re: proposed transmission lines Background on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2002 . 2001: 01-04. , 05-09 .
• 2000: 01-04, 05, 06-07, 08-10, 11, 12..  1999 .
  WI Wisconsin's Rural Rebellion
Model Resolution on proposed Transmission Lines
re: hydroelectric power Background on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers
Hydroelectric Dams - Updates: 2001, 2000: 01-03., 04-07, 1999


power lines
Page Contents:
Proposed MN-WI transmission lines -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

August - October 2000 update


Pages: Background on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2001.
2000: Jan.-May, June-July,
Aug.- Oct., Nov.-Dec.. 1999
Wisconsin's Rural Rebellion
Model Resolution on proposed Transmission Lines
Background on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers
Hydroelectric Dams - Updates: 2000, Apr.-July, Jan.-Mar., 1999

power lines

Page Contents:

Proposed MN-WI transmission lines -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Updates: August - October 2000

Photos of SOUL Rally Against The Transmission Line in Duluth, Aug. 28, 2000

Sides set to debate power line Opponents planning rally

By Steve Kuchera, staff writer
[Duluth MN] News Tribune
August 27, 2000

After months of delay and maneuvering, hearings on a plan to upgrade 12 miles of high-voltage transmission line between Hermantown and Oliver begin Monday in Proctor.

At stake is a Minnesota Power request for an exemption from state permit requirements for the project. If the state rejects the request, the company will have to go through a longer application.

"We look forward to a decision," Minnesota Power spokesman John Heino said. "Since the Minnesota project involves only 12 miles on existing corridor, we believe it would be more efficient to work directly with local governments rather than the extensive state process used for larger projects."

Power line opponents see those 12 miles differently, noting that the company's exemption request is the first involving this many miles of 345-kilovolt line. It is also the first exemption request since 1990 that has required public hearings.

And the line is part of the 250-mile-long, 345-kilovolt Arrowhead-Weston transmission line that Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. want to build between Hermantown and Wausau, Wis.

"We're stating that we feel that the power plant siting provisions for exemptions do not allow for 12 miles of line," said Save Our Unique Lands member Linda Ceylor."We're asking them to put forth a full environmental impact statement."

SOUL is a Wisconsin-based grassroots group that opposes the Arrowhead-Weston line.

Arrowhead-Weston supporters say the line is needed to make Wisconsin's electrical network more reliable and to help the state meet its growing demand for electricity.

Project opponents worry about the line's impact on the environment, health and property values. They say Wisconsin should meet its electrical needs through a combination of conservation, alternative power sources and natural gas-powered generators built closer to areas needing electricity.

To help get their views across, project opponents will conduct a rally before Monday evening's hearing and are calling on supporters to flock to the hearing. They are planning a car caravan from Wisconsin to the rally and hearing.

"It's important for everyone to be there," Ceylor said.

But no matter how many or emotional the rallies, letters to editors and ads by project foes and supporters, it's the testimony at the hearings that matters most when state regulators make their decision.

"Minnesota Power is pleased that the process is moving forward and into a forum where the facts matter," Heino said.

The hearings beginning Monday are actually two sets of proceedings. The evidentiary hearings are for the nine parties that were granted intervener status. The parties filed written testimony before the hearings. At the hearing, the parties will cross-examine each other's expert witnesses. Fifteen witnesses are scheduled -- 12 representing Minnesota Power.

The public hearings are where anyone can come and testify for or against Minnesota Power's request.

"We want them to be as familiar with the project as possible," Minnesota Environmental Quality Board senior project manager Bob Cupit said of people planning to testify. "We want them to reflect what their sense of the potential impacts of this line are so we can bring that in a record before the EQB. It can be heartfelt. It can be from a personal perspective. We want them to be honest and show up."

After the hearings wrap up this week or sometime in September, Administrative Law Judge Kenneth Nickolai will use the resulting transcript to make a recommendation to the MEQB whether to grant Minnesota Power's request. The final decision is up to the 15-member board.

It typically takes a judge about 30 days to make a recommendation, Cupit said. He expects Nickolai's recommendation will come before the MEQB in November or December.

If the MEQB doesn't give Minnesota Power an exemption, the company would have to go through the more involved permitting process. Cupid said that would take about 12 months.

"But a lot of things can happen. The Chisago project is entering its fourth year," he said, referring to a 38-mile, 230-kilovolt line that Northern States Power Co. and Dairyland Power Cooperative of La Crosse, Wis., want to build from near North Branch, Minn., to near Amery, Wis. The companies proposed the line in 1996. Area residents have fought it ever since, questioning its need and appearance.

Exemption requests can be delayed as well. Monday's hearings were originally to begin Jan. 31 but were postponed because power line foes wanted more time to prepare.

Another reason for delay was a motion by North American Water Office Executive Director George Crocker to go before the MEQB with a request that the board allow the hearings to cover the line's impact outside Minnesota.

On April 20, the MEQB voted unanimously to limit testimony to the line's possible environmental and public health effects in Minnesota.

Even if Minnesota Power's exemption request is granted, work on the project won't start unless the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin approves the Wisconsin section of the Arrowhead-Weston line.

The PSC expects to finish its final environmental impact statement on the project in September or October. It then has to wait at least 30 days after that statement is released before public hearings can begin.

The power line hearings

What it's about: Minnesota Power has applied for an exemption from state requirements for a construction permit for high-voltage transmission lines. Minnesota Power wants to build 12 miles of 345-kilovolt line that would follow an existing 115-kilovolt line from the Arrowhead substation in Hermantown to the St. Louis River near Gary-New Duluth.

At issue: The question the hearings will consider is whether the project would create a significant human or environmental impact. The specific issues the hearings will look at are: health, specifically issues related to electromagnetic fields; property values; public safety; residential land use; noise; aesthetics; and plants, animals, habitats and wetlands.

Hearing format: The hearings are split. At the day-time evidentiary hearings, witnesses for the nine parties involved in the issue are cross-examined by other parties. The public can attend but can't take part.

At the evening hearings, the public can testify. They can also direct questions to the expert witnesses of the parties.

Administrative Law Judge Kenneth Nickolai will conduct the hearings.

A Minnesota Environmental Quality Board worker will be at the hearings to help people interested in taking part in the process.

Written testimony: During the hearings Nickolai will announce a deadline for the public to submit written comments. Judges usually allow 10 to 14 days for written comments.

Written comments are included in the transcript of the hearings that Nickolai will use in making his recommendation to the MEQB on whether the exemption should be granted or denied.


Opponents dominate hearing power line hearing

By Sarah Jackson, staff writer
[Duluth] News Tribune
August 29, 2000, pC1

After an energetic protest and rally from power line opponents Monday night, a public hearing drew hours of testimony from residents and many organizations. More than 150 people attended the hearing at the Blackwoods Conference Center in Proctor and at least 50 protested at the door beforehand with "no line" signs, while chanting "MinnPower: Read our signs. We don't want your power lines."

George Crocker, executive director of the North American Water Office in Lake Elmo, Minn., cheered the crowd on, saying this is only the beginning of the resistance against the 250-mile, 345-kilovolt Arrowhead-Weston transmission line that Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. want to build between Hermantown and Wausau, Wis.

"We are going to have to keep on fighting this thing," he called out to cheers and clapping from the crowd. "Let's get ready to boogie, friends."

Before the hearing, Katie Scheufeli of Bennett said she and her mother were there to stand up against a project that would run through a 40-acre piece of property Scheufeli and her boyfriend own. Scheufeli fears what she's heard about a connection between transmission lines and childhood leukemia. "We want to start a family," she said.

The hearing began with testimony from three different Cree Indian nations from Manitoba. A Cross Lake Cree First Nation representative spoke against the line and increased expansion of hydro-electric power, which the group fears could happen if the Arrowhead-Weston line is built and the demand for electricity increases.

Split Lake and Nelson House Cree nation representatives spoke at the hearings not to oppose or support the project but to distance themselves from the Cross Lake Cree's position.

Many at the hearing were concerned about the placement of the Minnesota Power line, which will follow 12 miles of existing line.

Grant Forsyth, the zoning administrator for Midway Township, said while some residents would like the current 115-kilovolt power line shut down altogether, he would like to continue to work with Minnesota Power to cause the least visual and environmental impact from the new line.

"There won't be too many places that you won't be able to see this power line," he said.

Gene Christiaansen, an independent consultant and marketing director with Team Duluth, argued in favor of the power line, saying it will boost business development and provide more reliable electricity.

If there were a breakdown in service in the digitized world of e-commerce "the impact would be disastrous," he said.

Jane Reyer, a Grand Marais resident and representative with the National Wildlife Federation, argued against the line, saying the mercury caused by burning large amounts of coal will further devastate Lake Superior, its basin and waterways worldwide. She said the power line will perpetuate mercury pollution and other environmental problems.

"We are looking at a way to keep a dinosaur alive and that dinosaur is destroying our home," she said.

Some at the hearing, like state Rep. Dale Swapinski, DFL-Duluth, were undecided on the issue and attended the meeting to get more information.

"I'm concerned with the controversy that might ensue," he said.



PRESS RELEASE from Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL)
September 14, 2000
Contact: Pam McGillivray, (608) 256-1003

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has finally set a schedule for the application for a proposed 250 mile, 345-kV transmission line that would cut through northern Wisconsin. Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL), a citizens' group opposed to the project, is pleased that the Commissioners based their order on concerns voiced by SOUL that the schedule allow sufficient opportunity for citizens to participate in the proceedings.

The Commissioners recognized SOUL's request that the public hearings be held in northern Wisconsin in proximity to those who would be directly impacted by the construction and operation of the proposed route. Citizens in northern Wisconsin will be impacted by environmental and health issue caused by the transmission line, but will not receive any direct benefit from the power that will be transmitted along the line.

Citizens in northern Wisconsin have been actively engaged in these proceedings and have demonstrated their interest in continued participation in all issues that concern this project. Those living in proximity to the line would be greatly inconvenienced by having to travel to Madison to testify. In order to encourage public participation and prevent the chilling of public speech, SOUL urged the PSC to schedule the hearings in northern Wisconsin.

The abundant public participation in this matter to date is an indication that many people plan to exercise their right to participate in the formal public hearings of the PSC. Since receiving the over 10,000 communications from Wisconsin citizens, the PSC has urged citizens to stop sending communications to them and instead appear at the public hearings. SOUL predicts that no less than 10% of those who have sent communications to the PSC will want to appear and testify.

In response to the Commissioners' inclusion of the scheduling of the hearing as an agenda item, Attorney for SOUL, Ed Garvey, stated, "We are pleased the schedule as set by the Commissioners allows for participation by the public living along the proposed route, however, the technical hearings will be held in Madison, rather than along the proposed route, making the openness of those proceedings less meaningful to citizens of northern Wisconsin who can't travel to Madison."

"The hearing dates are much sooner than those proposed by SOUL. This matter has been in dormancy in the Commission until today, now the hearings are on a fast-track. SOUL and other intervenors are at a disadvantage to prepare by the hearing dates; the utilities have been working in conjunction with the PSC staff since before June 1999 on this application. Overall, we are pleased that the Commissioners responded to SOUL's concerns over the location of the public hearings."


    November 28, 2000 - 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
    Holiday Inn
    Rhinelander, WI

    November 29, 2000 - 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
    Tomahawk Elementary School Auditorium
    Tomahawk, WI

    November 30, 2000 - 9:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
    Abbotsford Armory
    Abbotsford, WI

    December 1, 2000 - 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
    Ramada Conference Center
    Wausau, WI

    December 4, 2000 - 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
    and December 5, 2000 - 9:00 a.m.
    The Billings Park Club Superior, WI

    December 6, 2000 - 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
    Lac Courte Oreilles Convention Center
    Hayward, WI

    December 7, 2000 - 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.
    and December 8, 2000 - 9:00 a.m.
    Veterans Memorial Association
    Ladysmith, WI
    Commencing January 3, 2001
    Public Service Commission of Wisconsin
    Madison, WI


The PSC document below is a "smoking gun" that proves a link between the line and the mine. Note the very truthful last line.....the reason SOUL and WWEP are working together. PSCW means the regulatory agency Public Service Commission of Wisconsin and WPSC means the utility Wisconsin Public Service Corporation. Confusing? Deliberately.....



Strategic Energy Assessment

September 17, 2000

This is from the draft Strategic Energy Assessment (SEA), 05-ES-100. This document was sent out on June 28, 2000. The public hearing on the document will be Sept. 18 with Sept. 28 being the deadline for written comments.

You may not know that the SEA replaced the Advance Plans for the utilities outward planning processes. This plan is part of the electrical restructuring put forth in Legislative Act 204. The SEA is not as binding or restrictive as the previous Advance Plans. The planning range is 3 years out, and the planning is really a formality, nothing binding such as the Advance Plans for establishing needs and solutions. The following is from Appendix F, page n:

Forest County (WPSC)
Venus-Crandon (Table 209, Line 10)

In 1995 WPSC applied to the PSCW for apporval of a new 115kV radial line to serve the proposed Crandon Mine near Sand Lake (Crandon Mine Electric Transmission Line, formerly known as Venus-Sand Lake). The connection would allow the mine to use about 20.5 MW, drawing its power directly from WPSC's Upper West system north of Wausau through the Venus Substation. As part of its application, WPSC requested authority to build a Crandon Substation that would include a terminal for the 115kV line and distribution feeders to run along USH 8 and into the city of Crandon for local load support. The Crandon Substation would bring the 115kV source closer to the Crandon load center.

Details about the line and the substations can be found in the Crandon Mine Electric Transmission Line Application, submitted by WPSC in March 1995. Since 1995, the mining company and the DNR have been developing the information needed for the DNR's EIS on the mine. The EIS would also discuss the potential impacts of the four proposed routes for the transmission line. The draft EIS is projected for issue in late 2000 or early 2001. After the comment period on the draft EIS and issuance of the final EIS, the PSCW may hold a hearing and determine whether to issue an approval for the line conditional on DNR approval of the mine. The Venus Substation would be expanded to accommodate the new 115kV terminal. The expansion would be done within WPSC-owned land in the existing Venus-Three Lakes transmission right-of-way. Very little woodland, if any, would need to be cleared. The Crandon Substation would be built on a greenfield site, more than likely displacing young or moderatly mature woodland. The fenced area would cover about 0.55 acres, and the total land purchase for entry transmission structures and driveways would be between three and four acres. The proposed line would follow either USH8 and other state and county highways from the Monico or a cross-country route that in some places utilized paved or graveled town roads. The potentially affected environments and the potential environmental impacts will be discuissed in the forthcoming draft EIS on the mine. Regardless of route, there would be some impacts on upland and wetland woody vegatation. There could also be notable impacts on visual landscapes and aeshetic values. The Wolf River and several streams would need to be crossed, and the effects of the crossings mitigated. (The potential impacts of the mine itself are not considered here because, although the mine cannot be built without the power line, the utility has the obligation to serve.)


Linda Ceylor


Two Utilities Say Manitoba Hydro Refuses to Talk to WI
Citizens Save Our Unique Lands, Inc., press release

October 7, 2000

Manitoba Hydro, the state-owned utility of Manitoba, Canada, turned down an invitation to address Wisconsin citizens about the 345-kilovolt transmission line proposed by Wisconsin Public Service Corporation and Allete (Minnesota Power).

On Wednesday, Pam Rasmussen, siting analyst for Xcel Energy (formerly Northern States Power) and Don Lemke, board member of Jump River Electric Cooperative, told a meeting of the Rusk County Retired Educators Association that Manitoba Hydro had "refused" their invitation to address the teachers.

"Manitoba Hydro has declared secret all important data on its operations," said Roger Steffen, who attended the utilities' presentation. Steffen is on the board of directors of Save Our Unique Lands, Inc., that opposes the new 250-mile line.

On August 28, testimony by Pimicikamak Cree Nation of Cross Lake, Manitoba at the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board's hearing in Proctor, Minnesota, alerted Americans to the Canadian utility's practices:

"Such stonewalling by a Canadian utility should be completely unacceptable and would be if it were an American utility, and yet it appears to be an acceptable cost of doing business with Manitoba Hydro."

For several months, SOUL has pressed for public hearings and expanded locales in northern Wisconsin, where the line would be built. "Our organization is built upon researching and presenting the facts," Steffen said. "If Manitoba Hydro refuses to meet with former teachers, I wonder how forthright it is with American utilities?"

The Arrowhead-Weston transmission line would transmit Manitoba Hydro's electricity through Wisconsin to Chicago markets. Northern Manitoba's ecology is devastated as the Nelson River's flow is continually altered to meet electric demand.

"As American citizens, we need to be assured that we can continue to make decisions in a manner that includes all information," said Tom Kreager, president of SOUL. "We need to continue to utilize our free speech to speak for these people who continue to share their story with us."

For more information: Roger Steffen 715-585-2349

Final environmental study issued on northwoods power line

Final environmental study issued on northwoods power line

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
Oct. 12, 2000

A final environmental impact statement on a proposed power transmission line across northwestern Wisconsin comes to conclusions similar to those in a draft report issued last May:

The 250-mile, 345-kilovolt line would help Wisconsin meet a growing need for electricity, but at a cost to the environment.

The final statement, mailed out by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission Tuesday and reviewed by the Duluth News-Tribune, makes no definite recommendation for or against the project.

"It lets readers do that for themselves," PSC spokesman Jeff Butson said. "That's all it's meant to do: lay out all the options, look at the different route alternatives, make sure all the different issues that have to be looked at are looked at."

But the statement raises the possibility that Wisconsin might meet its power needs through a combination of new generators and transmission-line projects of a smaller scale than the Arrowhead-Weston proposal.

Minnesota Power and Wisconsin Public Service Corp. propose building the line between Hermantown, Minn., and Wausau, Wis.

Project supporters say it's needed to increase the reliability of the region's transmission network and to meet Wisconsin's growing need for electricity.

Opponents contend the project poses a threat to health, the environment and property values. Some say the state should meet its power needs by building more power plants.

The environmental impact statement said the ability to bring more electricity into the state from the north or west "could accommodate expected growth in the use of electricity in Wisconsin. Between 1998 and 2007, statewide electric demand in Wisconsin is expected to grow a total of 2,365 MW (megawatts), or nearly 300 MW per year," it said.

More than 1,600 megawatts of new generation are planned in the state, Butson said. Plans for more than 4,000 additional megawatts have been announced, but utilities have not applied for state permits for any of those projects as yet.

Besides, relying solely on building power plants may not be a wise policy, the environmental impact statement says. "Traditionally, a blend of transmission and generation projects and energy efficiency measures have been used to keep up with increases in electric demand," it said. It could be cheaper to build the line and buy electricity from elsewhere in the region than to rely on new generation here, the statement said.

Although buying electricity from elsewhere in the region might be cheaper than building new power plants, opposition to the line and the need to condemn a large number of properties could drive up the project's costs, "making some of the alternatives more cost-competitive," the statement said.

The project cost is projected at $214 million or more, which could raise electric rates by 1.2 percent.

The environmental impact statement is just one piece of evidence the three-member PSC will consider in deciding whether to approve, reject or modify the proposal. "A great deal of weight will be placed on the direct public testimony that we'll be taking later this year," Butson said.

If the PSC approves the project, it would then decide on alternative routes.

According to the statement:

- There are three possible routes between Oliver, just southwest of Superior in Douglas County, and Exeland, in Sawyer County.

One would maximize opportunities to put the transmission line on existing rights of way.

Another would minimize contact with people but would cut across at least eight forests larger than 1,000 acres. Such forest fragmentation can affect species such as wolves.

The third possible route would combine advantages of the first two.

- From Exeland, there are two possible corridors to Wausau: a northern one near Tripoli, on the Oneida-Lincoln county line, and one near Owen, in northern Clark County. Each corridor contains four possible routes.

Forest fragmentation, limited access, wetlands and streams are serious concerns on all of the Tripoli routes. The northern segment has a lower potential of breaking up forests, but would affect more farms.

"It looks like an interesting read," said Linda Ceylor, a member of the anti-Arrowhead-Weston group Save Our Unique Lands, shortly after receiving her copy.

"I think they've examined a few more options," she said. "They do a lot more deep cost analysis. The environmental impacts look like they're going to be identical if not worse."

Minnesota Power spokesman Terry Johnson said the company hadn't received its copy yet. "We are pleased that this step is completed, and we are anxious to review the document," he said.

On the Net:


Background on proposed MN-WI transmission lines
Transmission line - Updates: 2002 . 2001, 01-04 , 05-09 .
• 2000: 01-04, 05, 06-07, 08-10, 11, 12 . 1999 .
Wisconsin's Rural RebellionModel Resolution on proposed Transmission Lines
Background on hydroelectric dams destroying Manitoba Cree rivers
Hydroelectric Dams - Updates: 2001, 2000: 01-03, 04-07 . 1999 .
Midwest Treaty Network Contents