ITC is ready to power ahead
A power transmission line that will go through Faribault County and come near the towns of Winnebago, Blue Earth and Elmore, is set to begin construction soon.
But not quite yet.
The ITC Midwest 345 kV electrical transmission line will run from Lakefield in Jackson County, west through Martin County, then enter Faribault County and turn south to Iowa.
Construction is slated to begin in November in Jackson County, and will not start in Faribault County until a year from now.
“The MPUC (Minnesota Public Utilities Commission) gave their approval to building the transmission line last November,” says Tom Peterson, the ITC communications director, during a visit to Blue Earth last week. “We are doing our construction planning now, and plan on kicking off construction in November.”
That construction will start in the Lakefield area, he notes, and will not be in the Blue Earth area until the end of 2016 and into 2017.
Currently, ITC Midwest officials have been busy lining up easement agreements with landowners along the transmission route.
“We have about 98 percent of the agreements in place for the first 27 miles of the project,” Peterson says. “Overall landowners are very pleased with the agreements and have been easy to work with.”
Overall, ITC Midwest has 67 percent of all the easement agreements necessary already in place.
They are also lining up sites for construction yards, where supplies and work crews can be sited. One will be needed near Welcome and one near Winnebago.
Lori Broghammer, area manager for ITC Midwest, says the new transmission route will follow the current route for the most part.
“We will be taking out the double poles and replacing them with new mono poles,” she says. “And replacing some cement poles in use west of Blue Earth.”
She adds that farmers are sometimes happy about the new style poles, because they only have to farm around one pole, not two.
There has been some confusion about the route, mainly because ITC Midwest has been replacing a line that runs east-west through Faribault County, south of Winnebago and Easton. That, however, is a totally different line than the one that will be built next year.
“We have been meeting with the local county commissioners in each one of the counties we will be in,” Broghammer says. “We have had some great support working with the Faribault County Commissioners. Commissioner Greg Young has been very active in all of our work here.”
She adds that they have had at least 60 meetings with local officials over the past three years when discussions of the project first started.
“We have worked with the county engineer, first John McDonald and now Mark Daly, about the impact of the construction on county roads,” Broghammer says. “We need to have accessibility to the area and we will have agreements to put roads back into the shape they were before we started, to restore them and repair any damage.”
Both ITC Midwest representatives said their company wants to be good neighbors to the communities they are constructing lines near.
“I think they (officials) know we are good corporate partners and will be when it all starts to happen,” Peterson says. “We are also working with local chambers of commerce and economic development groups. After all, when the construction work begins, there will be 60 to 100 people coming here to build the line, and they will need places to stay, food and the like.”
The new line will not go through any towns in Faribault County, but will come close to Huntley, Winnebago, Blue Earth and Elmore. A series of public meetings about the project were held last summer, with several in Blue Earth that were well attended.
In Faribault County, Segment 4 of the project, from Winnebago, south past Blue Earth and Elmore and into Iowa, is expected to be done from November 2016 to May of 2017.
Segment 3, from north of Fairmont to just south of Winnebago is expected to be worked on January of 2017 to May of 2017.
And, a new Huntley sub-station, located south of Winnebago, is expected to be constructed from September 2016 to December 2016.