Residents of suburban Minneapolis plan petition drive against Xcel line upgrade

Residents of Plymouth, Minn. a town of 70,000 about 12 miles west of Minneapolis, are planning to petition drive against Xcel Energy’s (NYSE:XEL) plan to upgrade an existing 69-kV power line to 115-kV.

“They have concerns about impacts to their property, property values, and health effects of the line,” Plymouth mayor Kelli Slavik told TransmissionHub on Jan. 25.

Slavik said residents do not feel Xcel Energy has listened to their concerns.

Because the city has no official part in the approval process for the line, “We’ve been encouraging residents to work with the [public utility commission] and the department of commerce…since they are the decision-makers in this process,” she said.

Pending state approvals, Xcel Energy plans to acquire from Great River Energy the existing eight-mile stretch of 69-kV line that runs from the existing Medina substation near Medina, Minn., to the Hollydale substation near Plymouth. The utility will upgrade that line to 115-kV, add .8 mile of new 115-kV line, and build a new substation north of the town.

Current plans are for the upgraded line to follow existing right-of-way. “We’re proposing a pole-for-pole replacement, so what’s out there now would remain relatively the same,” project manager Joe Sedarski told TransmissionHub on Jan. 25.

The utility proposes using either galvanized or weathering steel poles that would be slightly taller than the existing 40-year-old wooden poles that will be replaced. That, Slavik said, concerns residents because “the poles would be larger, take up more of their property and impact their property in a different manner” than the existing line.

Xcel Energy officials said state regulators are considering other route options for the line.

“There are 13 complete alternate routes being assessed by the state,” Sedarski said. “Our preferred route is still the existing corridor [but] we’ll do what the [public utilities commission] tells us to do about where the route should go.”

Xcel Energy says the upgrade is needed to more efficiently and consistently serve the area’s growing population.