Town hall meeting on CapX 2020 in Houston, MN

Town hall meeting on CapX 2020 power line project Aug. 27

State Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes, DFL-Winona, will be hosting a town meeting on Aug. 27 to discuss the CapX 2020 high voltage power line (La Crosse
project) and its effect on southeastern Minnesota and the surrounding area. The meeting will be held at the American Legion, 121 South Grant St. in Houston at 6 p.m. All are welcome to join the discussion.

“I have heard from concerned constituents about this project,” said Sen. Erickson Ropes. “Following an on-site visit, we decided that a broader discussion that will give people an opportunity to ask questions was needed. I think we should bring in some people from both sides of the discussion to have a respectful conversation about the project.”

According to Xcel Energy, Dairyland Power, and the nine other utilities proposing the nearly $2 billion project, CapX2020 is designed to improve power reliability for the Twin Cities, Rochester, and La Crosse areas, as well as to improve access to generation. For more information on the project, including proposed route maps, visit the utility’s website at www.capx2020.com.

The news of new high voltage power lines has been a cause of concern for a number of residents, businesses, and landowners, who have formed a coalition from Minnesota and Wisconsin called Citizens Energy Task Force (CETF). CETF and other groups have formally challenged the CapX2020

Certificate of Need, providing evidence that the project is not needed and suggesting alternatives for energy that will not harm the environment and will cost significantly less. CETF gives a voice to those who question the need for the high voltage power lines, and who support clean, sustainable, locally generated power sources. For more information from CEFT, visit http://cetf.us/. Additional information on the concerns regarding CapX2020 can be found at www.ilsr.org, www.nawo and www.nocapx2020.info.

Copyright © 2009, Winona Post, All Rights Reserved.

Residents in WI & MN strengthen opposition to CapX2020 power line

Important overview clarifications from four recent articles/TV segments:

1. The utilities admitted that people were missed in the notification process (per Tim Carlsgaard of Xcel) – They are now putting the blame on counties, who they claim provided them with the lists. Xcel/Carlsgaard attacks counties, saying the problem in notification lies in the counties… in their lists.

2. The utilities misinformed the reporters by claiming that CapX2020 ends in La Crosse.
See the link here for the details AS PRESS RELEASE shows La Crosse : Midwest was blanketed with stories–two Wisconsin papers have already covered the ATC story La Crosse to Madison story several weeks ago.(Amer. Transmission Company –based near Madison, WI ) for over a year to develop the plan from La Crosse to Madison line. From there does it continue to the Ohio and Tennesee Valley. Points east?

http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/3338031
“Xcel Energy, ATC and Dairyland Power Cooperative have been studying a possible Madison-La Crosse line for more than a year. ”

3. Green Power Express DISTRACTION: They stated that CapX ends in La Crosse and doesn’t go to “Chicago.” They now claim that the farmers and residents that are opposing CapX are confusing it with the other line–Green Power Express (ITC Holdings, Novi MI – 765 Kv), slated to run along side CapX. They hammered on the press yesterday, repeatedly that the line STOPS IN LA CROSSE.

Here’s a quote from Stevenson of Xcel: “It’s unfortunate that some continue to state that. It’s just not true,” Stevenson says. “You might have farmers or residents that are talking to you or complaining or whatever about the ITC project going from the Dakotas to Chicago, but that’s got absolutely nothing to do with the project that we’re proposing.” Based upon Xcel and Dairyland Powers involvement in phase II or the line, bring up serious quesions of public integrity.

Links for today’s news:
http://www.lacrossetribune.com/articles/2009/08/06/news/z00lead.txt

Winona Daily News:
http://www.winonadailynews.com/articles/2009/08/06/news/04power.txt

WKBT-TV Channel 8 CBS
http://www.wkbt.com/global/story.asp?s=10854911#

WXOW-TV 19 ABC
http://www.wxow.com/global/story.asp?s=10855974

Article 1

Reported by Kristen Elicerio
Rural Residents Oppose Xcel Energy’s CapX2020 Project
Posted: Aug 5, 2009 05:12 PM
Updated: Aug 5, 2009 10:19 PM

A proposed large-scale Xcel Energy project is causing problems for some rural property owners in the area.

The goal of the CapX2020 project is to expand existing power lines to meet the growing needs of customers and make Xcel Energy’s services more reliable and affordable.

One of the proposed routes would be from Rochester to La Crosse. In Xcel’s effort to build additional power lines, rural residents say they’re suffering because the power lines would go directly through their scenic property.

Jim Gilmer owns 295 acres of scenic property in Houston County. It’s property that falls in one of the three proposed routes for Xcel Energy’s CapX2020 project, but says he was unaware of it until just a month ago.

“How can I own a piece of property and have a project of this scope coming right through it and I have not gotten one mailing, not even a generic letter that some of the neighbors got,” said Gilmer.

Xcel Energy says planning for the project has been in the works since 2007 and they’ve made many attempts to contact property owners through mail and public meetings.

Xcel says there is a need for additional power lines to serve rural areas.

“Our planning engineers have identified the need for additional power line capacity into those areas, so the project we’ve proposed is connecting to existing high voltage transmissions systems through 345 kilovolts,” said Tom Hillstrom, a CapX2020 spokesman.

Gilmer says in addition to the power lines disrupting his scenic property, he also has concerns about safety.

“I have a 33 percent chance that it’s going to go through my farm and ruin my life, and my family’s life. I mean shouldn’t I have the opportunity to stand up and say woah, tell me more about this project,” said Gilmer.

Xcel says building high voltage power lines is the most appropriate option.

“There are lower voltage alternatives but over the long term they would result in more miles in transmission lines being built to meet the same benefit. Higher voltage has high capacity. Higher voltage is a more efficient transmitter of power,” said Grant Stevenson, a CapX2020 spokesman.

Xcel says Gilmer’s property is on their contact list, but under a different name. As of last month Xcel added Gilmer to their mailing list and he will now receive any future information.

Xcel says they will compensate land owners affected by the project, however property owners still worry money is not enough to cover what they’d be losing.

Construction of the project is expected to begin between 2012 and 2015. Xcel Energy says customers can expect to see a slight increase on their monthly energy bill to help pay for the project once construction begins.

Article 2

Proposed power line upsets Houston County landowner
By Ryan Henry | Houston County News

Jim Gilmer owns 295 acres of land in northwest Houston County and southwest Winona County where he spends time playing with his grandchildren and hopes to allow his son to build a home someday. Those plans could be in jeopardy if a proposed high voltage power line weaves its way through southeastern Minnesota toward La Crosse.

Gilmer, along with several of his neighbors in Sather Valley, owns property along a possible route from Hampton, Minn., to La Crosse for the CapX2020 project. But he didn’t find out about the project — or that it could cut through his land — until a little over a month ago. Planning for the project, which has options as to where it will run and ultimately cross the Mississippi River, began in 2007.
It wasn’t until a neighbor called and asked whether he’d heard of plans for a power line to run through his farm.

“I’m going, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I haven’t gotten a word from anybody,’” Gilmer said.

On Wednesday, Gilmer and other neighbors met with Minnesota Sen. Sharon Erickson Ropes at his farm to convey their disappointment about the lack of information and their displeasure about the possibility of the line disrupting their homes.

“I think it’s inexcusable,” Gilmer said, of the lack of notification. “How can I own a piece of property and have a project of this scope coming right through it and not get one mailing, not even a generic letter some of the neighbors got?”

CapX2020 spokesman Tim Carlsgaard said the project sent about 22,000 letters to people along the proposed line, names it received from affected counties. He said he’s heard from residents who said they didn’t receive letters, and it’s possible that some were missed.

“It’s the counties that provide us with landowner data,” Carlsgaard said. “Some counties are much better than others as far as the information they have and how updated it is.”

Gilmer moved to the valley in 2005 and plans to sell 80 acres to his son, who wants to build on the land after his military service. Should the line go through, that won’t be possible, and Gilmer fears his property value will plummet. He also worries about having his grandchildren near the lines.

“We’d have 345 kilovolts of electricity. What’s the health risk?” he said.

Ropes is opposed to the power line, as well.

“CapX2020 is bad for southeastern Minnesota, (and) it’s going to hurt the rural economy,” Ropes said. “When you have 15-story towers rolling through some of the best land we have in southeastern Minnesota, it’s a deep concern.”

Planning is far from finished, Carlsgaard said. CapX2020 is still collecting public input and has yet to submit a permit plan to the state of Minnesota, which will ultimately decide what path the line takes. Local governments will also be able to suggest modifications, which the state will take into consideration.

Article 3

WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI
Powerful power line controversy
Posted: Aug 05, 2009 8:18 PM CDT Wednesday, August 5, 2009 9:18 PM EST

HOUSTON, Minnesota (WXOW) — “We all live here because it’s so beautiful,” Jim Gilmer says. “It is a unique area of the state.”

Jim lives a few miles outside Houston.

“I sit on that porch daily, morning and night, and watch and listen. I searched for this place all my life,” Jim says. “Finally found it, stuck my neck out to acquire it. Now it’s like you find out there’s a toxic waste dump in the back yard.”

That toxic dump he’s referring to is a 150-foot tall power pole, and the proposed line puts one of those on his hill, only a hundred yards or so from his house.

The plan is to build a power line through the hills, and Jim says these 15-story structures won’t fit in with the landscape.

“It’ll destroy the scenic area here,” he says. “I’ll be looking at 15 stories of rusting steel.”

But according to CapX, that rusty pole is bringing much needed power to the area.

“We are the CapX 2020 project, and it is designed to serve your area: southeastern Minnesota and that portion of western Wisconsin,” says CapX Project Manager Grant Stevenson. “The project is proposed to provide local benefit and does provide local benefit.”

CapX says this line will stop in La Crosse and not in Chicago like opponents say.

That aside, the CapX project does run through Jim’s land.
“Nobody deserves to have this type of project in their back yard,” Jim says.

So he’ll continue advocating to keep his hillside pole-free.

For more information on these projects, go to:
http://capx2020.com/Projects/project_hamp-roch-lac.html
http://www.itctransco.com/projects/current/itcmidwest.html