Few concerns brought up at transmission line hearing

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Farm Forum

Although there were 44 items on the agenda for the Brown County Planning Commission’s special meeting June 30, it was over rather quickly.

Around two dozen people came to the meeting focused on variance setbacks for the Big Stone South to Ellendale transmission line. The line will connect a substation at Ellendale, N.D., to Big Stone South substation. A path for the line has already been permitted, but Otter Tail Power Company is working with the landowners to resolve any issues.

“It’s a matter of getting a route that’s acceptable to all parties and stakeholders,” said Al Koeckeritz, project manager from Otter Tail.

In all, the line will run about 160 miles and cost roughly $330 million, officials have said. The 63 miles of high-voltage line slated to cut through Brown County represent a roughly $100 million investment.

The route tries to stick to quarter lines, which is where sections of land are divided into quarters or 160 acres. but due to geographical issues, it can’t always. It was those variances the meeting was slated to discuss.

There weren’t many questions.

Gerald Erdman wanted to know what the variance for changes could be.

“Rather than 20 feet, it’ll be a variance of zero. If there are geographical issues, rivers and such, they can go greater than zero to get around the issues,” Chairman Jerry Streckfuss said.

Koeckeritz said they would try to be as close as reasonably possible.

“We are working with each individual landlord,” he said. “If it’s off the quarter line, it will be worked out with the landowner.”

The variances were passed together as one motion.

While there weren’t many questions, there were still concerns about placement.

“I’m for the project. I’m against the placement of the poles,” Terry Thompson of Groton said.

Ordean Parks of Day County voiced similar concerns. Parks said they were going to put poles across the center of his property.

“They demanded 500 feet of private property, are only going to pay for 150 feet and then use whatever they want,” Parks said.

Thompson has a similar issue with the placement.

“They are running the poles through the middle of a bare quarter and dividing it into two 80s,” he said. “Quarter lines are right of ways and where the poles should be placed. If it was on the quarterline, I would be OK with it.”

Commissioner Rachel Kippley was empathetic, due to having to deal with a similar project on her farm, but still passed it.

“I know it stinks to have these big projects come through. It’s never fun. But it is what it is,” Kippley said. “Ready or not, here it comes.”

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