Off to a great start in Fairmont

Filed under:ITC MN & IA 345 kV — posted by admin on April 22, 2014 @ 3:10 pm


Today is the start of a three day series of transmission meetings, and we started with a good crowd here in Fairmont for this afternoon’s meeting.

Fairmont Area Residents Voice Opinions Over Proposed High Voltage Transmission Lines

It’s the ITC Midwest MN/IA line, from Lakefield Jct. to Huntley, then south to IA, and ultimately off to Madison…

I’ve got a handout, with a few things for people to consider, most importantly, WRITE UP SOME COMMENTS BY MAY 9!

DEIS Handout

The most important part of this whole proceeding is that this is NOT needed.  It’s wanted, it’s desired, but that’s not need.  Just because they want to build it and make money is not sufficient reason for them to take people’s land and charge Minnesotans even one dollar for this project!  The DEIS quotes ITC’s need statements, and accepts them, using the ITC framing.

ITC is a transmission-only company.  ITC wants to build transmission so it can profit from building it and from providing transmission service.

This afternoon, I’m mostly concerned about Section 4 of the DEIS, “Alternatives to the Proposed Project.”  And as I commented, in looking at “Alternatives to the Proposed Project,” there’s really no alternative to their transmission for profit project, other than putting money directly in their pockets!!!

Some problems with the DEIS, omissions, clarifications, additions needed:

  • The DEIS should define “need.”
  • The DEIS should specify what capacity are they wanting, and what they want it for.  ITC claims that a lower voltage line “would be unable to provide enough capacity to improve reliability or support additional generation.” p. 49.  OK, so what capacity is that?
  • Every time the DEIS says “need,” it should change that to “want” or “desire.”  That would make it a lot easier to understand.
  • To the extent that it is claimed that this project is “to enable new wind” and “deliver existing and future wind generation” it must document how it is assured that wind is enabled/delivered, mindful that FERC specifies that transmission cannot discriminate and must serve all types of generation, and there’s a lot of coal coming in from the west.
  • The DEIS “Alternatives” section says “ITCM notes that the need for its project has been substantiated by its own studies and by those of MISO.”  Ummmm, the only option considered by ITCM and MISO is transmission, it’s a transmission-only company and a transmission operation, DUH!  “Additionally, MISO conducts studies to determine those projects that best meet identified transmisison needs.”  Oh, and those “identified transmission needs” are… ????
  • PROMOD modeling is ECONOMIC modeling.
  • There is a lot of surplus generation west of this project (see p. 48 of DEIS referencing “even more surplus generation that must be exported to regional load centers…”
  • “Different size” is not limited to “different voltage” and “different endpoints.”  For transmission, size = capacity.
  • The DEIS correctly states that “ITCM is an electric transmission company; it does not operate electrical generation plants or provide retail electric service.”  GOOD, that’s TRUE!  Now, what does that mean when considering how ITCM frames this project?
  • “In conclusion, while the 161 kV rebuild alternative may have potential for reduced human and environmental impacts, ITCM’s analysis indicates that it is less effective than a 345 kV line at meeting the need for the project.”  Ummm., SO?  What’s the state’s independent analysis?  Isn’t this what an EIS should be?

There were a lot of great comments, my favorite was Helen Lee (Lea?) Murphy who has a way with words, and noted we need an MLK or Nelson Mandela to challenge this line!  She also had a reasonable request, asking for another week to send in comments.

Many people were concerned about the EMF, and recognize the dangers of transmission.  It seems that the perception is that transmission lines are dangerous!  GOOD!  This is a pretty basic fact that has been hidden for way too long.

KEYC – Mankato News, Weather, Sports –

Speaking of which, here are the three documents I put into the record, pertaining to ultra violet related to transmission, associated with corona, and a byproduct of transmission, two patent applications and a study:



EPE_2013111816011292 The Ultraviolet Detection of Corona Discharge in Power Transmission Lines

There were a lot of people from Sherburn promoting the Modified Route A, particularly concerned about the church, and about the impact of the line if ot goes on the south side if I-90:


In the Fairmont Sentinal:

Power line generates comments

April 23, 2014

FAIRMONT – Two meetings held in Fairmont on Tuesday offered information from a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed ITC Midwest 345-kV transmission line project.

The proposed line would run from Lakefield Junction in Jackson County, through Martin County, into Faribault County and then go south into Kossuth County in Iowa. The line would stretch 75 miles through southern Minnesota.

An original plan had the line running south of Interstate 90 on the north end of Sherburn, something that had many Sherburn residents concerned. But a modified route puts the transmission line north of the interstate instead.

While many in Sherburn may breathe a tentative sigh of relief, the original route will not be completely off the table until fall, when the state Public Utilities Commission decides on the certificate of need and route permit. To help, an administrative law judge is called in to review the project and issue a decision.

“The commission is not bound by the judge’s decision, but it holds a lot of sway, since they are the ones that hire him,” said Ray Kirsch, environmental review manager with the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

The judge is present at public hearings, comment periods and contested case hearings. Public hearings for the project will be held May 13-14.

Comments also are being accepted from now until May 9. Several people in attendance Tuesday at the Knights of Columbus Hall spoke on the record, many of them Sherburn residents who voiced concerns about the original route plan that took the lines into town.

“Route A, as it was proposed, would run 120 feet from our church building,” said Ron Mixer, pastor at Sherburn Regional Worship Center. “If that route is selected, it would make our church building unusable.”

Mixer went on to explain that the building is all metal, and the lines would likely interfere with the building’s P.A. system, low-level radio frequency that helps the hard of hearing and the church’s video transmission. But those problems pale in comparison to the potential dangers the line would pose to those who attend the church, he argued.

“If something were to fail with those lines, it would be catastrophic,” Mixer said.

Health concerns also were expressed by others in attendance.

“We have great concerns about Route A,” said Martin County West Superintendent Allison Schmidt. “About 500 of the 700 students in my school district attend schools in Sherburn. While we appreciate the modified Route A, I believe there still is a concern for the health of those 500 students and staff members, so we would like that clarified.”

“It has been shown that high-voltage exposure is harmful for children and unborn children,” said Sarah Jagodzinske Rohman, a Martin County West school board member. “We hope you will look into protecting us as rate-payers, but more importantly as humans and our children, who are our future.”

There also were concerns about property values.

“A business that planned to build on some property just south of the interstate said he wouldn’t if that power line went through,” said Helen Murphy. “He said, ‘This line will kill Sherburn.'”

Verbal comments at the meeting were recorded for the report to the PUC, and other comments will be accepted until May 9 by mail, fax or e-mail to Kirsch. Comments can be left online at

Mailing address: Ray Kirsch, Environmental Review Manager, Minnesota Department of Commerce, 85 Seventh Place East, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55101-2198

Fax: (651) 539-0109



On to the next meeting…

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace