City urges third proposal for CapX 2020 route

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

The New Prague City Council added its voice Monday to those who want the proposed CapX 2020 345-kilovolt transmission line to avoid the area as it passed a resolution advocating a third alternative.

CapX 2020, a joint initiative of 11 utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding area, has proposed two routes near New Prague. Included in the group is Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA), of which New Prague Municipal Utilities is a member. The routes near New Prague are part of a 237-mile corridor, extending from Brookings, SD, to Hampton in Dakota County.

Ken Ondich, New Prague Planning Director, noted the nearby routes would not run through the city's limits or negatively affect the city's projected boundaries through 2030. He explained the organization's preferred route, along Scott County Road 2, is the northern limit of the 2030 growth boundary and the southern route is approximately one mile south of the city's growth boundary in Le Sueur County.

The northern route would impact Scott County's plans for Scott County Road 2.

Ondich said the Scott County Board of Commissioners recently approved a resolution to keep the line out of the county. The Le Sueur County Board of Commissioners has yet to state its formal position, although there are many who oppose the line.

Ondich has been attending meetings of a CapX 2020 Advisory Task Force, which includes area residents and officials. At the task force's Thursday, April 16, meeting a new alternative route was proposed. The line would start near Brookings, head south along Interstate 29 to Interstate 90, follow I-90 to the east, then north along Highway 56 to Dodge Center. It would then go north to Hampton or continue east to La Crosse, WI.

Ondich wanted direction from the council. He noted the city had four options including taking no action, opposing both routes and supporting this new one, oppose the Scott County line or the Le Sueur county route.

Councilmember Mark Bartusek asked New Prague Public Works Director Dennis Seurer how critical it is to the city for the transmission line to be nearby. Seurer responded the entire line was critical to the state. He said it was a tough question as it currently wasn't very critical, although the city will have future needs as it grows and it would be more reliable to have a line and a substation nearby.

Mayor W.A. Bink Bender noted he liked the route suggested by the task force. It was a much better solution for the area.

New Prague City Administrator Mike Johnson said the alternative would add to the capital costs of the transmission line. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will consider such factors when it decides on the route.

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