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Powerline route goes through Douglas County

This map shows a section of the preferred and alternate routes of a new 345-kilovolt-transmission line that CapX2020 has filed with the Public Utilities Commission. Areas outside these routes may still be considered.

CapX2020 utilities filed a route permit application last week for the Fargo-St. Cloud 345-kilovolt transmission line, which passes through Douglas County.

It's one of several lines the group is proposing in the Upper Midwest to preserve system reliability, serve increasing community electricity needs and increase capacity to accommodate renewable energy, according to CapX2020 officials.

"The St. Cloud, Alexandria and Red River Valley communities have experienced significant growth in electricity use in the past 30 years," said Terry Grove, CapX2020 co-executive director. "This line will ensure that local communities and customers continue to enjoy reliable access to affordable electricity."

The preferred route follows the Interstate 94 corridor, running southwest of Evansville and Brandon and proceeding east along the southern outskirts of Alexandria. It would then cut east, toward Osakis, just south of the Osakis city limits.

An alternate route that is also under consideration avoids the western half of Douglas County. It would dip into the Alexandria area near Lake Mary, proceed north near the Alexandria city limits and then zigzag southeast toward Sauk Centre.

The application was filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

It is the third route permit application filed for the three proposed CapX2020 345-kilovolt transmission line projects.

A separate route permit application was filed on April 8 for the Monticello-St. Cloud 345-kilovolt transmission line project. A route permit application was previously filed for the line between Brookings County, South Dakota and Hampton, Minnesota, and work continues on an application for a route between Hampton, Rochester and La Crosse, Wisconsin.

The process began in 2004 with planning studies. The commission granted the three 345-kilovolt transmission lines a certificate of need on April 16.

Need and route permit applications were filed in March 2008 and June 2008, respectively, for a 230-kilovolt transmission line between Bemidji and Grand Rapids, which is also part of the CapX2020 Group I projects.

The Fargo-St. Cloud route permit application contains two main route options with a third alternative provided in certain areas for the commission to review.

The application process also requires significant route option review by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Office of Energy Security. The process provides numerous opportunities for public comment and input before the commission decides on a final route.

In developing the route options over an 18-month period, CapX2020 hosted or participated in several meetings where landowners, local government officials, state and federal agencies, and other stakeholders along a broad corridor expressed their opinions.

This input, said CapX2020 officials, was critically important to the utilities in making an informed recommendation on possible routes.

"Although we have filed a route permit, the public utilities commission will not determine the line's final route for more than a year," said Darrin Lahr, routing lead for the project. "The state process is very thorough and includes an opportunity for landowners and others to provide alternative route options for consideration."

The public process on the route permit application formally begins when the Office of Energy Security hosts public scoping meetings to develop a draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Local governments, organizations, landowners and other stakeholders will be able to comment on the project's environmental and routing aspects during the scoping meetings, while the impact statement is being drafted and again after it is published.

The commission also will schedule public hearings where stakeholders can formally comment on the proposed route options. These comments will be included in the official record. A final commission decision on the route is expected in 2010.

Additional information on the regulatory process is available at: