September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
However, at this point, there were far more questions than answers.
"I don't think we got a lot out of it," said Marvin Thielen, one of the Stearns County dairy producers who attended the open house. "They don't know where the corridor will be or whose land it was going to go over; they will need to have another meeting."
The Fargo-Monticello line is one of three 345-kilovolt lines CapX 2020 utilities are proposing to meet future demand for electricity. CapX 2020 is a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region to expand the electric transmission grid to ensure continued reliable service.
Utility projections show that electricity use in Minnesota and the surrounding region will increase between 4,000 and 6,000 megawatts by 2020. The proposed lines also would significantly expand the ability to deliver renewable energy to electricity customers.
The new transmission lines will be built in phases designed to meet anticipated electric growth, as well as to support renewable energy expansion. The first group of CapX 2020 projects is made up of three proposed 345-kV transmission lines, one of which is the Fargo-Alexandria-St. Cloud-Monticello line, and a proposed 230-kV line.
According to Darrin Lahr of Xcel Energy who is routing lead for the Fargo-Monticello line, a route for the transmission line has not been determined; what has been determined are two possible routes, identified strictly because of their proximity to existing transmission and transportation corridors.
Thielen's 68-cow Melrose, Minn. farm is situated beside the Minnesota Interstate and is within one of the possible routes identified.
"We are at step one out of 100," Lahr said. "Right now we are trying to get information from the public about where they think we should go. It's more likely that we will skirt around towns and houses and go closer to existing lines."
Everyone who could potentially be affected by the line has been kept abreast of new developments through mailings. Lahr also said he expected to be back in Melrose two or three more times before CapX 2020 submits a route recommendation to the state for approval.
"It is important to us to keep everyone informed," said Thomas Hoen, Xcel Energy media relations representative. "We don't want people to think we are making plans in a back room somewhere. We want the whole process to be really open, and I think people appreciate that."
Meeting attendees did have their share of concerns about the proposed line and weren't afraid to put their questions to Xcel representatives.
"I brought up the issue of stray voltage," Thielen said.
Stray voltage, or electric and magnetic fields (EMF), are created by anything that conducts electricity, including transmission lines, household appliances and business equipment.
According to Lahr, EMF exposure from transmission lines, which are high in the air, is minimal. Additionally, decades of scientific and medical research, reviewed by science organizations and government agencies, have found no evidence of threats to human health from EMF.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission must approve two main applications before the lines can be built. The first application, filed on Aug. 16 and available at www.capx2020.com, asks the commission to determine the lines are needed. The second, a route permit application, will be filed in mid-2008. Both applications require a rigorous public regulatory process and each takes approximately 18 months to complete. Additionally, the project requires the approval of the North Dakota Public Service Commission and will undergo review by federal agencies.
Utilities involved in the CapX 2020 proposals said they will work with landowners, local, state and federal government officials and interested parties to determine the best locations for the lines and use that information in developing the applications. Opportunities for significant public input are built into the state and federal regulatory processes, including public meetings and hearings, on both need and routing decisions.
Thielen mentioned that he and other attendees hope future public meetings have a slightly different format. The open house was set up like a tradeshow, with a series of booths addressing different aspects of the project.
"It was pretty informal and basically everything you saw at the tables (landowners located on potential transmission line routes) already knew because they received it in packet, that was sent in the mail," Thielen said. "I know a lot of people were saying they would like to have a meeting where people are seated with one person talking at a time so everyone could hear the questions people are asking and the answers that are given," Thielen said.
Still Thielen is glad a meeting was held.
"I think it's better that they let us know what is going on and give us a little insight," Thielen said.
He added that this also gives landowners an opportunity to meet with lawyers if necessary to discuss any legal concerns they might have.
Along with Great River Energy, Elk River, Minn., and Xcel Energy, Minneapolis, utilities or groups that expect to participate in one or more of the CapX 2020 projects are: Central Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, Blue Earth, Minn.; Dairyland Power Cooperative, La Crosse, Wis.; Minnesota Power, Duluth, Minn.; Minnkota Power Cooperative, Grand Forks, N.D.; Missouri River Energy Services, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Otter Tail Power Company, Fergus Falls, Minn.; Rochester Public Utilities, Rochester, Minn.; Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, Rochester, Minn., and Wisconsin Public Power Inc., Sun Prairie, Wis.
To Submit an Event Sign in first
No calendar events have been scheduled for today.