BY SUSAN VAN CLEAF
The Medina City Council, Tuesday, June 19, decided to submit comments to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) about the proposed Xcel Energy and Great River Energy Hollydale 115kv Transmission Line Project – part of which is proposed to run through Medina.
The comments do not include a preferred route for the transmission line.
The Council asked City Administrator Scott Johnson to draft a comment letter and submit it by the Friday, June 22, deadline. The letter reflects opinions of City Councilors who attended public information meetings on the Hollydale proposal, held June 7 and 8 at Wayzata High School.
Mayor Tom Crosby noted that changes have happened with the Hollydale proposal since it came before the City Council in November. At that time a resident expressed his concerns about the project and asked what Medina was planning to do.
Crosby told him that the city has no say about the project. The PUC makes the decisions. Medina can inform residents about opportunities to comment.
Also in November, Xcel and Great River were talking about one route through Medina, Crosby said. And the Hollydale project was going through PUC’s alternative permitting process, which did not include an environmental impact statement (EIS).
Since then landowners submitted a petition to PUC asking it to require the full permitting process. In May, PUC responded to the petition by ordering the full process, complete with EIS. A draft of the EIS will be available in September and public hearings will take place in October. The final EIS is expected to be released in December.
The requirement for an EIS is a big change for the Hollydale proposal, Crosby said. And now the proposal includes three potential routes through Medina.
Xcel and Great River are proposing to remove the 69 kV overhead power line that runs for eight miles through Medina and Plymouth and replace it with a 115 kV overhead line.
Residents have approached a number of Medina City Councilors, Crosby said. One was adamant that the Hollydale transmission line should not follow a route along Medina Road.
Crosby commented that someone would be unhappy with whatever route is chosen. So he did not favor a particular route.
"Some homes are quite close (to the proposed power line)," said City Councilor Liz Weir.
Crosby has noticed that much of the proposed Medina routes travels through back yards and near residences. He said Medina should ask that Xcel and Great River bury power lines near homes. If they are above ground, power lines should be well insulated and supported by single pylon poles, which are more aesthetically pleasing than other styles.
City Councilor Mike Siitari asked whether studies have conclusions about the risks of high-energy power lines. "Is there a risk or is it a lot of hype?"
Crosby said he had not seen any conclusive studies.
City Councilor Melissa Martinson observed that the public, not Xcel and Great River, has proposed alternative routes.
After the discussion, the City Council spelled out what it wanted to say in Medina’s comment letter to PUC. The letter will ask that the power line be buried near homes and in areas where development is expected to occur. The line should be well insulated. If it is above ground, single pylon poles should be used.
The City Council also:
APPROVED resurfacing of the tennis courts at Hunter Lions Park at a cost of $6,150.
DISCUSSED the latest concept for improvements to the intersection of Highway 55 and County Road 116.
ACCEPTED an $800 donation from Rick Perry related to Medina Cleanup Day. The council earmarked the donation for crime prevention efforts.
APPROVED replacement of a culvert on Meander Road in connection with a road improvement project.
ASKED city staff to draft a resolution denying the request of Henri Germain for a variance from the wetland buffer requirement for his property at 790 Navajo Road.