More Good News Fighting Power Lines on the Midtown Greenway

The Midtown Greenway Coalition and many community groups and citizens opposing Xcel Energy’s proposal to put high voltage power lines on the Midtown Greenway have just achieved another incremental victory. Check out the Coalition web site for more details. (http://www.midtowngreenway.org/XcelEnergyGridExpansion.html)

Last month,  the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) supported the Midtown Greenway Coalition and the neighborhoods recommending that the Hiawatha Project power lines be routed underground on 28th Street and that community groups be consulted on reducing the harm — noise, aesthetics, impacts on homes and the Greenway — of substations for the Project. The 100 single-spaced pages of the Administrative Law Judge Report – Hiawatha Project is attached here. The Public Utilities Commission makes a final decision, usually relying heavily on the ALJ’s Report.

Xcel Energy filed a series of exceptions to the ALJ Report, challenging findings about health risks, adverse impacts to property values and impacts to the Midtown Greenway bike ridership if overhead high voltage lines were built. Xcel also tried to exclude the community from playing a role in the design of substations along the Midtown Greenway.

On behalf of the Midtown Greenway Coalition, we filed a Request for Variance seeking permission to comment on the exceptions (the rules don’t usually allow this step) and Reply Comments challenging Xcel’s views. Midtown Greenway Coalition Reply to Xcel Exceptions. The Public Utilities Commission received letters of support for our Variance from the City of Minneapolis, Hennepin County, many neighborhood groups and many individual citizens (68 pages of public comments!)

Today, Xcel told the Commission they did not object to considering the Midtown Greenway Coalition’s Reply Comments. Xcel also emphasized that “it did not take exception to the ALJ’s recommendation that the Public Utilities Commission (“Commission”) approve Route D (underground along 28th Street) for the proposed 115 kV transmission lines.” This is progress.

The Commission will decide whether the power lines are needed before considering  the Hiawatha Project route and substations, so no further action is likely to take place for at least a year on these issues.

But today is one more step bringing us closer to keeping overhead high voltage lines off the Greenway and keeping the Midtown Greenway Coalition and the Phillips, Seward and Longfellow neighborhoods involved in reducing impacts from Xcel’s power line infrastructure.

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