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Published November 26 2012

Judge denies request by Oxbow to delay power line construction

FARGO – A judge has denied a request by the city of Oxbow and 82 individuals seeking to temporarily delay construction of the CapX 2020 power line while an administrative appeal is pending.

The city and individuals are appealing the North Dakota Public Service Commission’s order that approved the route of the major transmission line, which connects Fargo-Moorhead to the Twin Cities area.

They contend the proximity of the power lines will reduce their property values and could have negative health effects.

They requested a stay on the commission’s order, but it was denied Friday in Cass County District Court by Judge Lisa Fair McEvers.

During a hearing Monday, Fair McEvers also dismissed 79 of the 83 parties to the appeal – including the city of Oxbow – because they didn’t attend the Public Service Commission’s public hearing on the project in Fargo.

Jennifer Braun, one of two attorneys for the appellants, said the commission should be allowed to reconsider its decision now that the alignment of the proposed Red River diversion has shifted to the north. She asked that the city of Oxbow have an opportunity to be heard.

“Well, they did. They had the hearing,” Fair McEvers said.

The four individuals who remain in the appeal spoke at the hearing, and Fair McEvers has given their attorneys 10 days to file briefs to show their legal interest in the project.

“You need to show me somewhere in the record where they are aggrieved persons,” she said.

Northern States Power Co., which does business as Xcel Energy and is one of 11 utilities involved in the CapX 2020 project, wants the appeal dismissed.

Lisa Agrimonti, an attorney for NSP, said in court Monday that only one of the four parties demonstrated any injury from the line’s route, in the form of trees that would need to be cut down.

The transmission line in question is one of four in the $1.9 billion CapX 2020 project, which aims to improve the reliability of the power grid that serves many of Minnesota’s biggest cities.

The North Dakota segment will run 33 miles, starting northwest of Casselton and going south and east around Fargo. The line will continue into Minnesota, connecting with Monticello and St. Cloud.

Construction is slated to start in the first quarter of 2013, with completion in 2015, said Mark Nisbet, spokesman for Xcel Energy.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528