Follow up From Fergus Falls!

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on December 15, 2007 @ 12:01 pm

(try that alliteration when the “F” key doesn’t work, AAAAAGRH!  Too much cut & pasting!)

In the Fergus Falls Daily Journal:

Landowners offer power line input 

Planners say the line between Fargo and Monticello is needed

By Tom Hintgen (Contact) | The Daily Journal

Published Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Even though a proposed 345,000-volt power line would not be built in the near future, and not become operational until 2014, Fergus Falls area landowners already are learning about ramifications of the line and are providing input to state officials. That’s because the power line, if built, would likely go across their land.

Landowners who attended a gathering on the proposed line Monday evening at the Bigwood Event Center did not express opposition to the project, known as CapX 2020. The high voltage line is proposed by Otter Tail Power Company and 10 other transmission owning utilities.

Planners say the line between Fargo and Monticello is needed. This region, according to Otter Tail Power Company and the other CapX 2020 members, is experiencing job and population growth, leading to a steady increase in electricity usage. Planning studies show that customer demand for electricity will increase by 4,000 to 6,000 megawatts by 2020.

“We’re not establishing routes yet, but instead are taking a look at the large corridors under consideration,” David Birkholz of the Minnesota Department of Commerce said. “If you live here (in the Fergus Falls area), along the proposed corridor, you should have a say in the process. That’s why we’re here.”

Two major approvals must be obtained from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) before a high voltage transmission line can be built. They include a Certificate of Need and Route Permit. It won’t be until November 2008 before the PUC says yes or no to the CapX 2020 project.

The proposed high voltage line from Fargo to Monticello is only one of four proposed CapX 2020 projects. Xcel Energy is the project leader for the aforementioned line that would pass through Otter Tail County.

The project leader for a proposed power line from Bemidji to Grand Rapids is Otter Tail Power Company. Other proposed high voltage lines include those from Brookings, S.D., to the southeast side of the Twin Cities and from southeast of the Twin Cities to Rochester and then to LaCrosse, Wis.

Poles along the route passing through Otter Tail County would be double-circuit single-pole structures, made of self-weathering galvanized steel. Concrete foundations would be six to eight feet in diameter and poles would be from 105 to 175 feet in height. Space between the structures would range from 750 to 100 feet.

Farmers and other landowners would receive one-time easement payments, based on land values. Restraints close to the power poles would be minimal, and farmers would be able to plant crops near the structures.

“Every transmission line will have environmental impact, and everyone involved needs to decide what’s the best approach,” Department of Commerce spokesperson Birkholz said. “We at the Commerce Department will be taking public comments until Jan. 14.”

Darrin Lahr, project development manager for the proposed Fargo to Monticello line and an employee of Xcel Energy, said the 345,000-volt project would “build for the future. At stake is reliability of service and the need to provide backup electrical service. We’re getting to the point when we’ve got to do something.”

Additional power lines, he said, also will assist the efforts to move wind energy from western Minnesota to homes and businesses in other sections of the state.

About 33 people, many of them landowners along the proposed line corridor, were in attendance Monday evening at the Bigwood Event Center. Many asked questions and most appeared to be satisfied that they received adequate information and that their questions were answered.

There was opposition, however, to CapX 2020. Pamphlets produced and paid for by attorney Carol Overland of Red Wing were distributed Monday evening at the Bigwood Event Center.

“This is our opportunity to tell the Department of Commerce what alternatives we want — instead of transmission support coal,” states Overland in her pamphlet. “Any system alternatives for review must be raised now.”

Questions related to the environmental review process of the CapX 2020 line projects can be directed to Birkholz at david.birkholz@state.mn.us or by calling him at 651-296-2878.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace