News reports from ITC MN/IA meetings

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on April 27, 2014 @ 9:26 am

Last week the meetings were held on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the ITC Midwest MN/IA 345 kV transmission line.  Here are some reports:

Power line could be close to Blue  Earth

April 27, 2014

Some residents of a housing development just north of Blue Earth received some shocking news last Thursday.

A large, new electrical transmission line could possibly be joining the neighborhood.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce held two information and listening sessions at Hamilton Hall in Blue Earth last Thursday to explain the project and gather any comments concerning it.

ITC Midwest is seeking a state permit to build a 73-mile long, 345 kilowatt electrical power line using 130 to 190 foot tall towers. The transmission line will start near Jackson, travel east to near Huntley, then turn south to the Iowa border.

The route from Huntley south to the Iowa border will be along the western edge of Faribault County.

There are multiple variations of the proposed route. One of those alternate routes brings the line very close to the Riverside Heights development just north of Interstate 90.

“That one alternate route would bring the line within 100 to 200 feet away from my home,” Riverside Heights homeowner Randy Anderson says. “And yet I was not notified about this meeting. I just heard about it two hours ago.”

Faribault County commissioner John Roper echoed those comments.

“I am very disappointed the county was not kept in the loop on all this,” Roper said. “And I think you needed to notify all of the landowners near the proposed routes, not just the ones where you need easements for right-of-way.”

A staff member of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Ray Kirsch, replied he thought a copy of the environmental impact statement (EIS) had been sent to the county planning and zoning office.

“We are holding these meetings to allow everyone to make comments about the project,” Kirsch says. “We were here last July to gather information and comments and those have become part of the draft EIS.”

Besides the two meetings in Blue Earth, there also were listening sessions held in Jackson and Fairmont.

“People have until Friday, May 9, at 4:30 p.m. to make comments to my office,” Kirsch says. “We will incorporate all the comments into the final EIS.”

Then on May 13 and 14, an administrative law judge will hold comment sessions in Blue Earth, Fairmont and Jackson. Anyone can attend those sessions with questions, concerns and comment, Kirsch says.

On Thursday, approximately 50 people attended the afternoon comment session and about a dozen were at the evening one. Ten people made comments for the record, including several other residents of Riverside Heights.

Those giving comments included Tim Steier, Jeff Moore, Al Roesler, Carol Moore and Morris Hanson, as well as several persons from out side the local area.

And in the Lakefield Standard (part of it):

Running a 345-kilovolt transmission line just north of Interstate 90 — or even along it in some places — would be better from an aesthetic and agricultural standpoint than a route farther north, but worse in that it could affect an area of historical importance.

That finding is included in the draft environmental impact statement prepared for the ITC Midwest 345kV Transmission Line Project by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. ITC Midwest is proposing to construct a 73-mile transmission line from Lakefield east to Huntley, between 15 and 20 miles of which will run across Jackson County.

ITC Midwest has proposed two primary route options through Jackson County, one running nearly straight east from Lakefield along County Road 14 and 820th Street, the other running along the south edge of Boot Lake, jumping north along County Road 19, heading east at the intersection of County Road 16 and stair-stepping its way up to County Road 22.

And from the Fairmont Sentinal Online:

Power line generates comments

April 23, 2014
Jenn Brookens – Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT – Two meetings held in Fairmont on Tuesday offered information from a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed ITC Midwest 345-kV transmission line project.

The proposed line would run from Lakefield Junction in Jackson County, through Martin County, into Faribault County and then go south into Kossuth County in Iowa. The line would stretch 75 miles through southern Minnesota.

An original plan had the line running south of Interstate 90 on the north end of Sherburn, something that had many Sherburn residents concerned. But a modified route puts the transmission line north of the interstate instead.

While many in Sherburn may breathe a tentative sigh of relief, the original route will not be completely off the table until fall, when the state Public Utilities Commission decides on the certificate of need and route permit. To help, an administrative law judge is called in to review the project and issue a decision.

“The commission is not bound by the judge’s decision, but it holds a lot of sway, since they are the ones that hire him,” said Ray Kirsch, environmental review manager with the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

The judge is present at public hearings, comment periods and contested case hearings. Public hearings for the project will be held May 13-14.

Comments also are being accepted from now until May 9. Several people in attendance Tuesday at the Knights of Columbus Hall spoke on the record, many of them Sherburn residents who voiced concerns about the original route plan that took the lines into town.

“Route A, as it was proposed, would run 120 feet from our church building,” said Ron Mixer, pastor at Sherburn Regional Worship Center. “If that route is selected, it would make our church building unusable.”

Mixer went on to explain that the building is all metal, and the lines would likely interfere with the building’s P.A. system, low-level radio frequency that helps the hard of hearing and the church’s video transmission. But those problems pale in comparison to the potential dangers the line would pose to those who attend the church, he argued.

“If something were to fail with those lines, it would be catastrophic,” Mixer said.

Health concerns also were expressed by others in attendance.

“We have great concerns about Route A,” said Martin County West Superintendent Allison Schmidt. “About 500 of the 700 students in my school district attend schools in Sherburn. While we appreciate the modified Route A, I believe there still is a concern for the health of those 500 students and staff members, so we would like that clarified.”

“It has been shown that high-voltage exposure is harmful for children and unborn children,” said Sarah Jagodzinske Rohman, a Martin County West school board member. “We hope you will look into protecting us as rate-payers, but more importantly as humans and our children, who are our future.”

There also were concerns about property values.

“A business that planned to build on some property just south of the interstate said he wouldn’t if that power line went through,” said Helen Murphy. “He said, ‘This line will kill Sherburn.'”

Verbal comments at the meeting were recorded for the report to the PUC, and other comments will be accepted until May 9 by mail, fax or e-mail to Kirsch. Comments can be left online at mn.gov/commerce/energyfacilities

Mailing address: Ray Kirsch, Environmental Review Manager, Minnesota Department of Commerce, 85 Seventh Place East, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55101-2198

Fax: (651) 539-0109

E-mail:

raymond.kirsch@state.mn.us

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace