Xcel Energy, or Northern States Power, whichever, has filed its brief in the Routing docket for the Hiawatha Transmission Project.

Xcel/NSP Post-Hearing Brief

Xcel/NSP Proposed Findings of Fact, Conclusions

Also filed is Notice that the transcripts are now available at local libraries, a big help because the cost is prohibitive, they’re not free here as they are in WI or available via FOIA as they are in New Jersey (called OPRA there):

Notice – Transcripts are in the libraries

Which states:

I write to advise that the transcripts for the evidentiary hearings held in the Hiawatha Transmission Project routing proceeding on April 12 – 21 and April 26 – 30, 2010, have been placed in the following libraries: East Lake Library, Hosmer Library, Franklin Library, Central Library, and Roosevelt Library. We have also provided an extra copy to the Central Library with a request that it forward it to the Nokomis Branch once renovations are complete. The transmittal documents are enclosed.

So those of you writing briefs now know where to go!!!!


Xcel’s Hiawatha Transmission Project, through the heart of the Phillips neighborhood in Minneapolis, was on the PUC’s agenda last Thursday.  I had some deadline or other and couldn’t go, but here’s what happened:

MOES – Comment on Application, Task Force, etc.

Of course MOES thought everything was just ducky…

Midtown Greenway filed a Comment:

Midtown Greenway – Letter

Midtown Greenway – Resolution

There was no Petition for a Contested Case filed, but a Contested Case was ordered because Xcel has taken the mandatory Contested Case route.  There were no Petitions to Intervene… There was only ONE comment filed…

Here’s the PUC’s Order:

PUC Order – May 26, 2009

Here’s the Dept. of Commerce’s view of Scoping for the full-blown Environmental Impact Statement:

Draft Scoping Document

So there we are… Bill Storm of MOES is assuming that it’s an EIS we’re doing, that’s a good thing.  Check the DRAFT scope, though, and note how narrow it is.

There’s a public meeting for scoping (hmmmm… I wonder if I got notice… $50 says no — Bill says yes, and where’s the $50, but, “It would be WRONG,” she says, speaking into the lampshade…):

DOE-MOES – Notice of EIS Scoping Meeting

Thursday, June 18, 2009 – 6:oo p.m.

Midtown Global Market

920 East Lake St.

Mpls, MN

Comments accepted until July 10, 2009

Send to:

Bill Storm, Project Manager

MN Dept of Commerce

85 – 7th Place East, Suite 500

St. Paul, MN  55101



OK, folks, get to work!

  • Now’s the time to read the application (Xcel’s Hiawatha Project Page HERE) and draft a Comment about what should be included in the EIS.
  • Now’s the time to put in your requests to be on the Citizens Advisory Task Force
  • Now’s the time to Petition to Intervene! (well, it’s not to late… YET…)



MOES page for Hiawatha Project

Now take a look at this map for the FULL plan, well, at least a larger picture, than what they’re disclosing for the Hiawatha Project.  Here’s the map, and note carefully, from B-C is what they’re calling the Hiawatha Project.  tHIS SECTION IS FOR XCEL’s PAM RASMUSSEN, WHO HATES IT WHEN I PUBLISH THIS MAP, SO I’VE GOT TO BE VERY SPECIFIC WHERE THIS INFORMATION IS COMING FROM AND WHAT CONSTITUTES THE “HIAWATHA PROJECT” and as far as Xcel is disclosing, the applied for Hiawatha Project is “B-C” of this map.  Look below to see where the rest comes from!


Here’s the NM-SPG meeting minutes reporting on the A-B link, the 345kV line from a new substation on Hwy 280 (A) to the new Hiawatha Project substation (B).

Minutes – NM-SPG meeting July 24, 2008

Then there’s “Hiawatha Project” from B-C.

For C, D and E, see the “Minnesota Transmission Owners” 2007 Biennial Transmission Plan, where they list these extension alternatives:

Alternatives. Initial investigation and scoping discussions have led to the development of three potential alternatives:

(1) Construct a new 115 kV line from a new Hiawatha Substation along Highway 55 to a new Oakland Substation near Lake Street and I-35W. The line would then continue south to a new Highway 62 Substation near Highway 62 and Nicollet Avenue. The line would continue to its final termination at a new Penn Lake Substation near I-494 and Sheridan Avenue.

(2) Similar to Option 1, but the final 115 kV line would stretch from Highway 62 Substation to the existing Wilson Substation near I-494 and Wentworth Avenue.

(3) Construct two smaller 115 kV loops with new 115 kV lines running from Hiawatha to Oakland to Elliot Park and a second loop from Penn Lake to Highway 62 to Wilson.

Section 7 of Biennial Transmission Plan, go to Section 7.5 and all the way down to 3rd and 4th to last pages:


Another point to note:  the Hiawatha Project is WAY over spec’d.  This is a double circuited ACSS 795kCmil conductor — see what that means and compare it with the claimed 100MW need in the FUTURE!

Ex. 35 – conductors – from SW MN 345kV docket

And now, for today’s STrib article:

Will burying power lines in Midtown bury city, users with $12.6 million bill?

Xcel Energy prefers to route transmission lines along the Midtown Greenway; public officials question the fivefold cost increase of putting them underground.

By STEVE BRANDT, Star Tribune

Last update: April 27, 2009 – 11:27 PM

If Xcel wanted buried power lines along this corridor, they should have expressed that when the greenway project was in the planning … read more stages. They could have accomplished this with a substantially reduced cost. Poor foresight on their part is not the responsibility of the city.

Xcel Energy has told state regulators that it wants its controversial twin high-voltage power lines through the Midtown area of Lake Street in Minneapolis to run along the rim of the Midtown Greenway.

But the utility told the Public Utility Commission that the line could be run either overhead for $3 million or underground for $15.6 million. If it’s the latter, either the city or electrical users in Minneapolis should pay the extra $12.6 million cost, Xcel said.

Some city and Hennepin County elected officials said the proposal represents an opportunity for state regulators to consider a paradigm shift in assessing those costs and whether the utility should bear the expense of installing a new underground line in an urban area. That’s because the lines would penetrate a dense urban area, unlike more typical routing through rural or developing suburban areas, said Minneapolis City Council Member Gary Schiff.

Read the rest of this entry »


This article was in MinnPost on Friday, somehow I missed it — Steve Berg did a great job spelling it all out.  Perhaps Xcel will get the message that they’ve really screwed up and need to do this differently?

Here’s the referenced Minneapolis City Council Health, Energy and Environment Committee’s Resolution:

Resolution of Health, Energy & Environment Committee

And here’s Steve Berg’s article in toto:

Power lines over the Midtown Greenway? A classic case of destroying a place to save it

Remember Aesop’s fable about the foolish couple who killed the goose that laid golden eggs? Xcel Energy apparently forgot to reread the tale before launching a plan to run a high-voltage power line over the rim of the Midtown Greenway in south Minneapolis. Like the fable, Xcel’s plan is layered in irony and fraught with unintended consequences.

Here’s hoping that the City Council on Friday can put the brakes on the project long enough for the electric utility and its state regulators to take a deep breath and consider a better solution.

The good part about this particular story is that the Midtown neighborhoods are in the midst of revival. When the recession ends, Xcel expects more growth in a part of the city that already uses more power than its aging grid can handle. It needs more service.

But Midtown owes its success largely to the greenway itself, a remarkable bike trail and linear park carved out of an old railroad trench. Hundreds of new homes and offices have been built along the 5.5-mile greenway in recent years, and more are anticipated. For Xcel to run a high-voltage line over the greenway’s edge figures to ruin the very attraction responsible for the area’s revival.

This is more than a little crazy. A better idea would have been to bury the new line beneath Lake Street (which runs parallel to the greenway) during the street’s recent reconstruction. Apparently Xcel wasn’t interested at the time.

Another alternative
Now the city’s preferred alternative is to bury the line beneath East 28th Street. Xcel complains that going underground would double the project’s $15 million cost, and suggests obliquely that the extra burden might be borne by the neighborhood’s ratepayers, or perhaps the city’s.

It’s clear that underground lines cost more, both to install and maintain. But when Xcel adds service to a new subdivision on the Twin Cities edge, the cost is laid off against the entire rate base. There’s no good reason the cost of updating service in a city neighborhood shouldn’t be handled in the same way – especially when a regional asset like Midtown Greenway is involved.

Indeed, a trend toward infill development will cause similar conflicts in the future as older neighborhoods add demand and require upgraded service. Infill development carries many social, environmental and economic benefits to a metropolitan region. Ratepayers in those neighborhoods shouldn’t be penalized with higher rates than those charged to ratepayers on the suburban fringe.

Three open houses held
Xcel doesn’t need Minneapolis’ official blessing to proceed with its application to the Public Utilities Commission for an overhead line. But it has promised to involve neighborhood residents and city officials in forging a final design. To that end, it has held three open houses on the issue, pointing out that this line would provide power to an additional 7,500 homes and that the 1.25-mile project — running roughly between Hiawatha Avenue and Interstate Hwy. 35W — is part of a larger effort to upgrade service to south Minneapolis.

“We’ll consider input about issues such as aesthetics and recreation in the design and location of the infrastructure and we’ll offer alternatives for consideration,” Judy Poferl, Xcel’s regional vice president, said last fall in launching the project.

But Xcel has failed to convince the neighborhoods or City Hall that going overhead is the best alternative. The Midtown Greenway Coalition has urged Xcel to look more closely at conservation measures. And the City Council’s Health, Energy and Environment Committee (PDF) has concluded that an overhead line would be incompatible with the character of the greenway and its environs.

“A buried line makes more sense in this kind of urban environment,” said Council Member Robert Lilligren.

The county’s interest
Perhaps more than any party, Hennepin County has an interest in the issue’s outcome. The county’s railroad authority owns the greenway and its public-works department recently finished rebuilding nearby Lake Street.

In opposing the overhead line, Commissioner Peter McLaughlin points out the greenway’s status as a historic district and a regional recreation asset. “We have several avenues to explore,” he said. “In the end it may work out that going underground is the only alternative that works for them – and that’s what we hope happens.”

The city, county, state and federal governments have invested millions of dollars in the greenway corridor. Private interests have responded in kind. All have a big stake in protecting their investments. The greenway has boosted a part of the city that’s still a long way from reaching full potential. Why kill the goose just as the golden eggs have begun to appear?


Poor Xcel, getting picked on… a City of Minneapolis resolution to delay the route application for the Hiawatha Project transmission line, and a unanimous preference for undergrounding if it should be built.  SNORT!

LET’S SEE THE SOUTH MINNEAPOLIS LOAD SERVING STUDY (which the Hiawatha Project is supposedly based on) and the SOUTH MINNEAPOLIS ELECTRIC RELIABILITY PROJECT STUDY which is shooting in a 345kV line from Hwy. 280 to the new Hiawatha substation… “100 MW need” my ass…

Here are 16 questions posed by Midtown Greenway to Xcel and 9 answers:

List of 16 Questions for Xcel

9 Answers from Xcel

Piecing together studies found on line, here’s what I think Xcel is up to:


Xcel’s plans for power line run into opposition

By STEVE BRANDT, Star Tribune

January 26, 2009

A resolution asking Xcel Energy to delay its proposed high-voltage transmission line in south Minneapolis and offering an alternate route advanced Monday at City Hall.

The resolution sent to the full council is a rebuff to Xcel’s preferred route for the power line along the rim of the Midtown Greenway recreational corridor.

It was approved without opposition by the council’s Health, Energy and Environment Committee and is due for a Feb. 6 council vote.

The language approved Monday asks Xcel for more study of electrical needs in the central Lake Street corridor that the line would bisect and urges that alternative ways to supply those needs be investigated.

Bury the line?

But if the line is needed, it should be buried under E. 28th Street, according to the resolution by Council Members Gary Schiff, Robert Liligren and Cam Gordon. Xcel has said burying the line would add nearly $16 million to the cost.

Xcel spent much of its presentation arguing that localized power-generation projects or conservation measures alone won’t come close to negating the need for an additional 100 megawatts of power to the area to assure reliable service.

The utility proposes to build the line mostly on the south rim of the greenway, crossing its bike and walking paths four times.

The $15 million project would also include a substation on the east side of Hiawatha Avenue at 28th, where an existing transmission line now runs, and another on Oakland Avenue.

The Midtown Greenway Coalition, an advocacy group for the corridor, also has opposed Xcel’s preferred route and has sought more study of alternatives.

Betty Mirzayi, Xcel’s project manager, said the company forecasts growth in demand for electricity of 1.5 percent annually for the area to be supplied by the proposed line.

She called the proposed line essential to meeting demand caused by redevelopment in the area that has “stretched our capacity to the limit.”

Wanting more proof

But speakers among the many residents who appeared in support of the resolution said they want more proof that the power line is the only way to improve service.

They also argued that the line would stunt planned housing development along the greenway because potential residents would be leery of living near the line.

One legislator, Rep. Karen Clark, DFL-Minneapolis, said later Monday she’s considering legislation that would require additional analysis by the state and Xcel of any health effects associated with the high-voltage line in areas with high poverty or high minority concentrations, which describes portions of the proposed route.

Mirzayi said the permitting process, which will be under the authority of state agencies, provides an arena for analysis of the issues raised by those opposed to the line. Xcel plans to submit its proposal to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission by the end of March and wants to begin using the new facilities in the first half of 2011.

Take your transmission line and go home, Xcel…