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CapX2020 power line's route revealed

A 161-kilovolt power line called the Chester Line would connect a substation near Chester to a 345-kilovolt interstate mainline planned under the CapX2020 project.

Plans for an 11-mile electrical transmission line to run through eastern Olmsted County were unveiled at an open house Tuesday night.

Called the Chester Line, the 161-kilovolt line would connect a substation near Chester, east of Rochester, to a 345-kilovolt interstate mainline planned under the CapX2020 project. The line would follow a north-south path along 50th Avenue Northeast, through Farmington and Haverhill townships, according to an array of maps displayed on easels at the Farmington Township Hall.

Steve Boyce, whose home and farm lies along the proposed route, was one of 24 people attending the open house.

"In general, I'm against it," Boyce said of the line. "But for the overall benefit of the community at this point, I don't see a better route."

Boyce, like other residents, had questions about the proposed line, a series of 80- to 110-foot high steel poles set on concrete foundations spaced 500 to 600 feet apart. Some 15 homes lie within 300 feet of the proposed route, which would be installed to provide power to Rochester Public Utilities and other electric companies in the area.


Other residents live farther away than Boyce does, but still are watching closely to see if the route will change.

"I'd rather have it on the road than the middle of our farm," said Eldon Malwitz, whose 970-acre dairy farm includes 320 acres near the intersection of the proposed Chester Line and the CapX2020 main line.

But if residents along the road complain, Malwitz said, the route could wind up being shifted onto his farm property, where the poles themselves impose a relatively small footprint, but some farmers fear static electricity or other effects that could interfere with farm equipment.

"They're pitting neighbor against neighbor," Malwitz said.

That thought poses an ethical conundrum for somebody like Boyce, who doesn't want the line near his house, but doesn't want to foist it on his neighbors, either.

"I think the handwriting is pretty close to being on the wall," he said. "We'll see. It'll be a pleasant surprise if it's not."

The route is still subject to review by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, starting with a public meeting in October or November, said Tom Hillstrom, Xcel Energy's project routing manager.

The open house, staffed by about a dozen Xcel employees, was not required, but the utility notified about 500 residents of the meeting by mail, Hillstrom said.


"We want to make sure people understand what we're up to, and this process is coming up," he said.

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