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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Conserve power say transmission line opponents

From an article by Sara Elmquist in the Winona Post:

Opponents to proposed new high-voltage, 345-kilovolt transmission lines which could cross the Mississippi in Winona rallied Monday night at an open house against the project.

One of the new lines would run from the southeast Twin Cities to La Crosse following a route that would cross the Mississippi in either Winona, Alma or La Crescent.

CapX2020, a group of 11 energy companies in Minnesota, held an open house on the project Monday night, a required step for the routing of the lines for Minnesota and Wisconsin permits. Public scoping meetings are expected in February, with public hearings set for early 2009.

CapX2020 spokesperson Tim Carlsgaard said that the lines would be used to carry power from new wind projects and to help meet state mandates for renewable energy. But opponents at Monday’s meeting said that there was no guarantee the power grid wouldn’t haul coal-generated power to more urban areas on the dime of energy rate-payers in Minnesota.

And discussions, which turned into a roundtable debate, included claims from members of Bluff Land Environment Watch (BLEW) and others that the lines simply weren’t needed.

“The best solution is conservation,” said local wildlife enthusiast Richie Swanson. He said that migratory bird populations would be threatened at transmission river crossings and advocated incentives for using less energy. He said that taller towers would simply exacerbate the dangers birds and other wildlife face along the Mississippi. “We live in a world where wildlife is already getting hammered on the river,” he said, rattling off a list of species seeing huge declines in numbers.

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