Southwest Minnesota residents have questions about proposed powerline

Questions from residents about the safety, and ultimate route, of a proposed high-voltage power line project that will run through southwestern Minnesota were raised Tuesday at a public meeting in Marshall.

The proposed 345-kilovolt transmission line, called CapX 2020, would run from Brookings, S.D., to Hampton, Minn. One branch of the line would run north from Marshall to a newly constructed substation near Granite Falls, said the Marshall Independent.

At the meeting, held by the Office of Energy Security, alternate routes were displayed, including one that would have the lines follow Minnesota Highway 23 between Cottonwood and Granite Falls, rather than going through farm land.

Although a draft environmental impact statement was the focus of the meeting, the paper said other issues were raised:

  • Dan Wambeke of Green Valley came forward with clarifications for the report, including some “narrow” areas where power lines would be passing near residences. Moving the lines from one side of the road to the other could have a big impact in those cases, he said. “I think there are probably more (narrow areas) that need to be identified,” Wambeke said. He also wanted to make note that one of the proposed routes would affect his home, grove and hog barn.
  • “Would you confirm or deny any health issues with EMF and power lines?” Galen Boerboom asked [Scott Ek of the state’s Office of Energy Security]. Ek said medical studies have found no solid link between power lines and health conditions like leukemia. “There is more information on the subject than there is for most chemicals,” Ek said. “Epidemiological studies have found some correlation, but it’s minute, and they can’t reproduce it in the lab.”
  • “What’s the reason for staying so close to the road?” asked Ken VanKeulen. Having the lines avoid roads would also keep them away from residences, he said. “Some people don’t want them through section lines,” or through farmland, Ek said. In some cases, it’s easier to route power lines along existing corridors than opening new ones.

Questions on route and safety will be addressed at a Dec. 1 public hearing in Marshall.

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