Oronoco squeals about “new testimony?!?”

Filed under:Appeal,Hampton-Alma-LaCrosse — posted by admin on August 18, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

Curiouser and curiouser — Oronoco Township loudly declares it is appealing the PUC’s decision, and also that it’s hiring a new attorney for the appeal:

The Oronoco Town Board previously voted to appeal the PUC ruling to the Minnesota Appellate Court if its reconsideration motion were denied, Thein said. The township has 60 days to file that paperwork. Thein says new legal counsel will be hired by the end of the month to handle the specifics.

Previously Oronoco Township appealed too early and that was dismissed without prejudice:

Order- Dismiss Notice or Stipulated

Bringing someone else in at this point is difficult, so few know anything about this, and it’s a HUGE record… and I would hope anyone looking at taking this one on would read the transcript, look at the record and see things like Xcel’s DEIS Comments, Oronoco’s last minute new route in “Exhibit 89” and Exhibit 7 below from Broberg’s “testimony” filed with the Oronoco Motion for Reconsideration.


After the PUC Meeting where the PUC denied all Motions for Reconsideration, Javon Bea stood up and squealed about Appeal, that they’d be going to the Appellate Court because the Commission made its decision based on the NEW TESTIMONY of FOUR PEOPLE.  It’s just not true!  I had to object, that is so offensive.  Yet that’s the Oronoco mantra, demonstrably false.  That the PUC based their decision on “new testimony” of “four people” is such a bizarre notion, particularly in light of the record (check out Xcel/Hillstrom’s DEIS Comments, pointing out errors in the EIS, DUH!) filings of Oronoco Township, because they’re attributing to others what they did — look at filings like Exhibit 89 where they tried to introduce an utterly new route at the very end of Oronoco’s testimony at the evidentiary hearing, without any notice to landowners in their own Township.  And then there’s the NEW TESTIMONY of Broberg that they filed with their Motions for Reconsideration.  Their new testimony included this Exhibit 7:


Which is just a bit different than the reality of that boat landing:


The photo in Exhibit 7 is either very old or it was taken standing on the sand bar.  Anyone from the area knows that this boat ramp is closed.  The boat ramp is much like nuclear waste, the “temporary” closure has been YEARS, there’s a sandbar in front of it has been there so long it’s overgrown with tall weeds, it makes the closed boat ramp inaccessible, the weedy sand bar is so large you can see it on Google Earth, and Xcel’s Exhibit 35, even on google maps, yet Oronoco presents Exhibit 7.  That is “misleading” at best.  And “Exhibit 7” was new information NOT IN THE RECORD filed by Oronoco Township in their Motion for Reconsideration, a part of NEW TESTIMONY of Jeff Broberg.  And yes, there were more than 7 new exhibits, plus there was all of Broberg’s “testimony.”  They submitted new information repeatedly, and they were not following rules regarding how to propose new routes, and after the PUC’s decision, when the record was close, submitted new information including “testimony” and “exhibits” with their Motion for Reconsideration long after the record had closed.  What are they thinking?

What precisely is the “new information” that they’re complaining about?  They don’t say.  Come on, out with it!!!  They can’t be specific because there was no “new information” at the April 12, 2012 PUC meeting.  I’ve got the transcript and have read it.

Yet they  whine about “NEW TESTIMONY of FOUR PEOPLE” when it’s not even true?  Where does this mantra come from?  Particularly when Oronoco Township is the one entering new testimony and the Commission made its decision on the record.

This is the same Oronoco Township whose expert testified that there were developments (housing subdivisions) that were directly affected by the transmission line when they were 1/2 mile away… and who testified that the same developments were “constructed” when they were not:

NRG – NoCapX – U-CAN Initial Brief

See p. 45-46 of Initial Brief; see also Hearing Ex. 86, Plat Maps of Landings at Sandy Pointe, Zumbo Haven, and Zumbro Sound.; Testimony of Smith, Tr. Vol. 2, p. 44-81.

From the behavior I saw at the Public Utilities Commission meeting last Thursday, I can’t help but wonder where Oronoco Township is getting its information, why they’re doing what they’re doing.  After the Motions for Reconsideration were denied, Javon Bea… yes, THIS Javon Bea:

Javon Bea 09-1448 DEIS Comments

And the same Javon Bea is a member of the Oronoco Planning Advisory Commission where he is supposed to be representing the interests of the township, and it is the OPAC that is driving the Oronoco challenge (that and their large war chest).  Javon Bea spoke at the OPAC meeting a few months ago, after the April 12, 2012 PUC decision, and told people to contact the PUC Commissioners directly.  Three of the four’s contact info was given including business address for Commissioner Boyd and home address for Commissioner Wergin:

Laymen for Christ Ex Parte Complaint against Oronoco Twp

Oronoco Township Response to Ex Parte Complaint

Stipulation between Laymen for Christ and Oronoco Twp

Yes, this Javon Bea stood up in the middle of the room, intending to lead the charge to the Appellate Court, and he stated that the PUC made its decision based on the NEW TESTIMONY of FOUR PEOPLE!  EH?  This shows he hasn’t a clue, he hasn’t reviewed the record.  I do wish he’d read a transcript of the full evidentiary hearing, the public comments at the public meetings, and the transcript of the April 12, 2012 PUC meeting where they made their decision about the route through Oronoco.

He may be special because, according to the points he raised in his DEIS Comments, he is the CEO of a $1.8 billion dollar corporation, has three houses (a 10,000 square foot, 4,000 square foot, and a 2,000 square foot), in the area, a barn he rents for events with $80k income annually, property consisting of speculative purchase of 8 separate farmsteads on 292 acres “for development” valued at $7,230,500, claiming a loss of $4.8 million due to CapX 2020.

I wonder how many of the hardworking Oronoco Township residents would like to earn $80k annually like his BARN does!?!?

FULL DISCLOSURE:  Alan and I have three houses, his in Delaware, mine in Red Wing and our “new” one in Red Wing, maybe his circa 1742 house is just over 2,000 square feet and the Red Wing ones are 1579 and 1870, all “need work” and are modest to put it mildly, the newest one was built in 1924, none have central air or a TV or a bit of granite!!!  But we are rich in dogs… Summer, Kady-Kate and Little Sadie.

Can you tell that I’ve about had it with these statements that are so far off base?  Please, folks, read the record, read the briefs, read Xcel’s DEIS comments, read the EIS, read the transcripts.

From the Rochester Post Bulletin:

PUC denies reconsideration for CapX2020 route

Posted: Aug 15, 2012, 12:55 am

By Brett Boese

The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

SAINT PAUL — A dispute over the route of CapX2020 high-voltage transmission lines through southeastern Minnesota appears destined for a courtroom challenge, after the state Public Utilities Commission last week declined a request to reconsider a past decision.

In so doing, the PUC’s April 12 decision, to route the high-voltage transmission lines through a suburban slice of Oronoco Township, stands.

Months before that decision, an administrative law judge recommended a different route, slightly to the north, crossing the Zumbro River at the Lake Zumbro hydroelectric dam. The PUC’s selected route crosses the river at White Bridge Road — a route that initially was project proponents’ preferred route.

The 345-kilovolt power lines will trace a 150-mile route from near Hampton, Minn., to LaCrosse, Wis., in an arcing path that follows U.S. 52 south into Olmsted County, then east to cross the Mississippi River near Kellogg.

It is one segment of several in a four-state project to update the region’s transmission system. The project, called CapX2020, is led by Xcel Energy and backed by an 11-member partnership of transmission-owning utilities that also includes Rochester Public Utilities. The project also includes two 161-kv lines leading from the 345-kv mainline to substations near Rochester.

But no landowner wants the high-voltage lines anyplace nearby. Shortly after the PUC’s April 12 decision, Oronoco Township formally petitioned commissioners to reconsider. Others who submitted petitions included Oronoco Township, nine Cannon Falls landowners and the St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and School located in Cannon Falls.

Oronoco Town Board chairman Mark Thein said about 90 people filled the PUC chambers on Thursday in hopes that the PUC might change its mind. Instead, they left without even hearing a discussion.

“We had 90 people up there and the PUC spent one minute to tell us to go home,” Thein said.

The Oronoco Town Board previously voted to appeal the PUC ruling to the Minnesota Appellate Court if its reconsideration motion were denied, Thein said. The township has 60 days to file that paperwork. Thein says new legal counsel will be hired by the end of the month to handle the specifics.

“We made some valid legal points on why (the PUC) should reconsider, including that they heard new testimony on a case that was already closed — which is against the law,” Thein said. “That seems to be what swayed the PUC to ignore the administrative law judge’s 300-page (recommendation).”

On the other side of the issue, groups including Laymen for Christ, Inc., Woodland Camp and Xcel Energy filed briefs in support of the PUC decision. Carol Overland, an attorney representing some of the groups, could not be reached Thursday.

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