by TaLeiza Calloway
Efforts by St. Joseph Township residents to get the state Public Utilities Commission to change the route of a high-voltage power line away from them were unsuccessful.
The commission on Feb. 16 voted to leave the portion of the route from St. Cloud to Fargo as is – something Rob Undersander and other residents opposed.
Plans are to build the line from Monticello to Fargo. The portion of the transmission line from Monticello to St. Cloud went live Dec. 21. The 28-mile segment between a new quarry substation near St. Cloud and an existing Monticello substation was the first CapX2020 project to be completed.
Undersander is concerned about the visual impact of the power line. Others are concerned about safety. Undersander and others signed petitions earlier this year to amend the route.
More than anything, Undersander said he is frustrated with the process of reaching officials because commission members would not listen to comments unless there was representation by legal counsel, he said.
“The battle is over,” Undersander said. “The power line is going in. It’s not a deal breaker. I’m more concerned about having public officials as discriminatory as they have been.”
Undersander said he thinks he and his neighbors would have a good case in appeals court, but he does not plan to take it that far. He also said it can be expensive for most impacted residents to seek this option and thus he aims to use another tactic.
“I would prefer (for the powers that be) to be judged in the court of public opinion,” he said.