Dec. 28th – New Prague Public Hearing

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket — posted by admin on December 20, 2009 @ 10:08 am

The evidentiary hearing is essentially over, but there’s one public hearing left to get your testimony in, voice your concerns, enter in all your exhibits and charts with circles and arrows.

New Prague Public Hearing

December 28, 1 p.m. & 7 p.m.

Knights of Columbus

411 – 4th Ave. S.W.

New Prague, MN

And you can send in Public Comments until at least the end of January — the deadline will be one week after publication of the final EIS, which is now delayed, at least two weeks BECAUSE THEY GOT SO MANY COMMENTS!!!  Send your comments to:

Judge Richard C. Luis

Office of Administrative Hearings

P.O. Box 64620

St. Paul, MN

fax 651-361-7936


Here’s a report on the Henderson hearing from the LeSueur News Herald, from the Hog Wild Saloon:


CapX hearing is marathon event locally

By: Paul M. Malchow
Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2009 12:17 pm

Judge Richard Luis heard roughly eight hours of testimony in Henderson on Dec. 7 concerning the proposed routes for the CapX power line.
Normally a site for wedding dances and community events, the hall of the Hog Wild Saloon and Eatery in Henderson became a quasi courtroom on Dec. 7 for a public hearing concerning the proposed routes for the CapX 2020 power line.

CapX will be constructing a 345kV power line from Brookings, So.Dak. to Hampton, Minn. The group has submitted to the Public Utilities Commission a preferred route for the power line and an alternative route. The public hearing in Henderson was part of a two-week-long series designed to take testimony pertaining to the two routes.

The preferred route directs the line east across southern Sibley County, across the region known as Sand Prairie, and down into the valley. The line would cut across the southeastern edge of Buck’s Lake and continue through the land now occupied by Le Sueur’s water treatment ponds. Continuing north on the west side of U.S. Highway 169 the line would cross the highway somewhere on the top of the hill and continue east across the north edge of Le Sueur County.

The alternate route runs east-west through northern Sibley County. It crosses the river just northwest of Belle Plaine and continues south. After a short jaunt east just south of the Belle Plaine city limits, the alternate route continues south where it intersects with the preferred route. After entering Le Sueur County, the alternate route travels east.

Over the past month the Minnesota Office of Energy Security has taken comments and suggestions for other alternate routes. These suggestions had been included for discussion at the public hearings.

Presiding over the hearings was Administrative Law Judge Richard Luis. Anyone providing testimony during the hearing was sworn to tell the truth. Any written documentation and photos accompanying the testimonies were presented to attorneys present at the hearing. If approved they were then labeled and catalogued as evidence.

Representing the Minnesota Department of Commerce Office of Energy Security was attorney Karen Hammel and Project Manager Scott Ek. Lead counsel for Xcel Energy and Great River Energy Lisa Argimonti was present at the hearing along with attorney Carol Overland who represents two citizen groups: No CapX 2020 and U-CAN.

Also available to answer questions were Mike Kaluzniak from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Craig Poorker who is the manager of land rights for Great River Energy, and Dr. Peter Valberg who is serving as a consultant for Great River and Xcel.

The Henderson hearing took place in two segments. The first round of testimony was received from 1 p.m. to about 6 p.m.; and the second round was conducted from 7 p.m. to about 11:30 p.m.

Testimony given throughout the day covered a wide range of topics. James Mayer of Winthrop noted a proposed segment of the power line could run near an existing pipeline in Sibley County. Mayer asked if static electricity from the power line would have an adverse effect on the pipeline – mainly possible corrosion on the inside lining of the pipe.

Le Sueur resident Duane Kamrath said he attended the public hearing session in Winthrop where an option to the preferred route was presented. That option bypassed Buck’s Lake. The line would intersect with U.S. Highway 169 near the State Highway 93 Henderson turnoff, follow Highway 169 north to a point just south of the rest stop, and continue east. Kamrath proposed a third option to the preferred route in which the line would cross Highway 169 at the Highway 93 intersection. The line would then proceed in a northeast direction through the river bottoms, to Mayo Park and follow the St. Paul Hill road (County Road 28).

Kamrath’s testimony brought to light an interesting development concerning the preferred route. Dave Seykora of the Minnesota Department of Transportation said in 1970 MnDOT acquired scenic easements along the Highway 169 corridor. Federal regulations state the scenic easements should not be used as a right-of-way for utilities. Seykora added exceptions can be granted, but at this point MnDOT had not received any applications for exemption.

Dolores Hagen, representing the Henderson Feathers birding group, presented correspondence with U.S. Fish and Wildlife stating the power line does not belong in the preferred route’s Minnesota River crossing.

Steve Coman, owner of RES Specialty Pyrotechnics, said the proposed route could put his company in violation of regulations by the Institute of Makers of Explosives. Those regulations state magazines containing explosive materials should be located a certain distance from overhead transmission lines. Coman requested those regulations be taken into consideration when determining the power line route.

The city of Le Sueur submitted a letter to Judge Luis citing the need for the transmission line and comments on the preferred route. The letter, signed by Le Sueur Mayor Bob Oberle, states the city recognizes the wildlife habitat value of Bucks Lake and recommends the lake be excluded from the preferred route. The city is willing to cooperate with CapX officials to utilize Le Sueur’s existing transmission corridor which runs west to east from the Rush River area. The letter also urged a relocation of the preferred route to the south side of Highway 169 to mitigate the impact on residential properties located in the Woods Subdivision vicinity. To that end, the city is willing to make land in Mayo Park available to CapX developers.

Lori Aamann asked Dr. Valberg’s opinion on health issues relating to the power line. Dr. Valberg said magnetic fields created by electric current have been studied since 1979. “The likelihood of adverse effects is extremely low,” he said. “Magnetic fields drop off quite rapidly with distance. The magnetic field 150 feet away from the line is about the same as would be inside your home and its electric appliances.”

Dr. Valberg urged the audience to consult public health agency web sites (such as the American Cancer Society) for their findings on safety.

A number of other property owners took their turns voicing opposition to various segments of the two routes. There were approximately 40 people in attendance of the afternoon session and close to 100 at the evening session.

Judge Luis will take into consideration all of the testimony received before making a report of his recommendations to the Public Utilities Commission. “The report is not a final decision,” Luis said. “It simply includes the findings of face, comments received and conclusions to those comments.”

Luis expected to have his report turned in to the PUC sometime in March. From that point the PUC has 20 days to overrule, modify or accept the findings of the judge. He added it is not too late to supply testimony on the power line routes. Written testimony will be taken by mail (P.O. Box 64620, St. Paul, MN 55164-0620), fax (651-361-7936) or e-mail ( All submissions must be postmarked no later than Jan. 15 to be considered.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace