Discussions on power line from Athens Township to Linwood have taken place since 2009

Alice Pickering
Forest Lake Times

On Thursday, March 8, it was reported that Great River Energy has had no recent contact with Linwood Township as it negotiates a power line route from the Athens Township substation in Isanti County to the Martin Lake substation in Linwood Township.

The reference was to formal meetings.

Lori Buffington, communications specialist with Great River Energy, said there have been informal communications about the project since the formal presentation to the town board in March 2009.

Supervisor Phil Osterhus has had the most frequent communication and discussions with GRE, attending several meetings the company has had with East Bethel officials about the project.

In his comments Osterhus said that GRE has “been straight as far as I’m concerned.”

Even though it has been about two years since the initial presentation to Linwood officials, information since has been accurate, he said.

Buffington explained that the process has taken longer for this project. She said GRE does the best it can to “minimize the impact our projects may have and one of the ways we do that is by following existing corridors such as along roadways.”

The last section route is south from the intersection of CR-26 and CR-85 along Typo Creek Drive to the Martin Lake substation and is not subject to negotiation. It has not changed from the original proposed route.

The portion of the proposed route in Linwood Township runs along roadways, which significantly minimizes impact.

Township officials prefer this short section along Typo Creek Drive as opposed to a route which extends from Fawn Lake Drive, farther north.

Osterhus commented there are historic and environmental concerns about having the power line along such a long section of the road.

Supervisor Mike Halliday said his understanding of the difficulty in reaching an agreement in East Bethel was opposition to the route, but with officials offering no alternatives.

Buffington said only after permits for the final route have been issued does GRE begin working with individual property owners.

After that the engineering design is developed, pole placement is determined, and trees which need to be removed are identified.