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Power boost

Area could benefit from proposal

By Tim Ruzek

truzek@postbulletin.com

Mower County could benefit from a Michigan company’s proposal to build a nearly $12 billion high-voltage power line through seven states to better move wind-generated electricity.

ITC Holdings Corp., of Novi, Mich., unveiled a plan Monday for the 765,000-volt line that would run 3,000 miles, including across southern Minnesota and using an existing electrical station in Adams. It appears the line will cut through Mower and Houston counties, although an exact route hasn’t been determined.

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With its "Green Power Express" project, ITC wants to create a network of transmission lines that would help move 12,000 megawatts of power from wind-abundant areas in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Iowa to Midwest load centers, such as Chicago, southeastern Wisconsin, Minneapolis and other states demanding clean, renewable energy, according to a news release.

"The Green Power Express will create the much-needed link between the renewable energy-rich regions of the Midwest and high-demand population centers," said Joseph L. Welch, ITC’s chief executive officer and president.

ITC officials say the project would address the recognized lack of electric transmission infrastructure needed to integrate renewable wind energy.

John Garry, executive director for the Development Corp. of Austin, said the proposed project could mean a lot of potential for Mower County and is good news for those wanting more wind farms.

"Transmission is absolutely needed if wind energy is going to continue to develop," Garry said.

More wind farms in the area are taking shape through agreements with landowners and for purchase of power, Garry said, but, with transmission lines near capacity, further progress is being delayed.

Mower, Dodge, Olmsted and Goodhue counties all have proposed or existing wind farms.

The project could prove controversial because some people are uncomfortable with transmission lines, Garry said.

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The Green Power Express transmission project will traverse portions of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.

As ITC keeps working with wind developers and other local utilities in the region to identify their project needs, other lines and stations might be identified for adding to the plans, the company stated.

On Monday, project officials filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requesting approval of a revenue requirement formula and incentives for the construction, the first of many regulatory steps needed for overall approval.

RES Americas, one of the project’s supporters, has meteorological towers in northern Mower County collecting data for potentially building 174 wind turbines. Those turbines would be in five Mower County townships and connected to another proposed wind development in southern Dodge County, an RES official said in September.

At that time, RES officials said they hoped the Mower County turbines could be running in three years but noted the process is slow for getting wind farms connected to the power grid.

For more information, go to Postbulletin.com/weblinks.

ITC Holdings Corp.: http://investor.itc-holdings.com/

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