NoCapX 2020 & U-CAN in New Prague Times

Filed under:News coverage — posted by admin on February 19, 2009 @ 6:32 pm

NoCapX 2020 and U-CAN in the New Prague Times — oh, and CapX 2020 too!

The meeting at St. Patricks Sunday was great, the place was packed, in Belle Plaine too on Saturday, people are getting word that CapX 2020 is targeting southern Minnesota, and we aren’t real pleased…

CapX 2020 explains routing to city

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

“I think our city does have an interest and a concern of where the proposed routes are.”

Mayor W.A. “Bink” Bender said that at the beginning of the CapX 2020 presentation at the Tuesday, Feb. 17, meeting of the New Prague City Council. Nearly 30 residents attended the meeting for the presentation.

Randy Fordice and Dan Lesher represented CapX 2020, a joint initiative of 11 utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region that seeks to expand the electric transmission grid to accommodate customer demand for electricity. One of the utilities is the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, of which New Prague is a member.

Fordice noted the project is the first major upgrade to the grid in 25 years and there are vast differences in electric usage as people have become more dependent on computers, TVs and other electronic devices.

Part of the project includes a proposed 345-kilovolt power line to be built along a 210-mile corridor stretching from Brookings, SD, to Hampton, in Dakota County. Towers for the power lines will be 8 to 10 feet wide at the base and approximately 150 feet tall.

CapX 2020 submitted its proposed route to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in December, hoping to build the line as early as 2012. This line and three others in the project are estimated at a cost up to $1.7 billion.

CapX 2020 has filed a certificate of need with the PUC for the proposal. A decision on the application is expected around the middle of this year.

The route for the power line comes near New Prague with a preferred route to the north of the city, mostly along Scott County Road 2 and an alternate one that is about two miles south of the current city limits. The PUC will hold public hearings on the route with a decision to come in 2009/2010.

Lesher explained how the organization came up with the routes. They received opinions from local governments, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and US Fish and Wildlife Service. He noted that CapX 2020 is taking suggestions from the public for alternative routes.

New Prague Planning Director Ken Ondich noted the southern route is one mile away from the city’s southern 2030 Growth Boundary and the northern route touches on the city’s northern boundary. Much of the area along County Road 2 is being planned for low density, single family housing and some commercial use.

Councilmember Kay Wilcox asked if construction will be in the road right of way and if the land will be purchased.

Lesher said the towers will be three feet from the edge of the road right of way. The organization will use an easement for property, but will pay for the land. The route will try to follow roads so it doesn’t subdivide property.

Several residents voiced their concerns and opinions about the proposed routes. Some said they felt CapX hadn’t done a very good job of notifying them about the route and others stated they were not asked about the route prior to it being designated near their homes.

Bender said the city had to decide whether it wanted to be part of an advisory task force on the route.

“I think we need a voice present from the city,” noted Councilmember Ken Betterton.

The council unanimously approved Ondich to represent the city.

Group opposing CapX meets

Seventy area residents met at the St. Patrick Social Hall on Sunday, Feb. 15, to discuss opposition to the proposed CapX 2020 transmission line.

United Citizens Action Network (UCAN) and NoCapX organized the meeting. There will also be two future meetings to get information out and get people together. The upcoming meetings will be at the New Prague Public Library at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 15.

The local group of residents also wants people to know that task forces of citizens and elected officials can be set up, although the task force applications have to be in to the Public Utililies Commission by the end of February.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace