CapX2020 Appeal in the news

Filed under:Appeal — posted by admin on June 8, 2010 @ 2:21 pm

It’s in the STrib,  St.PPP and many others too.

Click the story to get to the STrib site and leave a comment or two:

Appeals court lets big power-line project move ahead

By JENNIFER BJORHUS, Star Tribune

The state Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld regulators’ approval of the $1.7 billion CapX2020 power-line project, shooting down citizen complaints that the enormous project is unnecessary and would harm the environment.

The decision was a big loss for the United Citizens Action Network, NoCapX2020 and Citizens Energy Task Force, who were challenging the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s 2009 approval of the major transmission buildout. The groups argued that since energy demand has been declining the expensive new power lines aren’t needed. They also argued that regulators didn’t adequately address the impacts on wildlife in certain areas such as the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, which one of the lines will cross as it goes to Wisconsin.

The Court of Appeals concluded in its 13-page decision that the state Public Utilities Commission didn’t err, and deferred to the PUC’s decisions.

Terry Grove, co-executive director of CapX2020 and manager of transmission for Maple Grove-based Great River Energy, said he was pleased.

“We regard that as a very definitive decision,” Grove said.

Carol Overland, a lawyer for United Citizens Action Network and NoCapX2020, vowed to keep fighting.

“We’re sharpening the toes of lizard cowboy boots,” she said. “We are not giving up.”

Construction of the network of high-voltage transmission lines is to begin this fall. One leg of the project, a 240-mile section running from Brookings, S.D., through prime wind power country to Hampton, Minn., has been delayed due to issues around the tariff for billing the construction costs to users.

Altogether, CapX2020 will add 700 miles of overhead powerlines across Minnesota, touching North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. The project is backed by a group of utilities led by Xcel Energy Co. in Minneapolis, and Maple Grove-based Great River Energy.

lizarddanpostboot

And here’s St.PPP — gee, how’d that duplicate comment get in there?  Anyway, click on the story below to get directly to their site to leave a comment:

Minnesota Court of Appeals upholds approval of CapX 2020 transmission lines

By Leslie Brooks Suzukamo

The Minnesota Court of Appeals today upheld approval of a $1.7 billion project to build three high-voltage transmission lines across the state.

Opponents of the project failed to show the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission acted improperly when it granted a certificate of need to the project in April last year, the court said in a decision released this morning.

The opponents, who included landowners near the proposed line routes, had argued the high-voltage lines are not needed because electricity demand had dropped in recent years and that proper environmental reviews were not done. A group of regional utilities led by Xcel Energy and Great River Energy say the lines are necessary to stabilize the grid and deliver more wind energy from the Dakotas and western Minnesota to meet the state’s renewable energy mandates.

One of the lines, which runs from Brookings, S.D. to the town of Hampton in southern Dakota County, has been delayed. The CapX 2020 utilities say they need to push back the start date from 2013 to 2015 because they are waiting for approval of a new tariff that will determine how the cost of the line will be shared among power generators, line owners, utilities and other entities.

And MPR:

Appeals court: Big transmission line project may go forward

by Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio

June 8, 2010

St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that a transmission line project in central and western Minnesota may go forward.

The CapX2020 project would build three 345-kV transmission lines across Minnesota that would connect to the Dakotas and Wisconsin. Eleven utilities, including Xcel Energy and Great River Energy, are building the 600 miles of lines to upgrade and expand the electric transmission grid.

Three groups — the Citizens Energy Task Force, No aCapX2020 and the United Citizens Action Network — appealed a decision by the state Public Utilities Commission to grant certificates of need for the lines.

The groups argued that the lines weren’t needed and that one of the lines along the Mississippi River would disturb migratory birds and other wildlife.

But the three-judge appeals panel said the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission followed state law in scrutinizing the project and making sure it is needed to meet future energy transmission demand.

“Although the relators (the groups challenging the commission’s decision) have pointed to legitimate areas of environmental concern, after a review of the record, we are unable to conclude that the relators have shown that MPUC violated the law, acted beyond its authority, or made any arbitrary or capricious determination,” the judges wrote.

PROJECT FACES SOME UNCERTAINTY

Despite the appeals court’s ruling, one of the CapX2020 transmission lines has been delayed because of uncertainty surrounding how the building costs will be allocated.

The utilities building the lines recently asked the Public Utilities Commission to allow for a delay in the Brookings line, which will run from near Brookings, S.D., to Hampton, Minn., located south of the Twin Cities. Slated completion for that line is now 2015, which is more than a year later that the utilities had originally planned.

The reason for the delay is the uncertainty surrounding who will pay the project costs and how.

The PUC will decide Thursday whether to give itself more than the 45-day limit for approving the utilities’ delay of the Brookings line. Specific route permits for the lines also need to be approved.

But the utilities said last month that they expect all three of the lines to be completed in 2015.

“We are moving ahead,” said Terry Grove, transmission director with Great River Energy and co-executive director of CapX2020. “We’re trying to do so very prudently and not put any customers at risk for additional costs.”

Paula Maccabee, an attorney representing the Citizens Energy Task Force, said the group will continue to oppose the lines. While the appeals court decision was disappointing, she said there are other opportunities for concerned citizens to challenge the project.

Maccabee noted that a federal environmental review process is under way for the line running from Hampton to La Crosse, Wis., and the route permits for the three lines are not yet approved. She also said the delay in the Brookings line should lead state regulators to question the overall project.

“(It) demonstrates that there are certain underlying weaknesses in the vision that they put forth for these very large transmission projects,” Maccabee said.

And:

Court upholds plans for $2B transmission line

2 comments »

  1. And once again the citizens’ will is denied by big money for something that will keep us in the dark ages of energy production. Are any of the greedy power companies taking note of the solar energy successes regularly in the news? It is time for them to realize that it is time to stop ravaging the environment in the name of the almighty buck to line their pockets. When we say no that is an indication that you must go back to the drawing board to explore more earth friendly alternative energy options and develop methods of making them work for us. STOP THIS INSANITY. You are no better than the oil companies that think they can do whatever they want at whatever expense. When will you learn?

    Comment by Fran — June 8, 2010 @ 3:36 pm

  2. The ruling is disappointing, of course. But it sounds like the groups objecting to what is going on are not backing down.

    Comment by Stephanie Henriksen — June 9, 2010 @ 9:44 am

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace