CapX 2020 route proposals pass near New Prague

Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

The proposed CapX 2020 transmission line would pass very close to the New Prague city limits, according to the route permit application the CapX 2020 member utilities filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in December.

CapX2020 is a joint initiative of 11 utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region that seeks to expand the electric transmission grid to accommodate customer demand for electricity. Part of the proposal includes a 345-kilovolt power line to be built along a corridor stretching from Brookings, SD, to Hampton, in Dakota County. For much of its approximately 210-mile route, the corridor roughly follows Highway 19.

The utilities proposing the project argue that the region hasn't had a major upgrade in the electrical grid in nearly 30 years, and during that time demand for electricity in Minnesota has nearly doubled. There are several groups opposed to the project, arguing that the lines are not needed to serve the region, but would instead serve as a means of moving electricity generated in the Midwest out of the area to other parts of the country. Other groups, such as one organized in the Henderson-Le Sueur area, are concerned about the power lines' effect on wildlife.

CapX 2020 submitted its proposed route in December in hopes of being able to build the lines as early as 2012. This line and three others in the CapX project are expected to cost up to $1.7 billion.

Before the commission rules, a series of public hearings will need to be held.

The preferred route chosen by the utilities crosses from Sibley County into Le Sueur County just north of Le Sueur, then heads north in Derrynane Township crossing into Scott County west of New Prague. The route proposed route follows along Scott County Road 2 until just west of Elko New Market, then goes north and east, crossing into Dakota County near Lake Marion in Lakeville.

The alternate route chosen crosses from Sibley County to Scott County west of Belle Plaine. It then heads east for a time, then south into Le Sueur County, and proceeds east, passing within two miles of the southern New Prague city limits. It would pass near Lonsdale, in Rice County, and through Wheatland and Webster townships before going north along Interstate 35.

According to information from the CapX 2020 utilities, route options were developed based on information compiled from meetings with local landowners and government officials, county staff, state and federal agencies and other interested stakeholders.

A route permit must be issued from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission before the project can be constructed. The commission will determine the final route of the project.

Copies of the route permit applications are available online at www.capx2020.com. A CD-Rom copy of the application can be ordered by calling 1-888-473-2279. The application is also on file at public libraries in Henderson, Shakopee, Northfield, Montgomery, Lakeville and St. Peter.

One of the agencies that is part of CapX 2020 is the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, of which New Prague is a member. Dennis Seurer, Public works Director for New Prague, is working to have a representative of the CapX project at the New Prague City Council's February 17 meeting.

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