Tonight, Wednesday night, in Baudette

Live from Baudette — we’ve got internet access in the building!  Can you tell I’m trying to get today’s work done as we go?

We’re in the Ambulance Garage to talk about the “scope” of the Environmental Review, this isn’t posted on the PUC docket yet:

DRAFT ER Scoping document

Comments due by 4:30 p.m. March 14, 2014

Send to:


Tracey Smetana, the Public Advisor, is presenting now:


Tonight we don’t have as many people as last night, but it’s a good crowd and we’re moving along through the presentation.

Now for Minnesota Power:


The PPA they now have is 250 MW and they’re looking at another for 133 MW.   250 + 133 = 383!  MP claims there’s an increase in demand.  They serve the Iron Range and are seeing substantial load growth and are projecting that into the future.

Now it’s Bill Storm, Dept. of Commerce:


One thing they’re doing a good job of is explaining the difference between Certificate of Need and Routing, and that this is all about “need.”  Each one of them raises this, and it seems people are getting the difference, but I think discounting this proceeding when/because they’re really concerned with the routing.  So if you look on p. 6 of the DRAFT ER Scoping document, now’s the time to, as Bill Storm says, to “fill in the details.”  Here’s the Draft Scope:

The environmental report will address/discuss the following matters:

1.1 Purpose and Need
1.2 Regulatory requirements

2.1 General
2.2 Design
2.3 Right-of-Way Requirements and Acquisition
2.4 Construction
2.5 Operation and Maintenance
2.6 Permits

3.1 No-build Alternative
3.2 Demand Side Management
3.3 Purchase Power
3.3.1 Long term Purchase Power
3.3.2 Short term Purchase Power
3.5 Up-grading Existing Facilities
3.6 Facilities of a Different Size
3.7 New Generation

4.1 Air Quality
4.2 Biological Resources
4.3 Culture Resources
4.4 Geology and Soils
4.5 Health and Safety
4.6 Land Use
4.7 Noise
4.8 Socioeconomics
4.9 Transportation
4.10 Visual Impacts and Aesthetics
4.11 Water Resources (surface, groundwater, wetlands)
4.12 Waste Management and Disposal

For example, “3.5 Up-grading Existing Facilities” is one to think about, there are lines from Manitoba Hydro down to Minnesota Power territory, so why couldn’t they build those larger?  Reconductor, or raise the existing line voltage to 765 kV and that would increase the capacity.

Now David Leonhardt, and he’s the Chair of the Friends of the Big Bog State Recreation Area, which has the longest Bogwalk in the world!!  Concerned about impact of the line on the unspoiled view at the terminus of the bogwalk. He also suggests to follow the existing line that is there, but that’s in a SNAP area where they’re not allowed to put a line alongside the existing one.

John Paulsen – why can’t we follow one of the existing lines?  Bill Storm said that it’s a routing question, MP says that the routing through SNAP areas takes it off the table.  We’re following the existing as much as possible, and what we’re proposing is a much larger scale.

Charles Bruer – can you define Scientific and Natural Areas?  MP & B.S.: They’re designated tracts of lands due to characteristics, not altered by human activity.

Wendy Rogers – question about electro-magnetic force, how far does that go out from the line?  B.S.: This is one of the things I always must address in an Environmental Report.  What can we expect EMF for a 500 kV line and what do we know about it.  B.S.:  I get the normal levels from the Applicant, and then push it to failure, and report both.

Steve Weymore – wondering why the terminus east of Grand Rapids is need if it is needed for mining, I don’t see that as the terminus.  MP: Mining and expansion of load is the reason, and the number of lines going into Blackberry.

B.S.: Remember, this is need, and we’ll be getting into this again in the Routing, I expect it will probably be in May, and we’ll do a more detailed environmental review at that time.

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