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Hearing seeks public input on new powerline  

A public hearing to talk about a new high-voltage electric transmission line that’s proposed to go through Douglas County will take place tonight, Wednesday.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) is holding the meeting at the Alexandria Technical College Auditorium 205 in the main building at 5 p.m.

The purpose is to determine whether the transmission lines are needed and in the public interest.

About the project

Xcel Energy and Great River Energy – on behalf of 11 transmission-owning utilities known as CapX 2020 – have jointly applied to the MPUC for a certificate of need for three 345-kilovolt and two 161-kilovot transmission lines.

Their goal is to help meet the growing demand for electricity and to support renewable wind energy.

CapX 2020 would construct four transmission lines throughout Minnesota. One of them – a 250-mile, 345-kV line from Fargo to Monticello – would travel through Douglas County.

There are two existing interconnection points along Interstate 94 – one on the east/north side is a substation, which changes one voltage to another voltage; and another on the west/south side that’s a switching station. The project proposes to upgrade one of these points to accommodate the new line. (No new substation would be constructed in the county.)

Although an exact location has not yet been determined, the proposed corridor for the line includes areas near Evansville, Brandon, Garfield, Alexandria, Nelson and Osakis, Forada, Hoffman and Kensington.

The multi-million dollar project has three goals: Fix reliability issues throughout Minnesota, build capacity for future growth, and lay the foundation to connect renewable wind power to the grid.

Both area electricity providers – Alexandria Light and Power (ALP) and Runestone Electric Association (REA) – will indirectly benefit from the new transmission line as their power suppliers, Missouri River Energy Services and Great River Energy, respectively, are participants in CapX 2020.

“It will make the delivery of electricity more reliable because it would be another source into this growing area,” Al Crowser, ALP general manager, stated in an Echo Press story last fall. He added that that ALP consumers’ energy usage has been compounding at 2.6 percent annually.

REA is also seeing similar energy use growth, averaging between 2 and 4 percent per year. “Lines like this are going to be needed to provide reliable growth into the future,” said CEO Rick Banke. “It will provide a more robust and reliable transmission system for us right here in the area.”

The MPUC hearings are taking place in 13 cities and an administrative law judge will preside.

Testimony has been presented to the judge recommending to increase the size of the Fargo to Monticello line to a higher voltage or double circuit. The question of the line size will be determined by the hearing process.

Anyone can present testimony and express opinions about the proposal or alternatives.

If you’re unable to attend the public hearing, written comments can be filed with the administrative law judge. Comments can be filed by mail to Office of Administrative Hearings, Attn: Beverly Jones Heydinger; P.O. Box 64620, St. Paul, MN 55164-0620; or faxed to (651) 361-7936; or e-mailed to capxoah@state.mn.us.

Written comments should include the section of the CapX proposal you are addressing, your specific recommendation, and the reason for your recommendation.

The Minnesota PUC will ultimately determine the transmission line’s exact route. Talks with landowners about easements won’t likely begin until 2010.

For more information on CapX 2020, log onto www.capx2020.com, e-mail fargoinfo@capx2020.com or call (866) 876-2869.

ELECTRIC COMPANIES INVOLVED IN CAPX 2020

Central Minnesota Municipal Power Agency

Dairyland Power Cooperative

Great River Energy

Minnesota Power

Minnkota Power Cooperative

Missouri River Energy Services

Otter Tail Power Company

Rochester Public Utilities

Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency

Wisconsin Public Power Inc.

Xcel Energy

PROPOSED TRANSMISSION LINES

• A 200-mile, 345-kV line between Brookings, South Dakota, and the southeast metro area; a related 345-kV line between Marshall and Granite Falls.

• A 250-mile, 345-kV line between Fargo, St. Cloud and Monticello.

• A 150-mile, 345-kV line between the southeast metro area and Rochester, continuing on to La Crosse, Wisconsin.

• A 68-mile, 230-kV line between Bemidji and Grand Rapids.

CAPX 2020 TIMELINE

The timeline for the Fargo-Alexandria-St. Cloud-Monticello project is:

June 2008 – certificate of need public hearings are held.

Late summer 2008 – route permit for the Monticello to St. Cloud line may be filed; CapX 2020 routing work continues; final public meetings about the proposed routes take place.

Fall of 2008 – route permit for the Fargo to St. Cloud line may be filed.

Spring and summer 2009 – routing decisions made by state commissions.

Summer 2009 – EIS processes complete; federal permits issued.

2009-2012 – easement negotiations help with affected landowners.

2010-2015 – transmission line construction.

Alexandria Echo Press

18 June 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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