Monday’s hearing in Menahga got a thorough report in the Park Rapids Enterprise.  Now, will the Administrative Law Judge and the Public Utilities Commission pay as much attention?

And a little correction, “Pipeline” should be “Powerline” in the 3rd paragraph.  As newspaper articles go, this is as good as it gets!  Lots of detail.  And the need part, the “Carol Overland question” is there in black and white.

To see the full Public Utilities Commission dockets, go to the PUC’s SEARCH DOCKET PAGE HERE, and search for dockets 14-787 (Certificate of Need) and 14-797 (Route Permit).

And in the Park Rapids Enterprise:

Hearing held in Menahga to discuss proposed transmission lines

It would consist of: 

The power line would require a 100-foot right-of-way at minimum. The majority of the project would use single round wood poles 275 to 400 feet apart.  Some poles with guy wires or anchors might be needed depending on the soil conditions.  It was difficult to gauge public sentiment for or against the project because most people sat and listened. P[ower]line opponent Carol Overland, who represents the Andersen family and trust in trying to stall or stop the line, has filed a petition to derail the “fast-track” of the dockets for more thorough review.  

“The fast-tracking of these dockets improperly cuts out the public and the directly affected landowners,” her brief states. “There is no justification for the rush to check off the process boxes and push this project through.”  

Overland claims the Public Utilities Commission made a decision early in the process to expedite the review process and that it omitted affected landowners.  Under statute the Commission has one year to make a decision on the Certificate of Need and six months after that to finalize the route.  Donna Andersen spoke at the meeting to say she and her husband own 78 acres of the affected property, and have for 30 years.  She said she wanted the transmission line “routed away from my property.”  Her land was placed into a DNR stewardship program that included intentional cultivation of trees and wildlife.  

“The impact on trees cannot be mitigated,” she said of clearing a 100-foot path under the lines. She suggested a route that would not require forest land.  Also, she said, the northern large eared bat, which resides in the trees, is a “threatened species” that should be studied further to gauge the impact of the project. Commission member Carole Schmidt, at the hearing, promised that the bat study conducted “would be forthcoming.”  Resident Lori Tomperi, who has 448 affected acres, said her land already has a Koch pipeline running through it.  She wants to leave the pristine land to her kids, she told the commission.  

Peak demand is very low and doesn’t meet the issue of need, Overland asserted, accusing the commission of using “misleading charts” to bolster the need for the line.  She agreed the line was old and needs rebuilding, but suggested rebuilding might correct any problems the area is experiencing.  Minnesota Power is an investor-owned public utility headquartered in Duluth. It supplies retail electric service to 143,000 customers and wholesale service to 16 municipalities in a 26,000 square mile territory. It delivers electric energy through a network of transmission and distribution lines.  

However, the applicants are requesting approval of a 500-foot wide right-of-way, and in some cases a wider path “to accommodate facility designs.”  The company said potential environmental effects will be mitigated after construction and landowners would be compensated for losses during construction.  “No stray voltage issues are anticipated to affect farm animals along the route,” the proposal says.  Administrative Law Judge Jim Mortenson said the deadline for written comments is Nov. 2. He hopes to issue a report by Dec. 9 and the PUC report is due sometime in January 2016.


Tonight was the public hearing for the Menahga Transmission Project.  This is A transmission project with a pipeline driver.


This is a weird project.  They’re admittedly having problems with the old 34.5 kV distribution system, that was established ages ago in the GRE_Long Range Xmsn Plan_October 2008, and in the last four Biennial Transmission Plans (their application claimed that “this project” had been under discussion since 2007 as project “2007-NE-N3”):

2007-NE-N3_2007 Biennial Transmission Plan

2007-NE-N3_2009 Biennial Transmission Plan

2007-NE-N3_2011 Biennial Transmission Plan

2007-NE-N3_2013 Biennial Transmission Plan where it morphed into “2014-NE-N21”

Check the 2007 map for project 2007-NE-N3:


Map 2007 XmsnPlan

Does that bear any resemblance to the project they applied for:


Nope, there’s no resemblance, I didn’t think so either.

But I did find this interesting map of the “project area” that shows the 2007 area in question and more easily shows the logic behind their claim that:


There’s that green line right down the middle that’s the focus of the “problems” claimed.  And from that 2007 report:

The Hubbard-Menahga 115 kV line would be the start of a Hubbard-Menahga-Wadena/Compton-Wing River 115 kV line.

Walk through that list of cities, and you don’t get anything that looks like what they proposed.  It does indeed look a lot like fixing that green line that connects all the cities would answer their problems!

In the hearing, I clarified the capacity of the line, which at 140 is 7 times that needed for their 20 MW load (click for larger chart).  Go to the 477 on left side (kcmil) and then scoot over to the “115” column in the MVA rating columns on the right, scroll down to the “140.”  As the engineer confirmed, the 140 MVA is essentially MW…

And here’s the peak demand for the entire area, 16.48 MW, for which they’re wanting a 140 MVA capacity line:


Oh, well, there is that pipeline driver, the MinnCan pipeline over to the Koch refinery, and they want more pumping stations to increase the capacity from 165,000 barrels a day to 350,000 barrels a day.  And they want to double circuit the part on the northern end, from Hubbard substation to somewhere west of that for a “future GRE project” that they will not identify further, but they did not deny that it was Sandpiper (and $50 says it is).

The good news is that there’s tofu in the neighborhood for fortification, should get three meals out of this!



And the Republican-bEagle here in Red Wing published my Letter to the Editor, here it is online:

Letter: Thanks, City Council, for reconsideration

It’s more than “five words.” The resolution cover sheet states “The United States has seen an increase of hostility toward law enforcement over the past two years” and “law enforcement is the target of criticism and violent attacks,” and the resolution claims a “violent surge against police.” 

However, statistics show a decrease in police deaths by gunfire.

The resolution language elicits an are-you-for-the-police-or-against-them twist, and serves as a distraction from the legitimate constitutional, civil, and human rights issues at the root of hostility and criticism of police. Animosity expressed toward #blacklivesmatter shows a failure to acknowledge cultural injustice.

As an attorney, an officer of the court, sworn to uphold the Constitution, I find this offensive, because the “increase of hostility” and “criticism” is a demand for accountability, observation of fundamental rights, and prosecution of crimes committed by police. We must address this systemic problem.

It’s incumbent on myself and other whites to acknowledge racial and class inequity and crimes against others, and work toward change. Each of us bears responsibility, and I’m glad to see the City Council display some understanding of the nuances of this resolution and the need for community discussion. In the words of Congressman Luis Gutierrez, “We’re not going back to the ’50s.” 

The best outcome might be for the Red Wing Police Department to continue its proactive training and quality policing, and for the City Council and Human Rights Commission to begin our community discussion of how we can achieve equality and “liberty and justice for all.”

Carol A. Overland

Red Wing


Yes, it’s TOMORROW!  Great River Energy and Minnesota Power want to build a transmission line to solve a distribution problem (age and overloads) and power up pipeline pumping stations for the MinnCan MPL Line 4 and for another “potential” project, oh, maybe, perhaps, the Sandpiper pipeline?

6:00 p.m.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Menahga Senior Center

19 Cedar Avenue

Menahga, MN  56464

For more information, check this Legalectric post:

A transmission project with a pipeline driver

You can see everything in the Public Utilities Commission docket, just go to DOCUMENT SEARCH HERE and search for either Certificate of Need docket 14-787 or Route Permit docket 14-797.



It never ends, does it.  Here’s the Great River Energy and Minnesota Power Menahga Project, a 115 kV transmission line doing the do-si-do around Menahga!  Pipeline driver?  Yup.  The new pumping stations will increase capacity of the MinnCan Pipeline (MPL Line 4) from 165,000 barrels a day to 350,000 barrels a day, or something like that.  It’ll double the capacity.  Great, just great.  And remember, the MinnCan pipeline was the one where no one cared about it, no one weighed in against it, and now, everyone everywhere is fighting pipelines.  This one quietly goes through, fueling the refinery in Rosemount, the Koch refinery.  Hmmmmm…

App_Part 1_CoverSrvList_20151-106198-01

App_Part 2_Summary_20151-106198-02

App_Part 3_Text_20151-106198-03

App_Part 4_Appendices A-f_20151-106198-04

App_Part 5_DetailedRouteMaps_20151-106198-05

App_Part 6_App H-J_20151-106198-06

App_Part 6_CORRECTED App J_20151-106872-01

App_Part 7_App K_20151-106198-07


And here’s what we filed last week and the judge’s response (DENIAL!!) and our response to that, and also today’s filing.

First, to get things moving:

Andersen_CoN and Route Permit – Request for Contested Case_FINAL

Andersen_Petition for Intervention-FINAL

And the judge’s response:

201510-114794-02_Order Denying Petitions

Suffice it to say, we weren’t pleased with that, so:

Andersen_Motion for Reconsideration

And today, to get this in before the Public Hearing on Monday:

Andersen_Petition for EIS_FINAL


GRE_Long Range Xmsn Plan_October 2008