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Fairmont Area Residents Voice Opinions Over Proposed High Voltage Transmission Lines

Fairmont Area Residents Voice Opinions Over Proposed High Voltage Transmission Lines

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FAIRMONT, Minn. -

A proposed high voltage electrical transmission line bringing area residents to a public meeting for information and to voice their concerns.

Representatives of the Department of Commerce, electrical grid developer ITC, and area residents gathered at Fairmont discussing a high–energy transmission line proposal.

The proposed lines are aimed to more efficiently distribute electricity throughout the Midwest.

Ray Kirsch, the Environmental Review Manager of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, says, "It's because there's a lot of power in this area, including wind power and to utilize that power it has to be able to be moved."

And conditional power generation that is dependent upon environmental conditions, such as power created from wind turbines, creates areas of congestion on the current electrical grid.

Power is predominately used in large city-centers which are located a long distance away from electric plants and wind farms.

So it's transmitted through high–voltage transmission lines which reduces the power lost to heat and noise through distance.

Today's proposed project spans approximately 75 miles across Jackson, Martin, and Faribault County and 30 miles into Kossuth County, Iowa and carries an estimated cost of $270 to $300 million. This accounts for only one-fourth of the total project with an estimated cost of $800 million.

Tom Petersen, the communications director of ITC Midwest, says, "The regional transmission association has decided project like this should be born by the entire region. So the cost for a project like this is actually born by the customers throughout the...I believe it's the 11 state region that are served."

Colin Oraskovich asks, "So every time I pay my electrical bill?"

Peterson responds, "A piece of it goes to this as well as other projects throughout the region that are being built in the same timeframe."

Peterson was unable to comment if this cost would visibly increase one's electricity bill, but alluded most home-owners would not see a change.

Today's meeting allowed citizens along the proposed impacted routes the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns.

Concerns ranged from the proximity of the lines to buildings and structures, transmission lines crossing environmental zones such as rivers and wetlands, and impacts on farm land; both monetary and in increases in time plowing around the new towers.

Sarah Jogodzinske–Rohman, a farmer in Welcome, says, "For me personally, I'm the 5th generation to farm our land. It's very important to us, we've done a lot to take care of it and I think as a government we should be protecting our citizens and looking out for their best interests instead of protecting a company."

Ray Kirsch, the Environmental Review Manager of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, says, "I'm not one way or the other. The department of commerce is neutral in this. Our job is to try to spell out what the impacts and mitigations are so people can make an informed decision."

Meetings will continue until the fall when the Public Utilities Commission will decide if they qualify for a route permit and a certificate of need.

The next meetings are April 23, 2014 in Jackson's National Guard Armory at 1:00 and 6:00 PM, and April 24, 2014 in Blue Earth's Hamilton Hall at 1:00 and 6:00 PM.