The Alley, the Phillips neighborhood newspaper, has a few articles that you should check out:

Power or Problem to the People?
Xcel’s Proposed High Voltage Lines–more time needed to develop alternatives

By Eric Hart

In late September 2008, Xcel Energy announced its Hiawatha Project that seeks to increase the amount of electricity flowingto the Midtown area of south Minneapolis.

The plan includes two new substations,one near Hiawatha Avenue and anothernear I-35W, which are to be connected by two high voltage transmission lines. The
potential area for the transmission lines is parallel to the Midtown Greenway between 26th and 31st Streets. It is our understanding that the only approval needed by Xcel is a routing permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Xcel does not have to prove the need for the project or study alternatives to it like they would for a larger project. Their application to the PUC could come as early as late January 2009.

We have learned from Xcel and businesses in the corridor that there have been power quality issues that have adversely effected some businesses. It is important that the corridor is served with high quality, reliable power. However, simply running high voltage lines on huge towers through the Greenway corridor or along residential streets is not the long-term solution that causes the least harm to the people in the effected neighborhoods and promotes a
more sustainable future. As of December 3, 2008 the Midtown Greenway Coalition “currently opposes” the Hiawatha Projectgiven the lack of detailed data from Xcel and the lack of any serious alternatives analysis so far. Visit to see the Coalition’s policy resolution or watch for updates on this issue.

The Coalition is working with Xcel, the effected neighborhoods and others to explore solutions that negate the need for the power lines and substations. Alternatives include aggressive electricity conservation, distributed electricity generation (such as solar power or co-generation of heat and power), upgrading the local distribution system, and high-tech demand management systems.


• Recommend to the following parties that alternatives to the Hiawatha Project be studied and that more time be allowed for this purpose: Minneapolis Council
Members (contact info at: or Xcel Energy (Paul Adelmann, paul.adelmann@, 612 630-4384).
• If energy conservation and renewable energy interest you, volunteer your help or request that updates be emailed to you, contact Tim Springer at 612-879-0105 or
• Finally, participate in one or both of these upcoming meeting [that are now past tense, happened Thursday].

Eric Hart is a resident of Longfellow Community and a Midtown Greenway Coalition board member.

Thursday afternoon and again in the evening, Xcel held an Open House for its proposed “Hiawatha Project,” transmission through Phillips.

What I learned:

From Pam Rasmussen:  Conductor specs — 795 ACSS DOUBLE CIRCUIT and NOT bundled.  But there’s not much impact on the capacity, it’s essentially the same.  Here’s the conductor spec chart, where you can look up 795kCmil on the left and then go over to the right to 115kV — remember this is for 1 circuit, so for 2, double it — this is from the SW MN 345kV case:

Ex-35-App 7-Conductor Spec

From Dave Callahan: The area on Hiawatha where they’re looking at sticking a substation is North of Lake, on the East side of Hiawatha, where the northwest end of that Target complex abuts another group of buildings on Minnehaha backing up to Hiawatha.  There’s no road access, and there’s been talk of extending the Midtown Greenway from a bit north through this area towards Lake Street.  It sounded like Xcel had already had discussions of how to put a substation there and leave room for the Greenway expansion.  As there’s no road, the easiest way I see to get there is to start at Cedar and head east on Hiawatha, tromp on it to get some lift and do an Evil Kinevil over Hiawatha and land there… otherwise, try walking from Minnehaha.  It’s just to the right of the “A” below:

View Larger Map

Recently, Xcel had announced that its preferred route is along the Midtown Greenway. In looking at routes, and digging through my files, I’d discovered the Metro Load Serving Study from 2001.   That  study says, about plans for South Minneapolis:  Oh my, LOTS about South Minneapolis, I’m going to have to do a whole separate post on that.  Manana…

At the July 24, 2008, NM-SPG meeting, there was this presentation, per the minutes:

7.1.4. South Minneapolis
Mr. Standing, XCEL, presented the South Minneapolis Electric Reliability Project (SMERP) study. Mr. Standing stated 4 options were studied. The preferred option includes a new 345 kV line in-service in approximately 2013-2020 from the New Hwy 280 345/115 kV substation to the New Hiawatha substation.

NM-SPG Meeting Minutes July 24, 2008

And from the 2007 Biennial Transmission Plan, we have this snippet that gives us a peek at their plans:

Alternatives. Initial investigation and scoping discussions have led to the development of three potential alternatives:
(1) Construct a new 115 kV line from a new Hiawatha Substation along Highway 55 to a new Oakland Substation near Lake Street and I-35W. The line would then continue south to a new Highway 62 Substation near Highway 62 and Nicollet Avenue. The line would continue to its final termination at a new Penn Lake Substation near I-494 and Sheridan Avenue.
(2) Similar to Option 1, but the final 115 kV line would stretch from Highway 62 Substation to the existing Wilson Substation near I-494 and Wentworth Avenue.
(3) Construct two smaller 115 kV loops with new 115 kV lines running from Hiawatha to Oakland to Elliot Park and a second loop from Penn Lake to Highway 62 to Wilson.

That section of the 2007 Biennial Transmission Plan is just too big.  CLICK HERE and click on section 7.5 and scroll down to the 3rd and 4th to the last pages.

In that section of the 2007 Transmission Plan, it describes a “need” in South Minneapolis:

Inadequacy. Loading on Xcel Energy’s 12.4 kV distribution system in south Minneapolis has reached levels where numerous single contingencies can lead to overloads elsewhere in the system. Many of the distribution substations served by the south Minneapolis transmission loop have either reached their capacities or will in the near future, as Xcel Energy is forecasting 100 MW of load growth in south Minneapolis over the next ten years due to redevelopment in many areas of the city.

Are you paying attention?  The “inadequacy” is in the 12.4kV distribution system.  Or the “inadequacy” IS the 12.4kV distribution system.  Also note that they are forecasting a load growth of 100MW over the next 10 years.  Don’t forget these points.

When you take the plans that are out there for the taking, and sketch them out, here’s what it looks like (this is old news, but once more with feeling):


Xcel, when you’ve got an inadequacy with your 12.4kV distribution system, and power quality issues at some of the big electric users, why would you think that this big linked addition of transmission is the answer.  How about trying a distribution upgrade — isn’t it long overdue?  And underground that distribution while you’re at it!


Xcel announced yesterday that its preferred route for the “Hiawatha Project” is on the rim of the Midtown Greenway.

CLICK HERE for Midtown Greenway’s transmission site.

Today Xcel is holding two open houses on its “Hiawatha Project” and that’s one way to find out what Xcel is planning — but what they’re stating as the “project” is only a small part of what’s planned for South Minneapolis.

Xcel Open Houses

Plaza Verde

1516 E. Lake St.,  Minneapolis

12- 2 p.m.  & 5-7 p.m.

Here’s the rest of the story, what I’ve learned of Xcel’s plans from public information — here’s what it will look like, with routing variations, but at least part of their intent:

(can’t get the map right… grrrrrrrrr)

High-voltage line proposed along Midtown Greenway

By STEVE BRANDT, Star Tribune

January 14, 2009

Xcel Energy is proposing to route a high-voltage power line along the border of the Midtown Greenway, crossing the recreational corridor four times, and is seeking public reaction to the plan today.

The proposal to beef up Xcel’s transmission capacity in the Lake Street corridor has kicked up concerns among those who question the need for the line and worry about possible health effects and the visual impact.

But the utility said it needs to offer more reliable service in the area, which has redeveloped with denser housing and with once-vacant businesses now occupied.

Xcel is proposing an aerial line, which is cheaper but runs counter to the sentiment of area council members that the line should be buried. They prefer a route under E. 28th Street if the line goes ahead.

Betty Mirzayi, Xcel’s transmission project manager, said Xcel chose the route largely following the Greenway’s south rim because it’s a more direct route that would be cheaper to build. Xcel also looked at overhead routes along E. 26th, 28th and 31st streets for the east-west extension from its existing Hiawatha Avenue transmission line into the redeveloping Midtown area. But those routes would run closer to more houses, partially block sidewalks with poles and require removal or pruning of more trees, she said.

Mirzayi said Xcel also evaluated an underground alternative for the Greenway route. She said that the $15 million project includes $2 million for installing overhead lines. Burying the line along the Greenway corridor would cost $15.8 million more, a cost Xcel said would be borne by ratepayers.

But Council Member Robert Lilligren said he is concerned that an overhead Greenway line would discourage redevelopment, the reason that the city and county invested in the Greenway.

Xcel proposes to locate a new substation on the east side of Hiawatha at 28th Street, adjoining its current transmission line. A prime attraction of that site, now owned by the state and a railroad, is that it is away from homes and offers room for expansion, Mirzayi said. Xcel proposes to expand an old unused substation on Oakland Avenue S., purchasing an adjacent condemned triplex and a vacant lot.

The Midtown Greenway Coalition, an advocacy group with membership from neighborhoods bordering the bike-pedestrian corridor, has opposed the project for now. It said it would reassess that position if alternatives for improving the area’s power supply prove inadequate and there is adequate buffering of the line. Tim Springer, the coalition’s director, said the proposed routing makes finding alternatives such as conservation or load management even more important.

Mirzayi said the Greenway rim route leaves adequate room in the former rail trench owned by Hennepin County for the potential development of trolley or light-rail transit.

The company has delayed its project timetable somewhat, pushing back its application to the state for the project from this month to later this winter. It now hopes to begin using the line and two accompanying substations in the first half of 2011.