This Discussion channel is currently closed.

Notice

View Case Record, TL-16-327

Subscribe to This Case

Comments must be received by 4:30pm on the close date.


Default_avatar
Eric Espeseth over 3 years ago

PUC Docket Number: ET-6/TL-16-327 OAH Docket Number: 80-2500-34009

To Whom It May Concern, I believe the Commission should issue a route permit to Minnkota Power for the MPL-Laporte 115 kV Transmission Line Project and approve the Proposed Route. After reading through the Environmental Assessment I firmly believe that the Minnkota Power Proposed Route is the best option from an environmental and landowner perspective. My brother and sister-in-law are impacted land owners along four of the alternative routes for the proposed new Minnkota Power 115 kV power line. It is evident from the Environmental Assessment that the Proposed Route will be the least disruptive option for the overall landscape and private landholders as it will minimize the impact to the land given the use of existing road rights of way and existing distribution easements for its entire length. My biggest concern is the amount of land, both public and private, that will be negatively impacted by the various alternative power line routes. Building a power line parallel to the existing pipeline will require a 100ft wide clearing (starting at least 50 feet away from the existing pipeline) and additional road infrastructure to access the new power line. Clearing large amounts of land in the heart of this prime recreation area impacts everyone, not just the local landowners. These areas are heavily used for recreational purposes throughout the year and clearing this prime land hurts everyone. Additionally, many animal species live in these areas including deer, grouse, turkeys and black bear. Removing large sections of forest to accommodate the new power line could have a detrimental impact on reproduction and overall populations in the area. Accessing a power line built along the pipeline path will require new roads to be built as the roads that currently exist in the area are in poor condition and generally not passable in the winter time. One alternative, the Thompson Alternative, proposes following a “road” that is used as a snowmobile trail in the winter time further negatively impacting recreational use in the area. Building a power line through areas such as those in the Thompson Alternative and the others that parallel the pipeline is not a good idea due to the negative impact on the landscape and the lack of existing access. I appreciate you taking the time to consider my concerns and I would like to reiterate my support for Minnkota Power’s Proposed Route Please as it demonstrates the least impact to the environment and recreational use in the area by public and private landholders.

Thank you, Eric Espeseth

0 Reads
 
Default_avatar
Maggi White over 3 years ago

PUC Docket Number: ET-6/TL-16-327 OAH Docket Number: 80-2500-34009

Hello,

My name is Maggi White and I have a few comments regarding Minnkota Power’s new 115 kV power line. After looking through the Environmental Assessment, it seems clear that the Minnkota Power Proposed Route has the lowest impact to the overall environment and general public.

It seems most logical to locate the new power line along roads, like in the Proposed Route. As demonstrated in the Environmental Assessment, locating the new power line along the road should impact less of the surrounding land by utilizing the existing road right of way. The existing road right of way already exists and, if utilized, Minnkota Power would only need 55 feet of new easements from landowners. The Proposed Route also uses distribution line easements in some locations. Expanding existing distribution easements decreases the required amount of new easements that Minnkota Power would need to acquire.

Without following existing distribution lines and road right of way, the new easements required would be for the full 100 feet width. This full 100 feet wide easement would go directly through forested land on the Collocate Route, Seeger Route 3, and Seeger Route 5. The Thompson Alternative follows a north-south road, 105th Ave, that is a minimum maintenance forest road and isn’t much different than going through the middle of the woods. In the winter time, 105th Ave is a snowmobile trail and not able to handle automobile traffic. Although multiple options include going down the existing pipeline, the Environmental Assessment is clear that MPL would require the new power line to be located 100 feet away from the edge of the MPL easements. This means that the new power line would be on a new route through forested land. Additionally, it is important to remember that the land where the MPL pipeline is located is owned by private citizens and not by MPL.

Clearing large amounts of land through the heart of prime hunting land impacts everyone, not just the local landowners. Grouse, deer, and turkeys all use the woods as their sanctuary and clearing this area out would impact reproduction and populations in general. This prime hunting land is also the location most likely used by hunters; unlike the areas along the road suggested in the Proposed Route. Clearing the prime hunting land in the forest impacts everyone.

Crossing a designated trout stream area is inevitable for this project; however the Proposed Route crosses the existing distribution line along 400th Street. Crossing at this existing location would help minimize damage to the trout stream area.

Overall, this project should be approved on Minnkota Power’s Proposed Route as it shows the least impact to the public and environment. The MPL Collocate Route, Thompson Route, Seeger Route 3, and Seeger Route 5 should all be avoided due to their high impact.

Thank you for considering my comments.

Sincerely, Maggi White

0 Reads
 
Default_avatar
Zach Mjones over 3 years ago

Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Docket Number: ET-6/TL-16-327 Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) Docket Number: 80-2500-34009 Dear Honorable LauraSue Schlatter, As an avid outdoorsman, I have a high respect for the Itasca State Park and the surrounding area. This project was brought to my attention by a friend of mine and I’m concerned about the impact that some of the alternatives for this project could have on the environment. I read through the Environmental Assessment and it seems clear that the Proposed Route is the best option. The Proposed Route follows roads and distribution lines, both of which should help minimize new impacts to environment. The worst options are the Seeger Route 3, Seeger Route 5, MPL Collocate Route, and Thompson Route due to the large acreage of different land cover types that each of these routes would impact. A summary of the land cover types impacted for all routes is located in Table 6 on Page 42 of the Environmental Assessment. I’ve always had a love for water and fishing. The Proposed Route crosses the LaSalle Creek, a designated trout stream area, at an existing distribution line crossing along 400th Street. While I wish there were no crossings on this designated trout stream area, I would prefer that any new crossings get combined with an existing crossing. The Proposed Route is the only alternative that does this by combining with the existing distribution crossing along 400th Street. A lot of the alternatives to this project include building parallel with the existing pipeline. However, as stated by Minnkota and MPL in the Environmental Assessment, the new easements would need to start 50 feet away from the existing MPL easements. This means that these options would not share with the pipeline, essentially creating a new right away, fragmenting the forest with two separate clearings. Additionally, clearing a new route through the forest instead of following roads would impact local animal populations. This impact to wildlife impacts everyone. In conclusion, the new 115 kV power line should follow Minnkota’s Proposed Route because it has the least impact to the environment. Sincerely, Zach Mjones

0 Reads
 
Default_avatar
ama riley over 3 years ago

PUC Docket Number: ET-6/TL-16-327 OAH Docket Number: 80-2500-34009 To Whom It May Concern, After reading through the Environmental Assessment, I decide to comment on this project. The Environmental Assessment clearly shows that the Minnkota Power Proposed Route will impact the environment less than all of the other alternatives. The Proposed Route follows existing roadright of way and existing distribution power lines, which will decrease the need for new easements through the surrounding land. Building this new power line parallel to the existing pipeline will require a completely new 100 foot wide clearing through private citizen property. Thank you for considering my comments. Please approve this project along the Proposed Routeto minimize the impact to the environment. I do not support the MPL Collocate Route, Thompson Route, Seeger Route 3, or Seeger Route 5.

Regards, Ama Riley

0 Reads
 
Default_avatar
Travis Welling over 3 years ago

PUC Docket Number: ET-6/TL-16-327 OAH Docket Number: 80-2500-34009

I believe the Environmental Assessment supports the Minnkota Power Proposed Route over all other options. The Proposed Route showed the least impact to the environment by following existing road right of way and existing distribution power lines. Following these existing easements will keep the amount of new easements to a minimum. Building this new power line parallel to the existing pipeline requires a brand new 100 foot wide easement through private citizen property and will clear a large amount of trees through a high recreation area. Please approve this new power line along the Proposed Route. The Proposed Route is shown to have the least impact to the environment and general public. I do not support any other alternatives.

Thank you for considering my comments.

Sincerely, Travis Welling

0 Reads
 
Bootstrap_1116116858516849
Lea JThull over 3 years ago

Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Docket Number: ET-6/TL-16-327 Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) Docket Number: 80-2500-34009

Dear Honorable LauraSue Schlatter,

I have property along the MPL Collocate Route, Seeger Route 3, and Seeger Route 5 alternative routes. I prefer the Proposed Route due to a variety of factors.

Locating the power line on roads allows for much less impact to the surrounding land. The power company would need to drive a quarter of a mile from the nearest road to reach the portion of the power line that would be on my property. That entire quarter of a mile is on private property and the nearest “road” is a dirt road that becomes a snowmobile trail in the winter. Not only are the roads to get into my property not year round roads, but gaining access to the area being discussed for the routes on my property would require new access roads built over long distances. These access roads will impact my land and all of my neighbors land even more than just the easement itself. The power company’s proposed route would access the power line from existing roads and would not need to cross large distances of private property to reach it. Since the power line would be built right along the road, the Proposed Route would not need long access roads or any access roads at all.

The 100 feet wide new easements needed on this project are really only required if the power line is located away from roads. If the power line was located along roads, the poles would be placed 5 feet off of the road right of way and only require 50 feet of additional easements away from the road. When you include the additional 5 feet off of the road right of way, a total of 55 feet would be needed from those landowners. The rest of the required easements would be shared with the existing road easements. To decrease the impact to land owners even further, the power company’s proposed route includes existing distribution line easements. By using existing distribution line easements, the power company is again decreasing the required new easements needed for their project. My land is included in multiple alternatives and would require 100 feet of my heavily treed property to be cleared.

The proposed route would cross a designated trout stream area, the LaSalle Creek, at the same location as the existing distribution line crossing on County 96. This crossing already exists and would just be expanded a little to include the new transmission line. I think this route is best because there will be minimal new visual impacts and would limit any danger to the trout stream area. The alternatives that parallel the pipeline would create a separate new crossing and new visual impacts to this designated trout stream area.

The Environmental Assessment states “Along those route alternatives in which the HVTL parallels the existing MPL pipeline corridor, MPL has requested that a separation of 100 feet between the new HVTL and the pipeline ROW be maintained. While these ROW would be adjacent and parallel, this requirement would eliminate the possibility of ROW sharing.” This means that for my property, the power company would need to start their easement 50 feet away from the existing MPL easement and then have 100 feet wide of raw land cleared. This is not utilizing an existing corridor, this is creating a new corridor altogether.

Clearing 100 feet of land 50 feet away from the existing pipeline would heavily impact public and private hunting lands. My property has been in my family since the 1940s. This land has produced crop in the past. My 4 generation family uses this as a recreation and vacation property. We sustenance hunt for venison and the power line activity will inhibit animals from feeding on our land thus changing, once again, the population of animals we have access to harvest. The power company’s proposed route locates the new power line along roads, making year round access very easy and no new access roads need to be built. It doesn’t make sense to me that it wouldn’t be located along roads. I prefer to see the utility line placed along the Proposed Route and cross through my area on County 96. I am opposed to the MPL Collocate, Seeger 3, and Seeger 5 Routes due to the heavy impact to my land, my neighbors land, and the environment in general.

Sincerely, Ron Thull

0 Reads
 
Default_avatar
Kevin Wacker over 3 years ago

PUC Docket Number: ET-6/TL-16-327 OAH Docket Number: 80-2500-34009

Dear Honorable LauraSue Schlatter

The Environmental Assessment shows that the best route for this new 115 kV power line is the proposed route because it has the least impact to the environment and recreation of this special area. The routes that have the highest impact to the environment are the Thompson Route, MPL Collocate Route, Seeger Route 3, and Seeger Route 5.

I moved out to Minnesota a year ago to be close to family and further pursue my hobbies of the outdoors with my loved ones. When I got here, I inspired my sister and brother-in-law to pursuit purchasing hunting land. We searched together as if I were a partner, and while I did not help purchase the land, we have always acted as an equal partnership. We looked at a lot of different parcels of land and decided on our current property even though there was a pipeline cut running through the land. This pipeline cut currently acts like a small, albeit long, field in the middle of our prime hunting and recreation land. Our land is filled with a great amount of sign for the animals we sought out, whitetail deer, grouse, black bear, and turkeys. During one day this fall we flushed numerous grouse and a couple deer. We found countless deer beds and even saw a flock of turkeys. The proposed routes that parallel the pipeline will run right through the area of our land with the most wildlife and impact the entire wildlife population, not just the wildlife on our property.

Adding a second 100 foot wide clearing to this area will fragment this diverse ecosystem and decrease animal populations. This fragmentation will severely degrades the quality of the property that we pursued and purchased for the wildlife and seclusion. The land was acquired so we could get away from technology and get back to nature with a simple cabin. The pipeline is noninvasive to this, it’s buried beneath the earth, out of sight out of mind. Transmission towers are large, unsightly and highly invasive to our land. Not only the lasting impact of an additional cut but the invasive nature of the construction will greatly impact not only our enjoyment of the land and the surrounding wildlife but everyone who uses this area for outdoor recreation.

Moreover I moved to Minnesota from Maine. In Maine the trout streams are plentiful and productive. I fell in love with hiking down the streams looking for the next hole to fish and trying to outsmart the clever trout. LaSalle Creek is a known and managed trout stream that drew me to the land so I could continue fishing trout in Minnesota. The current proposed route crosses the LaSalle Creek in a non-invasive area where there is already a current crossing. Any alternative route in this area will cross the LaSalle Creek in a completely new area that will highly impact the steam, its quality and agitate the fish. This is yet another negative environmental impact to the Thompson Route, MPL Collocate Route, Seeger Route 3, and Seeger Route 5.

The proposed route follows current road and electrical distribution right of ways. This alone allows for a less invasive approach to creating the new transmission lines. Moreover, significantly less trees will have to be removed and less natural habitat will be disturbed by construction. Therefore the best approach to the construction of the transmission lines is to use the proposed route.

Please approve this new Minnkota Power 115 kV line along the proposed route. Due to the environmental impacts, area recreation, and direct impacts to our property, I am strongly opposed to the Thompson, MPL Collocate, Seeger 3, and Seeger 5 Routes.

Thank you for considering my comments and concerns.

Sincerely, Kevin Wacker

0 Reads
 
Default_avatar
Rebecca Wacker over 3 years ago

PUC Docket Number: ET-6/TL-16-327 OAH Docket Number: 80-2500-34009

Dear Honorable LauraSue Schlatter My Name is Rebecca Wacker, and I am an impacted land owner. I am in favor of the Proposed Route and specifically opposed to the Thompson Route, MPL Collocate Route, Seeger Route 3, and Seeger Route 5. The Environmental Assessment clearly shows that the Proposed Route has the least impact to the environment, recreation, and landowners compared to the other alternatives.

Growing up, my family owned a small cabin in Northern Maine. Starting at the age of four, I would spend many weekends and vacations at “Camp” with some combination of my family. One of the best parts of “Camp” was that it was down a two-mile dirt road and did not have electricity or plumbing. As kids as young as eight, me and my brothers would be free to roam the land free of modern distractions like TV and Video Games. This is where I learned to shoot a BB gun and .22, and started my young squirrel hunting and trout fishing adventures. My husband and I have to live in the Twin Cities for our respective jobs, but when we had a little girl in July of 2015 it quickly became important to the two of us to find a place to take our young, but growing, family to learn about the outdoors and have a place to be free of modern distractions.
When my husband and I decided to purchase this land, we highly prized the following factors:

Rustic feel: - Our land does not have any power available or on site, nor do we plan on adding such in the future. It was important to us to purchase property that we could keep rustic, allowing our children to experience and appreciate life without modern conveniences, similar to the “Camp” my family had growing up. Properties along the proposed route are all current users of distribution lines and most have power run to their dwellings. Adding a HVTL along our property not only would degrade the rustic feel of the property, but would be scaring land that will not use or benefit from the use of powerlines.
- To reach the land we drive down two dirt roads and into the land before we reach our future cabin site. Placing the HVTL along the pipeline (MPL Collocate, Seeger 3, and Seeger 5 Routes) or along 105th Ave (Thompson Route) decreases the “rustic” feel of the land. These dirt roads are low maintenance roads and 105th Ave becomes a snowmobile trail in the winter. The properties along the proposed route are already along mostly paved roads with existing distribution lines. - It is important to point out that the pipeline is completely buried underground and does not create an eye sore.

Grouse, Turkey, Squirrel, and Deer Hunting:
- Cutting a 100-150’ track through the woods would significantly impact hunting pursuits and wild life population on my property. Specifically, the proposed MPL Collocate, Seeger 3, and Seeger 5 routes would eliminate the dense forested area on the property where the most grouse population and deer beds are found.
- Per the MPL requirements, the HVTL must be situated at least 100’ from the existing pipeline. This would require either a 150’ clear cut or a 50’ strip of trees and then a 100’ clear cut for the HVTL easement. This essentially creates a multi-fragmented forest and second right of way, rather than the minimally impactful route created by expanding an existing right of way in the Proposed Route.

Proximity of the trout stream to the property:
- The rustic cabin my parents owned in Northern Maine was on a trout pond with a stream where I could go wading with my little orange snoopy pole as a 5-year-old to catch brook trout. The proposed route has the lowest impact on the LaSalle Creek with the perpendicular crossing along 400th Street along with the existing low voltage distribution line. Crossing at any other location will be have an impact on the LaSalle Creek that would be avoided by crossing at this existing crossing.

ATV and Snowmobile trials:
- As a high schooler, my dad would pick me up after Friday softball games in the spring and we would head up to “Camp” to go 4-wheeling all weekend. My husband’s family spent many winter days snowmobiling, and the walls of his childhood bedroom are still covered in snowmobile posters. The Proposed Route has the smallest impact on the low maintenance roads and groomed snowmobile trails along 105th Ave (Thompson Route). The Minnesota United Snowmobile Association should be contacted regarding the Thompson Route as it follows 5+ miles of groomed snowmobile trails, connecting to Itasca State Park. This type of recreation is very important to this region.

Open Field: - Part of our land has an open field. We specifically purchased the land because we could plant an apple orchard in the open field portion of our land. This apple orchard will provide our family with pesticide free, “organically” grown apples, important to us as apples are included on the list of “dirty dozen” produce items by E.W.G. most impacted with the highest pesticide loads. The apple orchard will also provide a food source to wildlife in the area. If the HVTL were to be located down the MPL Collocate, Seeger 3, and Seeger 5 Routes it would significantly impact our field by covering most of it with the easement and likely using our small, very rough access route into an access road for maintenance equipment. What little space we would have left for our field would be impacted by the likely spraying that would take place to keep the growth at bay in the HVTL easement. This spraying and undergrowth control is likely already taking place along the existing distribution lines.

Access, Reliability, and Maintenance: - Building the powerline along the MPL Collocate, Seeger 3, and Seeger 5 Routes would put the HVTL through the heart of the forest with limited access. This proposes a major problem during construction and maintenance phases of the project. Multiple access roads would be required for concrete trucks and other construction vehicles. This would increase the environmental impact on our natural resources in comparison to building the HVTL along existing roads. Building along the existing roads used for the Proposed Route would eliminate the need for access roads and road improvements that would be required in our area for the Thompson, MPL Collocate, Seeger 3, and Seeger 5 routes. - “The MPL Reliability project would increase the pumping capacity of the 305 mile-long line 4, the newest pipeline on the company’s system, from approximately 165,000 barrel of crude oil per day to its original design capacity of approximately 350,000 barrels per day.” Page 104, Section 5.10.1 Associated Action of the Minnesota Department of Commerce Environmental Assessment. It was stated in the public hearing on Feb. 16th that the purpose of the additional capacity is to meet increased demand and to allow MPL to shift load to maintain or repair the other three lines. It was also stated that these lines feed the refineries in the Twin Cities area that provide 90%+ of the transportation fuel for the state of Minnesota. Due to the impact to the state of Minnesota in terms of fuel prices and supply, it is critical that Minnkota have a quick response time to any issues with the HVTL. Building the HVTL along the existing pipeline presents major challenges in the likely scenario that emergency repair is required, such as line damage due to ice and high winds in the winter. Minnkota would essentially need to build roads along the existing MPL pipeline and maintain these during the winter in order to have a reasonably quick response time. Building the HVTL along the Proposed Route eliminates any problems due to poor accessibility. - This also presents challenges for limiting access to our property by 4x4 trucks/SUVs and UTV/ATVs. Because of the nature of our property (hilly terrain) and the desired “remote” feel, our cabin will need to be located away from the road. These access roads/paths would make for easy access for trespasser in motorized vehicles, making it more difficult to leave any of our gear or equipment on our land for fear of easy theft and less safe for me, my mother, or my daughter to visit solo. Currently our property is nearly impossible to access in the winter except by snowmobile and has very limited in the spring due to very wet and muddy conditions.

I believe that approving the Proposed Route as submitted by Minnkota will minimize the impacts that I have outlined. The alternative routes each have elements that will negatively impact the rustic feel of my property, the recreational value, the reliability of the MPL pipeline, and the safety of my property by unwanted visitors. I am specifically opposed to the Thompson Route, MPL Collocate Route, Seeger Route 3, and Seeger Route 5.

Sincerely, Rebecca Wacker

0 Reads