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Underground power transmission project meetings postponed

Underground power transmission project meetings postponed
By Bob Steenson, bsteenson@charlescitypress.com

Area public informational meetings have been postponed for a proposed $2.5 billion underground power transmission line that would run through Charles City, but the project itself is still very much alive, say its proponents.

A public meeting had been scheduled for noon Wednesday at the Floyd County Fairgrounds regarding the SOO Green HVDC Link transmission project, but has been postponed until probably April because of concerns about public gatherings in light of the novel coronavirus.

A similar meeting, scheduled for Wednesday evening in Mason City, has also been postponed.

As the Press first reported a year ago, the proposed 349-mile underground transmission line would have the capacity to carry 525 kilovolts of electricity from wind power and solar power in the Mason City area to near Chicago, running across Floyd County and through Charles City.

The project, being proposed by Direct Connect Development Co. (DC DevCO), would run mostly along Canadian Pacific railroad right of way, but Iowa law requires that the project developers notify adjacent landowners of the project.

The public meetings, for those affected property owners and anyone else interested, would have provided details of the proposed project as well as information regarding the legal rights of affected property owners.

“For landowners adjacent to existing rail corridors, SOO Green is pursuing cooperation agreements to address issues such as drain tiles and road crossing access,” the company said.

High-voltage transmission lines on high-rise towers have sometimes run into opposition because of environmental, health and safety concerns, as well as their general intrusiveness.

By burying the transmission cables on property already owned or controlled by railroads, instead of stringing them on high-rise towers, the project would limit environmental impact and hopes to avoid landowner and neighbor resistance, according to information from the company.

“The project’s construction methods will limit impacts to the environment by boring under sensitive habitat, limiting the impact on birds and other endangered species,” according to DC DevCo.

“After the transmission cables are installed, the area along the railroad will be restored to the same condition prior to construction. With the underground installation, residents will not notice any changes to their community or landscape, the company said.

The lines would also be more secure from weather-related power disruptions such as those caused by ice storms or high winds, it added.

The primary route would run along the Canadian Pacific Railroad right-of-way from Mason City through Charles City, through New Hampton over to Marquette, down along the Iowa side of the Mississippi River to Sabula, under the Mississippi River and then run to Byron, Illinois, finally ending in Plano, Illinois.

The project would directly create more than 600 jobs during construction and indirectly create more than 200 permanent jobs during operation, according to the company. Additional jobs could be created as wind farms are created or expanded to serve the line.

Almost 40 percent of Iowa’s electricity is generated from wind turbines across the state.

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