Category: News

All Minnesota Public Right of Ways Now Open for Transmission Co-Location 

Gov. Walz signs important new law for building critical energy infrastructure

Media Contact
Drew Henry


MINNEAPOLIS—NextGen Highways Minnesota today celebrates an important victory in accelerating the development of the high-voltage electric transmission infrastructure necessary for the state to reach its clean energy goals.

Gov. Walz signed the omnibus transportation bill with language allowing for the co-location of new high-voltage electric transmission in all existing Minnesota state and interstate highway corridors, and it provides guidance on prioritizing such corridors as a preferred route for new projects. This new law ends a decades-long Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) policy prohibiting utility infrastructure from being located in interstate and other controlled-access highway rights-of-way (ROW).

“This is an exciting and important step in speeding the development of absolutely essential infrastructure for delivering clean energy and helping Minnesota ensure grid reliability and resiliency,” said Randy Satterfield, Executive Director of NextGen Highways. “More importantly, it shows what can be achieved when policy makers, state agencies, utilities, energy developers, labor, advocates and a host of other stakeholders come together around a common goal.”

The final policy language involved negotiations between a broad and diverse group of interested parties. NextGen Highways Minnesota includes several interest groups, including clean energy advocates, labor and environmental groups. These groups worked together with the state’s utility companies, MnDOT, and bill authors to find a compromise on several technical details that had stalled progress on this issue in the past.

“Aligning on common goals and values, then working creatively and respectfully through differences with affected parties is how you overcome barriers and accelerate the clean energy transition,” said George Damian, Director of Government Affairs of Clean Energy Economy MN. “NextGen Highways, along with similar policies, will facilitate the construction of Minnesota’s clean energy infrastructure, resulting in crucial local investments and job opportunities necessary for realizing a clean energy future.”

Interstate ROWs like I-94 and I-90 in Minnesota are valuable opportunities for siting new transmission lines. They often connect rural areas of states with high potential for renewable energy development and the dense population centers where that power will be in high demand. They are also a far more popular option for new projects than securing routes on predominantly private land. Public opinion research in the state shows that nearly 80 percent of Minnesotans prefer building electric transmission lines alongside existing infrastructure and public ROW corridors.

“This is simply good policy. Minnesota already has more than a billion dollars of new transmission in the pipeline,” said Kayla Christensen, Executive Director of the Minnesota Conservative Energy Forum. “One of the most common questions we hear is ‘why can’t this new transmission go in public rights of way instead of on our private land?’ This common-sense bill will turn the temperature down around what is often the most difficult part of siting energy infrastructure, streamlining the process while minimizing impact to private land.

NextGen Highways Minnesota will now turn its attention to convening and collaborating with state agencies and Minnesota utilities building transmission to consider existing infrastructure corridors for future transmission development. The MISO long-range transmission planning process will likely identify additional transmission needs for Minnesota, and state and interstate highways could be prime candidates for co-location.


About NextGen Highways

NextGen Highways is a collaborative initiative promoting the use of highways and other existing rights-of-way as infrastructure corridors where electric and communications infrastructure are strategically and safely co-located in existing highway rights-of-way. Learn more at

Quotes from members:

“Achieving Minnesota’s ambitious clean energy goals requires us to put new transmission projects in the fast lane, and this bill does just that,” said Rachel Wiedewitsch, Senior Policy Associate, Clean Electricity at Fresh Energy. “Fresh Energy is very grateful to the bill authors, coalition partners, state agencies and many other stakeholders for digging in and finding agreement on this bill that keeps Minnesota leading from the north.”