Last week, the public was given the opportunity to comment on a proposed power transmission upgrade slated for the West Range.
A route permit, submitted by Minnesota Power for two, five-mile transmission lines and a new substation, was accepted in December of 2013 by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) of Minnesota. Before the project can be built, a route permit must win final approval by the PUC.
A public hearing held on Tuesday, April 15, was part of that regulatory process. Held at the Bovey City Hall, Administrative Law Judge Steve Mihalchick presided as staff members from the PUC, Michael Kaluzniak, the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC), Bill Storm, and Minnesota Power, Daniel McCourtney, presented evidence and other documents to be entered into record.
The Minnesota Power proposal would build two, five-mile 115kv transmission lines and a new substation. The substation will be located north of the Canisteo Pit. The proposed project is designed to serve the additional power needs of Magnetation.
Up for public comment were the costs and benefits of the lines, the environmental and human impacts of the route and, if any, how they can be addressed, and other project-related issues. One comment had been received from the Department of Natural Resources prior to the public hearing and that was the location of the substation. In response to the DNR’s concern the substation was moved further to the east.
During the public hearing there was only one question from the audience - why construct two lines? The response from one of Minnesota Power’s transmission engineers was - reliability. Two lines will insure a more reliable flow of electricity to customers in all directions of the new substation.
Public comments may be made on the project in writing or via the internet until 4:30 p.m. on April 25. Following that deadline, Judge Mihalchick has 60 days to submit his report to the PUC. The PUC will then make its final decision and, if so deemed, issue the route permit. The final decision is expected by July 2014. If the permit is granted Minnesota Power expects the substation to be in service by the end of this year.