Chisago Transmission Redux

February 27th, 2007


Once more with feeling, folks, here we go again. It’s the Chisago Transmission Project, and tonight we had the first public meeting in a long while. Why? I don’t know, maybe Xcel thinks we all just need a reunion to remember what a strong community can do!

This time around, I’m representing the City of Lindstrom, and the meeting was a bit of “old home week.” And each time we’ve gone through this, we learn more, so let’s see if we can get it right this time! Our goal is clear, so let’s get to work!

Here’s the Certificate of Need Scheduling Order that came out yesterday:

First Prehearing Order – CoN

Purpose of tonight’s meeting? To receive comments on the scope of the Environmental Assessment. Comments on the EA scope were open until 3/13, but now that’s been extended to 3/30/07!!! Why? Haven’t a clue.

Here’s the meeting notice:

Public Meeting Notice Feb 27 2007

An Environmental Assessment (EA) is from the short, abbreviated and too “streamlined” “Alternative Process” that wasn’t designed for a hotly contested project like this. And it’s confusing just how it works (or doesn’t).



So does that make sense? They did a full-blown EIS last time (where’s that ME3 site when we need it?). Now they’re only doing a nominal inquiry.



For Certificate of Need application, go to www. and then to eDockets and then to “Search Documents” and then to 04-1176.

OK, now that you’ve got all that down, here’s the form to let them know what the EA should include, “Scoping Comments” as we say in the biz:

Comment Form – Scope of EA

It’s easy, just download the form and comment on the areas you think should be included in the Environmental Assesment, bringing up any specific information that you may have. Then end it in to Sharon Ferguson of Dept. of Commerce, her mail and email addresses are on the form. It’s that simple, really!!!!

More soon!


The Chisago Project is back.

Chisago Map – PDF for Download

Clisk HERE for the state’s Energy Facilities docket.


Public Meeting & Scoping Meeting

February 27, 2007

4:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Lindstrom Community Center

13292 Sylvan Ave

Lindstrom, MN 55045

Worse, it’s moving forward in the PUC Certificate of Need process, and the process there is appalling. I’m hard pressed to find printable words to describe what’s been happening. The Siting and Certificate of Need docket are before the PUC today and a short rundown of the problems: No service of application, removal from service list, no service of Commerce Comment, Commerce and PUC making up “non-contested” process and worse, saying the Chisago Project should use it! What makes them think that this is acceptable, much less LEGAL, and that they can get away with it!

Concerned River Valley Citizens – Reply Comment

To find out what’s happening, pack a bag lunch and a compass. Go to and go to “Search Documents” and plug in docket 04-1176. If you ask to be put on a Service List, be sure to let your loved ones know because you never may be heard from again — at best, you won’t be served with the documents and will have no clue what’s going on in the docket.

And let’s be very clear about something… Though the utility has failed to serve applications, clear violations, they’re the utility and we expect them to be that way.  The state is the real problem here.  The state is the one charged with protecting the public, the public interest, and the ratepayer.  They’re the ones really screwing us over.

I really hate it when this happens — it’s so egregious, and yet what options do we have to stop it? I’ve got the Appellate Court reviewing a MERA case of mine, trying to get some clear law about the “violation of rule, standard” aspect of MERA, when that comes down, we’ll know if MERA is a winning approach to this flagrant violation of statutes and rules. They’re begging for a big fat legal slap… OK, fine, whatever…



Color me pissy, but you’d think that after TEN (&(*$*(*@$(*% YEARS of dealing with this Chisago Transmission Project in one capacity or incapacity or another that Xcel might notice when they’re sending out its reapplication (for what, the third time now?) that they’d notice that they neglected to send one to me! You’d think that they’d notice that the local citizens group Intervenor in all the previous Chisago Project incarnations, the ever-so-effective Concerned River Valley Citizens, was NOT served with an application, nothing sent to Bill Neuman or Shellene Johnson! But NOOOOOOOO…

Here’s Xcel’s site for the Chisago Transmission Project, now called, I kid you not:

The Chisago County Reliability Improvement Project

Here’s the service list from PUC as of October 31, 2006:

I’m on the list.. well DUH, I’d better be, not just because of 10 years of work on this, but there’s also those formal Comments I’d filed on the Notice Plan in July. On the October 31 service list, Shellene Johnson, Pres. of CRVC was inexplicably removed.

So the recap:

Xcel screws up by not serving moi.

PUC/Commerce or whatever screws up by removing Shellene Johnson.

The Agency Formerly Known As The EQB screws up because they don’t take that EQB list over to the new office at 85 – 7th Place E. and make that existing list the service list in the dockets.

When I emailed Robin Benson, keeper of the PUC’s lists, she said I was on it, and that Shellene Johnson had been removed and Bill Neuman was MIA.

When I called Bret Eknes of the PUC, he said that the Comment Period on Completeness wouldn’t be reopened, and that they don’t have to solicit comments. Objection, non-responsive! Reopening because of a screw up is different than soliciting comments.

When I called Bob Cupit, of The Agency Formerly Known As The EQB, he rolls his eyeballs, does his “Oh, give me a break” Overland impression, and says things that he says I cannot quote or he will shoot me!

When I called Xcel, Mary Martinka, as Jimbo Alders says, was on it, and yesterday they shipped off copies to me, to Bill Neuman, and to Shellene Johnson.

Jimbo Alders, of Xcel, emails and says his staff people were right on it when I called. Yup, they were! Didn’t notice I wasn’t on the list? Come on, Jimbo, you knew I’d moved to Red Wing even before my neighbors did!

Oh, give me a break… as I told Jimbo, you’d think after all this time that Xcel would have a big envelope with my name in it to serve me with everything that goes out the door — except nuclear waste, I’ll pass on that. I mean really, you’d think they’d know I’m gonna find out about the Chisago Application, just like I find out about everything else!
Well, as my ex-husband used to say, “Goes to show you don’t think!” Yup, uh-huh…

OK, fine, if that’s how it’s going to be, I’ll just pack up all my IGCC files and move to Colorado!

And on that happy note, here’s the Xcel bird cam – nope, no bird cam, they’re sensible and are gone for the winter… at least staying away from Xcel power plants. Oh, that reminds me, and I failed to get a photo of it, but there was this great sign, an Xcel billboard, on the Lafayette Bridge, yes, an XCEL sign that said “Beware! Powerlines Kill!” or some such. Whatever were they thinking?

Chisago Xmsn line coming soon!

October 3rd, 2006


To get on the Chisago mailing list, email and, give them your name, address, phone and email, and ask to be on the Chisago Transmission list, both Certificate of Need and Siting dockets.

Chisago Transmission Project re-activated, Xcel starts process designating â??needâ??


Four years ago Xcel Energy started the process of seeking state authorization for a system reliability upgrade of its powerline through Chisago County. For a number of reasons Xcel shelved the project, but it has been resurrected.

Grant Stevenson, Xcel spokesperson, said notices are going out re-starting the Chisago County Reliability Improvement Project. The application for Certificate of Need is to be filed prior to the end of this month.

The most recent activity on this took place over the early summer.

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) reviewed and approved the proposed â??Notification Plan.â? Landowners affected directly by the potential project and adjacent landowners, plus local government units and others on the adopted notice list are to be sent notices directly.

Notification at this point entails making citizens aware of Xcel initiating the â??certificate of needâ? review. This is when the company provides proof it needs the planned powerline upgrade between Lindstrom and Taylors Falls for ensuring reliable electric service to customers. If state regulators determine there is a â??needâ? then the routing application is reviewed. Stevenson mentioned that because the route of the line isnâ??t changing (with minor exception for a new substation) the PUC will probably combine the public hearings for both facets of the project. â??We expect it to take a year for that review,â? Stevenson added.

This improved powerline will cross the St. Croix River (line running atop the hydro-electric structure) to merge with the Wisconsin power grid at St. Croix Falls. Xcel says there are 14 wires at the dam site now and once the upgrade is complete only five will remain overhead the structure.

The Wisconsin equivalent of the Xcel certificate of need has been approved by Wisconsin authorities, Stevenson noted.

No parcel has been acquired, but the general area favored for Xcelâ??s new substation at the west edge of Taylors Falls is somewhere near the wastewater treatment plant.

Stevenson said the project remains substantially the same as what was proposed in 2002; so within the viewshed of the St. Croix on either side (TF and St. Croix Falls) the new line would be buried.

Lines capable of carrying the increased voltage will be installed along the existing route that comes out of the electric station behind Lindstrom Foods, runs down First St. in Lindstrom, across the Chisago Lakes Middle School property, along the highway to Center City; then follows #37 through Shafer and into Taylors Falls.

The entire Washington County-Polk County, Wisconsin and Chisago County region is served by three substations. One north of Amery, Wisc, one in Lent Township on #14 in Chisago County and one in Arden Hills.

The system is 69 kilovolts. Itâ??s being boosted to 115 kv. and In Taylors Falls (out of the new substation) the line will be 161 kv, to connect to Wisconsinâ??s 161 system.

FOUR YEARS??? No, this project has been bumbling along for 10 years, TEN YEARS! It started back in 1996, that’s when I was going up there regularly, together with others from other projects, like folks from Florence Township to help locals learn the ropes of dealing with the EQB, and from Northfield I often went up with Mike (the Powerline expert) and Nancy Casper and Terry Kissner, we had a great crew wanting to share information about the siting process.

The first time out, it went to a contested case, but it all fell apart and NSP/Xcel withdrew its application after there was an agreement struck between NSP and the Cities of St. Croix Falls and Taylors Falls.
Diane Gerth, CRVC’s attorney at the time of the deal, said she was confused about whether I supported or opposed that deal, and to be very clear, I opposed it because it gave everything to NSP, and the Cities got lots of perks (we need more public info on this!) and CRVC got nothing but a transmission line through the area with twice the capacity as the one originally proposed — yeah, some deal. So I’m glad that CRVC didn’t approve that deal despite all those stumping for it, and I’m glad I made the motion that it be rejected! It also never should have been accepted by the cities because I don’t think they had a clue that the capacity of the line was doubled. Did Gerth? Did CRVC? Who involved in this knew that the capacity of that line would be doubled? And what did they all get that made it worthwhile? Let’s get that out into the open.

Here’s the deal (it was too big to include signature pages, if you want them, let me know):


Gerth also wants me to be clear about when I represented CRVC, which was in 2002 — I was NOT representing them at the time of this deal, thankfully, and I’m hoping that the details of this deal will now become public as this moves forward. We no longer have St. Croix Falls Mayor Terry Lundgren to kick around, he’s officially a felon now — he pled guilty in 2001 to Theft of Movable Property and Misconduct in Office, so he’s out of office. For that, click on this: and plug in “Terry Lundgren” and hit search and you’ll get it.
Here’s a 1998 City Pages article about it: Cheesehead Power? And dig this quote from Jimbo Alders: “If additional transfer capacity is found to be necessary in the future, we believe those needs can be accommodated without additional lines.” Yup, and then there’s CapX2020

How many years have I been saying that the purpose of this massive transmission build-out is to market coal elsewhere? Decades, folks, it’s been decades… And this latest from Xcel Energy, Notice of Comment period just out today, is demonstration that they plan to keep running those coal plants and selling it. Will the Public Utilities Commission care?

Here’s the newly released Xcel Energy plan, and a comment period:

The plan?

Here’s the Notice:

What to comment about? From the Commission’s Notice:

Bulk power transfer was the whole point of the transmission build-out, to be able to sell anything generated at any Point A to any Point B. And then coal generated here could be sold elsewhere, eastward via transmission, while we use generation that isn’t quite so dirty (but that’s dirty in its own way). We’re so clean here in Minnesota… NOT! We’ve been a pass through for Dakotas’ coal for a while, and now, they’re asking permission to keep burning coal here and send that energy eastward.

They built all that transmission, no Commission I’ve seen has ever found a transmission plan they didn’t like and roll over for, and now we’re paying for it. Rate increases anyone? Are you paying attention to what’s pushing those rates up?

Why ever would I say that it’s all about selling coal? Well… there’s a bit of a pattern going here. There was the Chisago project, starting in 1996 and three iterations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, not to mention the WRAO report:

WRAO laid out many transmission lines and the Arrowhead transmission project, circa 1999, was selected as the be all and end all of transmission after many hearings were held, one hearing in Minnesota and THREE before Wisconsin PSC, the price kept going UP, UP, UP!

But then on September 8, 2001, a meeting with likely intervenors to see if they could be convinced to “approve” of the SW Minnesota 345kV line, remember that, Commissioner Matt Schuerger? I pointed out all that coal lined up in the SW MN 345kV study… and from there on to the SW MN 345kV line, part of ABB plan for coal:

Don’t ya just love that name? It says it all. Why the ABB Lignite Vision 21 Transmission Study? The opening paragraph, linked above, DOH! says:

The SW MN 345kV line was the part that’s running east to west on the lower part of that yellow map, from Split Rock sub to Lakefield Junction. Some claimed it was an “It’s for WIND!” line, but that’s a lie, just read that ABB study again. The powerflows showed that it wasn’t to carry energy off of Buffalo Ridge, there was just 213-302 MVA coming off Buffalo Ridge into the over 2,000 MVA capacity line:

How stupid do they think we are? Well, money talked, and that money ruled the day. That SW MN 345kV line and the TRANSLink Settlement Agreement and 2005 Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell (and changes to Minn. Stat. 117.189) laid the groundwork to bring us $2+ BILLION of CapX 2020:

And then the MISO MVP 17 project portfolio, now over $6 BILLION:

And then they have the audacity to suggest we need MORE transmission?

Upper Midwest utilities to study transmission grid in light of ambitious carbon reduction goals

CapX 2050 Vision Study

So please explain how selling coal generated electricity on the MISO market is consistent with carbon reduction goals?

What a crock…