But mostly, I feel for my dad -- you can't tell me there's anybody who's put more time and love and care into maintaining his 80 acres, it is simply not possible -- 80 acres he first moved onto in 1970, and that has been known ever since as "The O.K. Ranch." It was where I grew up, and it will always be my home.
Sure, I understand as do the residents of Stoppelmann, that the powerline has to go "somewhere" -- and if it was merely that simple, it would be a much easier pill to swallow. But then the "darn facts" get in the way, and common sense takes a backseat.
According to the Belle Plaine Herald, "Commissioners favored a crossing at Belle Plaine because the right of way for a 69 kilovolt line between Sibley and Scott County already exists and will only need to be expanded. A Le Sueur crossing would require a new right-of-way. They also noted a wider flood plain in Le Sueur, making it harder for crews to service the line and its towers."
I'll take those as facts (even though the latter is deemed flimsy at best, by those in the know), but here are some others:
> Administrative Law Judge Richard Luis, who spent more time studying and reviewing the case than anyone, not once but twice recommended that the powerline cross at Le Sueur. With all respect to Mr. Luis, his opinion didn't mean any more in the end than mine or yours or a random bakery patron at The Bake Shop in Belle Plaine.
> As of September 2010, Great River Energy's Dan Lesher and Scott Ek of The Office of Environmental Services proclaimed that the "alternate" route -- Belle Plaine -- would cost an additional $20 to $50 million to construct versus the "preferred" route through Le Sueur. Just four weeks later, the figures went down to $3 to $20 million before being stated as essentially equal at the February 3, 2011 meeting.
> Also as of last September, Mr. Lesher of GRE was quoted that the Belle Plaine route would affect up to 20 more homesteads. While it's been found that as many as 40 more homes were found missing from the maps used in this process, let's take Mr. Lesher's numbers as gospel. In simplest terms, shouldn't this entire issue be decided according to which route affects less people??
> On top of that, how about little people, and hundreds of them: the new power towers may come within just a half-mile of the relatively new Oak Crest Elementary School in Belle Plaine. It's also the location of BP's future high school. At this point, what more do you really have to hear??
Yet what dominated and sadly swung the debate was an irresponsible letter from the United States Fish & Wildlife Service's Tony Sullins -- one that deemed the Belle Plaine route to have a lesser impact on the nesting habitat of bald eagles, but was later retracted after the case was proven otherwise.
The ending was a bit surreal but really the perfect cherry on the sundae, when the Public Utilities Commission listened for a portion of a day before uttering their 4-0 decision (one member absent) in unconvincing fashion, while at the same time turning the honorable Judge Luis and his many hours of careful consideration into nothing more than the answer to a trivia question.
A potential appeal looms, but the window's closing quickly and it's not easy to decide whether to invest more time and treasure when the verdict seems to have so clearly been in hand for a while now.
Star Tribune: Belle Plaine upset by power-line route choice
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approves Belle Plaine as aerial river crossing location of CapX2020 transmission line
They call it paradise
I don't know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye