FAIRMONT - With plans to bring a 345,000-volt transmission line through Jackson, Martin and Faribault counties, ITC Midwest is seeking feedback from landowners.
"Our first step is to gather input from local people who understand the region, the topography, and the land uses," said Tom Petersen, director of communications for ITC, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Since ITC Midwest purchased transmission lines from Alliant Energy in 2007, it has been busy throughout the region.
"We've been making the investment to upgrade the system to meet the needs of the generators and to meet the demand," Petersen said. "We can meet the needs of today and the future."
The proposed transmission line will be about 75 miles long, running from ITC's substation near Lakefield in Jackson County to a new substation in Winnebago, then south to a substation in Iowa.
The compay says the line is needed to help improve reliability; expand transmission capacity to support economic growth and investment; and to allow generating sources in the area, such as wind-energy producers and other generators, to transmit electricity to customers.
"It's part of a regional approach," Petersen said. "We have 11 states identified with needs for additional transmissions. These are multi-value projects; multiple value on thorough reliability, reducing constraints on the system and adding more lines allows more robust market and drives down the costs. This is required for a generation connection, like the wind turbines being connected to the grid."
Exactly where the transmission line will be placed is yet to be determined. That is where the public comes in, according to Petersen.
"We have six meetings scheduled, and two of them are at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Fairmont," he said. "We encourage people to attend, because it's helpful to have local input, and we don't have that without participation. Plus it makes the project process better, because we really try to work with the landowners involved."
The two meetings for Martin County will be held Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and from 5-8 p.m. There also will be meetings held at the Jackson County Fairgrounds on Tuesday, and at the Faribault County Fairgrounds on Wednesday.
"We are working toward a timeline to have this transmission line working by 2017, so it's a long process," Petersen said. "People don't have to worry that it's going up tomorrow, but now is the good time for people, if they have an interest, to get informed. We want to have a give and take with the residents, because that is helpful to us."