Release of Dodge County Wind draft EIS delayed to July 29
Dodge County residents will have to wait another month before they know which of the proposed routes for an electrical transmission line stretching from Steele County to Olmsted County will receive further consideration.
The draft Environmental Statement on the project was originally scheduled to be released by the Public Utilities Commission last Friday. The draft EIS was not completed, however, and on Monday Jim Mortenson, an administrative law judge from the Office of Administrative Hearings announced a new schedule for the remainder of the process.
The new schedule calls for the draft EIS to be released on July 29. Mortenson said in his order for the new schedule that Dodge County Wind, the applicant for the project, had agreed to the new schedule.
“I think it’s just taking a little more time,” Emma Bauer of the Department of Commerce said last Friday. The Department of Commerce, she said, provides the public record for activities of the PUC.
Dodge County Wind has proposed a 170MW wind project with 13 turbines in Steele County and 55 in Dodge County. The Dodge County turbines would primarily be in Ripley and Ashland Townships, she said.
From a substation in Dodge County, the electricity would be transmitted via transmission lines to a substation in Byron. When Dodge County Wind first applied for the permits they listed two potential routes, designated A and B, for the transmission lines to Byron. Both of these lines were to the south of Dodge Center, primarily over farmland.
After a public meeting on the project was held last October the Public Utilities Commission told Dodge County Wind that they wanted additional routes included in the project for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. To comply, Dodge County Wind added two additional Routes, C and D, which go through Dodge Center.
The additional routes have raised the concerns of Dodge Center residents whose homes are in the route of the lines.
Dodge Center residents attended a council meeting in June to express their concerns and a representative of Dodge County Wind said the company said had been working for several years to secure agreements with property owners along the original routes and had added the two alternatives at the request of the PUC.
At that meeting the Council directed City Administrator Joshua Tetzlaff to send a letter to the PUC detailing the city’s objection to the transmission lines passing through the city. Numerous Dodge Center residents have also sent written comments to the PUC.
With the delay in the release of the draft EIS the entire approval process will be set back a month.
The new schedule calls for a public meeting on the draft EIS on Aug. 6. Public comments on the document will be accepted until Aug. 30. A public hearing on the project will be held before an administrative law judge on Sept. 18 with the public comment closing on Sept. 27. It now estimated that the final EIS will be released on Nov. 1 with the administrative law judge’s report being given to the PUC on Dec. 16.
The exact times and locations of public meetings will be announced at a later date.