Undergrounding Hiawatha!

January 13th, 2012

There’s good news and bad news.  The good news is that the PUC did order that the Hiawatha Project transmission line be undergrounded.



The bad news is that NO ONE is addressing need, need has been presumed, despite lots of evidence in the record that the project is way way more than what is required for the claimed 55MW need, which in itself is questionable.  Silence…  Those who worked so hard to get a requirement for a Certificate of Need abdicated, zero follow through, after legislation passed to require a Certificate of Need, and it then wound its way through the PUC process, and there were NO intervenors.

Here’s the PUC’s deliberation:

AUDIO – Hiawatha begins at 16:50

It seems to end before they’re done, and there’s a note that complete audio will be posted later, so check back.  Right now there’s about 45 minutes and it ends as they’re going through exceptions to the ALJ report, a prelude to the ultimate vote.

Here’s the report in theSTrib:

Xcel told to bury new power lines across south Minneapolis

Article by: STEVE BRANDT , Star Tribune
Updated: January 12, 2012 – 11:15 PM

PUC decision protects south Minneapolis greenway, but doesn’t say how to cover extra $13.6 million cost.


A state board Thursday ordered that new high-voltage power lines across the heart of south Minneapolis be buried underground but deferred the question of who should pay the extra $13.6 million cost.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ordered that the twin 115-kilovolt lines requested by Xcel Energy be deemed necessary but said they should be buried under E. 28th Street.

That’s a victory for the city and a number of neighborhood representatives. They argued that an alternative route that would run lines overhead or underground along the bike-pedestrian corridor was too disruptive. “It’s a huge victory, said Soren Jensen, staff chief for the Midtown Greenway Coalition.

But the precedent-setting question of who pays will require a separate proceeding that will last several months and determine whether all Xcel customers in Minnesota will help bear the cost of burying the lines or just those in Minneapolis.

The city argued that all Xcel customers should pay because the factors arguing for burying the route are so compelling that any other route, including the greenway, would be unreasonable. Burial of the lines, the city said, should thus be considered a standard cost, borne by all customers, rather than a special accommodation whose extra costs should accrue only to Minneapolis residents. Xcel agreed with that wider-cost impact.

But the PUC wasn’t ready to make that precedent-setting decision now, telling Xcel to file its views in 30 days in a proceeding that will give other potentially affected parties a chance to comment.

“There is no precedent case just like this,” said attorney James Strommen, who argued on behalf of suburban cities in support of the city position. “The standard is not always overhead in all cases, in our view.”

At the PUC’s request, Xcel generated estimates of the amounts needed to pay off the extra cost of the buried lines. To do so in the standard five years, the per customer cost would be $12 if spread statewide, and $83.40 if levied only within Minneapolis.

Xcel estimates that the lines and two new substations at either end, at Hiawatha and Oakland Avenues, will cost $42 million. The utility will refine those costs as it does final engineering for the project; it plans to break ground later this year and start operations in 2014.

Xcel argued that since 2006, electrical demand has exceeded its capacity to reliably provide service to customers in the south Minneapolis area. Opponents argued that Xcel has further plans to bisect south Minneapolis with transmission lines, has overestimated demand and should substitute conservation measures.

The utility originally proposed that the lines be built within the Midtown corridor paralleling Lake Street somewhere between E. 31st Street and E. 26th Street. It said that a greenway route would be cheapest but that option quickly drew opposition from the recreation lobby.

The PUC’s decision largely followed the recommendations 15 months ago of Administrative Law Judge Beverly Jones Heydinger. She cited a 1993 court decision protecting the downtown Minneapolis Armory to find that reasons of cost, convenience and efficiency aren’t sufficient to impair a protected historic district such as the greenway trench and its bridges when alternatives exist.

hiawathaprojectplusmap-3(above – Overland’s take on what’s really happening here, that Hiawatha is “B to C” of a much larger project, one that’s been in progress for years, check the upgrades at that 280 and East Hennepin substation, and at the Wilson sub at 494 and Nicollet, if you want some concrete and steel proof)

Comments are due tomorrow by 4:30 on Xcel Energy’s Hiawatha Project.  Send to:

Beverly Jones Heydinger, ALJ

Office of Administrative Hearings

P.O. Box 64620

St. Paul, MN  55164-0620

or email:


Some documents you might want to check out are:

Xcel’s filing today – Substation location maps

For an even better showing of substations and which serve what area, where you can see that the Southtown Sub stretches to the southwest beyond the study zone, and that Aldrich serves a significant part of the study zone, and St. Louis Park a little bit.  Check the Application, Appendix A, p. 24 of 102 (click for larger version):


And be sure to take a look at the Zima Schedule 2 and 3, I particularly like Sched. 3, that shows that there is a lot of wiggle room there for the transformers, look at Aldrich, even Elliot Park with the smaller transformers.  Here’s Schedule 3 — click for a larger view.


Here are the exhibits that I entered at the public hearing:

10-694 – Ex. 27 – South Mpls Electric Reliability Study

10-694 – Ex. 28 – South Mpls Electric Distribution Delivery System Plan

10-694 Ex. 29 – pages from 2007 Transmission Plan

10-694 Ex 30-MAPP NM-SPG Meeting Minutes 7/24/2008

10-694 Ex 31 From SW MN 345kv Application, Appendix 7 Conductor Specs

Two things to check out to compare with their “forecasting” for this project:

MISO’s Futures Matrix for MTEP 12

MISO Peak Forecasting Metholodogy Review Whitepaper 2011


Today are the public hearings for the Xcel Energy Hiawatha Project Certificate of Need for a transmission line through the Phillips Neighborhood.

Testimony filed by Xcel

Read the testimony, and check out Appendix A of the Application!  To look at everything that’s been filed in this docket, go to www.puc.state.mn.us and then click the blue “Search eDockets” button and search for docket 10-694.

The Routing docket Intervenors fought hard to get legislation passed to require a Certificate of Need for this project and they got it.  But here we are at the end of the Certificate of Need proceeding,  and not a single one of them intervened in this Certificate of Need docket.  THERE ARE NO INTERVENORS!  So it’s up to the public to ask the questions and demand the answers.

Monday, October 10, 2011

2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Plaza Verde, 1516 East Lake Street

Minneapolis, MN  55407

Be there or be square!

question_marksXcel Energy filed “Testimony” in the Hiawatha Project Certificate of Need docket. It’s odd, there are NO intervenors in this docket, everyone from the Routing docket is sitting this one out.  WHY???

Here’s the testimony:

Testimony of Lehman, Rassmussen and Zima

Note that they go on and on about how peak load has increased, or is it has almost equaled the 2006 peak… which is it?

Look carefully at the charts on pages 30-32.  Here’s the one on p. 32 (click for bigger chart, you’ll need it!)


Now let’s compare this with prior info:


And from their Hiawatha Project filings, first their REVISED chart (click for larger version):


And this was their original:


And remember, this was the stuff that MOES, errrrr, the agency formerly known as MOES, had a hissy fit about my Commenting on Xcel info about peak demand!!!!

I need to read this, have only skimmed it so far, but I trust there will be a way to address this stuff in the record???



Xcel Energy’s Hiawatha Transmission Project moves forward.

Recently, Comments and Reply Comments were due in this “informal” Certificate of Need proceeding.  All the intervening parties in the routing docket have been sitting on their hands, or worse (I hope not, but why the silence?).  So when only MOES filed “Comments” I filed Reply Comments, because theirs were SOOOOO… soooooo… well, read them yourself, they’re in INITIAL comments recommending that the Certificate of Need be approved, shouldn’t they at least make it look better by waiting to see what comes in before declaring that it should be approved?!?!?!  … and the basis, well, it’s just absurd:

MOES – Comments and Recommendation

Here’s what I filed — I don’t have a dog in the fight, no client, no direct interest, but I cannot stand it when there’s NO response, NO filings, it’s just not right, and that’s when I get twitchy that somebody is pulling a fast one, and others did join in:

Overland Reply Comment

Johnson Reply Comments

Johnson – Reply Comment Attachment

City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County Reply Comments

Suburban Rate AuthorityReply Comments – LATE

Xcel Reply Comments

And then MOES has the last word, complaining that Xcel’s aren’t allowed under the PUC Rules of Practice in Minn. R. ch 7829!

MOES Comments and Recommendation