Public hearing on proposed transmission line in Anoka

The Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Facilities Permitting Monday held a public hearing on behalf of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) to gather community input on a new transmission line in Anoka being proposed by Great River Energy.

This map shows the area to be discussed at the hearing.
This map shows the area to be discussed at the hearing.

Administrative Law Judge Richard Luis presided over the hearing, which took testimony from a small number of residents who are concerned about the route.

When the comment period closes in two weeks Luis will present a report to the MPUC, which will decide whether or not to approve the route permit application.

The Maple Grove-based Great River Energy (GRE) has applied for a route permit to install a 5.8-mile 115 kilovolt (kV) overhead transmission line, connecting the Crooked Lake substation in Coon Rapids to a substation located in Anoka’s Enterprise Park.

The proposed new line would ensure reliable service, according to Mark Strohfus, GRE’s project lead.

“It would allow for expansion and load growth and relieve the pressure on the existing 69kV line,” he said.

The proposed route would run from the existing Xcel Energy Crooked Lake substation on Round Lake Boulevard, follow Highway 10 to Sixth Avenue, where it will travel north along Sixth Avenue, jog east to Seventh Avenue up to Bunker Lake Boulevard. From Bunker Lake Boulevard, the line will go west to the existing Anoka Municipal Utility substation in the Enterprise Park.

According to Strohfus, the proposed route primarily follows existing transportation routes and current utility corridors.

GRE is requesting a route as narrow as 100 feet in some locations, and as wide as 400 feet in others. The exception is near the Anoka High School, where an easement of 800 feet will be needed.

This is to accommodate the Anoka County Highway Department’s plans to upgrade the intersection at Seventh Avenue and Bunker Lake Boulevard, as well as the construction of a new ball park by the city of Anoka, said Strohfus.

Residents were also able to comment on an alternate route, which would redirect the line from Sixth Avenue and instead run through the area near the Commuter Rail Transit Village, located off Fourth Avenue.

Great River Energy cited increased costs of $450,000 for the alternate route.

Strohfus said the alternate route would also increase the number of people impacted because of its proximity to The Homestead of Anoka, a senior housing project currently under construction by the Volunteers of America.

“Great River Energy feels this is inferior,” Strohfus said of the alternate route. “It is more costly and conflicts with land uses.”

The transmission line is expected to cost $11.7 million.

The city of Anoka also does not support route alternate A based on its proximity both to the senior living community, as well as concerns over the municipal parking ramp the city intends to build at the Northstar Commuter Rail station, according to Planning Director Carolyn Braun.

But some residents who live along Sixth Avenue would prefer the new transmission line was not located in their neighborhood.

Anoka resident Tom Raddohl proposed the route alternate, because the original plan will have the transmission line running along two sides of his property at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Grant Street.

“It is in my backyard and my sideyard,” said Raddohl. “I want to say alternate Route A is in my best interest. The width of the easement would condemn my property.”

About six area residents attended the Monday night hearing, along with numerous public officials and GRE staff.

Lois Waitte, a longtime resident of Sixth Avenue, is also not a fan of the addition of a transmission line in her neighborhood.

“The poles won’t be in my yard, they will be across the street from me,” she said. “I’m not happy.”

Joe Anderla, a member of Anoka’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, was concerned about the location of towers near the soccer fields at Anoka High School.

Strohfus said GRE has had discussions with the Anoka-Hennepin School District about the placement of those poles – which will be located in the southeast and northeast corners of the fields. There also would be one pole positioned between the two fields.

“I request you position those poles so they don’t affect the fields,” said Anderla. “If we were to lose some of that space it would become a hardship to duplicate.”

Responding to safety concerns, Strohfus said the poles can be fenced and padded to prevent injuries to players.

GRE was not able to say Monday exactly how far the poles would be located from the out-of-bounds line of the soccer fields.

Written comments on the route are being accepted through April 30 at 4:30 p.m. Those comments can be faxed to 651-361-7936 or e-mailed to [email protected]. They can also be sent by mail to the Luis, Office of Administrative Hearings, P.O. Box 64620, St. Paul, MN 55164-0620.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]