By Associated Press - Saturday, July 11, 2015

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin regulators have given contractors the go-ahead to resume work on part of a high-voltage power line connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin that was put on hold due to concerns about protected bird species.

Work stopped last month after it was discovered that crews working for Xcel Energy were mistakenly allowed to build in an area that was designated for no-construction activities. The Minneapolis-based utility had told contractors the area as a no-tree-clearing zone, not a no-construction zone.

Some of the land near La Crosse is part of a state-protected grassland managed by the Mississippi Valley Conservancy and contains 11 species of concern and two species classified as threatened, the Henslow’s sparrow and the Bell’s vireo.

The Public Service Commission notified Xcel and its partners on Friday that work can resume in a part of the area south of the grassland where no protected species have been found, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported (https://bit.ly/1K14fl9 ). But the utilities will need to submit a new construction plan for approval.

The utilities are building a 345,000-volt power line linking Rochester, Minnesota, and the La Crosse area. It’s part of CapX 2020, a regional initiative by Xcel and other utilities to increase reliability of the power grid and improve the flow of renewable energy, particularly wind power from Minnesota. The project is expected to be completed next year.



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Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, https://www.jsonline.com

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