Nearly 80 percent want power lines built on existing rights-of-way
MINNEAPOLIS – March 8, 2023 — Minnesota voters overwhelmingly support the building of electric transmission lines alongside highways and other existing infrastructure corridors, according to a new NextGen Highways initiative survey.
In the statewide survey, 79 percent of respondents prefer building electric transmission lines alongside existing powerlines, highways, rail, and other existing public rights-of-way (ROW) corridors. That compares to just 3 percent who prefer private lands such as farms, forests, or neighborhoods, according to the Public Policy Polling survey of 684 Minnesota registered voters on February 21 and 22, 2023.
NextGen Highways recently secured funding from Breakthrough Energy to develop diverse national and state-level coalitions, beginning in Minnesota. The coalitions will advocate for existing public ROW to be considered for new electric transmission infrastructure to meet the growing demand from decarbonization policies, electric vehicles and building electrification.
The targeted states are those where there is both a need for electric transmission development and where state regulations and policies prohibit the use of these ROWs. These national and state coalitions will work with interested private partners, community-based organizations, environmental groups and policymakers to examine law or policy changes.
The NextGen Highways survey found 77 percent support needed electric transmission lines along highways and interstate ROW, with just 4 percent opposed. In addition, 62 percent support policy changes to allow for electric transmission lines to be placed in highway ROW. Minnesota currently prohibits siting transmission lines in interstate highway corridors.
“It’s clear the people of Minnesota want needed transmission built on existing infrastructure corridors, especially highways and interstates,” said Randy Satterfield, executive director of NextGen Highways. “What’s more is that residents support the required policy changes to make co-location happen.”
The margin of error for the survey is +/- 3.8 percent. A third of the interviews were conducted by telephone and two-thirds by text message.
The survey of Minnesotans follows on the heels of a separate collaboration of the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and Public Utilities Commission to evaluate possible future policy shifts at MnDOT to increase transmission in MnDOT ROWs. The agencies recently completed a series of listening sessions with stakeholders. MnDOT currently allows transmission in US/state highways in a limited manner, but transmission paralleling within interstate/controlled access ROWs is currently prohibited by statute.
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 NextGenHighways.org.