Here we go again!


Once more with feeling, Xcel’s Chisago transmission project rears its ugly head.  This time, Xcel, f/k/a NSP, has violated the terms of the agreement between itself and the cities of Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls.  It centers on the location of the end of the undergrounding near the St. Croix River.  Xcel is coming up quite a bit sooner than their specific agreement says they would, and Taylors Falls is not happy.  St. Croix Falls has joined in on their objection.  They’ve been going back and forth about this for a while, and now Taylors Falls has asked the PUC to amend the permit.

Notice of Permit Amendment Request & Comment Period

Taylors Falls & St Croix Falls Permit Amendment Request

And they’re soliciting Public Comments!  From the Notice:

The permit amendment request is scheduled to be heard at the Commission’s June 11, 2009, Agenda Meeting. The Commission is providing until June 02, 2009, for interested persons to comment on the issue. Please submit comments to be received before 4:30 p.m. on that date to:

David Birkholz, Project Manager
Office of Energy Security
85 7th Place E, Suite 500
St. Paul, MN 55101-2198

or by email:  <>

Attached to the Notice are the rules regarding amendments, and notice is to be provided to the project list.  I haven’t received it.  Hmmmmmmm… and I’ve even been to the P.O. Box lately!

Something else — on April 14, 2009, Burl Haar at the PUC signed a letter saying that Xcel had filed their Plan and they were in compliance with the permit.  That’s April 14, and attached is a memo from David Birkholz, MOES staff, dated April 10, 2009.

It looks to me like they weren’t reading my blog dated April 4, 2009:

Xcel — Undergrounding in Taylors Falls

“In compliance” my fat ass…

This was an issue in March, with correspondence dating from mid-March, and we know there was a lot of fighting going on before that.  So the MOES memo says they’re in compliance with the permit…

Hello – the agreement?  That was Exhibit 218, entered by moi into the record, offered and accepted in Transcript Vol. 1B, pages 82-83.

Deal – NSP – Taylors Falls – St. Croix Falls

This bru-ha-ha was brewing before Xcel submitted its “compliance filing,” and before Birkholz and Harr signed the “go ahead” approval.  So either David Birkholz, MOES and Burl Haar, PUC are sleeping at the switch, or Xcel made a material omission in its filings, or more likely, BOTH!  But hey, what’s an agreement between the state’s largest utility and two Minnesota cities?


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!