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Published June 16, 2011, 09:42 PM

Concerns Over Proposed Minnkota Transmission Line

Minnkota Power Cooperative wants to build a new, 260 mile, $312 million transmission line from west central North Dakota to Grand Forks.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

Minnkota Power Cooperative wants to build a new, 260 mile, $312 million transmission line from west central North Dakota to Grand Forks.

Minnkota leaders went before the North Dakota Public Service Commission Thursday to seek permission for the project.

The Commission held the first of three public hearings on that transmission line Thursday in Northwood. Concerns range from land prices to public safety.

The transmission line will be the biggest built in North Dakota since the 1970s. Minnkota says it's to deal with increasing demand for electricity and to prevent blackouts.

"In winter of 2013 and 2014, we can see conditions that would lead to outages if there was one or more lines out of service," Minnkota projects manage Mike Hennes said.

But such a project can't be built without permission from the state. That's why the North Dakota Public Service Commission spent the day in Northwood, where they took testimony from Minnkota Power Cooperative officials.

"I don't think need is really in question. What is in question is what is the best way to build this transition line and the best way to minimize negative impacts," Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer said.

Those impacts will be felt by hundreds of landowners, who also provided testimony. They wonder how much they will be compensated for their land and where the electrical towers will go.

There is also concern about the power lines as they approach the Grand Forks Airport. Pilot Todd Leake believes the line will be too close to the runways.

"It's legal for these power lines to be at the heights they are underneath the flight surfaces for the runways, but it's not the safest situation and certainly if it can be avoided, it should be avoided," Leake said.

Minnkota says they are working with the FAA to make sure their new lines will not pose a threat to aircraft.

"We are not adding any additional challenges by another power line to the south of the line that's there. Our route we feel has the least overall impact to the homeowners in the area. There are other routes, but you do have higher impacts associated with them," Hennes said.

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