County OKs road use agreement for CapX 2020

MARSHALL – Members of the Lyon County Board approved an agreement on Tuesday that will help set the stage for construction of a high-voltage power line project in Lyon County this year. Commissioners voted to enter a road use agreement with Great River Energy for access to county roads while 345-kilovolt electric transmission lines are built.

The construction is part of the CapX 2020 project, which is building transmission lines connecting power substations in eastern Minnesota with ones across the state and over the South Dakota border. Stan Tessmer, a representative of Great River Energy, said about 43 miles of transmission line would be built in Lyon county, traveling along several county roads.

Construction on a segment of the transmission line running from the Cedar Mountain substation near Franklin to Lyon County began last fall, and construction in Lyon County is planned for this spring. The road use agreement presented to commissioners on Tuesday included rules for designating haul routes, controlling traffic and reimbursing the county for use of the roads. Tessmer said construction crews will need access from the county roads to the right-of-way at first, but after that, construction will move along in the right-of-way.

Tessmer said there haven’t been large-scale updates to the electric infrastructure in Minnesota since the 1970s, while demand for power has only increased. The CapX 2020 project will address both problems, he said. It will also help make it easier for renewable energy generated in Minnesota and the Dakotas to be transmitted to places where it’s needed.

County Board Chairman Rick Anderson asked whether residents of Lyon County townships had also been approached about access to their roads and right-of-ways.

“How much have you talked with the townships?” he said.

Tessmer said Great River Energy hasn’t contacted township officials in Lyon County about road access yet. However, he said they would do so. Townships may also approve their own road use agreements with Great River Energy, Tessmer said.

Anderson asked if the county could be given copies of any agreements that townships approve for the project. It would be a way for commissioners to know Great River Energy had consulted with them, he said.

Tessmer said it could be done.

Commissioners voted in favor of the road use agreement.

Commissioners also approved a request from the Marshall-Lyon County Library for funding to increase staffing at the Cottonwood and Balaton library locations. Library director Holly Martin Huffman said the library would like to have more community outreach and programs in Cottonwood and Balaton. But, she said, “It’s hard to do if there’s only one person there.”

In addition, Martin Huffman said, the Cottonwood library building will be undergoing renovations, and an additional staff member would be helpful while the library moves to a temporary location.

Martin Huffman said the library was requesting about $10,000 to help hire staff to assist the current Balaton and Cottonwood library staff. Lyon County Administrator Loren Stomberg said the amount of money the library was requesting had been included in the 2013 budget process.

“Ideally, it would be somebody from the community,” Martin Huffman said of the additional staff. Commissioner Rodney Stensrud also said he thought that was a priority.

“I strongly recommend you try and find someone from the (Cottonwood and Balaton) area,” he said.

Commissioners accepted the resignation of Ryan Wendt as county Geographic Information Systems coordinator and discussed advertising for the vacant position. Lyon County Public Works Director Suhail Kanwar said Wendt had accepted a position with Marshall Municipal Utilities.

“I think we’re losing a very valuable person,” Stensrud said. GIS services and mapping are very important to the county, from redetermining ditch benefits to responding to emergency calls.