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Minnesota's biggest power line project in decades is meeting some resistance in the La Crescent area. A town-hall meeting, a petition with 150 signatures, and a City Council resolution have built into a crescendo of objections, sparked by a local ad hoc group speaking out against one of the three proposed lines -- the one to run from the Twin Cities to La Crosse, Wis.
One group member, Jeremy Chipps, said many in southeastern Minnesota found out about the line only after a couple of poorly advertised public meetings in the area, too late to express their concern.
Chipps' group, along with the Citizens Energy Task Force, argue that the lines are unnecessary.
Not fair, respond the power companies behind the project, led by Xcel Energy. In the past year they've sent notices to more than 80,000 people and convened 75 to 85 public meetings across the state, said Tim Carlsgaard, an Xcel spokesman. And with Minnesota's Public Utilities Commission taking comments on the project through Sept. 26, and a federal approval process yet to come, there are "lots of public meetings still coming up, and lots of opportunities for people to get involved," Carlsgaard said.
H.J. CUMMINSA vote for coal?
The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity -- about 40 utilities, mines and railroads, none Minnesota-based -- is posting its sales pitch on billboards, transit shelters and airport dioramas. It talks up coal as a plentiful and potentially ecological -- if new "clean" technology really works -- energy source. The messages, such as one billboard in downtown Minneapolis, are more populism than science: "Clean coal means American jobs stay here at home."
Joe Lucas, coalition vice president, said: "Just as the world is now looking at China, in a couple of weeks folks will be looking at Minneapolis/St. Paul and Denver, and one of the most pressing issues of this [presidential] campaign is the discussion of America's energy future."