REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK | Midtown power stations and line: Build it? Bury it? Time to weigh in

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What’s up

Xcel Energy plans to build two new distribution substations and two 115 kilovolt transmission lines in the Midtown District of South Minneapolis. Community members have organized protests against the plan, and the public hearing process will continue June 18.

The two substations would be built at Hiawatha and 28th and on 29th Street between Portland and Oakland. Between the two, a line of 15–17 “double-circuit” transmission towers, approximately 75 feet tall, would carry two overhead 115-kilovolt lines at street level along East 29th Street and above the Greenway.

June 18 public meeting
A public meeting will be held June 18th at 6 pm at the Midtown Global Market by the Minnesota Office of Energy Security (OES) concerning the environmental impact of the Hiawatha project. Representatives from Xcel and OES will be on hand to respond to questions, concerns, and alternatives raised by the public. This meeting is part of the route application process Xcel must undergo for their construction to be approved. The meeting will help to draw up an environmental impact statement (EIS) based on the proposed location, a necessary component of Xcel‘s application.

Residents also can pose questions and concerns to the OES on the scope of the EIS until July 10th, 2009.

You are also invited to send comments, questions and information to the TC Daily Planet! Just click on comment below or email jbiliter@macalester.edu

What people are saying

YES – we need a new power line

Proponents of the Hiawatha project point to the increasing need for more energy in an area that is developing both in population and economically. The existing technology is 50 years old, and workers at nearby Abbott Northwestern Hospital have complained about disruptions in patient care as a result of energy shortages. Alternative energy sources, even in combination, are not up to the challenge, says Betty Mirzayi, Xcel’s Hiawatha Project manager.

NO – to an above-ground line

Opponents feel that alternative energy sources ought to be investigated further. There has also been much disagreement about the placement of the lines and substations, as the proposed route would follow the Midtown Greenway combined path. Many feel that the construction of power lines, either above ground or underground, would disrupt development plans for the Greenway. They also cite health concerns for the proximity of the lines to residential activity, and aesthetic concerns about placing power lines over what is meant to be a ‘green’ space. If buried underground, an alternative some opponents of the project advocate, the cost would increase by $15.8 million, and would be borne by Xcel customers.

More background information and updates on the project’s progress can be found at:

• Twin Cities Daily Planet article: Hiawatha high voltage lines: Xcel proposes, community questions, council considers on Monday
Xcel’s website
Midtown Greenway Coalition’s website

We’ll be covering the meeting on June 18 – if you have any suggestions or information for the article, please email jbiliter@macalester.edu