Q-1 Comments due today!

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,Q-1 Upgrade — posted by admin on October 13, 2015 @ 8:02 am

October 3 Notice

wow… ohh my.. that’s the complete public notice.

And what they provided for information, some new maps and a “fact sheet.”

Send your comments in today to:

  • Chuck Thompson, Manager, Siting & Regulatory Affairs, Dairyland Power Cooperative, 3200 East Avenue South, La Crosse, WI  54602-0617, or via email at cat@dairynet.com  (608) 787-1432.
  • Dennis Rankin, Engineering and Environmental Analyst,  USDA RUS, 1400 Independence SW, Mailstop 1571, Washington D.C., 20250-1571, or via email at dennis.rankin@wdc.usda.gov    (202) 720-1953

FYI, here’s what I sent in:

NoCapX2020_Comment_October 12 2015

And previously:

NoCapX2020_Q-1D South_Comment_9-25-2015

For more info, just scroll through or search No CapX 2020 for the recent “Q-1” and/or “Dairyland” posts.

Capping off the CapX 2020 project…

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on October 10, 2015 @ 9:00 pm

I guess I’m not the only one putting this project in bankers boxes and wrapping it up.  11 years on this project, and it’s up, it’s built, wires in the air, cor-ten steel soldiers marching across the hills.  Yeah, it didn’t go in a few places it shouldn’t, but it went up in a lot of places it shouldn’t, like EVERYWHERE.  This project never should have been built.  2.49% annual increase in peak demand…  Yeah, right…  What a scam… and they got what they wanted, transmission for their surplus, sending it off to market, wherever.  Driving to WI last week, first passing under the span just below Wabasha, and then seeing the lines glistening in the sun stretching south of Alma, it was so depressing.  I hear there’s an article in the latest Zumbrota paper about it, guess people are finally noticing something is happening.  So hard to get people to care, and now it’s too late.

So after a long, long day of writing, bleary eyed, I head downstairs, see that there’s junk mail falling out into the porch, and checked outside to see if my 6 month tea order arrived, YES, it did, but noooooo, that’s not a Stash label… hmmmmm, and way too light.

CapXCap1

And dig the back, “La Crosse Project” SNORT!  Suzanne, Steve, George and Guy, eat your heart out…

CapXCap2

WHEW!!!  With receipt of this, my hourly rate on this project has just quadrupled!  And it’s appropriate dark mourning color.  Yeah, it’s over.  Too few glimmers of light, other than that landowners are winning on “Buy the Farm” cases, it’s not over the Laymen for Christ campground, or over NORCA and NRG North Routes, and I got my easement client almost 4 times their original lowball offer.

Thank you, little birdie!

vulture

Dairyland’s Q-1D South transmission in the news!

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,News coverage,Wisconsin — posted by admin on October 4, 2015 @ 7:46 am

End of the Line

Today’s big news in the La Crosse Tribune, hot on the heels of tapping Oktoberfest’s Golden Keg, is a pretty extensive piece on Dairyland’s upgrade of its Q-1D South transmission line through Onalaska to La Crosse.  Note the “amp up capacity” which is exactly what they’re doing:

Residents worried by plans to rebuild transmission line, amp up capacity

9 hours ago  •  By Chris Hubbuch

TOWN OF ONALASKA — Dairyland Power Cooperative’s plans to replace a 65-year-old power line have raised concerns of residents living near the high-voltage line.

Originally constructed in 1950 through farmland, the 161-kilovolt line now cuts through back yards and in some cases directly over homes that were built around it as development pushed north, first along the Hwy. 35 and later the Hwy. 53 corridor.

Some residents worry about the health effects of living so close to the line — especially if Dairyland is able to push more electricity through it.

Darlene Adams lives directly under the lines in a mobile home on Kimberly Street and says she can hear them crackle when it rains or snows.

“It sounds like water on a frying pan,” Adams said.

Adams said she didn’t think about the line when she bought the home but has since become concerned about health effects.

“What is it doing to my house?” she said. “I’ve wondered, but no one has contacted me.”

The La Crosse-based utility has been working for most of the past decade to replace the Q1 line, which connects power plants in Alma and Genoa to the electric grid and delivers power to customers in surrounding rural areas.

The segment from Genoa to La Crosse was replaced in 2013, and the majority of the northern section is being rebuilt as part of CapX2020, a new transmission line nearing completion. Work is set to begin this month on a segment north of Holmen.

That leaves a nine-mile stretch, known as Q1-D South, running from Briggs Road in Holmen south into the town of Medary.

Dairyland hopes to begin construction in late 2016, but Chuck Thompson, who is in charge of siting and regulation for Dairyland, said designs for the replacement line are not complete.

In general, plans call for 95- to 115-foot steel poles to replace the existing wooden H structures, which range in height from 55 to 85 feet, although the company will need special clearance for some poles in the flight path of the La Crosse Regional Airport.

The estimated cost is between $7 million and $8 million.

Dairyland also plans to use a larger wire that will be able to carry more than twice as much electricity at the same voltage.

Carol Overland, a Red Wing, Minn., attorney who has fought transmission projects on behalf of citizens and ratepayers, said that will result in about twice as much EMF, which Dairyland hopes to mitigate by raising the wires.

A form of radiation given off by electricity, EMF is present anywhere there are electric wires or appliances.

Studies have found possible links between EMF exposure and increased risk of childhood leukemia, but according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences studies have not found links to adult cancers.

There are no federal regulations on EMF levels in homes, though the NIEHS recommends reducing exposure.

“It’s regarded as tin hat stuff, but it’s real,” Overland said. “Very real.”

Michael Yeager said his daughters, now 33 and 37, grew up playing under the wires, which cut through his yard. he suffers from multiple sclerosis, and one of his daughters has a tumor in her knee.

“I really wonder if something’s going on here,” he said. “Now they’re planning on getting bigger yet.”

Dairyland provides EMF monitoring at the request of people living near its lines but the utility does not retain that data, nor has it modeled the likely emissions from the rebuilt line.

Thompson said such modeling is not required.

“The RUS does not require us to do that,” he said. “The (state) requires it in their analysis. The federal process does not.”

Ann Kathan recently moved her family into a cottage next the home where she grew up on County Road OT. She planned to raise her 6-year-old twins there while caring for her aging parents, Lois and Bob.

But since learning about Dairyland’s plans to rebuild the line about 70 feet from her kids’ bedroom, she’s become concerned about the potential health effects of EMF.

She opposes the rebuild and plans to move unless the line is removed.

“In good conscience we cannot live in that house,” she said. “This is devastating.”

Federal money, but no state permit

Kathan, who has been contacting residents along the line in an effort to rally opposition, said Dairyland has been less than transparent, giving little information about the plans or the process.

“It’s just a gigantic black hole of missing information,” she said.

Overland was frustrated that Dairyland ran a legal notice in the La Crosse Tribune on Aug. 28 — with two paragraphs describing the project and an illegible map — without publishing any additional information about the project.

“There’s no application on line, nothing for anyone to look at and figure out what’s going on and then comment on,” Overland said. “What’s the point of making comments if we don’t know the plan?”

Because Dairyland is replacing an existing line, the utility does not need permission from Wisconsin regulators. But in order to receive low-interest financing from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dairyland must submit an application to the Rural Utility Service, which will determine what level of environmental review is necessary.

Thompson said the RUS application process requires Dairyland to collect public comments before submitting the application, which is why it was not available.

Dairyland has since agreed to extend the public comment period until Oct. 13, is publishing a second legal notice and has posted maps and basic information about the project on the company’s website.

State Sen. Jennifer Shilling and Rep. Steve Doyle, whose district is crossed by the line, said they’ve heard from concerned constituents but are limited in what they can do, because the project is not subject to state authority.

Both lawmakers said they encouraged Dairyland to listen to residents’ concerns.

Some residents along the line would like Dairyland to consider an alternative route — along Hwy. 35 or Hwy. 53 — or running it along the same poles as Xcel Energy’s 161-kv line that also bisects the area.

Chuck Thompson, who is in charge of siting and regulation, said the other routes present problems — Hwy. 35 has scenic easements, right-of-ways that extend into front yards, and is in the airport flight path; combining routes is also a challenge.

“When you start combining transmission lines the height goes up,” he said “It gets more difficult to put these lines together.”

And to move the line Dairyland would need permission from the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.

Thompson said burying the line — another common suggestion — would cost about 10 times as much.

“It’s difficult any time you’re in a city to route transmission,” Thompson said.

Urban planning

Dairyland could not provide the number of home within 300 feet of the line, but a Tribune analysis found the line crosses 142 developed residential properties and at least another nine multi-family properties with 84 apartments.

It crosses another 31 developed commercial properties, according to the Tribune’s analysis.

Much of the development occurred in the 1960s and 70s, prior to state statute that prohibits utilities from running anything higher than a 35kv line over a residence — or the construction of a residence under an existing line.

Kurt Childs, Dairyland’s director of land and design services, notes that homes built within the 80-foot right-of-way were constructed in violation of the company’s easement.

Who — if anyone — signed off on such plans is not clear.

“It really is a perfect example of a lack of urban planning,” Doyle said. “To have a mobile home directly under an existing line seems to me ludicrous.”

Kathan objects to the rebuilding project and thinks Dairyland should relocate the line away from the homes that were built around it, arguing that they are responsible for acting on new information about EMF.

“There really was not a choice,” she said. “People did not choose to be bombarded with EMF, because they did not know.”

And in a sidebar:

Public comments sought

Dairyland Power Cooperative is planning to rebuild about nine miles of 161-kilovolt transmission line, which runs from Briggs Road in Holmen through the city and towns of Onalaska and into the town of Medary south of the La Crosse River.

A fact sheet and maps of the project are available on Dairyland’s website, at http://www.dairynet.com/power_delivery/project_updates.php.

Dairyland is accepting public comments until Oct. 13 to be forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, which will oversee the environmental review of the project.

Comments can be emailed to Chuck Thompson at cat@dairynet.com or mailed to Dairyland Power Cooperative, 3200 East Ave. S., La Crosse, WI 54602.

Please contact Dairyland and ask them to provide information!

Chuck Thompson, Manager, Siting & Regulatory Affairs, Dairyland Power Cooperative, 3200 East Avenue South, La Crosse, WI  54602-0617, or via email at cat@dairynet.com  (608) 787-1432.

Here’s what little they have told us about this project:

And what I figure the magnetic field exposure would be if line is running at capacity it’s rated for (click chart for larger version):

Q-1 161 kV 795 ACSS_ Calculated Magnetic Field

Q-1D South Comment Period Extended!

Filed under:BadgerCoulee - Wisconsin,Nuts & Bolts,Q-1 Upgrade,RUS EIS,Wisconsin — posted by admin on October 2, 2015 @ 11:17 am

SUCCESS!!!  But… but… but only extended by 10 days…  HUH?  We still don’t have much to go on here, and major details like the capacity of this project, well, they’re still leaving us in the dark.

Here’s the new info posted on the Dairyland Power Cooperative site:

 

Compare the posted Corridor Map with the ones I’d received a couple weeks ago, note how much is M-I-S-S-I-N-G!

Appendix_A_Q1D_South_Sheetmap_150616_June 2015

The most obvious thing missing is the access roads, every single one of them.  What else?

And look what’s added.  I think the big difference is that this is “environmental” information, based on the subjects they listed in their first notice, like prime farmland, wetlands, etc.  It’s not the construction/technical layer.  So by looking at these new maps, we get the picture of what they think impacts are, and we can at least get a feel for that.

On the first map, there’s a brown area along the river/creek, but I can’t tell what color that would be on the legend… yellow?  On the third map, there’s a huge section with many different markings, covering the Wildlife Refuge.  H How would 95 – 115 foot tall towers this close to the ledge of the drop off into the Wildlife Refuge not have an impact on the protected (and unprotected!) migratory birds in this corridor?  What does the greatly increased tower height do to the viewshed from below on the Missisisppi?  They’re lowering towers and configuring horizontally for the La Crosse River Floodplain, so doesn’t this mean there are avian considerations?  And what about the Airport Overlay that limits structure height?

And check out this “Fact Sheet.”  Briggs Road to La Crosse Tap (Q-1D South) 161 kV Rebuild Project – Fact Sheet

Dairyland Power Cooperative says:

“Can you tell me about the Project?”  Well, not much, this is a two pager.  Focus is on using existing RoW.  Note they do point out existing and temporary access routes.  I would guess that this is something they’d have to have easements for… do they have easements?

“Why is the Project needed?”  They raise reliability problems, but these were addressed in the Badger Coulee, and the record there says Badger Coulee addresses these problems.  Oh, but it’s also impacting the fiber optic service on these structures.  Hmmmm, fiber optic.  Leased to who and for how much?  I don’t see any information on the fiber optic upgrade that would logically occur with upgrade of the electrical part of this line.  DISCLOSE PLEASE!

“What if the line is not rebuilt?”  This isn’t a rebuild, this is an upgrade.  Higher towers, from 45 – 85 feet now to 95-115 feet.  BIG DIFFERENCE!  Capacity?  Who knows, they’re not telling me, but folks, I have some ideas, based on the MISO disclosure of use of 795 ACSS conductor.  This is conjecture, because I’m still waiting for information from Dairyland, with the 437 MVA Peak taken from prior docket info, and the 84 MVA Average as a low-ball number (because they always understate capacity).  Click on table for a larger version that’s not cut up by the sidebar on the right:

Q-1 161 kV 795 ACSS_ Calculated Magnetic Field

“How are environmental impacts considered?”  As they state, this is a financial project, they’re doing this for financing.  Financing approval is a “major governmental action.”  Think not, Dairyland?  RUS?  Let’s discuss it in the alley!  Dairyland’s blurb states that “RUS has determined that the project would require the preparation of an Environmental Report (ER) to analyze potential impacts to the natural and human environments.”  ER?  How does this not require an EIS?  How is an ER compliant with NEPA?  How is it that Dairyland is allowed to segment these Q-1 projects out and that Marshland – Briggs Road required a full blown EIS and this doesn’t?  IT’S ALL ONE PROJECT, this upgrading the Q-1 line!

Read their new documents carefully, and take a good look at the new maps, comparing with the other ones.  What’s your take?

As always in this, take a few seconds and ask for more information, and when you’ve reviewed this stuff disclosed today, send comments to:

  • Chuck Thompson, Manager, Siting & Regulatory Affairs, Dairyland Power Cooperative, 3200 East Avenue South, La Crosse, WI  54602-0617, or via email at cat@dairynet.com  (608) 787-1432.
  • Dennis Rankin, Engineering and Environmental Analyst,  USDA RUS, 1400 Independence SW, Mailstop 1571, Washington D.C., 20250-1571, or via email at dennis.rankin@wdc.usda.gov    (202) 720-1953

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Here’s the full blurb from Dairyland’s Chuck Thompson, hot off the press this morning:

Dairyland Power Cooperative is hereby extending the 30-day comment period related to prime farmlands, farmland of statewide importance, 100-year floodplains, wetlands, and other comments for the Q-1D South 161 kV rebuild.  Under this expanded period, comments should be submitted in writing to Dairyland Power Cooperative within 10 days of the publication of this notice.

Dairyland Power Cooperative, 3200 East Avenue South, La Crosse, WI 54602-0817, is planning to rebuild approximately nine miles of 161 kilovolt transmission line in La Crosse County (Q-1D South Project).  The Q-1D South Project begins just south of the Briggs Road Substation near the Village of Holmen and ends at the La Crosse Tap south of the La Crosse River near Keil Coulee Road. Constructed in the 1950s, the line is now in poor condition and reaching the end of its service life.  The rebuild will occur along the existing 161 kV alignment within the existing right-of-way.  It has been determined that the Project, as proposed, will be located in a prime farmlands, 100-year floodplain, and wetlands. The Project will occupy 126 square feet of prime farmland, 12.6 square feet of farmland of statewide importance, 63 square feet of 100-year floodplain, and 50.4 square feet of wetlands.

Dairyland Power Cooperative believes that there is no practicable alternative that will avoid locating the Project in prime farmlands, farmland of statewide importance, 100-year floodplains, and wetlands.  Additional information on the project can be found at:  http://www.dairynet.com/power_delivery/project_updates.php for sheet maps and a fact sheet.

Copies of all comments received will be forwarded to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service for consideration prior to approval of financing assistance or taking other Federal action related to the Project.

Send your comments to:  Chuck Thompson, Dairyland Power Cooperative, 3200 East Ave South,
La Crosse WI 54602 or email your comments to cat@dairynet.com.  

 



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace