Minnesota-Iowa Transmission Line

A map from ITC, the developer of the project.

Stated Purpose:

The Minnesota-Iowa line is a combination of two projects that will help alleviate congestion at 19 points on the grid, as well as provide a better connection for sending wind power from Iowa and Minnesota to Illinois and Wisconsin.

As part of the MISO MVP portfolio, the lines will be paid for by electricity users throughout the Upper Midwest. Along with new opportunities for wind development, the projects will also help reduce congestion in service areas, improve reliability by allowing for continuous function of generators, and help to encourage competition by creating expanding generation options for service areas.

Line Capacity:

345 kV

Route Description:

The first portion of the project (MISO Project 3) will begin with a new 345 kV transmission line that will be built at the Lakefield Junction in Minnesota to the Winnebago area. The line will then run south to a new substation that will be constructed by MidAmerican Energy near Algona, Iowa. The two lines will be constructed to connect with the new substation near Algona: one will use an existing 345 kV line running from Sheldon, IA; and the other will come from an existing 345 kV line near Webster, IA. In total, Project 3 will be comprised of 215 miles of newly constructed 345 kV line--145 miles of which will be in Iowa, with the remaining 70 miles located in Minnesota.

The second portion (MISO Project 4) will connect to the previous project, and will use an existing transmission path. The line will run to Lime Creek, IA, then south to the Iowa Falls area. From there, the line will run east to a new substation that will be constructed by MidAmerican in Black Hawk County, north of Waterloo, IA. The project will conclude with the line connecting to the Hazleton substation in Iowa.

Part of the line--between 100 to 120 miles--will be rebuilt 161 kV line, to facilitate 345 kV while still using existing right-of-way. New right-of-way must follow existing land division lines, such as surveyed sections and active railroads. During the routing process, the developer considers several factors: existing streams, wetlands, and land concerns. Consultation also takes place between developers and county boards and engineers, the Corp of Engineers, and the Department of Natural Resources.

Development Timeline:

Based on filings in an informal proceeding with the Iowa Utilities Board, the expectation was that MidAmerican Energy and ITC would file for required state permits in 2013. ITC has filed for the route permit and certificate of need in Minnesota, and MidAmerican has completed public hearings in Iowa and selected a route. MidAmerican has also petitioned for a franchise with the Iowa Utilities Board, and ITC is holding the final public hearings of this phase in Iowa.

Negotiating right-of-way will last into 2014, and construction of the line is expected to begin in November of 2014. The end of construction is planned for November 2016, with the line becoming operational at the end of that year.

Old towers along the route are slated for removal, so the developer can replace them with new steel single-pole towers. The construction process entails installing foundation and poles, trimming or removing trees, placing cables, and clean-up of the area. An attempt will be made to smooth out any disruption to ground, with aims to return it to the condition in which it was found.

A new law in Minnesota would require transmission developers to not submit a preferred and alternative route, but instead submit only several routing options to state regulators with no stated preference. The MVP 4 portion of the project was completed in Iowa by November 2016.

Regulatory Process:

As part of the MISO service agreement, developers must get approval from regulators and make appropriate property allowances before construction can begin on the line. The approval process itself can proceed 30 days after community hearings are held to provide the public with information on the project, as required by the Iowa Utility Board.

Any utility constructing a line that is one mile or more on private land must hold public meetings before landowners can be approached to discuss right-of-way. Any land the developers wish to use must be gained through voluntary negotiation with landowners, or, as a last resort, through state use of eminent domain if the project is deemed to be in the public interest. The eminent domain process is subject to appeal by the landowner, and the developers must show the need for the project and that the project will be of benefit to the public. Developers must also be willing to pay fair compensation to property owners when invoking the state use of eminent domain.

Much of the 215-mile project still needs approval from Iowa and Minnesota regulators.

Community meetings on the line were held in Iowa in December 2012. The MISO Project 4 portion of the line has received approval from regulators, and has an expected completion date in 2013. Other parts of the project have still yet to be approved by state regulators, or approval has been given but appropriate property allowances are still being made.

Developer:

International Transmission Company (ITC)

MidAmerican Energy

Community Feedback:

Community meetings were held in December 2012 by MidAmerican, with the goals of providing details of the projects to area landowners and to receive feedback on the projects from the public. The developer is seeking easements for construction or reconstruction of lines and facilities, as well as easements to operate and maintain the structures over the allocated property. Other easements besides those for construction may be considered for property owners, such as overhang easements if the line goes over the other side of a property line, or a temporary wider area easement to allow for more room during the construction process.

ITC has also met with various groups with interest in the line, including those concerned about the environmental impact of the project. The meetings focused on the routing process and the progress of the project, providing more explanation about the project and allowing for feedback from groups in attendance.

The developers use market studies to identify land sales trends in the areas where the project is located to determine compensation for landowners. Payments from developer to landowners will be set in the range of $7,500-$12,500 per acre, or 50% of average sales. Land that is tillable will be placed at the higher end of the range, and land that is used for pasture or that is a wooded area will be at the lower end. Initially, 20% of the total payment will be made to landowners, with the rest of the payment being made once the franchise is obtained by the developer. An additional $2,500 will be paid to landowners for each pole placed on their property.

Land agents will assess for damage to property once the project is completed, so crop damage payments can be made. The period for yield loss payments will run up to three years if conditions are met--primarily if compaction of land is identified in the area.

In July 2013 open houses, landowners and community members voiced support for a preferred route that would be less disruptive than an alternative, although there was concern over the project's effect on a livestock barn along that route, as well as on the interstate.

ITC Midwest has also given a $10,000 donation to Ducks Unlimited that will go towards protecting and restoring water fowl habitat.

Some residents of Sherburn, MN are concerned about the line getting too near to their homes, due to the fact that the line will have to maintain a requisite distance from the nearby interstate. City officials in Jackson, MN were also worried about the possible effect that the line could have on a local airport as well. Others are concerned that ITC is working with several environmental groups, but haven't worked closely with the Minnesota Department of Health or other public health organizations. Findings from the Department of Commerce's Draft Environmental Impact Study found alternatives that would not run so close to the city of Sherburn, and that would not affect the Jackson airport.

Residents of Blue Earth, MN voiced concerns that they had not been notified by the county or state about the line, despite the fact that it would pass within 200 feet of their homes. Several city and county officials also took issue with the siting and routing of the line, recalling parts of other routing options that they preferred to new ones presented in ITC's preferred route. State officials noted that statements had been sent out to county and city governments, and ITC was quick to inform landowners that their preferred route is not necessarily the final route, but that it is left up to the administrative law judge assigned to the case.

Clean Energy Potential:

The projects will help to alleviate congestion experienced by some generators that produce too much output for current transmission lines to accommodate. The new transmission lines will allow for greater access across the region to generators, as well as provide an outlet for the energy produced by wind farms along the line.

Fact Sheets:

Minnesota-Iowa Project Fact Sheet

Lakefield-Webster Fact Sheet

Winnco-Hazelton Fact Sheet

Docket Filings:

Minnesota Project Filing

Search for Iowa county filings from ITC Midwest

News Archive:

Energy grid is being enhanced December 25, 2016

MidAmerican Energy Co. completes construction on new transmission line in Iowa December 19, 2016

MidAmerican Completes Work on 120-mile MVP3 Line in Iowa December 15, 2016

MidAmerican Energy completes 71-mile Iowa transmission line November 11, 2016

Construction completed on new transmission line in Northeast Iowa November 1, 2016

Line work on schedule August 19, 2016

IUB hears area concerns July 21, 2016

ITC project proceeding on schedule May 24, 2016

IUB to hold meeting May 5, 2016

Transmission line powers new Lakes area wind farms April 21, 2016

Powering up: New transmission line on the way September 11, 2015

ITC is ready to power ahead September 6, 2015

Projects capitalize on O'Brien County's abundant wind resource March 15, 2015

ITC strings cables between transmission line poles February 6, 2015

ITC begins easement negotiations January 23, 2015

Power for North Iowa January 21, 2015

New power lines pop up in north Iowa January 20, 2015

O'Brien County labors over proposed energy ordinance September 29, 2014

Making room for more benefits of Minnesota wind power September 24, 2014

Judge hears citizens' concerns May 18, 2014

Power line draws ire May 15, 2014

Power line law ends designation of 'preferred' route May 12, 2014

MidAmerican plans new electric transmission line May 5, 2014

Opposition to line intensifies May 2, 2014

Power line could be close to Blue Earth April 27, 2014

Transmission line study: Each route has its ups and downs April 22, 2014

Power line generates comments April 23, 2014

Power line sparks worries December 14, 2013

October 11 news October 11, 2013

Input begins on new transmission line July 23, 2013

ITC electrical project means millions for North Iowa March 31, 2013

Utilities partner to add lines for wind energy in northern Iowa March 30, 2013

Midwest electric grid set to expand December 31, 2012

DC Clean Line Project impacts area counties December 28, 2012

Transmission line project proceeding December 20, 2012

Public hears power grid plan December 06, 2012

MidAmerican makes its case for MVP 3 land easements December 06, 2012

Wired for profit October 03, 2012

Project Profile: Minnesota-Iowa 345 kV Electric Transmission Project August 31, 2012

Transmission proposals aim to break Iowa wind bottleneck August 28, 2012

Transmission Expansion for Wind Energy July 17, 2012

Transmission Projects: At A Glance March 2012

Multi Value Project Portfolio: Results and Analyses January 10, 2012

Your Thoughts:

We all know that clean energy transmission is vitally important to our energy future. It brings economic opportunity to rural areas, enables wind development and improves the reliability of your grid. But to build it properly - to create projects that work best for you and your community - requires your knowledge and participation.  That's why we've created this database.