Minnesota regulators request review of alternative route for 161-kV line

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, in a March 5 order, requested that an additional alternative route for a 161-kV transmission line be included in the Deputy Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s scoping decision for the environmental assessment of the project.

As noted in the order, Freeborn Wind Energy last September filed an application for a route permit to build the seven-mile line that would connect its proposed Freeborn Wind Farm to the Glenworth substation.

The commission said that it and the Department’s Energy Environmental Review and Analysis (EERA) unit received public comments on the project, some in support and some in opposition. While project proponents touted expected such economic benefits as increased tax revenue, local job creation, and landowner payments, project opponents warned of potential impacts to aesthetics, agriculture, human health, topography, public safety, recreation, waterways, soils, tree clearing, wetlands, wildlife, property values, and property rights, the commission said.

EERA considered the comments submitted during the scoping process in creating the alternative route it calls the “Orange Route,” which fulfills a priority expressed by AFCL and others to limit the route to participating landowners’ property.

The commission added that EERA also created the “Purple Route Segment,” and the “Gold Route Segment,” in order to study alternative routes that co-locate or parallel the project with existing transmission infrastructure.

EERA recommended that the Deputy Commissioner of Commerce include in the scoping decision the original route proposed by the company – which it calls the “Teal Route” – the Orange Route, and the Purple Route Segment. The commission also said that EERA did not recommend the Gold Route Segment due to impacts to non-participating landowners and other issues.

EERA told the commission that it will address the issues raised by AFCL’s 16 proposed permit conditions in the environmental assessment.

The commission added that it agrees with EERA that the Teal Route, Orange Route, and Purple Route Segment should be included in the scoping decision for the environmental assessment.

The commission further noted that it believes that the Gold Route Segment should be included in the scoping decision and considered as part of the environmental assessment as that segment “would be co-located with existing transmission infrastructure.”

According to the commission, EERA has noted that including the Gold Route Segment in the environmental assessment would not significantly increase the time and effort needed to complete the environmental assessment.

Therefore, the commission said that it requests that the Deputy Commissioner of Commerce include the Gold Route Segment in the scoping decision for the environmental assessment, and that that assessment examine the possibility of paralleling the existing transmission line corridor, as well as using existing transmission line right of way for the Purple Route Segment and the Gold Route Segment.

As TransmissionHub reported, the existing Glenworth substation is owned by ITC Midwest LLC.

According to the company’s application for the single-circuit transmission line, Freeborn Wind – which is an affiliate of Invenergy LLC – is requesting the route permit to build the high voltage transmission line needed to interconnect the proposed up to 200-MW Freeborn Wind Farm, located in Freeborn County, Minn., and Worth County, Iowa.

The Minnesota portion of the Freeborn Wind Farm would consist of up to 84 MW and is under permit review, the company said.

The Freeborn Wind Farm substation would be located in Freeborn County, the company said, adding that the existing Glenworth substation is located just southeast of Glenville, Minn.

According to a Dec. 6, 2017, commission notice, Freeborn Wind Energy requests a 200-foot route width for the project, with wider route widths near substations and narrower route widths near three residences, US Highway 65, and a communications tower.

Freeborn Wind Energy indicates that a permanent 80-foot right of way (ROW) is necessary for the project, except that a permanent 22-foot ROW would be used to cross 830th Avenue, the notice said, adding that structures would generally be built of wood or laminated wood and be 80 feet tall.

Freeborn Wind Energy anticipates construction to begin in spring 2020, with an in-service date of December 2020, the notice said, adding that the proposed project is estimated to cost $3.7m.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.