Monday’s hearing in Menahga got a thorough report in the Park Rapids Enterprise.  Now, will the Administrative Law Judge and the Public Utilities Commission pay as much attention?

And a little correction, “Pipeline” should be “Powerline” in the 3rd paragraph.  As newspaper articles go, this is as good as it gets!  Lots of detail.  And the need part, the “Carol Overland question” is there in black and white.

To see the full Public Utilities Commission dockets, go to the PUC’s SEARCH DOCKET PAGE HERE, and search for dockets 14-787 (Certificate of Need) and 14-797 (Route Permit).

And in the Park Rapids Enterprise:

Hearing held in Menahga to discuss proposed transmission lines

It would consist of: 

The power line would require a 100-foot right-of-way at minimum. The majority of the project would use single round wood poles 275 to 400 feet apart.  Some poles with guy wires or anchors might be needed depending on the soil conditions.  It was difficult to gauge public sentiment for or against the project because most people sat and listened. P[ower]line opponent Carol Overland, who represents the Andersen family and trust in trying to stall or stop the line, has filed a petition to derail the “fast-track” of the dockets for more thorough review.  

“The fast-tracking of these dockets improperly cuts out the public and the directly affected landowners,” her brief states. “There is no justification for the rush to check off the process boxes and push this project through.”  

Overland claims the Public Utilities Commission made a decision early in the process to expedite the review process and that it omitted affected landowners.  Under statute the Commission has one year to make a decision on the Certificate of Need and six months after that to finalize the route.  Donna Andersen spoke at the meeting to say she and her husband own 78 acres of the affected property, and have for 30 years.  She said she wanted the transmission line “routed away from my property.”  Her land was placed into a DNR stewardship program that included intentional cultivation of trees and wildlife.  

“The impact on trees cannot be mitigated,” she said of clearing a 100-foot path under the lines. She suggested a route that would not require forest land.  Also, she said, the northern large eared bat, which resides in the trees, is a “threatened species” that should be studied further to gauge the impact of the project. Commission member Carole Schmidt, at the hearing, promised that the bat study conducted “would be forthcoming.”  Resident Lori Tomperi, who has 448 affected acres, said her land already has a Koch pipeline running through it.  She wants to leave the pristine land to her kids, she told the commission.  

Peak demand is very low and doesn’t meet the issue of need, Overland asserted, accusing the commission of using “misleading charts” to bolster the need for the line.  She agreed the line was old and needs rebuilding, but suggested rebuilding might correct any problems the area is experiencing.  Minnesota Power is an investor-owned public utility headquartered in Duluth. It supplies retail electric service to 143,000 customers and wholesale service to 16 municipalities in a 26,000 square mile territory. It delivers electric energy through a network of transmission and distribution lines.  

However, the applicants are requesting approval of a 500-foot wide right-of-way, and in some cases a wider path “to accommodate facility designs.”  The company said potential environmental effects will be mitigated after construction and landowners would be compensated for losses during construction.  “No stray voltage issues are anticipated to affect farm animals along the route,” the proposal says.  Administrative Law Judge Jim Mortenson said the deadline for written comments is Nov. 2. He hopes to issue a report by Dec. 9 and the PUC report is due sometime in January 2016.

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