Part 2 – Chisago Transmission Project

For the full PUC docket, go to www.puc.state.mn.us and click on “eDockets” blue button, and search for 04-1176 and/or 06-1667.  The issue before the PUC was Taylors Falls’ Petition to Amend the Chisago Routing Permit because NSP was trying to route the line contrary to the specifics of the Agreement between the City and the utility.

Taylors Falls Amendment Request

Comment – Neuman

Comment – Overland

Comment – Xcel

It was a Petition from City of Taylors Falls, but the Order was off, and Pugh, acting as Chair (after Reha, who had been acting as Chair in Boyd’s absense, recused herself), had MOES’ David Birkholz start, and argue against the Petition.  Hmmmmm… then after that, we did introductions and argued the Petition.  It started with the City of Taylors Falls, Loren Canaday, past council member back when the Agreement was made, and Michael Buchite, current Mayor.  Loren Canaday was in office and was an advocate for the Agreement, and he spoke about the history of the Agreement, and recommended “a small jog south of the utility corridor, which would permit undergrounding without harming the wetland.”

Bill Neuman brought in a letter dated May 29, 2007, from Commerce’s Birkholz, asking the National Park Service for a summary of its position, noting that the “opinion of NPS is critical.”  and asking whether NPS DOES have significant objection if the transmission line is not undergrounded dto the river.  NPS said that the routing should NOT reverse conditions agreed upon by Cities of Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls and Xcel.

Jill Medland of NPS came in and spoke.  She is in the Resource Management Division, in charge of Environmental Compliance and Permit Review.  She gave some history of the St. Croix River Valley protections.  She noted that Taylors Falls has done an exemplary job of protecting the river valley, using its authority and its will.  She said that the way she reads the Agreement, they all advocated for the configuration in the Agreement, undergrounding down the high river bluff to the dam.

O’Brien asked whether NPS opposed blasting in the basalt, and Medland responded, “We have no reason to oppose that.”

Through out this discussion, I was wondering how they thought Xcel would bury the line down the bluff if not by blasting…  EARTH TO MARS!  IT’S A BLUFF!  IT’S ROCK!

It was a tortured discussion, with Commissioner Wergin noting that she was not there for the decision, and the Agreement was in the record (implying, HEY YOU, WHERE WERE YOU ON THIS!).  Pugh and O’Brien were pretty sheepish about not having addressed the agreement in the Order.  I got it in the record, Exhibit 218, but it wasn’t my job to advocate for Taylors Falls interests, that’s their job, and where were they?  But neither the ALJ nor the PUC took any note of the material terms in the Agreement and addressed consistency of the plan with the Agreement.

Bottom line – Motion to require company to make compliance reports, and to suspend the Petition to Amend, and that parties are urged to revisit the Agreement and if necessary, to invoke the Arbitration clause.

Passed unanimously, only Pugh, O’Brien and Wergin, as Reha was recused and Boyd was absent.

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