Concerns raised over power lineProperty owners along the proposed CapX2020 transmission line route testified about their concerns Monday in a hearing before North Dakota regulators.
By: By Patrick Springer, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
FARGO — Property owners along the proposed CapX2020 transmission line route testified about their concerns Monday in a hearing before North Dakota regulators.
The 345-kilovolt line would run from a substation northwest of Casselton south and east, passing near Hickson on its way to Minnesota, where it would generally follow Interstate 94 to St. Cloud.
Some of those with homes or businesses along the proposed 33-mile route through North Dakota, all in Cass County, asked the North Dakota Public Service Commission to alter the route so their property can be spared.
Paul Reinke, who lives on a farmstead near Hickson along the Red River, has a home just more than 500 feet from the planned high-voltage line, the minimum required distance.
Originally, the route would have passed roughly three miles north of Reinke’s property. Moving the route to the south, he said, took it outside of Fargo’s extraterritorial zone, a buffer to allow controlled future growth.
“It seems like our neighbors to the north were doing a power play and manipulating things,” Reinke said, adding later that he was referring to the city’s clout.
But representatives of Xcel Energy, one of the CapX2020 utility partners, said the route was altered because of the proposed flood-protection diversion, not specifically to avoid Fargo’s extraterritorial zone.
“We’re trying to avoid the diversion is what it comes down to,” Mark Nisbet, Xcel Energy’s North Dakota manager, told The Forum, echoing testimony of an Xcel engineer.
The power line’s planned path falls outside the protection area of the proposed metro diversion, which an Xcel representative said will form the “de facto” growth boundary for Fargo.
CapX2020 project leaders said the route was selected to be as close as possible to Fargo, where demand for electricity is greatest, while avoiding obstacles, to keep the project as cost-effective as possible.
The 210-mile transmission line, which has an approved route in Minnesota, is slated for completion in 2015. It carries an estimated cost of $500 million to $750 million.
The transmission line would skirt the western edge of Mapleton, after it was moved half a mile to the east so it wouldn’t split a farmer’s field.
Eric Hillman, a Mapleton City Council member, recommended moving the line back to its original location so it avoids the city. “The further west, the better for me,” he said. “These are big poles, and they’re not pretty.”
Dean Kraft, who lives four miles south of Mapleton, has a private landing strip on his land, which his family uses. The route of the CapX2020 line would make landing and taking off in airplanes more difficult.
He hopes the utilities can “try to work around” his landing strip, and would prefer to see a more westerly route, as would the city of Mapleton.
The three-member Public Service Commission already has found the CapX2020 project is justified, but has yet to approve the transmission line’s corridor and route. No deadline has been set for their decision.
Patrick Springer is a reporter at The Forum of Fargo-
Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.