Byllesby dam route in Dakota & Goodhue Counties

Filed under:Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse,PUC Docket — posted by admin on March 19, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

Finally over most of the wheezing and coughing of the last week, let it be said on the record, that CapX 2020 makes me sick!!!  Massive doses of prednisone and Doxycycline and I’m almost able to hobble around without keeling over.  A few more days, and look out world.

In the mean time, lots has been happening, like the Wisconsin public hearings, most of which I missed, and there’s rumor of tentative scheduling of the Minnesota Commission’s deliberation on the Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse TENTATIVELY for April 12, 2012.   No contract, no bets, it’s not official until the 10 day notice goes out (and that doesn’t mean 9 days)!.  Supposedly it’s all that’s on the agenda, argument and then deliberation.  So we shall see, let’s see what April Fools Day brings!

Now for some history…


This is Henry Marison Byllesby (from the U of M Law Library’s Clarence Darrow Collection), THE guy who founded Northern States Power Company.  He was one of 5 investors who put together  the “Minneapolis General Electric Company” and then 17 or so years later,  Northern States Power.   NSP’s  “The Energy To Make Things Better” circa 1999 notes that “what Byllesby really wanted to do in 1892 was build and run waterpower developments.”  No surprise that the dam in Goodhue and Dakota County over the Cannon River is named after him.

That Byllesby Dam and surrounding area is a point of issue in the CapX 2020 Hampton-Rochester-LaCrosse transmission line route.  Here’s an aerial of the park in Dakota County:


Here’s an aerial of the proposed route, 1P-003 is the pink line, 1P-001 is the blue solid line and 1P-002 is the yellow dashed:


Judge Sheehy recommended, in FoF 306 (p. 58), and Conclusion 7, p. 92, use of option 1P-003:

There are, however, significant problems following US 52 through the Cannon Falls area in the vicinity of Highways 19 and 24, because of the proximity of homes, churches, schools, and businesses.  Use of Option 1P-003 would bypass this area and would impact fewer total residences; would avoid the church, school, and businesses; would parallel existing transmission lines and use mostly existing road corridors; and would provide the opportunity to avoid potential conflicts with two future road projects (the railroad overpass and the County Road 24 interchange). (referencing the FEIS, Appendix A at A-11 Map NR 9, and Ex. 36, Sheetmap 10.

Here’s the Scoping Decision description:


I’ve looked at the FEIS and note that it does not mention for 1P-001, 1P-002 or 1P-003 that there’s an existing transmission line down Harry Ave., across the dam, and then continuing south.  Although the FEIS does address corridor-sharing in Figure, the descriptions on FEIS p. 74-76 for 1P-001, 1P-002 and 1P-003 do not list the existing  transmission corridor on Harry Avenue, only the transmission line headed across on the south side of Hwy. 19, Route 1P-001.  What’s that about?  A look at shows the lines running north from the dam, and south down to Hwy. 19.

I last looked at this when Dakota County declared last June that power lines and parks do not mix and passed a resolution urging the ALJ to choose a route that does not go through the Lake Byllesby Park.  Here’s the post: Dakota County resolution about CapX 2020.  And what continues to astound me is that they don’t get the origin of the park, that it’s a monument to Byllesby, who was into hydro-electric dams, that the dam is to generate electricity, did then and still does, and that there is transmission running from it both north and south.  I also wonder if the land was donated to the Couties on both sides by Northern States Power — does anyone know?  But a dam honoring Northern States Power’s founder, with transmission on both sides, isn’t that the logical place for transmission?  Isn’t that in keeping with the theme of the park?

YES, found it, Northern States Power donated the dam, lake and surrounding land to Dakota and Goodhue Counties in 1969!  See p. 4.6-4., and check out the “Interpretive Themes” on 4.19:

Byllesby Master Plan 2005

1P-003 landowners and residents are now wanting to weigh in:

Krass Letter requesting PUC time on behalf of 1P-003 landowners

Probably connected is this effort: CapX should go along Hwy 52

I hope that they’ll take down the Commissioners’ individual emails, as ex parte contact is a no-no.  And they’re way off base about the dwarf trout lily only growing there in all the world (!), that plant, though rare, is quite common here in Goodhue County and SE Minnesota.   And here’s a strange statement from the head post — I wonder what attorneys are saying this?

The Minnesota Public Utilities Meeting is on April 12 and they will decide the final route. But the Lawyers say the decision will probably happen before then, behind closed doors.

There was quite a bit of testimony at the Public Hearing from people in the area, but mostly due to the late notice to those along Hwy 19 a day or two before the hearing — see p. 45 of the ALJ’s report:

ALJ Sheehy’s Recommendation

Stanton Township’s Paul Schluter was on the Task Force, wasn’t he reporting on the meetings?  From what I can see googling, Stanton was on the watch from as early as 2006, with reports saying “No news about CapX 2020” and an update from a newspaper report of a June 15 meeting (what year??):


In other business, Paul Schluter reported on meetings he attended about the proposed CapX-2020 power line. There is a move to route it along Hwy. 56, he said, rather than Hwy. 52, so as to keep it away from the city area of Cannon Falls. The Board will oppose the Hwy. 56 route, pointing out the need to keep the line away from Stanton airport.

The applicants Preferred Route in this area has a problem, and when that came out front and center, that they didn’t have a workable option, it was right over a church and school, well, not “right over,” they’d NEVER do that… ahem… but right there, next to the church and school, right next to Joe Lopez’ house, and it encroached on (loomed near?) DOT Right of Way, and so then they tried to jury-rig another option at the last minute, sending notices to people the day before the public hearing, calling them, and that just isn’t right to foist it on people like that, like they did with the Myrick Road “alternative” in the Brookings case.  So if it’s going somewhere, the Byllesby dam becomes the logical route, to the north there are transmission lines heading north along Harry Ave.  and to the south there are transmission lines extending from the dam to just south of Hwy. 19.  I think Dakota County has a lot of gall to object to transmission through Byllesby Park.  Without Northern States Power there would be no Byllesby Park.

Dakota County Board Mtg – June 14, 2011

Dakota County Board Mtg – June 21, 2011

South of Hwy. 19 it becomes another matter, there’s no existing corridor. But that’s probably 2-3 miles, which in the cosmic realm probably wouldn’t alter the route, making it a matter of alignment adjustments.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace