Andover ag producers intervene in utilities' proposed power line
PIERRE — The decision by two electric utilities to change the proposed route for a large transmission line they want to build through Brown, Day and Grant counties means some additional agriculture operations potentially would be affected.
The state Public Utilities Commission agreed Wednesday to grant party status to five cattle, dairy and crop producers who asked to be able to intervene. That means they can fully participate in the PUC's proceedings regarding whether to allow the project.
The five are James McCane III, Clark T. Olson, Randall Schuring of Schuring Farms Inc., Bradley Morehouse and Kevin Anderson. All are from the Andover area.
Montana-Dakota Utilities and Otter Tail Power want PUC approval to construct a 345-kilovolt electricity line covering some 150 miles between the Ellendale, North Dakota, area and the Big Stone power plant's south substation in Grant County.
Lawyer Thomas Welk, of Sioux Falls, represented the two companies during the commission's consideration Wednesday of whether to let the five men intervene. Welk said he didn't have any objections.
"The project is talking to them and trying to address their concerns," Welk said.
But Schuring told the commission that no one has personally contacted him.
PUC chairman Gary Hanson told the landowners they can participate in all steps. "This is just the very, very beginning of the process," Hanson said.
Morehouse said the proposed route would cross a neighbor's land that abuts his 999-head feedlot.
Schuring said the line would be within a half-mile -- "More like a quarter-mile," he said -- of his 1,350-head dairy barn. He predicted the line would damage the value of his dairy operation when it is put up for sale someday.
The only other intervener at this point is Gerald Pesall, of Lily. He received party status in October.
The commission held two public-input meetings last year at Aberdeen and Milbank and recently added another because of the five changes in the proposed route. The new meeting is set for 6:30 p.m on May 20 at the Ramada Conference Center at Aberdeen.
The commission's evidentiary hearing on the project permit is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on June 10 and will continue June 11 and 12. The hearing is at the state Capitol in room 413.