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CapX2020 is a mouthful, but name has a purpose

Dear Answer Man, what does the name of the power line CapX2020 actually mean and will the Rochester area actually get any power from it? — Township Resident

They could have named it the Gopher State Power Line or something friendly to the ear. Instead, projects of this kind always get Dr. Strangelove-type names that are intimidating to the average resident.

"CapX2020" is an abbreviated reference to "capacity expansion" of the region's electric grid by the year 2020.

The proposal has been kicking around for years. In 2009, it got the first regulatory go-ahead from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. But only in the past several months, apparently, have area residents begun to tune into the issue , as the maps of where the power line would cross the Rochester area have been circulated.

The project consists of five major segments, from South Dakota to Wisconsin. The one that would cross the Rochester area is a 150-mile segment from Hampton through the Rochester area to La Crosse. And the way power grids work, electricity flows from many sources and flows out to many users; the upgraded system would "serve the region's expected growth and help begin to meet Minnesota's Renewable Energy Standard (RES), which requires utilities to deliver 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025," according to the CapX2020 website. It would address "potentially serious local reliability issues in Rochester, St. Cloud, La Crosse and the Alexandria area."

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The project "is a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region to expand the electric transmission grid to ensure continued reliable and affordable service," according to press material. "Planning studies show that customer demand for electricity will increase 4,000 to 6,000 megawatts (MW) by 2020. The new transmission lines will be built in phases designed to meet this increasing demand as well as to support renewable energy expansion."

Rochester Public Utilities is one of the 11 utilities, as is Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency , of which RPU, Austin, Spring Valley, Preston, Blooming Prairie and Lake City public utilities also are members.

So if you're not happy with the CapX2020 project, you're not happy with many of your local utilities.

There's plenty of information online regarding the project and as usual, you'll find links embedded in this column at PostBulletin.com.

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