Information Requests filed in ITC transmission docket

Filed under:Information Requests,ITC MN & IA 345 kV — posted by admin on February 17, 2014 @ 10:06 am


That’s a photo of a transmission tower from the SW MN 345 kV line from Split Rock (Sioux Falls) to Lakefield Junction. You know how I’m always saying, “It’s all connected!”  Well, that line from Split Rock (Sioux Falls) to Lakefield Junction, PUC Docket 01-1958) way back over a decade ago, is just one segment of a long-ago proposed transmission option,and it’s all coming together over time.

There is now an ITC project at the PUC, planned to extend the Split Rock – Lakefield Junction eastward from Lakefield Junction to a new substation in Huntley, and then south into Iowa. Here’s some background on ITC from a FERC Order in docket EL12-104-000:


Now, back to the ITC project, from Lakefield Junction to a new substation in Huntley, and then south into Iowa Certificate of Need docket ET-6675/CN-12-1053, and Routing docket ET-6675/TL-12-1337 (to look at dockets, go to PUC SEARCH PAGE, and search for dockets 12-1053 and/or 12-1337).  Citizens Energy Task Force and No CapX 2020 have intervened because this is yet another link from South Dakota towards Madison.  Of note, Wind on the Wires, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Fresh Energy, and Izaak Walton League have intervened, first Wind on the Wires, and then MCEA, Fresh Energy and IWLA.  Also of note, Bill Grant was appointed by Gov. Dayton as Deputy Commissioner of Commerce, to head Commerce’s part in energy dockets, and relevant here, heading Commerce in their work on need and routing decisions.

Today, I served a few Information Requests to get at this history and the actions and contracts of Wind on the Wires, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Fresh Energy, and Izaak Walton League, and Bill Grant’s role regarding transmission:

Information Request 1_Commerce

Information Request 2_Commerce

Information Request 1_MCEA et al

Information Request 2_MCEA et al

Information Request 3-4_MCEA et al

Information Request 5_MCEA et al

Information Request 6_MCEA et al

Information Request 7_MCEA et al

Responses will be posted here.

Now let’s take a look at the origin of this ITC line, or other instances where this segment has been proposed as a part of something big and dirty.  It’s ancient history, but it’s consistent, a pattern has been developed.

The Split Rock – Lakefield Junction transmission was part of a transmission for coal line, a project that was contracted for and studied specifically for use as outlet for coal, promoted in “Lignite Vision 21,” developed in 1999-2000:

Here’s the map found in their “Lignite Vision 21” study (Lignite Vision 21 Transmission Study):


The “Split Rock – Lakefield Junction” and “Lakefield Junction – Winnebago” segments are also part of a plan also going all the way back to 1998-1999 to  the WIREs Report,Phase II, where a South Dakota to Wisconsin 345 kV project studied in WIREs Phase I, labeled 9a, from S Huron-Split Rock-Lakefield Jct–Adams, Adams–Genoa–Columbia, 345 kV was shortened to “Plan 9b (Lakefield – Columbia 345 kV):

WIREs-Lakefield-Columbia 9b

Following WIREs Phase II came the Wisconsin Reliability Assessment Organization Report (WRAO), where they brought forward the shortened segment from Lakefield Jct., in Minnesota, to Columbia, in Wisconsin (Madison area):


In 1999, about this same time, there was a Merger Agreement between ME3 (now Fresh Energy), Izaak Walton League, and ELPC (formerly handling legal for ME3 and Waltons), which included this paragraph on transmission:


Not so coincidentally, the SW MN 345 kV transmission line with a rating of ~2,100 MVA was approved by the PUC with conditions that NSP/Xcel sign PPAs for 675 MW of new wind on Buffalo Ridge, and install 825 MW of wind on Buffalo Ridge, and make network service requests to MISO for 825 MW of wind (not location specific), and sign PPAs for 60 MW of small locally owned wind, etc. Remember those numbers, 2,100 MVA, 675 MW, and 825 MVA!


The SW Minnesota CoN proceeding for four transmission lines became, to some, the “825MW of transmission for wind” even though it’s not.

Not long after a hilarious meeting (if it weren’t so slimy and disgusting) where Beth Soholt, WOW, and Matt Schuerger, ME3 at that time, tried to get a group of us to “approve” the Split Rock – Lakefield 345 kV line, NSP applied for that SW MN Split Rock – Lakefield Jct 345 kV line (PUC Docket 01-1958).  As that docket moved forward, particularly during the hearings, negotiations were ongoing between NSP (now Xcel) and MCEA, Izaak Walton League,ME3 (now Fresh Energy) and North American Water Office, resulting in a “Community Wind” agreement, and at the same time, one with wide-ranging terms about transmission (remember, Petitioners in this case were Northern States Power d/b/a Xcel Energy and Interstate Power and Light, the IPL that formerly owned the transmission system now owned and operated by ITC Midwest) (Interstate Power and Light Company (IPL) and Wisconsin Power and Light Company (WPL) are Alliant Energy’s two utility subsidiaries)(makes my head spin…), anyway, here’s that deal:

Settlement Agreement – MCEA, Waltons, ME3, NAWO filed with PUC 6/23/03

To look at the TRANSLink docket, go to PUC SEARCH PAGE and search for docket 02-2152, a very interesting read.

Then, in 2005, we got the Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell, Minn. Session Laws, Chapter 97, giving the utilities all they could possibly want to get CapX 2020 rolling through Minnesota, thanks in large part to promotional lobbying efforts of Bill Grant, Izaak Walton League, and George Crocker, North American Water Office — their transmission legacy.

And in 2006, Wind on the Wires (at that time a program and major revenue stream of Izaak Walton League), with AWEA, et al., proposed a DOE NIETC transmission corridor covering much of southern Minnesota:

WOW Comment_DOE_NIETC_3-6-06

Here’s part of the map from the Comment (note the CapX lines) and pay particular attention to the square one in the middle, with a truncated version of WRAO/WIREs 9a and Lignite Vision 21, the addition from Lakefield Jct. headed east:

ITC Midwest has proposed this new 345 kV transmission line that looks a lot like this one above, an extension of the Split Rock – Lakefield Jct. line, heading east from Lakefield Junction to a new substation in Huntley, and then south into Iowa.  Here’s the Minnesota part (it’s as if the IA part of it doesn’t exist), click for bigger version: Map from 20132-83982-01-1

And this is a more complete conceptual mapping from the ITC MVP Study #3 showing some Iowa options:

ITC MVP Study 3

This transmission docket is ongoing, both Certificate of Need (CLICK HERE FOR PUC’S SEARCH PAGE, search for PUC Docket 12-1053) and the Routing docket (CLICK HERE FOR PUC’S SEARCH PAGE, search for PUC Docket 12-1337).  No CapX and Citizens Energy Task Force have intervened, in a limited way, to get an idea of the big picture and file a brief in on this project.  We’ll see how this goes.

one comment so far »

  1. Carol:

    You educated me years ago as to what these transmission lines were really about….
    It will be very interesting to see if the parties you queried respond cooperatively, and just what they have to say…it does not seem like a pretty picture.

    Comment by Alan Muller — February 17, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

Copy link for RSS feed for comments on this post or for TrackBack URI

Leave a comment



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace