Dr. Therese Zink on CapX 2020

Filed under:Brookings Routing Docket,PUC Docket — posted by admin on June 10, 2010 @ 11:24 am

Today’s PUC meeting was about the narrow issue of whether the PUC should issue a variance from typical deadlines to give parties more time to address the “CapX 2020” applicants’ request for delay of the in-service date for the Brookings line Certificate of Need.  And I mean NARROW, they don’t even want to think about requiring that CapX applicants comply with the Certificate of Need Order Point 4 that they disclose the transmission capacity and ownership and ownership structure for each of the projects.

You can see the meeting here – it’ll be posted soon, I hope, watch how quickly Chair Boyd ducks the capacity and ownership issue:

PUC Agenda Meeting Webcast Archives

Here’s some good news — in the Cannon Falls Beacon, a Letter to the Editor from Dr. Therese Zink:

To the Editor:

Nobody wants the CAPX2020 in their backyard, especially in Goodhue County where many property owners have smaller plots of land, such as mine, which is 20 acres. The 345 kV transmission line with their single shaft steel poles demanding 150 feet right-of-way, spaced 700 to 1000 feet apart, will be an eye sore, magnified when compared to the size of my parcel. What will that do to property values, not to mention aesthetics? We’ve seen reports that the electricity moving through the wires  impacts a farmer’s GPS system and my neighbor’s pacemaker. There are reports of getting shocked if you touch your metal shed. What will it do to electric fences, computers, internet and cell phone service? Not to mention the horses next door, my friend’s organic farm, or her several decade-old sledding hill and reflecting spot that will have  electric wires singing overhead.

The bottom-line is that Xcel Energy has not made its case that the power line is needed. Instead, many factors point the other way. Things have changed since Xcel did its forecasting in 2004-05. There are claims of growing needs in Rochester, of demand for the Elk Run development. There is claim of the  need to expand to assure reliability, and the rural folks can take the headache for the more populated areas, but has Xcel made their case?

According to Rochester Public Utilities’ annual report, demand peaked in 2006 and has fallen since. The same is true of Xcel, our largest utility. As to the reality of Elk Run: “A lot of people outside that group [the Elk Run developers] are watching right now because the project has been in the planning phases for so long that many say they won’t believe the project is real until they see a building.” (Rochester Post Bulletin 4/27/10). Part of the land is in foreclosure. If there is not increasing need and use, then guess whose rates will go up? You got it -you and me.

So…if we aren’t in a big hurry, can we do a better job of planning. I attended the Pine Island information meeting May 5. An astute citizen suggested that we do a better job of planning for the future. Minnesota doesn’t have an energy plan. Xcel, those behind the train that will run between the Twin Cities and Rochester, and those developing wind energy should all get together and do some joint planning so that energy and development targets the area where it’s needed, and the locals don’t get bothered about right of way issues for the different many projects one at a time.  “Can’t we coordinate these developments for the future?”  I thought that was a great idea.

My advice is that CAPX2020 be put on hold until there is a better job of planning for the energy and transportation needs of the future. Last week, CapX 2020 asked for a delay of the Brookings line, which is connected to the Hampton-Alma line through our county. This delay is a signal to pause, to plan. Let’s not carve up Goodhue County yet.

Therese Zink
Zumbrota

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace