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Power poles placed in right of way must be moved

CapX work crews were unaware of section lines

December 6, 2012
By Fritz Busch - Staff Writer , The Journal

GAYLORD - Sibley County commissioners approved a resolution Nov. 27 requiring a joint power line project to move five new power poles encroaching on county road right of way northeast of Arlington.

The resolution stipulated that the Sibley County Highway Engineer double-check to ensure high-voltage power poles are being placed in the proper location.

Earlier last month, Sibley County Public Works Director Darin Mielke told commissioners that five (CapX2020) power pole foundations were set in the right of way on County Road 164, north of Silver Lake, located several miles northeast of Arlington. Some foundations were placed in a ditch usable for drainage.

Commissioners earlier considered rerouting the road instead of moving the power poles. After talking with affected landowners and considering estimated costs, the consensus was to move the power poles, not the road.

At a Nov. 13 Sibley County Board meeting, CapX2020 Project Managers agreed to either move the poles or pay the county to move a mile of the road about 10 feet, which was estimated to cost $421,000, including $350,000 for construction.

The right-of-way issue happened when CapX didn't realize county section lines were not always in the middle of county roads until poles were placed in the right of way.

Moving poles includes digging new holes and jack-hammering cement out of the old ones, according to the Arlington Enterprise.

"They (CapX2020 work crews) assumed gravel roads were centered on section lines, but they differ up to 10 feet in spots," Mielke told The Journal Wednesday. "I don't know why they didn't check it."

Mielke said Sibley County is reviewing a CapX2020 permit request for its power lines to overhang county roads.

CapX2020 is a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning Minnesota utilities and the surrounding region to expand the electric transmission grid to ensure continued, reliable service.

Planning studies show customer demand for electricity will grow by up to 6,000 megawatts (MW) by 2020. Three 345-kV (linking Fargo, St. Cloud and Monticello, Hampton, Rochester and La Crosse as well as Brookings, S.D. to Hampton and a 230-kV-line from Bemidji to Grand Rapids were proposed.

Plans that began with environmental scoping meetings in the fourth quarter of 2007 included proposed or modified substations in Franklin, Hampton Corner, Hazel Creek, Helena, Lake Marion, Lyon County, the Minnesota River Valley (southeast of Granite Falls), and Brookings County, S.D.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at



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