Light at end of tunnel for two segments of CapX2020 project

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will hear oral arguments from developers and the public April 12 for the Minnesota portion of the CapX2020 Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse 345-kV transmission line.

The PUC will consider whether to approve the route permit selected by an administrative law judge (ALJ) on Feb. 8. “We will be able to start engineering [work on the line] and right-of-way work after approval from the PUC,” a CapX2020 spokesperson told TransmissionHub April 3.

The preferred route selected by the ALJ follows a course from Hampton, Minn., to the Mississippi River crossing near Alma, Wisc. The route was one of three options considered.

Developers aren’t expecting much controversy over the Minnesota portion of the line, according to the CapX2020 spokesperson. “There has not been too much landowner feedback or local official feedback other than one area around [the town of] Cannon Falls,” the spokesperson said. In that case, the feedback addressed a slight rerouting of the line that was approved by the ALJ, according to the spokesperson.

At the April 12 hearing, commissioners will hear oral arguments from four parties. The applicant, Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) will have the opportunity to speak, and three other groups — Oronoco Township, the North Route Citizens Alliance and American Transmission Co. (ATC) — will also make statements. Members of the public will also be able to speak, but those wishing to testify must register by close of business April 9. Xcel Energy will have an opportunity for summary rebuttal of the public remarks, according to the agenda for the PUC hearing. While a same-day decision by the PUC is possible, the commission could also take the matter under advisement and announce a decision at a later date.

In Wisconsin, four public hearings were held March 13 and 14 regarding the Alma-La Crosse segment of the line. Seven parties filed initial briefs with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) on March 30; reply briefs are due at the PSCW on April 6.

PSCW staff will issue a briefing memo on April 20, and the commission will hold its hearing some time in mid-May, according to the spokesperson.

Unlike Minnesota, which does not impose a specific deadline for decision, the PSCW must issue its decision by June 4.