IUB Denies Appeal for Rehearing in CHC Decision

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By: 
Matt Geiger

DES MOINES, IA–In a move that a Cross Plains resident fighting against the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line said was “expected,” the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) has denied an appeal for a rehearing that was one of the final roadblocks before work on the project begins. 

Chris Klopp had filed the petition earlier this year, arguing the line was initially approved using erroneous and missing information. 

On May 27, prior to Klopp’s appeal, the IUB issued an Order Granting Petition for Electric Franchises and Right of Eminent Domain. The board found “that the electric transmission lines as described in the revised petitions are necessary to serve a public use and represent a reasonable relationship to an overall plan of transmitting electricity in the public interest.”

On June 17, Klopp filed a Petition for Rehearing of the board’s May 27 order. In her filing, Klopp attached material that has not been previously admitted into the proceeding’s record. She made a vast array of accusations, most of which contended that the initial decision did not take into consideration various concerns raised by the groups in Wisconsin and Iowa who have been fighting against the line for years. 

“Ms. Klopp failed to present any reason for the board to deviate from its conclusions and, therefore, the board denies Ms. Klopp’s rehearing request,” states the denial. 

Construction on the line, which will run through Mount Horeb to a power substation in the Town of Middleton, is expected to begin in 2021 to meet an in-service date of 2023. The entire project will include approximately 100-miles of 345-kilovolt transmission line designed to electrically connect the Dubuque County, IA region to the Dane County, WI region. In Wisconsin, ITC Midwest will be responsible for the segment of line from the Mississippi River to a new substation near Montfort, WI, to be built by American Transmission Co. (ATC), the third utility involved in the project. 

ATC will also be responsible for the remainder of the line to Dane County. Last September, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) issued a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity and selected the route for the Wisconsin portion of the project. 

The 345-kilovolt line will move power, created by both wind energy and fossil fuels. Its backers say the line will provide $23.5 million to $350 million in net economic benefits and enable wind farms to connect to the regional electric grid. Running somewhere between 102 and 120-miles long, the line will cost an estimated $500 million, about $70 million of which will be paid by Wisconsin consumers.  

In addition, the denial also pointed to the date of Klopp’s filing. 

“[P]arties requesting rehearing were required to do so no later than June 16, 2020,” it stated. “As reflected in EFS, the official filing date for Ms. Klopp’s Petition is June 17, 2020. Because the request for rehearing was not timely filed, the board is deprived of the authority to reconsider the Final Order, even though the filing was untimely by only one day…For this reason alone, the board cannot take any action other than denying the Petition.”

“However, given the importance of this case and the significance of the issues raised by Ms. Klopp, the board will address the substantive contentions contained in the Petition as though the Petition had been timely filed,” the 12-page denial to Klopp’s 33-page petition continued. “For reasons to follow, even if it possessed the authority to reconsider the Final Order, the board would deny the Petition.” 

Among other things, they said the petition raised “no errors of law or fact.”

“On page 24 of the Petition, Ms. Klopp contends error exists in two of the board’s conclusions of law. However, in explaining the basis of those contentions, Ms. Klopp states the asserted errors arise from findings of fact,” the denial states. “First, throughout the Petition, Ms. Klopp claims the board committed error in basing findings of fact solely on testimony. Ms. Klopp presents no legal authority standing for the proposition that relying solely on testimony is improper, and the board is aware of no such authority. It is axiomatic that under Iowa law, testimony is considered “evidence” and that a trier of fact is permitted to base its conclusions on admitted testimony.”

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