and if they do, we’ll have Amicus “pen” in hand to again join the fracas in support of landowners.
Our next meeting is Wednesday, August 20 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Commission’s Large Hearing Room in the Metro Square Building, located at 121 Seventh Place East, St. Paul, MN 55101. The PUC will provide refreshments.
FINAL MEETING – Wednesday September 24, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Here are the latest drafts.
The next meeting is this Wednesday, so not much time for review and comment. Comments can be sent to kate.kahlert [at] state.mn.us and/or posted in the PUC’s Rulemaking Docket, 12-1246. To see what all has been filed in that docket, go to PUC SEARCH DOCKETS PAGE and search for 12-1246 (“12” is the year, “1246” is the docket number).
That says it all!
Here’s the full decision:
This is a big day, a victory for landowners who have a utility condemning their land for transmission. Over and over, the utilities are losing, and landowners’ rights are affirmed by the court. Yet because the utilities refuse to recognize their election of Buy the Farm (Minn. Stat. 216E.12, Subd. 4), landowners end up in a long involved and expensive legal wrangle — at what point will the court start holding utilities accountable for their abuse of process? Because their objections are so unreasonable, utilities should be required to pay for more than landowners expenses in standing up for their rights, there should be additional damages awarded, say for “intentional infliction of emotional distress” or Rule 11 sanctions, something to wake them up to the abusive nature of their challenges. The law is what it is, and as landowners have to continue to fight, it will probably become even more focused on landowner rights, session by legislative session, due to the utilities’ actions.
Take a few minutes today to let your state Representative and Senator know how important it is to protect landowner rights in utility condemnations and to uphold the Buy the Farm option!
Once more with feeling: CONGRATULATIONS, DAVE AND FLO MINAR!!!!
In the STrib:
In the Roch Post Bulletin:
And ASAP, take a trip over to Cedar Summit Farm, have a look around, check out their pasture fed organic dairy cows, and give them a big THANK YOU to let the Minar’s know that you support their efforts to preserve landowner rights. Oh, and then there’s the milk… cheese… ice cream… and more! They’re located just north of New Prague, on Drexel Ave. (Co. Rd. 15), just past 260th (Co. Rd. 2).
The next phase of the project, one that Carlsgaard called an “enormous challenge,” will cross the Mississippi. He said it will likely be constructed in February, using barges and helicopters to reach the sites in the river.
“We certainly haven’t done anything like that (before),” he said.
In the Rochester Post Bulletin:
PINE ISLAND – Despite the recent rains, CapX2020 crews continue to make their way across the southeastern part of the state, stretching electric power lines as they go, and expect to be finished with the project on time.
There are about a dozen towers left to be erected between Pine Island and the Mississippi River, and Tim Carlsgaard, a spokesperson for CapX2020, said he expects the foundations for that segment to be finished by the end of the month and the structures and power line stretching to be completed by late October or early November.
The segment is part of a larger project that stretches from Hampton to La Crosse, Wis. The power lines will stretch between states, running through Pine Island and jumping across the Mississippi. One segment of thepower line is already up in northwest Rochester, and another one is planned for later next year.
“The new CapX line that connects into (Rochester Public Utility) substation … has more than enough capacity to deliver energy to the entire city of Rochester during peak periods,” said RPU spokesman Tony Benson in an email.
The project is part of CapX2020, a massive plan designed to upgrade the electric transmission system in parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In total, the plan will cost $2.2 billion, cover 800 miles and finish in late 2015.
“The entire CapX2020 transmission project will help to increase reliability across the Midwest,” he said. “Essentially, all electricity customers in Minnesota and the surrounding region will benefit from a more robust and reliable electric transmission system.”
The segment from Hampton to La Crosse is about 150 miles and will cost about $500 million. Once completed, the new lines will increase reliability for energy consumers, and increase efficiency for transporting that energy.
He said that after the crews finish, it usually takes about a year for the immediate surroundings to return to normal. If the structures go up on farmland, though, the farmers are compensated for up to three years, or until production returns to normal, for any damages to their crops.
The Reply Briefs are in on the ITC Midwest MN/IA 345 kV transmission project. MECA, et al.’s is really a hoot. A couple of them say “no full party intervenors oppose/disagree” or some such but then there’s the Commerce Reply Brief. Yup, it ain’t only Overland, errrrr… argument of counsel. You’ll have a little more trouble dissing Commerce DER with the Commission. Yes, the Commerce DER Reply Brief takes the cake.
DER specifically disagrees that the record supports:
Cool. I love it when that happens…
Here are the Reply Briefs in the ITC Midwest docket:
See that line up there going through North Dakota? They’ve just finished it, it’s ready to energize. And of course, it’s clear that now that Minnesota Power has bought the DC line that’s been used for coal, that now the coal will go over CapX lines off through Minnesota to Wisconsin and points east. HUH? Yes, they allude to in a “We’ve completed this new transmission line” article it not-so-subtly:
The reassignment of an existing transmission line also means more transmission facilities are needed.
“Once built, the bulk flow of electricity moves to the new line, which frees up capacity on the underlying system.”
The USDA/RUS documents say it very clearly:
Minnkota has proposed the construction of approximately 260 miles of 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line from Center to Grand Forks, N.D., to deliver additional energy recently secured from Milton R. Young 2, a 455-megawatt (MW) coal-fi red plant near Center, N.D., owned by Square Butte Electric Cooperative.
… and this:
To bring the energy generated by Young 2 into the Red River Valley, Minnkota will construct a new 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line from Center to Grand Forks. Building the new transmission line will enablethe existing DC transmission line from theMilton R. Young Station to carry more renewable wind energy.
Here’s that original RUS document:
There’s still the shifted coal into the Eastern Interconnect and proposed expansions to deal with — those mentioned in the federal opinion tossing out the 2007 “Next Generation Energy Act” saying “no go” under the Commerce Clause:
Very logical, makes a lot of sense. It’s not like Minnesota Power’s taking that line would make them shut down a coal plant!
So now we have one more transmission line in the superhighway from the Dakotas to Madison and beyond…
Minnkota Power Cooperative’s 345-kilovolt line spans from near Center, N.D., to Grand Forks, where the co-op is based. The $353 million project began construction more than two years ago, according to a news release.
“A 345-kV transmission line can be compared to an interstate highway system,” project manager Mike Hennes said in a statement. “Once built, the bulk flow of electricity moves to the new line, which frees up capacity on the underlying system.”
The Center-to-Grand-Forks Project is the longest line in state history that begins and ends within North Dakota, according to the news release, and is the largest capital investment Minnkota has ever made in transmission facilities.
image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace