I’ve just by utter accident discovered a few things…

We all remember Byron Starns, attorney for Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project, the coal gasification project from hell.  Check his bio – CLICK HERE – he’s done some amazing things, that Reserve Mining case in particular.

Now let’s take a walk back on memory lane, the 2003 Prairie Island bill, where the “Environmental Coalition”, i.e., Izaak Walton League, MCEA, ME3/Fresh Energy, and Xcel and Tom Micheletti did a deal that advance wind some, let Xcel continue using Prairie Island and increased cask storage, and opened the door for Micheletti’s Excelsior Energy and their IGCC plant that they’d been promoting since the 2002 session.  On one hand, the “Environmental Coalition” including MCEA, in the middle we have Xcel, and on the other we have Tom Micheletti and Excelsior Energy…

Here’s the 2003 Prairie Island bill:

Minnesota Session Laws 2003 – 1st Special Session, Chapter 11

Here’s what it did for Mesaba (as if calling burning garbage “renewable” wasn’t enough):

Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project related parts of 2003 Chapter 11

When the Power Purchase Agreements for Excelsior Energy’s Mesaba Project came up at the PUC,  MCEA intervened, both as a party and representing others:

Petition to Intervene – MCEA – Waltons – Fresh Energy

To look at the full docket, go to and “Search Dockets” and search for  PPA docket “05-1993” and Siting docket “06-668.”

And look who filed a Notice of Appearance for Excelsior Energy dated April 27, 2006:

Notice of Appearance – Byron Starns, et al – PPA Docket

And representing Excelsior Energy in the Siting Docket dated September 26, 2006:

Notice of Appearance – Byron Starns, et al – Siting Docket

And look who is noted in the MCEA Annual Reports as providing legal services to MCEA in 2005 and 2006, look in the fine print, why it’s Byron Starns!

MCEA Annual Report 2005

MCEA Annual Report 2006

Oh, but that’s not all, look who joins the Board of MCEA in 2007 … and remains through 2008… and 2009 according to his bio on the LSD site — why, it’s Byron Starns again!:

Board of Directors, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, 2007–2009 (linked)

2007 – MCEA’s IRS 990

2008 – MCEA’s IRS 990

His bio states he was on the MCEA board in 2009, but the 2009 IRS 990 does not list him as having been on it at reporting year end.

I just spoke with Byron Starns, who, with the forwarning to don his Kevlar vest, was kind enough to entertain a few questions, and said that (close to quotes but not quite):

MCEA has an ethical requirement, that everyone on the Board must make full disclosure of interests and conflicts, and that when issues do come up, anyone with a conflict has to leave the room.  He said he didn’t participate in any decisions related to energy matters for MCEA.  He does not recall if the fact that he was on MCEA’s board was disclosed in the Excelsior Energy Mesaba Project PPA or Siting dockets.  Also, he noted he is no longer on the Board of MCEA.

I don’t recall any disclosure about this — do you?

Is it “not a conflict” because MCEA’s interests and the interests of their “clients” the Waltons and Fresh Energy are so closely aligned with those of Excelsior Energy because of that 2003 agreement?


That’s “my” Prairie Island nuclear generating plant in the background, just upwards of Ken’s hinder.  This was taken at Lock & Dam #3 back when she chased tennis balls and still had a black muzzle.  As you read this keep in mind that I live on a bluff directly downwind and down stream from the two nuclear reactors at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant, and in Delaware, directly across the Delaware River from three nuclear reactors at the Salem and Hope Creek nuclear generating plants.  I moved here both because I could afford it and because it gave me standing in any nuclear proceeding.

I read with horror news of  Rep. Bill Hilty’s amendment eliminating the moratorium on new nuclear generating plants that passed in a House Ominous Bill this week.  WHAT ARE THESE YAHOOS THINKING?  The Senate already approved it, and now the House… and I just can’t see Pawlenty doing anything but signing it with glee.

(sudden feeling of ice picks going through temples… buried in brain… electricity applied…)


Is this the “price” of the rollback of exemptions of utilities from eminent domain laws?  Is it an attempt to look like they’re repealing it when “conditions” mean it won’t happen? (like those that said Obama really doesn’t mean what he’s saying about coal gasification or transmission, he knows better)  Is it more of the same deal-making that took the Renewable Development Fund away from PrairIe Island Indian Community, or the enviro sell-outs that gave us the 2005 Transmission bill?  Minnesota’s second nuclear waste storage facility at Monticello, now two piles piling with no plan in sight, PERMANENT?

What I’m hearing about this from various little birdies….


… is NOT encouraging — ooooohhhhhhh do I have a headache…

… apparently NO ONE OBJECTED!




Here’s the bill as it is on the Senate site:

SF 2971

Here’s how Rep. Bill Hilty, Chair of House Energy, amended it:

Hilty, Faust, Norton and Obermueller moved to amend S. F. No. 2971, the third engrossment, as amended, as follows:

Page 4, after line 11, insert:


(a) The commission may not allow any of the following costs attributable to the construction of a nuclear generating plant begun after July 1, 2010, to be recovered from Minnesota ratepayers until the plant begins operating at a monthly load capacity factor of at least 85 percent:

(1) planning, design, safety, environmental, or engineering studies undertaken prior to construction; or

(2) the costs of obtaining regulatory approval, including permits, licenses and any other approval required prior to construction from federal, state and local authorities.

(b) The commission may not allow any of the following costs attributable to the construction of a nuclear generating plant begun after July 1, 2010, to be recovered from Minnesota ratepayers:

Journal of the House – 98th Day – Thursday, May 6, 2010 – Top of Page 11584

(1) any construction costs exceeding the projected construction cost of the generating plant and any ancillary facility constructed by the utility to temporarily or permanently store nuclear waste generated by the plant, as identified in the utility’s certificate of need application submitted under section 216B.243;

(2) the costs of insuring the plant against accidents that exceed the cost of insurance for a fossil fuel plant of equivalent capacity; or

(3) contributions from the plant to provide and maintain local fire protection and emergency services to the plant in case of an accident.

(c) Except for regulatory costs of state agencies, no revenues from taxes or fees imposed by the state of Minnesota may be used to pay for any portion of the preconstruction, construction, maintenance, or operating costs of a nuclear generating plant, or to assume any financial risk associated with an accidental release of radioactivity from the generating plant or an ancillary facility constructed by the utility that owns the generating plant to temporarily or permanently store nuclear waste generated by the plant.

Sec. 5.  Minnesota Statutes 2008, section 216B.243, subdivision 3b, is amended to read:

 Subd. 3b.  Nuclear power plant; new construction prohibited; relicensing.  (a) The commission may not issue a certificate of need for the construction of a new nuclear-powered electric generating plant provided that the certificate of need application contains a separate estimate of preconstruction and construction costs that does not include any of the costs identified in section 216B.1695, paragraphs (a) and (b).

(b) Any certificate of need for additional storage of spent nuclear fuel for a facility seeking a license extension shall address the impacts of continued operations over the period for which approval is sought.”

Renumber the sections in sequence and correct the internal references

Amend the title accordingly.

Way below is the list of yeas and nays, do send each of them a missive:


The ones who voted against it are the strangest set of bedfellows!  But KUDOS TO THEM!

If you click on this to look at the whole back and forth with amendments, scroll to p. 11579 to start.  Here’s the vote:

S. F. No. 2971, A bill for an act relating to energy; making technical changes and modifying provisions related to utility report filings, hydrogen energy projects, weatherization programs, high-voltage transmission lines, public utility commission assessments, and utility metering for supportive housing; removing obsolete and redundant language; authorizing individuals and entities to take certain easements in agricultural land; providing for certain reporting requirements; providing for wind and solar easements; amending Minnesota Statutes 2008, sections 16E.15, subdivision 2; 117.225; 216B.16, by adding a subdivision; 216B.241, subdivision 2; 216B.812, subdivision 2; 216C.264; 216E.03, subdivision 7; 216E.18, subdivision 3; 326B.106, subdivision 12; 500.221, subdivisions 2, 4;
Journal of the House – 98th Day – Thursday, May 6, 2010 – Top of Page 11596

Minnesota Statutes 2009 Supplement, section 117.189; Laws 2008, chapter 296, article 1, section 25; repealing Minnesota Statutes 2008, sections 216C.19, subdivisions 2, 3, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20; 216C.262; Minnesota Statutes 2009 Supplement, section 216C.19, subdivision 17.

The bill was read for the third time, as amended, and placed upon its final passage.

The question was taken on the passage of the bill and the roll was called.  There were 86 yeas and 43 nays as follows:

Those who voted in the affirmative were:

Anderson, S.
Murphy, E.
Murphy, M.
Spk. Kelliher

Those who voted in the negative were:

Anderson, B.
Anderson, P.

Pawlenty gets slapped!

May 6th, 2010


You know life is good in Minnesota when the Supreme Court slaps The Green Chameleon, Gov. Tim Pawlenty!


(FYI, it’s been a busy week in CapX 2020 transmission line land, the scoping hearings, today is Cannon Falls.  Check it out on

Here’s the decision:

Supreme Court Unallotment Decision

In short:

In the context of this limited constitutional grant of gubernatorial authority with regard to appropriations, we cannot conclude that the Legislature intended to authorize the executive branch to use the unallotment process to balance the budget for an entire biennium when balanced spending and revenue legislation has not been initially agreed upon by the Legislature and the Governor. Instead, we conclude that the Legislature intended the unallotment authority to serve the more narrow purpose of providing a mechanism by which the executive branch could address unanticipated deficits that occur after a balanced budget has previously been enacted.



And the pitch?  Nothing new, just RE-AMP toadying for utilities, but I’m waiting for Howard “The Slow” Learner to prove me right, again… and to see how far they go to promote transmission.

April 20 & 21st is Learner’s/Environmental Law & Policy Center‘s and RE-AMP’s “invitation only” transmission strategy workshop, at their office in Chicago, and I surmise much about their goal and strategy based on my many past experiences with transmission promoters.  This meeting is very unlike the Sierra Club transmission strategy meeting in West Virginia last spring, a great group of people who understand the purpose of transmission, were actively engaged in fighting it and who have been successful in slowing down that big web of 500kV/765kV lines known as Project Mountaineer.   Here in the Midwest, it’s a little different.  An example:

The ELPC has also been working with the South Dakota Energy Infrastructure Authority to develop and expand transmission lines across South Dakota. They will also work with neighboring states to develop new approaches for more transmission. The available wind energy in South Dakota is far greater than the state’s electricity needs, so the ability to move this power out of the state is crucial.

What is ELPC doing to develop and expand transmission?  Transmission lines across South Dakota moving this power out of state means it comes into Minnesota — funny how that works.  What is ELPC doing about the coal plants in queue in the Dakotas?

What is the goal of ELPC’s invitation-only Transmission Strategy Meeting?

Anyway, it was no surprise to me — Learner saw I was on the list and has slammed the door in my face!  Imagine that!  SNORT!  It seems that people with a lot of working knowledge of transmission, knowledge of history, and knowledge of the parties involved are not welcome.  Specifics on this meeting are below.


Don’t drop the ball, Howard!  Will Howard Learner and ELPC be the utilities’ water boy for transmission that’s planned stretching from the Midwest to the East Coast or acknowledge that more big transmission is not needed or wanted?  And why would anyone want to advocate for transmission to the East Coast if the East Coast doesn’t want it?  Will they respect the East Coast’s solid “NO!” to Midwest transmission?  How ethno-geo-centric will they be?

Here are a few posts with links to the primary documents of NYISO & ISO-NE, NY’s Deputy Secretary of Energy, the 10 Mid-Atlantic Governors letter, etc.

DUH… eastern states don’t want our transmission

Offshore transmission, NOT transmission from Midwest

Eastern Governors stand up against Transmission!!!



The windup?  Today’s Chicago Tribune has a disturbing article about transmission, foreshadowing the meeting three weeks from now:

Putting wind generated power where it’s needed

For example, from the article:

In order to integrate and move that alternative power east through Illinois, the grid would have to be expanded and upgraded, say transmission experts and utility companies.

The estimated cost to move that wind power east could range from $64 billion to $93 billion in 2009 dollars and would require 17,000 to 22,000 miles of transmission lines to be built in the eastern half of the country alone, according to the Eastern Wind Integration and Transmission Study (EWITS) published in January and prepared for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Just a reminder, Matt Schuerger who worked on this EWITS (or “nitwits”) study is the same one who, together with Beth Soholt, asked me and several others to sell out on the SW MN 345kV line.  At that time, he was at ME3 (after a stint at District Energy) and is listed as a consultant on Izaak Walton 990s, and Beth Soholt, Izaak Walton League (formerly of MAPP).  FYI – Wind on the Wires is a GRANT, not an organization — it’s listed on the Izaak Walton 990s as a “program” despite having a Minnesota non-profit established (CLICK HERE for Secretary of State link).  From May, 2001 NWCC minutes:

Matt Schuerger is, in 2022, a 2nd term Commissioner at Minnesota PUC (notice his bio doesn’t mention his working for Waltons, ME3/Fresh Energy, and Wind on the Wires!).

2008-Izaak Walton League 990

2007-Izaak Walton League 990

2006-Izaak Walton League 990

2005-Izaak Walton League 990

2004-Izaak Walton League 990

Color me naive, I really didn’t have a clue (other than the enviros’ obscene deal on Prairie Island in 1994) until that meeting in question, it was on or about Sept. 8, 2001, when Beth and Matt asked about 6-7 of us who were likely intervenors in that docket to sell out.   “What would you need to approve of this line?” (the SW MN 345kV line, PUC Docket 01-1958).  I asked what they were getting and what they’d share, and what they were getting was pissy and they got pissier the more questions I asked, particularly Matt, who made empty threats about walking out — DUH, please, leave!  The most important question they didn’t address was, “What about the big long list of coal in queue on p. 29 of the study, waiting for the transmission that they were promoting?”  Defensive pissyness, unwillingness to address the big picture, and silence.  Schuerger and Soholt, they were so B Squad about it that afternoon at the Loring Cafe, Dinkytown, in 2001.  That was the year that “Wind on the Wires” got $4.5 million to promote transmission.  That amount was ramped up for the next grant, and the focus of their deal became clear when one agreement was posted on the TRANSLink docket.  A o coupfle days later, “Wind on the Wires”  got an Energy Foundation/McKnight grant of $8.1 million.  $8.1 MILLION! Hmmmmm…


The Energy Foundation/McKnight funded and orchestrated promotion of transmission has been shameless, as bad as the enviro support for coal gasification, their transmission efforts ranging from attempts to gain endorsement of the regional SEED group (organizations that as a whole knew nothing about transmission) to legislative “it’s a deal, a package deal and it’s a good deal” changes desired by utilities, to NWCC “concensus building” to supportive intervention in transmission dockets.  That agenda continues despite clear evidence that midwest transmission supports coal, our RES that does not link an increase in renewables with a decrease in coal, MISO policy that has a goal of displacing natural gas with coal (see “Conclusions” in ICF – Midwest ISO Benefits Analysis) , and decreased demand and a conservation mandate, such that transmission is not needed now and probably not needed ever.  Whose interests are these organizations acting in?  Their interests, their funders’ interests.  Where’s consideration of the public interest?

What did they agree to back then?  Here’s one example that’s public:

Settlement Agreement – ME3(Fresh Energy), Izaak Walton League, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, North American Water Office

Take a closer look at “Wind on the Wires” that is a subset of the Izaak Walton League.  Do members and chapters of the Izaak Walton League have a clue what this organization is advocating?  Though there is a Minnesota “non-profit” registered, as above, it remains a “program” on the Izaak Walton League IRS 990s and Beth Soholt is an employee of the Waltons.  From the website, here’s the address, same as the Waltons:

Office Location

Wind on the Wires
1619 Dayton Avenue, Suite 203
St Paul, MN 55104
(651) 644-3400

Their list of  WOW Staff and Consultants:

Beth Soholt
Director, Wind on the Wires

Linda Brewster
Administrative Associate, Wind on the Wires

Matthew Schuerger, P.E.
Technical Consultant

Natalie McIntire
Technical/Policy Consultant

And take a look at who is on the board of “Wind on the Wires”, why the whole family is there:

Board Members
R.T. “Hap” Boyd
GE Energy

Hans Detweiler
American Wind Energy Association

Joe DeVito
RES – Americas

Tom Feiler
Clipper Windpower

Richard Free
John Deere Wind Energy

Bob Gough
Intertribal Council on Utility Policy

Ian Krygowski

Howard Learner
Environmental Law and Policy Center

Kevin Lynch

Michael Vickerman
RENEW Wisconsin

(And would you look at that, Rick Free?!?!  Too funny — I’ve got to tell Nancy Prehn what Rick Free is up to since we killed his Simon Industries gas plant in Waseca!)


And the pitch:

The ELPC Midwest Transmission Strategy Meeting.  The shameless Energy Foundation funded (and is this also McKnight Foundation funded?)  and orchestrated promotion of transmission continues.  First, on March 5th this appeared in my inbox:

Colleagues –

1.  We appreciate the Energy Foundation’s grant support to cover reasonable travel/hotel costs for individuals and organizations that may need assistance in order to attend this important regional meeting.

2.  Please call/email Kay Tamillow at ELPC (312-795-3709, for information on the favorable hotel rate that ELPC has obtained and to make reservations.

3.  Please RSVP to attend if you’re interested and have not yet done so.

Best wishes,


Midwest/Great Plains Environmental, Clean Energy and Consumer Colleagues,

Please join us for a Midwest Transmission Strategy Meeting on April 20 (dinner) and April 21 (full day), 2010 in Chicagoat the Environmental Law & Policy Center’s conference space, 35 East Wacker Drive.  New major interstate transmission lines in the Midwest/Great Plains are a double-edged sword:  On the one hand, they can provide additional needed delivery capacity for wind power and other new renewable energy development; on the other hand, they can provide enabling delivery capacity and lifelines of support for the continued operation of old highly-polluting coal plants.  We will be developing strategies to advance the former and avoid the latter.  We will also address important cost-allocation issues for new transmission.  Please RSVP to Kay Tamillow at or 312-795-3709.  More info to follow on hotel, etc.

The purposes of the strategy meeting are to: (1) Bring together Midwest environmental, clean energy and consumer leaders to learn together and get up-to-speed on key transmission strategy and policy issues, (2) Set the strategic framework for what types of transmission lines we will support and which not, and what we can and should do through advocacy; and (3) Initiate strategic discussions and actions on high-leverage transmission advocacy targets in the Midwest/Great Plains states.

The importance of new transmission capacity to support wind power development is relatively clear. There is a less obvious and equally important goal of relating transmission advocacy to spur the retirement of old, highly-polluting coal plants in the Midwest/Great Plains states. There is a very important set of strategic leverage points because of the structure of the Midwest/Great Plains power market in 2010 – 2020.

The framework for the agenda is as follows below. We will distribute a final agenda closer to the meeting date.

April 20th, 5:30 pm. – 8:30 pm:
Dinner Meeting and Briefing with wind industry and transmission line developers presenting.

April 21st, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm:
Morning: Strategy briefing and short course on key transmission issues and opportunities for environmental, clean energy and consumer advocates.

Afternoon: Strategy planning and discussion on: (1) Engagement/intervention in key policymaking forums: FERC, MISO, State PUCs, Public Outreach; and (2) Focus on Pros/Cons and potential challenges to particular transmission line proposals in Midwest/Great Plains region.

The agenda planning group includes:

Citizens Utility Board (Illinois) – David Kolata
Energy Foundation – David Wooley and Ben Paulos
Environmental Law & Policy Center – Howard Learner and John Moore
Fresh Energy – Michael Noble
Kresge Foundation – Lois DeBacker
Michigan Environmental Council – James Clift
Wind on the Wires – Beth Soholt

Please RSVP to Kay Tamillow at or 312-795-3709.  More info to follow on hotel, etc. ELPC is working to obtain foundation support to cover reasonable travel costs for individuals and organizations that may need assistance.  Please indicate in your response if you will need reimbursement of reasonable travel costs.

We all understand the strategic importance of this meeting and the issues to be discussed. Thank you in advance for you participation and engagement. Please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions.

Best wishes,


Howard A. Learner
Executive Director
Environmental Law & Policy Center
35 East Wacker Drive, Suite 1300
Chicago, Illinois 60601
phone: (312) 673-6500
Please visit ELPC’s website at

And of course knowing what they’re up to, I signed right up right after I got it, and Alan did too.   We’re all set!  Then, on the 16th, I get this, from Howard Learner:


Howard Learner wrote:

Carol and Alan,

I’m writing to let you know that the Transmission Strategy Meeting on April 20-21 is a “by invitation only” strategy session among a group of directly invited environmental – clean energy – consumer colleagues, rather than an open conference or seminar event.  Members of the planning group for this particular strategy session have asked that we limit attendees to those directly invited.  Although my assistant Kay Tamillow did receive your RSVP, we’ll ask that you not plan to attend.

Thank you for understanding,


Howard A. Learner
Executive Director
Environmental Law & Policy Center
35 East Wacker Drive, Suite 1300
Chicago, Illinois 60601
phone: (312) 673-6500
Please visit ELPC’s website at

So here’s my response to Howard’s email:

Howard –

Interesting — I  think I understand some things and don’t understand others. I do know that I am thinking that the “plan” is getting more and more interesting…

The Sierra Club had an excellent transmission strategy planning meeting in West Virginia last spring of those intervening in transmission dockets, attorneys, expert witnesses, and advocates from both coasts regarding their focused and effective efforts. I think I shall regard your missive as confirmation that your strategic plan and goal is quite different from that of Sierra.

But many questions remain…

Carol A. Overland
Attorney representing clients in transmission cases across the country for 15 years now

We’ll see how this goes!



Above, “JCSP,” the Joint Coordinated System Plan.



And they don’t give a rodent’s rump what we do with our transmission but THEY DO NOT WANT TO PAY FOR IT!


It’s not anything new, but it seems that the message is getting through all the way to Iowa.   Soon Minnesota? The message?  That the east coast does not want Midwest transmission, that they have their own renewables and not only that, they know that transmission from the Midwest means coal and, most importantly, THEY WILL NOT PAY FOR TRANSMISSION FOISTED UPON THEM.

The 7th Circuit case tossing out PJM’s cost apportionment scheme must be having an impact because everyone is freakin’ about cost allocation.  Again, GOOD!  The court said that PJM could not shove the costs of transmission on those who do not benefit from it:

Illinois Commerce Commission v. FERC – August 6, 2009

Enter the Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy, just launched today with a press conference in Washington, D.C.

Dig this from their site:

Assessment of National EHV Transmission Grid Overlay Proposals: Cost-Benefit Methodologies and Claims

HA!  I love it when that happens…

Here’s some background on our Midwest Transmission — transmission we don’t need and they don’t want:

JCSP & UMTDI in the news

This opposition to Midwest transmission is nothing new, I’ve entered documentation in the record in a couple of proceedings now, but what is new is that as of today’s “launch,” there’s now an industry group advocating against Midwest transmission, and that’s one utility interest I’m glad to see hopping mad as hell and not going to take it anymore!  GOOD!  Maybe that will help stop this stupid transmission-fest across the Midwest.

PUC Chair David Boyd had it right when he testified before Minnesota’s Legislative Energy Commission and led off with, “We need a business plan.”  Yes, that’s true, there is no business plan, and there is no MARKET for transmission.  I just hope that message gets through before “we” build and WE have to pay for all these wires in the air!

Here are a few recent posts of mine on this, followed by today’s article in the Des Moines Register.

Offshore transmission, NOT transmission from the Midwest

Eastern Governors stand up against transmission!

And today’s Des Moines Register article:

Eastern states balk at paying wind cost

By DAN PILLER • • March 5, 2010

Much of the nation isn’t eager to help pay for a high-voltage transmission line to sell Iowa’s extra wind power to big markets east of the Mississippi River.

“If Iowa wants to build a transmission line for their energy, we have no objection. But Iowa or the Midwest should pay for it,” said Ian Bowles, secretary of energy and environmental affairs in Massachusetts. New England states want to produce their own wind energy from offshore farms.

A coalition of utilities in Eastern states will announce today their opposition to a 765-kilovolt transmission line, more than double the capacity of the current 345-kilovolt lines. The line would send electricity from the Dakotas, Iowa and Minnesota to Chicago and points east. Iowa is the nation’s second-largest producer of wind-generated electricity, behind Texas.

Such a transmission line won public support from President Barack Obama on his visit to Newton last April. It is a linchpin of the renewable energy policies of Gov. Chet Culver and Iowa’s largest electric utility, MidAmerican Energy of Des Moines.

Alliant Energy has its objections

Proposals by MidAmerican and ITC Holdings, which runs transmission lines in eastern Iowa, are considered the best chance for Iowa to reap a wind energy version of the financial windfall enjoyed by Texas and other oil- and gas-producing states.

But as wind energy becomes bigger and more corporate, the utility industry is divided even in Iowa.

Alliant Energy, which serves 525,000 customers in parts of northern, eastern and southern Iowa, has joined the newly organized Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy, which promises to fight a government-mandated transmission line from the Midwest.

“We don’t think the costs of transmission should be socialized,” said Alliant spokesman Ryan Stensland. Alliant’s wind energy production in Iowa is a fraction of MidAmerican’s.

Bruce Edelston, executive director for the Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy, said his group has formed to fight a proposal in the Senate to give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority to site and assess costs for a wind transmission line.

“We don’t think it’s necessarily a good idea to build a multistate transmission line,” said Edelston, whose group will hold a coming-out news conference today in Washington, D.C.

The Fair Transmission group represents companies serving 28 percent of U.S. electric customers, including utilities in New York City, Michigan, Indianapolis, New England, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas and Florida, New Jersey and Georgia.

Those states presumably would be among potential markets for the wind-generated electricity moved from the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa, which have the potential to produce far more wind energy than would be consumed there.

Other states have their own plans

While Iowa has speckled its countryside with wind turbines, other states have similar aspirations.

Atlantic seaboard states advanced plans for offshore wind farms, which they say would eliminate the need to ship wind-generated electricity from Iowa.
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