Minnesota Power’s Arrowhead-Weston Transmission Project was probably the longest and most torturous transmission project in Minnesota and Wisconsin, at least, if not worse, than CapX 2020 Hampton to La Crosse. Arrowhead_Weston ran over a less than 15 mile distance in Minnesota, crossing over the St. Louis River near Duluth, and the over into Wisconsin where it headed down to the Weston coal plant.

World Organization for Landowner Freedom (W.O.L.F.) intervened and showed up for years in the various proceedings for this transmission project. There was a two week hearing in Duluth (MEQB Docket: MP-HVTL-EA-1-99), I’d started that in a tent in a friend’s back yard, and we were officing in the garage… then off to Madison for a two month hearing (PSC Docket 05-CE-113), which after initial CPCN approval went on through 3 iterations due to cost increases and routing through Douglas County, Wisconsin. FYI,weird, the A-W EIS is HERE in the Library of Congress files, along with other Wisconsin utility EISs:

Anyway, throughout most of this fiasco, other than the very end, World Organization for Landowner Freedom intervened and participated with gusto. In Minnesota, we raised the issue of noise, which as found in the ALJ’s Findngs of Fact, would be too high (lots on noise search the pdf for more) and lack of need for this project, that the applicants were misstating need, claiming we’d all freeze in the dark in an incubator/on a respirator without a job. Over and over, the Applicants’ attorneys asked, “And where were you on June 25, 1998?”

As to noise:

And in the ultimate EQB Order regarding noise:

Regarding the initial Arrowhead-Weston applicants claim, circa 1999, that Arrowhead-Weston transmission was needed, was our finding in the “repository” the proof positive that the June 25, 1998 outage was self-inflicted, that the trip of the line and the resulting wave of outages across the Midwest, was due to the operators failing to ramp down those bulk power transfers that were far over the operating limits for the King-Eau Claire-Arpin line! Here’s that report from the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool, the “MISO” of that day:

And another report entered into the record, another issue of “high exports” that triggered disaster when system couldn’t handle an outage when all that power was being exported:

For these reasons, bulk power transfer was a concern due to utilities’ practice of overloading the system for their marketing gain. Soooooo… the other thing accomplished, other than noise, was a limitation of 800 MVA at the Arrowhead substation, which means that the line cannot be used for extreme bulk power transfer. From the EQB’s Findings of Fact and Order::

… and…

Recently, Minnesota Power has applied for permit from the Public Utilities Commission to “modernize” its AC to DC system, as the converters are ? way, way older than their expected 30 year lifetime. MP’s need statement for the project is based on the age of the DC to AC conversion equipment, that those converters are no longer made, and that parts are difficult to find. Hence, time for replacements to keep that line going.

The Commission did agree to a joint permitting process for “need” and “routing” (a very short line from the old substation to the new one. See PUC Dockets E015/CN-22-607 and E015/TL-22-611:

The purpose of this project is to facilitate use of the Center, ND to Arrowhead substation going forward. That’s a line that Minnesota Power bought a few years back, “for wind,” though I’m not really convinced. That line was built eons ago. Here’s the plan in short, from the application:

There were scoping meetings held for the Environmental “Assessment,” months ago, with comments due September 13, 2023.

Then, the comment period was extended by DOC-EERA for “residents that are farther than 1/4 mile outside of the project boundary.” R-E-S-I-D-E-N-T-S

Bit in swoops American Transmission Company, with a late filed comment with an “alternative” proposal!


To which Minnesota Power had a well crafted and detailed reply, here’s the gist, but it’s SO well-written, worth a careful dissection:

Then ATC had this to say:

And based on the late ATC filing, Commerce-EERA recommended:

Then issued its Scoping Decision filed December 1, 2023:

BUT, the Commission has a meeting on November 29, 2023, and discussed this EIS Scoping and the ATC Alternative and sent it over to OAH for a contested case.

And then, AFTER the Commission’s Order and Commerce-EERA Scoping Decision is released, long after the Comment period over, ATC submits a CHANGE!

So Commerce-EERA files a REVISED scoping decision, including this new change! REALLY!

I’m recalling that offering system alternatives and routes that did not “meet the need” of the project proponent were rejected out of hand.. but this is OK?!?!?!?!

What ATC is proposing is as Minnesota Power states, a plan to circumvent the Arrowhead-Weston substation limitation of 800MVA by physically, electrically, going around the transformers in the substation!! AND it gets worse, ATC is openly wanting, planning, on EXPANSION! WHAT?!?!

ATC has intervened in these two dockets:

To further this goal, they’ve recruited FIVE (5) big buck Minnesota and Wisconsin attorneys:

And World Organization of Landowner Freedom?

W.O.L.F. is on alert!

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