The June 25, 1998 blackout report needs to be on the interwebs available to the world.

June 25, 1998? That’s the night of the transmission fail that disconnected the Midwest from the Eastern Interconnect. That question was asked by Minnesota Power’s attorney of each and every witness, I think other than MP, but maybe MP witnesses too, in the Arrowhead transmission project hearing, circa 1999-2000. There were cries of “Hospitals will go dark without the Arrowhead project,” “We’re going to freeze in the dark in an incubator” which became “We’re going to freeze in the dark on a respirator without a job” — it was so histrionic.

The Arrowhead transmission project was project 13J of the WRAO Report, and the WIREs Report, which presented many transmission lines, but chose the Arrowhead transmission project as the “be all and end all” of transmission in the Midwest, that it would fix all the transmission problems:

The hearing went forward, 2 weeks in Minnesota, where MP got an exemption from Minnesota Power Plant siting law, and for TWO MONTHS in Wisconsin, for Round 1, then 2 weeks after the cost went way up, and another 3-5 days of hearing later when cost went up again. They got their permit, it’s up…

But in that first hearing, I did get to introduce the report that showed that the June 25, 1998, blackout was NOT caused by too little capacity, it was not caused by an unreliable transmission system. It was caused by corporate greed, transmission operators running the Prairie Island-Byron 345kV’s TCEX flow over the limit, disregarding operating guides, and disregarding requests and demands to ramp the power down, violating MAPP Operating Standards and NERC Operating Policies. SHAME, NSP, SHAME!!! And MP was so tacky, trying to attribute their desire for bulk power transfer to the blackout, that the Arrowhead project would save us. Yeah, right…

Here’s the report, below, it’s a gem, I’m posting this today because I’m shoveling off my desk and there are a lot of gems here, so posting them will get them out into the world in perpetuity — can’t disappear something from the internet! Scanning them in is taking a while, a royal and dusty pain in the patoot, but just for you inquiring minds, HERE IT IS:

Here are a couple snippets, starting with p. 2:

Bottom line?



The report goes on and on with stupid human tricks – the flow was NOT reduced by NSP System Operators:

From pps 10-11:

So if the operators had been doing the job, not focused on keeping that line operating with all that power flowing through it, selling that power, the blackout may not have happened. Great…

And for some reason, NSP operators were not communicating:

300 MW above the operating guide limits:


Operator error is a too-generous way to put it — but for the efforts to NOT reduce power flows, the inadequate response of system operators and their failure to communicate the degree of the problem, the blackout may not have happened. And then utilities have the nerve to say that because of the June 25, 1998 blackout, we need the 13j Arrowhead transmission project?

How many years have I been saying that the purpose of this massive transmission build-out is to market coal elsewhere? Decades, folks, it’s been decades… And this latest from Xcel Energy, Notice of Comment period just out today, is demonstration that they plan to keep running those coal plants and selling it. Will the Public Utilities Commission care?

Here’s the newly released Xcel Energy plan, and a comment period:

The plan?

Here’s the Notice:

What to comment about? From the Commission’s Notice:

Bulk power transfer was the whole point of the transmission build-out, to be able to sell anything generated at any Point A to any Point B. And then coal generated here could be sold elsewhere, eastward via transmission, while we use generation that isn’t quite so dirty (but that’s dirty in its own way). We’re so clean here in Minnesota… NOT! We’ve been a pass through for Dakotas’ coal for a while, and now, they’re asking permission to keep burning coal here and send that energy eastward.

They built all that transmission, no Commission I’ve seen has ever found a transmission plan they didn’t like and roll over for, and now we’re paying for it. Rate increases anyone? Are you paying attention to what’s pushing those rates up?

Why ever would I say that it’s all about selling coal? Well… there’s a bit of a pattern going here. There was the Chisago project, starting in 1996 and three iterations in Minnesota and Wisconsin, not to mention the WRAO report:

WRAO laid out many transmission lines and the Arrowhead transmission project, circa 1999, was selected as the be all and end all of transmission after many hearings were held, one hearing in Minnesota and THREE before Wisconsin PSC, the price kept going UP, UP, UP!

But then on September 8, 2001, a meeting with likely intervenors to see if they could be convinced to “approve” of the SW Minnesota 345kV line, remember that, Commissioner Matt Schuerger? I pointed out all that coal lined up in the SW MN 345kV study… and from there on to the SW MN 345kV line, part of ABB plan for coal:

Don’t ya just love that name? It says it all. Why the ABB Lignite Vision 21 Transmission Study? The opening paragraph, linked above, DOH! says:

The SW MN 345kV line was the part that’s running east to west on the lower part of that yellow map, from Split Rock sub to Lakefield Junction. Some claimed it was an “It’s for WIND!” line, but that’s a lie, just read that ABB study again. The powerflows showed that it wasn’t to carry energy off of Buffalo Ridge, there was just 213-302 MVA coming off Buffalo Ridge into the over 2,000 MVA capacity line:

How stupid do they think we are? Well, money talked, and that money ruled the day. That SW MN 345kV line and the TRANSLink Settlement Agreement and 2005 Transmission Omnibus Bill from Hell (and changes to Minn. Stat. 117.189) laid the groundwork to bring us $2+ BILLION of CapX 2020:

And then the MISO MVP 17 project portfolio, now over $6 BILLION:

And then they have the audacity to suggest we need MORE transmission?

Upper Midwest utilities to study transmission grid in light of ambitious carbon reduction goals

CapX 2050 Vision Study

So please explain how selling coal generated electricity on the MISO market is consistent with carbon reduction goals?

What a crock…


It’s all about this short section of the Chisago Transmission Project.  This is a cropped portion of a map in the DoC’s Environmental Assessment, Map 4 to be precise.

To look at the entire docket, go to:

then to “eDockets” and search for 06-1677

A little light reading:

Taylors Falls & St Croix Falls Permit Amendment Request

Notice of Permit Amendment Request & Comment Period\

And the Comment period ends TODAY!  ENDED!  It’s history…  Some Comments received — in alpha order:

Comment – Neuman Affidavit

Comment – Overland

Comment – Xcel f/k/a NSP

My big question, which OAH couldn’t answer, was whether THE Agreement was filed in that OAH docket way back in 2000,  was it filed in the EQB docket, filed in any docket???


Shame, shame, shame, Xcel…

Remember way back when, Chisago II, when then Northern States Power did a deal with the City of Taylors Falls and the City of St. Croix Falls?  I won’t forget the cities’ joint siging meeting, because the then Mayor of St. Croix Falls, now a felon, ordered me arrested when I inquired during public comment period about the “Project Mitigation Fund and Committee.”  Guess he didn’t want that discussed, didn’t want it questioned… thanks to all the hollering from the audience I didn’t end up with three hots and a cot!

Deal – NSP – Taylors Falls – St. Croix Falls

This was a three way deal.  Well, Xcel has just unilaterally, without permission of Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls, altered provisions of the construction specifics that were material terms of the agreement.

From the agreement:


See???  Undergrounding “to the existing dam facility on the St. Croix River…”

Simple enough… but here’s what it says in the PUC Order of February 20, 2008:


… and..


So in the agreement, it is undergrounded all the way to the river, and in the PUC Order, it’s above ground from Hwy. 95 to the river on H-frame structures.  EH?  Well, what does that look like?  Here’s the map:


Off to the right, the wider road where there’s a box pointing downward at the wider road where it says “UG Termination Structures” and the line representing transmission changes to sort of a weird dashed line just after the road, that’s Hwy 95 where just east of the highway, it changes from underground to overhead.  If you follow it from Hwy. 95 to the right, east, you’ll see it go over County Road 16, Wild Mountain Road and then over to the St. Croix River.

What does Taylors Falls think about it?  They’re unhappy enough to have rattled Xcel’s cage, and got this response from Xcel:

Xcel’s letter to Mayor Buchite – March 26, 2009

Xcel’s explanation why transmission line was overhead when it was supposed to be underground is… well… read it for yourself:


Oh, right, Xcel, because you got everyone together EXCEPT those who are party to the agreement and they agreed, yeah, seems like it’s OK… uh-huh…

I think a better response: “THAT’S DIFFERENT!”

Should the settlement agreement be amended?  Xcel has this to say:


Xcel says there’s no need to amend the settlement agreement and that they’ve “complied with all of the provisions relative to Taylors Falls.”  Oh… uh-huh…

St. Croix Falls, the other party to the agreement, is outraged!  They took it to Congressman Obey:

St. Croix Falls letter to Rep. Obey – March 31, 2009

Can you hear their eyeballs rolling, hands thrown up in disgust?


And what’s this about the school in St. Croix Falls?????

Xcel is getting a little too big for its britches!