In the news in Albert Lea!


photo by  Tim Engstrom
Katie Troe pets her dog in front of her home east of Clarks Grove last week. She spearheads an advocacy group called Safe Wind in Freeborn County, which is calling for greater setbacks on the proposed Bent Tree Wind Farm.

Wind farm group forms

Safe Wind in Freeborn County now is an official entity

By Tim Engstrom | Albert Lea Tribune

Published Monday, April 13, 2009

A group in Freeborn County has concerns with the setbacks for the proposed Bent Tree Wind Farm, the health impacts of living close to wind turbines and the route planned transmission lines need to connect the turbines to the power grid.

“It is not safe to put this size of turbines by residents,” said Katie Troe, a resident of rural Clarks Grove who is spearheading a group called Safe Wind in Freeborn County.

She said the advocacy group doesn’t oppose wind farms so much as opposes having them close to residences. It started last November with a mailing to tell the 381 homeowners in the area of the proposed wind farm that they had until Dec. 3 to comment to the state about the site permit and until Jan. 8 to comment about the certificate of need.

Troe said there is no membership requirement so she doesn’t know how many people are part of the group. But there is another way to estimate it.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s Office of Energy Security received 28 comment letters for the December deadline. Twenty-five of them were from locals with concerns and who likely had seen Troe’s mailing.

Two letters were from people in state agencies, and one was from Alliant Energy, which owns Wisconsin Power & Light.

Larry Hartman of the Office of Energy Security said it was more letters than most wind farm projects receive. The letters can be found online at the PUC’s site. Many of them are form letters, but a few are original.

In March, Safe Wind got a federal identification number and a bank account and filed as a public safety advocacy group.
Wind turbines rotate at the Top of Iowa Wind Farm near Joice. The Bent Tree Wind Farm is proposed for the Hartland and Manchester area in Freeborn County.

At present Wisconsin Power & Light needs four primary documents for its Bent Tree Wind Farm: a certificate of need from Wisconsin (because the energy the wind farm produces is to be for that state), a certificate of need from Minnesota, a site permit from Minnesota and a conditional-use permit from Freeborn County for transmission lines to connect the wind turbines to the Hayward electrical substation.

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This is a big week at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.  They’re going to hear our arguments and decide whether CapX 2020 transmission, Phase I, is “needed” or not… a lot is riding on this, the direction of Minnesota’s energy future.  Will we be doing it differently, or will we be stuck in the same central station coal scenario?

CapX Certificate of Need Argument & Deliberation

April 15th & 16, starting at 9:30 a.m.

Public Utilities Commission

Large Hearing Room – 3rd Floor

121 – 7th St. East

St. Paul, MN  55101


A little over a month ago, ITC Holdings filed a rate request with FERC, and utilities in the Midwest got to it and filed “protests” and petitions to intervene in that docket.  FERC had extended the Comment period until March 6, and oh, did they get comments.  The Who’s Who of utilities, with big emphasis on the Midwest, “our friends” at Xcel represented in a number of capacities…  and even National Wind and Goodhue Wind!


A little birdie dropped off a notice that FERC had issued an Order:

FERC Order – april 10, 2009

I’ve just skimmed it so far, but it looks like they pretty much gave Green Power Express (a/k/a ITC Holdings) the whole enchilada… what they’re asking for is the ability to recover $$$ before the line is even energized, which is absurd, but that’s what all these utiltiies have been asking for and getting, so it’s not really anything new.  Theh difference, it appears, is that ITC is pushing into Xcel’s transmission territory, and Xcel isn’t too happy about it.  The Green Power Express is essentially the Midwest part of JCSP and METP 08, but maybe there’s … ahem… a little confusion about just who was going to build that transmission?!?!?  FERC accepted responses of GPE to Comments, and accepted a response of MISO to comments (in which MISO is siding with GPE), but they rejected all the others, like Xcel, GRE, etc., the ones opposing GPE.  Xcel’s probably not used to getting dissed!

I’m really not sure what to think about this.  The project shouldn’t be built, it’s not needed, that’s for sure, and they shouldn’t get rate recovery, that’s also for sure, but I’ve got to give them a few points for butting in on Xcel’s action.

… and now I’ve finally read the whole thing, and it redefines “Shock and Awe” — this FERC Order gives them 99% of what they asked for, and seemed to bend over in doing so, doing everything they can to give Green Power Express the green light, and to start collecting $$$ right away.  So we’ll be paying for this, and even if it’s not built, we’ll be paying for it.  This transmission binge is reminding me of the nuclear days of the 70s, and we are going to get hit so hard.  What are these yahoos thinking?

What next?  Well, I hope that Illinois and New York will get to it and let FERC and Green Power Experss that “WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ TRANSMISSION!”  New York has been doing a good job thus far giving JCSP the finger, and I hope they continue, because this, logically, will have coal on the wires and will facilitate construction of new coal plants in the Midwest.

Hmmmm… my brain just did a “frolic & detour” — “Coal on the Conductors” just popped in …

Going into the CapX hearing with all this transmission lining up…  (she says, shaking her head in disgust)

Dig this, testimony of of Paul A. DeCortis, Deputy Secretary for Energy, Office of the Governor on behalf of the State of New York:

DeCortis Testimony- March 26, 2009

Like wow…


The Hiawatha Project, Xcel’s transmission line vision/nightmare for Phillips Community in South Minneapolis, is getting closer, moving forward toward an application.

CLICK HERE for the MOES Docket Page for Hiawatha Project

Go to that page and sign up for notices and info if you haven’t already!

Here’s what just came over the wire from RaeLynn S. Asah, Xcel:


You have been previously contacted regarding the Hiawatha project and have expressed interest in keeping up to date on the status of the project.

We are currently finalizing the Route Permit application for the Hiawatha project and plan to file later this month.

As we have been preparing the application, we have been including input from the community on concerns about the project:

* The application will include four possible transmission line route locations and five design options, including the two underground route options that have been discussed (along 28th Street and 29th Street).
* We are including alternative locations for both the Midtown and the Hiawatha substations.
* We are including copies of the various resolutions in the application that reflect the concerns raised by various entities in the area.

As part of the filing requirements, various City and County staff and representatives receive copies of the application along with copies at the local library. The filing will also be available on the Minnesota Public Utilities Commissions (PUC) web site (Docket # E002/TL-0938) and on our website. However, given your past involvement, we expect you would may a copy of the application.  We would prefer to limit the number of paper copies we print to those that prefer that type of document.  We will also provide a CD version to those who prefer that option.

Xcel Energy is committed to working with the community to the extent possible and fully encourages everyone to become involved in the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) process, which is open to all interested parties and individuals.  The best way to ensure your organization and constituents stay apprised of project developments is to register with the PUC to be on their mailing list.  You can do this by calling the PUC directly as requesting to be included on the mailing list for project docket #E002/TL-0938.

Please contact me as soon as possible to let me know if you would like a copy of the application, the type of document (paper or CD) and the number of copies.

Please feel free to contact me directly, all of my contact information is listed below.

RaeLynn S. Asah |  Permitting Analyst  |  Siting and Land Rights  |  Transmission, Flr 8  |  Xcel Energy  |  250 Marquette Ave  |  Minneapolis MN 55401  |  o:  612-330-6512  |  fax: 612-573-4011