Yes, up in Clearbrook last night for the DoC EERA’s Public Meeting for Scoping of environmental review (lite) for the Minnkota Clearbrook – West Clearbrook 115 kV Transmission Project.

For the full scoop on this project go to PUC’s Docket SEARCH HERE, and search for docket 14-665, and for the backstory, dig up the Sandpiper dockets, 13-473 and 13-474, a very large undertaking.

Caesar Panit of the PUC and David Birkholz of Commerce hosted last night’s meeting:


Last night’s meeting was quite well attended for such a short transmission line, just 5+ miles, but that’s likely because of its connection to the Sandpiper pipeline project.  It’s an important project to Enbridge, and one that should be closely scrutinized because as of this point, it’s timed exactly backwards, and shouldn’t even be proposed until Sandpiper is permitted and we know where it’s going to go, and whether there will even be a “Clearbrook West” terminal.

Timed backwards?  Yes… This project is way premature, because it’s transmission to power the Sandpiper new “Clearbrook West” terminal and pumping station, one which is just starting back into the intense environmental review of a court ordered EIS (yes, finally Minnesota appellate court agrees that an EIS must be completed prior to issuance of Certificate of Need), and it is not safe to presume that the new “Clearbrook West” terminal is going to be there given the MPCA Comments and proposal of Crookston as a logical alternative:

20148-102081-01_MPCA Comment- Crookston Terminal Location

But that’s not all that’s interesting… in the Application, Minnkota had a brief mention of RUS, the USDA’s Rural Utility Service.  And I had one of those flashes, having dealt with RUS on CapX 2020, and now the Dairyland Q-1 “upgrade” project through Onalaska.  So I asked them about it, on the record, and learned that yes, RUS is financing this project, that yes, there will be environmental review, likely an “environmental report,” and that there might be a public comment period on it if USDA’s RUS chooses, and when I asked whether Dennis Rankin is handling it at RUS, he said, “Yes, that’s the guy!”  It is a very small world, and as we say in transmission, “It’s all connected.”

Minnkota is kind of dodgy about what this project is for, saying repeatedly it’s for “one customer” but given the terminal at the proposed Clearbrook West area where Sandpiper’s new Clearbrook West terminal would go, it’s a DOH!


Here’s the site from Sandpiper’s Application, Appx G.3 Facility Drawings_01.30.13, showing it next to Klongerbo Lake (keeping in mind MPCA’s recommendation of the Crookston alternative):


Other things to note:

Enbridge pushes back timeline for pipeline projects

2015 Biennial Transmission Projects Report-selected

They say they want to avoid wetlands… but in the “cross country” area near the “Clearbrook West” terminal location, it’s all wetlands, and in the terminal area itself, it’s wetlands, not suitable for a pipeline terminal.  What are they thinking?

There’s lots of info to inform the scoping decision, and for sure Commerce and the PUC will get this info!