Yes, electrical infrastructure, substation, transmission — that’s Michelle Robinson’s work — check it out:

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PublicUtilitiesCommission

Today we were before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, moi and my clients, Residents of Getty and Raymond Townships, asking that the Commission reconsider its permit amendment for the Black Oak and Getty wind projects:

Residents of Getty and Raymond Twps_Motion for Reconsideration

Given Staff’s position, well:

Reconsideration_Staff Briefing Papers

So yeah, that was a unanimous refusal to reconsider, and then a unanimous vote to deny.  But there was a ray of sunshine this morning!  Chair Heydinger did indeed recuse herself.

Imagine living on the farm right there in the middle of this in Section 18?  And it’s not “just” people who live there, but bald eagles too.  We’ll see what US Fish & Wildlife has had to say, my FOIA request to them is slowly-at-a-snail’s-pace moving forward:

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Hot off the press, here is the Zip Rail Scoping Decision and Alternatives:

Final Scoping Decision Document Reports Jan 20, 2015 icon 3 MB
Final Scoping Decision Document Appendix A Reports Jan 20, 2015 icon 22 MB
Final Scoping Decision Document Appendix B Reports Jan 20, 2015 icon 21 MB

Sign in sheets for meetings are in Appendix A.  Comments received are in Appendix B.

In addition to the requisite “No Build Alternative,” the route options they’re looking at in the EIS will include:

Zip_EIS_Alternatives

I wonder if they’ve considered the big natural gas pipeline that runs across Hwy. 14 along the pink/purple route between Dodge Center and Rochester?

Also looks like a potential problem by Cannon Falls and Hwy. 19… Wild & Scenic River designation, sandwiched in between the Byllesby Dam, Hwy. 52 and the City of Cannon Falls.  Can’t see how that would work, particularly with that CapX 2020 transmission line right there and the DOT restrictions on putting that through.  I… DON’T… THINK… SO…

The Draft EIS is supposed to be completed in 2015.  Something tells me that’s a bit overambitious…

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Interesting letter arrived today:

GNTL_Invitation to Consult

It says that “DOE is contacting you because you submitted comment(s) related to cultural resources during the open NEPA public scoping period for the proposed GNTL project.”

RRANT Scoping Comment

???

So what does that mean? What’s involved?  Sending info to them?  Sending more Comments?  Attending meetings? A free trip to D.C?  A self-funded trip to International Falls in February?

“Consultation” is a term of art in federal permitting, and is required with all Indian tribes, of which there are several in the area of the project.  In this case, they also specify “the State Historic Preservation Officer” and “the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation,” and also “certain individuals and organizations…”

Here’s the  National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA)

Working with Section 106

Energy Development, Transmission and Historic Preservation

Are “historical resources” all that they’re concerned about, is there a special category for “cultural resources?”  Or are different people invited to consult on different categories?

And if this is something I want to do, and it is, I have to “include information about your demonstrated legal or economic relation to the undertaking” … (odd word, that)… ” or to properties potentially affected by the proposed GNTL project…”

UntitledGuess I’d better figure out what I said in those comments first!

Eagle1Eagle photo by Jason Jennissen, on the Jennissen property in Stearns County

Notice just came out that our Motion for Reconsideration of Amendment of the Siting Permit, issued November 14, 2014, for the Getty and Black Oak wind projects is before the Public Utilities Commission on January 22, next Thursday:

PUC – January 22, 2015 Meeting Notice  20151-106031-01

The Commission will either do nothing, take it up and make no changes, or “Reconsider,” which could mean taking action then, or pushing it forward to revisit.

We were before them in the Certificate of Need docket a couple of weeks ago, where they were saying it’s a 78 MW project (and there’s an exemption to Commission reconsideration of a Certificate of Need if it’s under 80 MW, funny how that works).  78 MW?  Yes, that’s what they say in their request for Extension of the In-Service Date:

78MWBut their permit, just amended is for 21 – 2 MW turbines and 20 – 2 MW turbines which equals 82 MW…

BlackOakPermit_42MWGettyPermit_40MWSo which is it, 78 MW, where Recertification by the Commission is exempted, or is it 82 MW as stated in the permit, and where Recertification is not exempted because it’s over 80 MW?

And let’s look a little closer at potential impacts of this project:

GettyBlackOakEagleNestSee that red dot just above the Padua Wildlife Management Area?  That’s an eagle nest, recognized as such by HDR when it did the Avian Study for the Black Oak and Getty wind projects:

Revised Avian and Bat Protection Plan (ABPP) 20127-76674-01

What’s very strange about this project is that although the DNR has submitted numerous comments in the record, and although there are references to US Fish & Wildlife by Applicants in the ABPP, there are no USFWS comments in the record that I can find.

So I fired off a FOIA request to USFWS, and they weren’t real happy with it, so I fired off another a couple days ago:

FOIA and Fee Waiver Requst to USFWS  1-14-2015

Hoping to get some good info, because as you can see above, there is an eagle nest, and as you can see on the map below, well, count the wind turbines within two miles of that eagle nest: 2MileRadius

Here are the project siting maps:

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An off the cuff review of the map shows the following affected turbines in Getty, where turbines are located within a two mile radius of an eagle nest:

Section 7: Turbines 14 & 38;

Section 8: Turbine 35;

Section 16: Turbine 18, and Turbine 36 RD area affected;

Section 1: Turbines 19, 20 and 21.

A similar review of the affected turbines in Black Oak:

Section 1: Turbine 40;

Section 11: Turbine 17;

Section 12: Turbines 12, 13, 14 and 16;

Section 13: Turbine 11;

Section 14: Turbines 28, 9, 10;

Section 23: Turbine 29.

 Eagle2Eagle photo by Jason Jennissen, on the Jennissen property in Stearns County