This is the Hollydale Project proposed route, the one that Xcel Energy couldn’t demonstrate need for if their Certificate of Need depended on it, and it did, and they didn’t.  Hence their petition to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for withdrawal of Applications for both their Certificate of Need (12-113) and their Routing Permit (11-152).  I love it when that happens…

This was a great victory to get Xcel to acknowledge that this project was in trouble, that they couldn’t demonstrate need, not that they admitted it outright, but close enough.  The down side is that they are persistent, and when they want something, they keep trying, sometimes the same thing, sometimes something different.  What will they do here?  Who knows, but I doubt they’ll disappear.

There was a surprise filing letter and proposed decision option sent by Paula Maccabee on behalf of WPNA at 8:37 a.m., less than an hour before the meeting began, and half an  hour after we’d already left for St. Paul, first I learned of it was when it was passed out at the meeting.

WPNA Decision Recommendations

Here are the changes that were requested:

D. Future Filing Requirements

2. Require the company to file a discussion on their public outreach efforts and an update on improvements made to the load serving capacity of the distribution system serving the area six months from the date of the order granting withdrawal and quarterly thereafter.

I don’t get it… why?  And no, that doesn’t work.  Where Xcel is saying they’ll be back, after developing a more palatable option through discussions with stakeholders, why eliminate the disclosure of its “public outreach efforts?   Thankfully, this was not adopted.

From Xcel’s filings, it’s clear that the Hollydale Project is “desired,” strongly desired, despite that it’s not “needed” in any criteria-based sense.  Xcel wants this project so badly that it has stated that if permitted to withdraw this application, it is coming back, and that:

The residents of Plymouth and Medina, as well as other key stakeholders, have expressed serious concerns about the potential impacts of this Project…

… that “it may take some time to collaborate with stakeholders on developing a new solution…”     

… and that it “intends to work with the community and stakeholders on developing a more widely supported electrical solution…”

Withdrawal Comments January 29, 2014

Xcel Reply Comments February 19, 2014

Those words get me more than a little concerned, particularly where at a meeting organized by Commerce at Plymouth City Hall, after we’d gone around the room in introductions, Sen. Bonhoff said, very pointedly to me, “Who are you?”  “Why are you here?”  “Who is the Barry Family?”  I got the idea that she though I shouldn’t be there, that it was to be a more private party, and I shouldn’t have been invited.  And yesterday, a woman present in support of WPNA asked the same questions.  Hmmmm… Oh well.  We’re parties to this party!

This Hollydale Project was an odd project, in ways that weren’t fully addressed in the proceeding:

  • First is the inherent legal definition of transmission – this project, as proposed, would change this line from a relatively unregulated 69 kV line to a highly regulated “High Voltage Transmission Line” as defined in statute.
  • The project as proposed represents a significant physical and electrical change, from an inactive 69 kV line to a high capacity HTVL that is an operating part of the grid.
  • This project would require a change in ownership – Xcel is requesting to buy the easement, gain the powers that ownership of easement interests represents, and planned to use the easement to build a line of a very different character than what was built under the original easement.
  • This project would change the purpose of the line through Plymouth and Medina, from a purpose of rare emergency backup for the local distribution system, to a high capacity grid support for the 345 kV system.

Now the application has been withdrawn.  Xcel says it’s going to work collaboratively to come up with a “new solution.”  Let’s see what happens next!

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