Art Hughes has died…

March 31st, 2009

I’ve just received a missive from Iowa that Art Hughes, Ph.D. in Power Engineering, died last month, February 17, 2009.

Monday, March 1, 2009

Bernard A. Hughes

PEOSTA, Iowa — Bernard Arthur “Art” Hughes, 63, of 7995 New Melleray Road, Peosta, formerly of Texas and Canada, died at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009, at home.

Services will be at 4 p.m. Monday, March 2, at Leonard Funeral Home & Crematory, 2595 Rockdale Road, with the Rev. Kathleen Milligan, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, officiating. Burial will be in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Key West. Friends may call from 3 to 4 p.m. Monday at the funeral home.

He was born on April 3, 1945, in Hereford, United Kingdom, son of James R. and Sara (Price) Hughes.

Art was a brilliant electrical engineer and did consulting work. He had earned his PhD in electrical engineering and was currently working on tracking stray voltage and electrical and magnetic fields and their effect on livestock production.

There are no known survivors.

Art died just a few days after this photo was taken.  He was making comments at a public meeting about an ITC transmission line through his Peosta, Iowa neighborhood:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hearing generates electricity

Dubuque County landowners express concern about ITC transmission line

By MICHAEL SCHMIDT TH staff writer


Photo by: Jessica Reilly
Art Hughes, of Peosta, Iowa, addresses concerns about the construction of electric transmission lines in the area during a public information meeting Tuesday at the Peosta Community Centre.

PEOSTA, Iowa — Jack Ludescher has second thoughts about his retirement home.

The retired Dubuque junior high teacher is mulling whether to use property on Asbury Road, west of Dubuque, should ITC Midwest follow through on its proposed 81-mile electric transmission line in Dubuque County.

“We don’t know if we want to do this if a power line is going over,” Ludescher told the TH Tuesday following the Iowa Utilities Board hearing on the plan at the Peosta Community Centre. Nearly 100 people turned out for the meeting.

For about 90 minutes, ITC Midwest officials and property owners discussed the merits of a proposed new 345 kilovolt transmission line between its Salem Substation in Dubuque County and its Hazleton Substation in Buchanan County.

The proposed line would be built along the route of an existing 161 kV line and add a circuit on a 100- to150-foot right of way.

Poles would extend between 105 and 155 feet into the air and be spread 800 feet apart. ITC is in negotiations with property owners for new rights-of-way along the proposed line.

Construction is slated to begin in 2010, with completion by the first quarter of 2012, ITC officials said.

“This is a major construction project that will support the area for years to come,” said Dick Coeur, ITC general manager for community and customer relations.

ITC officials cite the need for strengthened energy reliability and decreased power losses on the system.

The Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator has identified eastern Iowa as a trouble spot for energy bottlenecks, and the proposed line would form a loop with existing north-south and east-west transmission lines in the region.

Without a new 345 kV line, there is the potential for voltage problems and energy overloads, officials said.

“(The line) completes the 345,000 volt-system,” said Doug Collins, executive director for ITC. “It’s really more than Dubuque County. This line would continue on to another substation, so if we lose the existing line, power can still come from another direction.”

During the question-and-answer session, property owners voiced their concerns about the project.

Doug Behnke, of Peosta, questioned how energy from the transmission line would be neutralized.

“It comes down to the safety of the line, safety of the people and the animals,” Behnke said. “How will it affect humans? We need to have a standard for human safety. Human and animal safety is not being addressed.”

Bruce Whitney, principal engineer for ITC, displayed a graphic listing the milligauss, or magnetic field, of various household appliances. In comparison, Whitney said the transmission lines would emit less magnetic energy than a hair dryer, electric shaver, blender and vacuum, based on Environmental Protection Agency data.

Behnke scoffed at ITC’s graphic, calling it “distortion.”

“That’s smoke over the household sources,” Behnke replied.

After meeting with landowners, ITC Midwest plans to file a Petition for a franchise with the Iowa Utilities Board. The IUB will then notify citizens of each county — Buchanan, Delaware, Dubuque and Jackson — and determine whether a final hearing will be held.

Ken & Krie hit the road!

March 29th, 2009

Oh, it’s a very sad day… the $1,000 Subaru Legacy chewed up its front differential, sounded like a cement mixer 1/4 full of rocks, was seizing up, what a mess, but at least it wasn’t too far from home, well, Delaware home, that is, but now the Dogaru ist kaput, history, nothing but a lifeless dog kennel on wheels… sob… but a year-and-a-half and 40k for $1,000, can’t really complain.

So now, out here we’re stuck with the Toyota van from hell, overheats regularly, back bearing has been bad for what… over two years now… but full sheets of plywood fit in it, and it’s great for hauling the big piles of  shreds of the roof tear-off to the dump, and the grrrrrrrls love it, so today we went to the flea market to drop off a few of their fleas on consignment!




See the daffydils in the background of the first one, and the crab pots on the trailer across the street in the third photo!  Guess where we are?

The arrogance of Xcel

March 28th, 2009


It’s just another day in a company town…

Just who do they think they are?  Xcel is getting pissy, spewing its arrogance in a way that should be embarassing, but they’re too arrogant to get it.  This sounds a lot like Tom Micheletti to me!  Unreal…

Xcel is complaining about the City of Red Wing, which has taken a long needed step in representing City residents by intervening in the PUC docket for Xcel’s uprate and more dry casks at the Prairie Island nuclear generating plant.  In my view that’s only a small partial step, but it’s a welcome one.

Notice of Appearance

Petition to Intervene

Motion to Amend First Prehearing Order

Red Wing dove in last week, these came in last week.  This is good news!

Red Wing also passed a resolution at the last City Council meeting, clarifying their position:

City Council Resolution 5972

And Xcel is not pleased about this resolution, or their Intervention either, I imagine … isn’t that too bad… but they have to act like an abusive partner, firing off a pissy missive to the Mayor and City Council, wanting to redo the resolution and upset that it wasn’t CLEARED BY XCEL FIRST!!! Really, they say that twice:

While we support your participation in the process, we are disappointed that we were not allowed to review the resolution prior to passage.


More troubling to us, however, was the process used to rescind the prior resolution of support and adopt the new one. While we respect and support the city’s right to participate in the process and raise any concerns it may have, we also believe this decision should be based on accurate facts and with input from residents and other stakeholders. Refusing us the ability to review the resolution prior to adoption signals an abrupt change to our long-standing, constructive relationship. We believe that such a significant change in position warranted input and comment from residents and all stakeholders. We would support further dialogue on this issue in public forums, as it is a significant issue for the community.

And I remember a statement when their prior resolution had been before the City Council, that it had been “approved by Michael Wadley.”  That one got a double take from moi.  But to send this… How clueless can they be?  Through this letter, we learn from the horse’s… er… mouth… what I’ve suspected, known, for a long time, that Xcel was running the City of Red Wing and that the City did not do anything without approval of Xcel and did many things because it was what Xcel wanted.  Doesn’t Xcel get that an admission of this sort IN WRITING, and even sent TO THE NEWSPAPER, is against interest?  I’m glad it’s finally out in the open, that prior councils and mayors had been led around by the nose, bowing in subservience, “are we bending over far enough?” … and it’s about time this changed.

Xcel screwed over the city, well, many times, but the most obvious to me was their use of City and County “supporters” by the busload to get their nuclear waste storage at Prairie Island in 1994, with cries of “SAVE THE TAX BASE.”  Yet, before the ink was dry, in 1995 there’s Xcel in tax court trying to cut Utility Personal Property Tax revenue, revenue that goes to the county, city and school district, and then they’re cutting Utility Personal Property Tax at the legislature (I had a good go-round with Tom Micheletti about that in the Beagle in 1997) and then cutting it through rulemaking… every way possible that tax has been slashed —  it’s been slashed in half thanks to Xcel — exactly what about this is being a “good neighbor.”  They’re screwing the city, the county, and the school district by pulling out part of the deal to host a nuclear plant.

The City, County and School District should all be intervening in this PUC docket and also the relicensing docket at the NRC — Xcel has had a major impact on the community, and while there have been some benefits, there are many costs, and these costs and the meaning for those of us who live with a nuclear plant must be addressed.

Anyway, it’ll probably be in the Beagle soon


Here’s Xcel’s missive in all it’s glory:

To Mayor Howe and Members of the Red Wing City Council

Xcel Energy values our long and cooperative relationship with the people of Red Wing and surrounding areas and their leaders. We operate two power plants in the area – the Prairie Island nuclear plant and the Red Wing steam plant – and maintain a service center in the city. Our employees live in Red Wing, we support the community through our tax payments, and we support a variety of civic initiatives — in short, we strive to be a good neighbor, as we value our host community.

On Monday, the Red Wing City Council unanimously rescinded a prior resolution of support for our proposal to seek a 20-year life extension of Prairie Island and adopted a resolution outlining a variety of concerns and authorizing intervention in the state approval process. While we support your participation in the process, we are disappointed that we were not allowed to review the resolution prior to passage. We would have welcomed the opportunity to address the concerns and correct inaccuracies it contains to inform your decision.

We believe we can provide substantial information in response to the concerns outlined in the resolution and would welcome the opportunity to present that information to you. Prior to that opportunity, I would like to highlight several topics for your attention. These include:

* Accountability. The resolution states that Xcel Energy has claimed we are not responsible for the used fuel stored at our plants and that there is insufficient funding set aside for storage and decommissioning. To the contrary, we have always accepted responsibility for the used fuel we store at the plant sites on an interim basis until the federal government fulfills its contractual obligation to take it. We further have adequately accrued funds to manage the cost of storage and decommissioning through a process overseen by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Our most recent filing, pending before the commission, documents our accrual of over $538 million in an external qualified trust fund for Prairie Island decommissioning. These funds must remain in this account until all expenses associated with decommissioning have been paid. We also have accrued an additional $65.7 million for decommissioning Prairie Island in an escrow fund. Our filing demonstrates that our accrual practices will produce sufficient funds to support decommissioning under a variety of possible future scenarios.

* Cask Safety. The resolution suggests that, absent a permanent repository, it is accepted that the dry storage facility will require replacement at least every 100 years. To the contrary during the Monticello proceeding on dry storage we presented evidence showing that the 100-year life assumption stems from a study where it was assumed that dry storage facility did not undergo any maintenance. Our evaluation concluded that with proper maintenance, as we are committed to do, the Prairie Island facility could safely store used fuel for more than 100 years. Further, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has jurisdiction over the continued safe operation of the storage facility and periodically would evaluate the continued safe operation of the facility to ensure that aging would not impact the facility’s safety.

* Storage Term. The resolution states that the NRC is proposing revisions to the Waste Confidence Rule and the Waste Confidence Decision to indefinitely extend the on-site storage of high-level nuclear waste. In fact, the NRC has proposed removing from the Waste Confidence Decision a date by which a national repository will open, but it does not propose an indefinite period for on-site storage. Instead, the NRC proposes changing to 60 years from 30 the length of time it is confident used fuel can safely be stored on-site after a plant is permanently shutdown.

* Groundwater Contamination. The resolution states that no studies have been initiated to ensure groundwater contamination protection for the current proceedings before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. In fact, Minnesota law requires the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Office of Energy Security to make a specific finding in an Environmental Impact Statement that operation of the dry-storage facility will not result in groundwater contamination in excess of established limits; it has done so in our comparable proceeding for the Monticello nuclear plant life extension and will do so in our pending application for Prairie Island.  The reason no studies are being undertaken is because the casks are decontaminated before they are placed on the concrete pad outside the plant building and they are sealed, so there is no release from the dry storage containers to the groundwater.

We believe we can respond to all issues raised in the resolution and would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to do so.

More troubling to us, however, was the process used to rescind the prior resolution of support and adopt the new one. While we respect and support the city’s right to participate in the process and raise any concerns it may have, we also believe this decision should be based on accurate facts and with input from residents and other stakeholders. Refusing us the ability to review the resolution prior to adoption signals an abrupt change to our long-standing, constructive relationship. We believe that such a significant change in position warranted input and comment from residents and all stakeholders. We would support further dialogue on this issue in public forums, as it is a significant issue for the community.

We believe the city significantly benefits from the plant, our employees, and our involvement in the community — benefits that would extend another 20 years if regulators accept our proposal. We hope to work constructively with you and to reach a mutual resolution of your concerns.


Judy Poferl
Regional Vice President

Northern States Power Co.-Minnesota, an Xcel Energy company

CC:      Jay Squires, City Attorney
Red Wing Republican Eagle

Note they didn’t even copy the City’s nuclear intervention attorney — Thomas P. Harlan and Katherine E. Becker, of the law firm of Madigan, Dahl & Harlan, P.A.    Also note, Jay Squires has been the City Attorney for some time, and this practice of Xcel calling the shots has been in existence during his watch, some bizarre City policies have occurred on his watch as well.  Whose interests is he representing as City Attorney?  Isn’t it his job to protect the City?

Yup, today’s news about our “good neighbor.”  And to send it to the paper, wanting it public… unreal…


And what do you see waaaaay in the background?  Why, it’s the Prairie Island nuclear plant!  It’s been there so long that now they want to relicense it, but at the state, there’s an uprate and dry cask docket, and so there’s a state proceeding, not that there’s much chance of impact, but it’s there…

Read the rest of this entry »


How much can we take???  As if the Chisago Project wasn’t enough… here we go again…

The upcoming MISO list of transmission projects proposed has the following three items of interest to those in the Chisago area:

  • Builds 345 kV circuit from Sherbourne County Station to Chisago County Station in Minnesota
  • Builds 345 kV circuit from Hampton Corner Station to Chisago County Station in Minnesota
  • Build 345 kV circuit from Chisago County Station in Minnesota to Longwood Station in Wisconsin

Here’s the short version:

Yellow-highlighted Chisago Projects to come

AAAAAAAAAAAGH!  I’ve got this tune floating through my brain… the hook line, “how can a poor man stand such times and live…”

Thanks to the little eagle-eyed birdie who sent this.