Group wants cooperative to ‘go back to the drawing board’ on project
January 21, 2014
Minot Daily News,
KILLDEER Basin Electric Cooperative is proposing to build, operate and maintain a 278-mile transmission project from near Beulah via the Killdeer Mountains to the Tioga area. The cooperative said it is doing the project for additional electric transmission capacity.
But a citizens' group, Killdeer Mountain Alliance, wants the federal Rural Utilities Service to require Basin Electric to "go back to the drawing board" on the project because the proposed route for the transmission lines is in the Killdeer Mountains, where a historic site is located.
A public hearing was held in Watford City Jan. 16 to assess public response to the supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Basin Electric's proposed project.
Rob Sand, a spokesman for the alliance, said in a news release the alliance's fundamental problem with the supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement is it proposes no alternatives that would avoid constructing eight miles of transmission lines "through the heart of the Killdeer Mountain Battlefield. Consequently, it fails to comply with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act," Sand said.
Curt Pearson, manager of Media and Community Relations for Basin Electric in Bismarck, said the transmission lines, as proposed, would run south of the designated historic site (Killdeer Mountain Battlefield State Historic site) but it would cross a proposed study area. He said the land in the proposed study area is privately-owned.
Pearson said Basin Electric did not know about the proposed study area until August 2013.
The National Park Service awarded a grant for $62,761 to North Dakota State University, Fargo, for a two-year study of the Killdeer Mountain Battlefield according to an announcement by NDSU last fall.
Basin Electric's plan is to build, operate and maintain an approximately 278-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission project from Antelope Valley Station to the Neset Substation near Tioga. The Jan. 16 hearing was held for the public to evaluate an additional transmission line segment that would interceonnect with the previously proposed Antelope Valley Station to Neset project at a switchyard near Killdeer. Called the north Killdeer loop, it includes 60 miles of 345-kV transmission line and two substations that will deliver power into member cooperative McKenzie Electric Cooperative's service territory, according to Basin Electric information.
The alliance also said, in the news release, that the public meeting in Watford City was not well advertised in the local media and should have been advertised a minimum of 15 days in advance so people could have learned about it in adequate time. About 20 people attended the Jan. 16 hearing, according to Basin Electric.
Pearson said the first legal notice about the meeting ran last month, with some of the seven newspapers in the area of the project first running the notice Dec. 22. The notice ran a second time in January. He said Basin Electric also ran a story about the upcoming meeting as well as has information about the proposed project on its website at (www.basinelectric.com).
Pearson said the public can comment on the proposed project until Feb. 3. Written comments on the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement should be emailed firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to: Dennis Rankin, environmental protection specialist, USDA, Rural Utilities Service, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Stop 1571, Washington, D.C., 20250-1571.