216E.03 DESIGNATING SITES AND ROUTES.
Subdivision 1. Site permit.
No person may construct a large electric generating plant without
a site permit from the commission. A large electric generating plant may be constructed only on
a site approved by the commission. The commission must incorporate into one proceeding the
route selection for a high-voltage transmission line that is directly associated with and necessary
to interconnect the large electric generating plant to the transmission system and whose need is
certified under section
Subd. 2. Route permit.
No person may construct a high-voltage transmission line without a
route permit from the commission. A high-voltage transmission line may be constructed only
along a route approved by the commission.
Subd. 3. Application.
Any person seeking to construct a large electric power generating
plant or a high-voltage transmission line must apply to the commission for a site or route permit.
The application shall contain such information as the commission may require. The applicant
shall propose at least two sites for a large electric power generating plant and two routes for
a high-voltage transmission line. The commission shall determine whether an application is
complete and advise the applicant of any deficiencies within ten days of receipt. An application is
not incomplete if information not in the application can be obtained from the applicant during the
first phase of the process and that information is not essential for notice and initial public meetings.
Subd. 4. Notice of application.
Within 15 days after submission of an application to the
commission, the applicant shall publish notice of the application in a legal newspaper of general
circulation in each county in which the site or route is proposed and send a copy of the application
by certified mail to any regional development commission, county, incorporated municipality, and
township in which any part of the site or route is proposed. Within the same 15 days, the applicant
shall also send a notice of the submission of the application and description of the proposed
project to each owner whose property is on or adjacent to any of the proposed sites for the power
plant or along any of the proposed routes for the transmission line. The notice shall identify a
location where a copy of the application can be reviewed. For the purpose of giving mailed
notice under this subdivision, owners shall be those shown on the records of the county auditor
or, in any county where tax statements are mailed by the county treasurer, on the records of the
county treasurer; but other appropriate records may be used for this purpose. The failure to give
mailed notice to a property owner, or defects in the notice, shall not invalidate the proceedings,
provided a bona fide attempt to comply with this subdivision has been made. Within the same
15 days, the applicant shall also send the same notice of the submission of the application and
description of the proposed project to those persons who have requested to be placed on a list
maintained by the commission for receiving notice of proposed large electric generating power
plants and high voltage transmission lines.
Subd. 5. Environmental review.
The commissioner of the Department of Commerce shall
prepare for the commission an environmental impact statement on each proposed large electric
generating plant or high-voltage transmission line for which a complete application has been
submitted. The commissioner shall not consider whether or not the project is needed. No other
state environmental review documents shall be required. The commissioner shall study and
evaluate any site or route proposed by an applicant and any other site or route the commission
deems necessary that was proposed in a manner consistent with rules concerning the form,
content, and timeliness of proposals for alternate sites or routes.
Subd. 6. Public hearing.
The commission shall hold a public hearing on an application for
a site permit for a large electric power generating plant or a route permit for a high-voltage
transmission line. All hearings held for designating a site or route shall be conducted by an
administrative law judge from the Office of Administrative Hearings pursuant to the contested
case procedures of chapter 14. Notice of the hearing shall be given by the commission at least ten
days in advance but no earlier than 45 days prior to the commencement of the hearing. Notice
shall be by publication in a legal newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the
public hearing is to be held and by certified mail to chief executives of the regional development
commissions, counties, organized towns, townships, and the incorporated municipalities in which
a site or route is proposed. Any person may appear at the hearings and offer testimony and exhibits
without the necessity of intervening as a formal party to the proceedings. The administrative
law judge may allow any person to ask questions of other witnesses. The administrative law
judge shall hold a portion of the hearing in the area where the power plant or transmission line
is proposed to be located.
Subd. 7. Considerations in designating sites and routes.
(a) The commission's site and
route permit determinations must be guided by the state's goals to conserve resources, minimize
environmental impacts, minimize human settlement and other land use conflicts, and ensure
the state's electric energy security through efficient, cost-effective power supply and electric
(b) To facilitate the study, research, evaluation, and designation of sites and routes, the
commission shall be guided by, but not limited to, the following considerations:
(1) evaluation of research and investigations relating to the effects on land, water and air
resources of large electric power generating plants and high-voltage transmission lines and the
effects of water and air discharges and electric and magnetic fields resulting from such facilities
on public health and welfare, vegetation, animals, materials and aesthetic values, including
baseline studies, predictive modeling, and evaluation of new or improved methods for minimizing
adverse impacts of water and air discharges and other matters pertaining to the effects of power
plants on the water and air environment;
(2) environmental evaluation of sites and routes proposed for future development and
expansion and their relationship to the land, water, air and human resources of the state;
(3) evaluation of the effects of new electric power generation and transmission technologies
and systems related to power plants designed to minimize adverse environmental effects;
(4) evaluation of the potential for beneficial uses of waste energy from proposed large
electric power generating plants;
(5) analysis of the direct and indirect economic impact of proposed sites and routes including,
but not limited to, productive agricultural land lost or impaired;
(6) evaluation of adverse direct and indirect environmental effects that cannot be avoided
should the proposed site and route be accepted;
(7) evaluation of alternatives to the applicant's proposed site or route proposed pursuant to
subdivisions 1 and 2;
(8) evaluation of potential routes that would use or parallel existing railroad and highway
(9) evaluation of governmental survey lines and other natural division lines of agricultural
land so as to minimize interference with agricultural operations;
(10) evaluation of the future needs for additional high-voltage transmission lines in the same
general area as any proposed route, and the advisability of ordering the construction of structures
capable of expansion in transmission capacity through multiple circuiting or design modifications;
(11) evaluation of irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources should the
proposed site or route be approved; and
(12) when appropriate, consideration of problems raised by other state and federal agencies
and local entities.
(c) If the commission's rules are substantially similar to existing regulations of a federal
agency to which the utility in the state is subject, the federal regulations must be applied by
(d) No site or route shall be designated which violates state agency rules.
Subd. 8. Recording of survey points.
The permanent location of monuments or markers
found or placed by a utility in a survey of right-of-way for a route shall be placed on record in
the office of the county recorder or registrar of titles. No fee shall be charged to the utility for
recording this information.
Subd. 9. Timing.
The commission shall make a final decision on an application within 60
days after receipt of the report of the administrative law judge. A final decision on the request for
a site permit or route permit shall be made within one year after the commission's determination
that an application is complete. The commission may extend this time limit for up to three months
for just cause or upon agreement of the applicant.
Subd. 10. Final decision.
(a) No site permit shall be issued in violation of the site selection
standards and criteria established in this section and in rules adopted by the commission. When
the commission designates a site, it shall issue a site permit to the applicant with any appropriate
conditions. The commission shall publish a notice of its decision in the State Register within 30
days of issuance of the site permit.
(b) No route permit shall be issued in violation of the route selection standards and criteria
established in this section and in rules adopted by the commission. When the commission
designates a route, it shall issue a permit for the construction of a high-voltage transmission
line specifying the design, routing, right-of-way preparation, and facility construction it deems
necessary, and with any other appropriate conditions. The commission may order the construction
of high-voltage transmission line facilities that are capable of expansion in transmission capacity
through multiple circuiting or design modifications. The commission shall publish a notice of its
decision in the State Register within 30 days of issuance of the permit.
Subd. 11. Department of Commerce to provide technical expertise and other assistance.
The commissioner of the Department of Commerce shall consult with other state agencies and
provide technical expertise and other assistance to the commission or to individual members
of the commission for activities and proceedings under this chapter and chapters 216F and
216G. This assistance shall include the sharing of power plant siting and routing staff and other
resources as necessary. The commissioner shall periodically report to the commission concerning
the Department of Commerce's costs of providing assistance. The report shall conform to the
schedule and include the required contents specified by the commission. The commission shall
include the costs of the assistance in assessments for activities and proceedings under those
sections and reimburse the special revenue fund for those costs. If either the commissioner or
the commission deems it necessary, the department and the commission shall enter into an
interagency agreement establishing terms and conditions for the provision of assistance and
sharing of resources under this subdivision.
History: 1973 c 591 s 7; 1975 c 271 s 6; 1977 c 439 s 10; 1986 c 444; 1987 c 384 art 2 s 21;
1989 c 346 s 1; 1994 c 644 s 1; 2000 c 289 s 1; 2001 c 212 art 7 s 5-13; 2005 c 97 art 3 s 4-6,19