Yesterday was the Scoping Meetings for the Rochester pipeline project, winding around the NW down and around to the SE of town.  There was quite a large turnout at the afternoon session, probably 50 people, but that may have included Commerce staff, etc.

Comments on the Scope (what all should be included) of the environmental review are due by 4:30 p.m. on April 13, 2016:


… or by snail mail:

Larry Hartman, Environmental Review Manager

Minnesota Dept. of Commerce

85 – 7th Place East, Suite 500

St. Paul, MN  55101



I was really surprised to learn that Larry Hartman, the Commerce project manager, did NOT know about the Rochester Public Utilities gas plant proposed at the NW terminal of this project!  And I was also surprised to learn that Northern Natural Gas is running a new gas pipeline into the west side of Rochester, to join with this line at the middle purple blob on the west side of the map.

The RPU plant is not exactly a secret, it was an issue in the 2008 CapX 2020 Certificate of Need hearing:

RPU chooses Boldt to build new $62 million plant

A New Generating Station for Rochester

New Rochester Energy Project Approved

Westside Energy EPC

The RPU studies:


2005 RPU_34945_Report on the Electric Utility Baseline Strategy for 2005 – 2030_June_2005 (CapX 2020 CoN Exhibit 157)

This is old, old news…

As to the proposed Northern Natural Gas line that’ll connect to this Rochester project, which it appears is part of its “Northern Lights 2017 Expansion” project narrative, in press release-based industry puff pieces, but it’s not on the Northern Lights 2017 Expansion project map or described, other than “Rochester 1D TBS rebuild” and “Rochester branch line” in any of the FERC filings or other documents I can find.

What about safety?  The environmental review document needs to address the burn radius, which is large for such a large and high pressure pipeline:

This project is in an area where future development could be, should be, expected, and I sure don’t want to see a scenario like that along the natural gas pipeline along, roughly parallel, to Hwy. 14, where cities have platted developments over the pipeline, and where builders have built homes over the pipeline, and people bought those newly constructed homes with pipelines through their yards, and worse, Minnesota law does not require disclosure for newly constructed homes.

Minn. Stat. 513.54, Subd. 10

Platting new subdivisions over a natural gas transmission pipeline should be criminal… and yet I see another such scenario developing.




(really, that’s their “site plan” — how informative!!)

It’s in the news, Concerned River Valley Citizens’ suit against LS Power, Lent Township and Chisago County had a hearing last week.   Short version:

Judge Hoffman said he wanted to be armed with sufficient information to make a decision. He asked for just one thing – a written transcript of the legislative discussion that preceded the adoption of the legislation regarding the tax exemption in 2009, specifically subdivision 92 pertaining to the obtaining of the development agreement.

He asked the attorneys to write a letter to the court when it is provided and then he will make his decision.

The judge believed this information is important and he can’t be obligated to make a decision until he knows what the legislation said about approval of a development agreement “before” the start of construction.

Most committee meetings now are available online, and the legislative library provides tapes.  One problem is that the legislative intent is rarely conveyed in the committee meetings, and all the behind the scenes doings aren’t going to see the light of day.

The statutory section at issue – Minn. Stat. 272.02, Subd. 92.

Here’s the Summons and Complaint from last June:

CRVC -Summons and Complaint

For more info, go to www.stopsunriseriverplant.com

From ECM Post Review:

Judge asks for one thing in power plant civil case

Wednesday, 06 October 2010

By MaryHelen Swanson

In courtroom 202, Tenth Judicial District Judge John C. Hoffman heard from attorney Douglas Sauter of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd., representing the CRVC and Carlson, and three attorneys representing Chisago County, Lent Township and LS Power (Sunrise River Energy) respectively.

The CRVC and Carlson have filed a civil lawsuit against the three entities named above in connection with the siting of an electric generating power plant in Lent Township.

The attorney for Chisago County, separately retained, explained to the judge the proposal by LS Power and the coalition’s argument that there is no pre-emption to county zoning ordinance. The county’s attorney says there is pre-emption.

The attorney showed the judge the legislation enacted in 2009 that required a development agreement and host agreement before tax exempt status is granted.

The attorney said in his opinion, the county, as well as Lent Township, did nothing wrong, it was what they needed to do.

The CRVC and attorney believe that the cart has been put before the horse and argues that the sequence of events is wrong.

Attorney Sauter provided Judge Hoffman with background on the proposal, which has LS Power constructing a 780 MW natural gas-fired electric generating plant on 40 acres in Lent Township, property adjacent to the substation off County Road 14.

Giving details of the LS Power proposed project, Sauter told the judge the presence of such a large plant would destroy the nature of the community and Carlson’s ability to sell high end lots in his nearby development.

The process, he stressed, is important.

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s nice to win sometimes, even in absentia…

Tonight the Chisago County Board of Commissioners, on a 3-2 vote, voted NOT to approve their proposed Development Agreement with LS Power for an 855MW (give or take a few hundred, depending on their mood, what they ate for lunch, whatever) natural gas electric generating plant.  Like WOW!

Congratulations to Concerned River Valley Citizens for a job well done, and thanks to Tom Dunnwald who filled in for me tonight, but this is no time to let up — the work’s not over — there’s still the matter of the need for an Overlay Essential Services Ordinance that addresses generating plants and whatever other noxious infrastructure somebody might come up with.

This LS Power mess is the PROCEEDING that Concerned River Valley Citizens intervened in, under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act, and were shut out by the County Attorney, Janet Reider (bad idea), and we just filed another Notice of Intervention yesterday or today.

There were some interesting comments, like “we’ve done the best we can in the time we had” indicating some sort of train schedule that has now been derailed.  They tried to prevent attorneys from speaking, and the worst of that came from Commissioner Ben Montzka, who is an attorney himself!  He should know better…

In the packet for tonight’s meeting:

Development Agreement

Host Fee Agreement

Host Fee Allocation Agreement

It’s all on video, so we’ll have that soon.  I can’t wait to see the snippets on YouTube!

Here’s from KARE 11:

(it’s not up yet)

More later