Today, CapX 2020 shills gave a presentation at a “Committee of the Whole” informational meeting at Olmsted County. Only CapX 2020 Applicant reps were to present, in this case, Tom Hillstrom and Tim Carlsgaard. Tom did most of the talking. I missed the introductions, and they were well into the powerpoint by the time I got there. Some of the questions and answers, all comments are Hillstrom unless ID’d as Carlsgaard:
Q: What factors make that the preferred?
A: There are factors we look at, we look for existing features, such as highways, transmission, railroad, and we build next to them to avoid a new corridor. Another can be property boundaries, we use those because then there are not a lot of homes nearby, as often there are on roads (that’s called mitigation!!).
Q: Perferred – what exactly is it?
A: For Segment 1, along Highway 52, we have a strong preference for this route. Segment 3, there wasn’t a clear choice, used all criteria, and a clear winner didn’t jump out. normally we pare down to two, but couldn’t see a clear reason to eliminate one. We have a slight preference to the southern route. Carlsgaard: we have to submit 2, and we can and didsubmit three.
A: Yes, we have to have a Preferred and Alternate, but they’re evaluated the same.
Q: Why 3?
A: Part of the criteria is that it be buildable, and straight east there are hills. Route by route, the south one crosses at White Bridge. The middle one crosses at the dam. For the north, there is no existing crossing, and when we route, we find an existing crossing and cross there.
Q: Cost as a factor?
A: Cost is a factor, but not a driving factor.
Q: How long will this process take?
A: Probably by the end of the year.
Q: Can you explain RUS?
A: The Rural Utility Service is in the midst of an EIS and the Draft EIS is expected to be out in the summer (didn’t say how long that will take to hold hearings and get the final out, and the impact of that on this routing process). It’s necessary because Dairyland is looking for federal money, and this is a part of that.
Carlsgaard notes that they’ve got about 700 miles of transmission in the works and they’re building the first segment now, St. Cloud to Monticello, so if you want to see what this will look like, it parallels I-94, and about 2/3 of the structures are up, we’ll hang wire this summer.
Q: What is generating capacity this is connected to?
A: This is not for specific generation source.
Q: How does your route take into consideration our planning process 20-30 year plans?
A: (Hillstrom was confused here, he didn’t get her drift) Carlsgaard – we met with all the communities, and reviewed all their plans, and it was taken into consideration.
Q: (Clarified)What about meeting needs, and interfering with growth? What about impacts on future development, our development plans.
A: We did ID that, got the land use plans. Our analysis takes existing conditions into account, future plans, whether it happens here or there, that’s difficult to predict.
Q: About feasibility, initially wasn’t it going down 52 to 90?
A: Early on, we evaluated where to cross, and found 3 spots. Alma is the best crossing, it’s narrow, USFWS preferred, getting to that crossing is easier. We did study Hwy. 52 to 90, but through Rochester wouldn’t work, MnDOT Hwy 52 through used up every bit of Rochester. Going west and south to go around it would be so much longer.
Q: So now there’s no “preferred?”
A: No, the Preferred still is preferred.
Carlsgaard: That last part of it (on east), it follows existing corridor, and the existing line would be removed and added to the 345kV line and 50 feet of right-of-wa would be added.
Q: What’s contested by Oronoco? By 12?
A: It’s off of Hwy. 12 because there are more homes and going this way avoids them (that’s mitigation!)
Q: What about the middle route?
A: That’s the white line in the middle, crosses the dam. (at this point we did an amazing flyover, the bluffs popped out (the coal plant was FLAT!). Someone noted the sharp distinctions in terrain between the routes.
Q: Will you provide us with copies of the flyover?
A: Yes, that’s on my list of things to do.
Q To Board Chair: Do we want to discuss this during the board meeting?
A by other than Board Chair: We need to think about it, let’s discuss at the next meeting, 2nd Tuesday, June 14th.