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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R)

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Thursday, August 27, 2009
As many of you are aware, plans are in the works to expand high voltage electric transmission systems in our area – something we haven’t seen in almost three decades. The CapX 2020 plan is a joint transmission planning effort among 11 utilities that own transmission lines in Minnesota and the surrounding region. According to the organization, we will see significant electricity growth in the coming decade, and the proposed CapX 2020 high voltage transmission lines will help meet that growth. As it stands today, there are three proposals that are under consideration. Two of them cut across valuable farmland and private property, including one stretch from Pine Island to Alma. In order to make this happen, the state would have to acquire rights-of-way on all of the property the line would cross, which would obviously come at significant expense. The other route option is to have the CapX 2020 project follow the Highway 52 corridor south to Rochester, and the Interstate 90 corridor from Rochester to Wisconsin. The state already owns this right of way, and there would be no reason to destroy farmland to make the project work. Previously, it had been reported that MnDOT resented the Highway 52/I-90 option. But after speaking with the transportation commissioner, I have received his assurance that this plan remains on the table and that the department is increasingly flexible as to how they are approaching the construction of CapX 2020. In fact, MnDOT is creating a committee just to analyze the proposed routes for the transmission line project and I have been invited to serve on it, so I will keep you posted on the latest developments. As I’ve stated before, we need more transmission infrastructure and now is the time to plan for it. But we should also protect personal property rights to the greatest extent possible, and should use common sense as we move ahead with the CapX 2020 plan.
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