Power line sparks public input

FAIRMONT – From health issues to environmental impacts, Martin County residents to be affected by a proposed high-voltage transmission line by ITC Midwest voiced their concerns during a public hearing this week.

The proposed line would be 345 kV, running from Lakefield junction in Jackson County through Faribault County, and then going down into Kossuth County in Iowa. The line would stretch 75 miles through southern Minnesota.

With the project in the application process, ITC Midwest and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission are holding hearings in all three counties to gather public feedback. The final public hearings will be at Hamilton Hall in Blue Earth at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. today.

Dick Coeur, senior civil engineer with ITC Midwest, gave a project overview, with two potential pathways for the transmission lines. The first aligns with already-existing 161 kV lines until diverting south of Fox Lake, and then reconnecting with existing lines until going south around Lake Charlotte. The line would meet up again with established lines until running into a proposed Huntley substation. If the proposed substation is not built, the lines would likely go to the Winnebago substation, then run south through Faribault County.

The second proposed route would be along a similar path, except going north around Fox Lake to Huntley or Winnebago.

Several objections were voiced by Fox Lake Township residents.

“With the lines zigzagging around, it’s affecting a lot of people,” said Maynard Jagodzinske. “There’s health, stewardship, obstructions in the field.”

Examples of these included one man who stated one of the routes goes right across his grass runway. Jagodzinske also spoke of compaction and water runoff, and sediment effects that would have an impact on farms.

Jagodzinske’s daughter, Sarah Jagodzinske-Rohman, also spoke during the Fairmont hearing. Identifying herself as a fifth-generation farmer, she spoke out about the health impact.

“I know with high voltage, there is electromagnetic radiation,” she said. “And the higher the voltage, the bigger the electromagnetic field and more radiation. I know it has an effect on the body.”

Jagodzinske-Rohman added she has young children and wishes to have more, and listed the numerous issues being exposed to an electromagnetic field could cause. These concerns were echoed by another resident, Krista Thompson.

“This line would go right through my driveway and yard,” she said. “I would prefer not to have my family exposed to this.”

Those who spoke suggested keeping the lines closer to Interstate 90, like many existing lines. Because it was a public hearing, officials simply listened and took the suggestions, and did not offer any explanation on the chosen routes.

More public input and comments can be submitted online at mn.gov/commerce/energyfacilities or by e-mailing Ray Kirsch at the Department of Commerce at raymond.kirsch@state.mn.us

Comments also can be mailed to Kirsch at 85 Seventh Place East, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN, 55101-2198, or faxed to (651) 539-1549.

Following the end of the public input stage, an environmental impact statement will be released and published in February, with more public hearings to address the statement to be held in March. A final decision on the certificates and permits for this project will be made in September 2014.