The line from Big Stone City to Ellendale, N.D., would cover 150 to 175 miles and cut across land owned by several hundred farmers. The cost is estimated at $300 million to $340 million.
"It is definitely one of the biggest ones we have participated in," said Mark Hanson, spokesman for Montana-Dakota Utilities.
The line, which would be jointly operated by Montana-Dakota Utilities and Otter Tail Power Company, would provide many benefits to the region, including providing transmission capacity for wind energy.
The meetings are designed to allow people to see the proposed corridors for the line and ask questions.
"We will be taking all this feedback from landowners and agencies and developing a preferred route," Hanson said. "That is what we need when we file the route permit with the South Dakota and North Dakota public utilities commissions."
Construction on the line would begin in 2016 and take three years to complete. In the meantime, the utilities will be working on securing easements from landowners and completing permits.
Landowners who sign an easement will receive a one-time payment for purchase of land at pole sites, Hanson said. The poles will be between 700 feet to 1,200 feet apart.
While precautions will be made to avoid damaging any crops during the construction of the poles and lines, landowners will be compensated for any damage, Hanson said.
The line has been recommended by the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, the independent regulatory agency for electrical transmission in 15 states and parts of Canada, as a "multivalue project."
A study determined the need for the the line, Hanson said, and provide benefits such as:
- Improved reliability for the regional power system.
- Increased system capacity to address growth in regional electricity demand.
- Provide capacity for adding renewable energy, such as wind energy, to the power grid.
- Boost the regional economy by creating construction jobs.
While landowners are the most affected by the transmission line, everyone is invited to the meetings to learn more about the project, Hanson said.
Open House meetings are scheduled in the following towns:
Groton: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, Groton Area School; presentation at 6 p.m.
Ellendale, N.D.: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Fireside Restaurant and Lounge; presentation at noon.
Britton: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Britton-Hecla High School; presentation at 6 p.m.
Webster: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday, The Galley; presentation at noon.
Milbank: 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Milbank Visitors Center; presentation at 6 p.m.