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Minnesota Transmission Siting Route Permit (8-MN-a)

In Minnesota, a developer must obtain a Route Permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (“MPUC”) to construct and operate a high-voltage transmission line. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(2). A high-voltage transmission line is a transmission line and associated facilities capable of operating at 100 kilovolts or more. Minn. Stat. §216E.01(4); Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.1000.


The Minnesota Power Plant Siting Act grants the MPUC the “…authority to locate large electric power generating plants and high-voltage transmission lines in an orderly manner compatible with environmental preservation and the adverse human and environmental impact while ensuring continuing electric power system reliability and integrity and ensuring that electric energy needs are met and fulfilled in an orderly and timely fashion.” Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.1100. The MPUC regulates high-voltage transmission lines and large electric power generating plants pursuant to the Minnesota Power Plant Siting Act, and Minnesota – Minn. Admin. Rules §§ 7850 et seq., Site and Route Permit.

A developer does not need to obtain a Route Permit from the MPUC for transmission lines that are less than 100 kilovolts. However, small transmission projects less than 100 kilovolts may still need to obtain other local, state or federal permits and may need to comply with the environmental review requirements of Minnesota – Minn. Stat. §§116D et seq., Environmental Policy, and Minn. Admin. R. §§ 7849.1000-7849.2100, Certificate of Need where the commissioner prepares an Environmental Report regarding the proposed project. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.1400. For more information regarding Minnesota’s State Environmental Policy Act review, see:

State Environmental Review:
9-MN-a


The developer must obtain a Certificate of Need (if required) from the MPUC prior to the Route Permit for the project. Minnesota Department of Commerce – Siting and Routing of Energy Facilities Webpage.


Transmission Siting Route Permit Process

8-MN-a.1 to 8-MN-a.2 – Does an Exception Apply to the Proposed Project?

The following projects are not considered high-voltage transmission lines, for the purpose of a Route Permit, and the developer may construct the named projects below, without a Route Permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (“MPUC”):

  1. “Equipment additions at an existing substation that do not require expansion of the land needed for the substation and do not involve an increase in the voltage or changes in the location of existing transmission lines, except that up to the first five transmission line structures outside the substation may be moved to accommodate the equipment additions provided the structures are not moved more than 500 feet from the existing right-of-way;
  2. High-voltage transmission line:
    • maintenance or repair of a high-voltage transmission line within an existing right-of-way; or
    • reconductoring or reconstruction of a high-voltage transmission line with no change in voltage and no change in right-of-way, provided that any new structures are installed are not designed for and capable of higher voltage.”

Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.1500(1)(A)-(B).


Note: A developer proposing to move transmission line structures pursuant to Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.1500(1)(A) or to reconductor or reconstruct a high-voltage transmission line under Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.1500(1)(B) must first notify the MPUC in writing at least thirty (30) days before commencing construction on the modification or change. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.1500(3).


8-MN-a.3 to 8-MN-a.4 – Does the Proposed Project Qualify for a Minor Alteration Review?

In the event a modification or other change in an existing substation or high-voltage transmission line does not qualify for an exception under Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.1500, the modification or change may qualify for a minor alteration review pursuant to Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.4800. “A minor alteration is a change in a high-voltage transmission line that does not result in significant changes in the human or environmental impact of the facility.” Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.4800(1).

If the proposed project is a minor alteration the developer should submit a Minor Alternation Application to the MPUC describing the alteration in the high-voltage transmission line and explaining why the alteration is minor. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.4800(2).


8-MN-a.5 to 8-MN-a.7 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

The MPUC reviews the Minor Alternation Application materials for administrative and technical completeness. The MPUC mails notice of receipt of the Minor Alternation Application to the developer and those persons on the general list. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.4800(2). Usually with the notice of receipt the MPUC gives notice regarding the public comment period. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.4800(2).

8-MN-a.8 – Comment on Application

The MPUC must provide at least a ten (10) day public comment period for interested persons to submit comments on the Minor Alternation Application or to request that the matter be brought to the MPUC for consideration. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.4800(2).


8-MN-a.9 to 8-MN-a.11 – Does the MPUC Approve the Minor Alternation Application?

The MPUC must decide within ten (10) days after the close of the public comment period whether to authorize the minor alteration. The MPUC may also determine that proposed project does not qualify as a minor alternation and that the proposed project must go through a full permitting decision. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.4800(3). The MPUC may authorize the minor alternation but impose reasonable conditions on the approval. The MPUC must notify the developer in writing of the MPUC’s decision and send a copy of the decision to any person who requested notification or filed comments on the Minor Alternation Application. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.4800(3).

Note: For those high-voltage transmission lines for which the MPUC has not issued a permit, the owner or operator of the unpermitted facilities may elect to seek approval of a minor alteration from the local unit of government if the facility qualifies for local review under Minn. Stat. §216E.05. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.4800(4).

8-MN-a.12 – Does the Proposed Project Qualify for an Alternative or Local Permit Review?

A developer seeking a Route Permit for one of the projects identified below qualifies for a optional alternative permit review or optional local permit review:

  • High-voltage transmission lines between 100 and 200 kilovolts;
  • High-voltage transmission lines in excess of 200 kilovolts and less than five miles in length in Minnesota;
  • High-voltage transmission lines in excess of 200 kilovolts if at least 80 percent of the distance of the line in Minnesota will be located along existing high-voltage transmission line right-of-way;
  • A high-voltage transmission line service extension to a single customer between 200 and 300 kilovolts and less than ten (10) miles in length; and
  • A high-voltage transmission line rerouting to serve the demand of a single customer when the rerouted line will be located at least 80 percent on property owned or controlled by the customer or the owner of the transmission line.

Minn. Stat. §§216E.04; 216E.05; Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.5300(2).

For a full list of qualifying projects see: Minn. Stat. §§216E.04(2); 216E.05(2); Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.5300(2).

Alternative Review

The applicant (developer) for a Route Permit for any of the projects listed above that qualifies for an alternative permit review has the option to submit a Route Permit Application (“Application”) to the MPUC for review. The developer is not required to propose a second route for the project under the alterative permit review process. Minn. Stat. §216E.04(3).

Local Review

The applicant (developer) for a Route Permit for any of the projects listed above that qualifies for an local permit review has the option to apply to a local unit of government that has jurisdiction over the route for approval to build the project. If local approval is granted, a Route Permit is not required from the MPUC, but the developer must seek route approval from the local governmental unit. If the applicant (developer) files an Application with the MPUC, the applicant has waived their rights to seek local approval of the project. Minn. Stat. § 216E.05(1)(a).

8-MN-a.13 – Does the Developer Seek Local Government Permit Review?

An applicant (developer) for a Route Permit that qualifies for a local government permit review has the option to submit an Application to the applicable local government with jurisdiction over the route instead of the MPUC. However, a local government with jurisdiction over a qualifying project may request that the MPUC assume jurisdiction and make a decision on a Route Permit. Minn. Stat. § 216E.05.

For information on applying for a Route Permit through the applicable local government see element 8-MN-a.29.

8-MN-a.14 – Does the Developer Seek Alternative Permit Review?

The applicant (developer) for a Route Permit that qualifies for an alternative permit review has the option to submit an Application to the MPUC for review. Minn. Stat. §216E.04(3). Alternative permit review does not require a proposal of a second route for the project and typically takes six (6) months for a MPUC determination opposed to one (1) year through the normal permit review. Minn. Stat. §216E.04(7); Minn. Admin. Rules § 7850.3900(1); Minn. Stat. §216E.03(9).


8-MN-a.15 – Route Permit Application

The applicant (developer) for a Route Permit that qualifies for an alternative permit review has the option to submit an Application to the MPUC for review. The developer is not required to propose a second route for the project under the alterative permit review process. Minn. Stat. §216E.04(3). The developer should identify in the Application any other routes that the developer rejected and the MPUC may identify additional routes to consider during the processing of the Application. Minn. Stat. §216E.04(3).

8-MN-a.16 to 8-MN-a.17 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

The MPUC reviews the Application materials for administrative and technical completeness. If the Application is incomplete the MPUC advises the developer of any deficiencies. Minn. Stat. §216E.04(3).


8-MN-a.18 – Publish Notice of Application

Within fifteen (15) days after submitting a Application to the MPUC, the developer must publish notice of the Application in a legal newspaper of general circulation in each county in which the route is proposed and send a copy of the Application by certified mail to any regional development commission, county, incorporated municipality, and town in which ay part of the route is proposed. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(4); Minn. Stat. §216E.04(4).

Within the same fifteen (15) days, the applicant (developer) must also send a notice of the submission of the Application and description of the proposed project to each owner whose property is on or along any of the proposed routes for the transmission line. The notice must identify a location where a copy of the Application can be reviewed. Owners are 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, does not invalidate the proceedings, provided a bona fide attempt to comply with Minn. Stat. §216E.03(4) has been made. Within the same fifteen (15) days, the applicant (developer) must 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 MPUC for receiving notice of proposed high-voltage transmission lines. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(4).

8-MN-a.19 – Initiate State Environmental Review

Generally, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce (“Department of Commerce”) must prepare for the MPUC a Environmental Assessment (EA) for alternative Route Permit reviews. The EA must contain information on the human and environmental impacts of the proposed project and other sites or routes identified by the MPUC and must address mitigating measures for all of the routes considered. Minn. Stat. §216E.04(5); Minn. Stat. §216E.03(5).


For more information on the state environmental review process, see:

State Environmental Review:
9-MN-a

8-MN-a.20 to 8-MN-a.22 – Publish Notice of Public Meeting

Upon acceptance of the Route Permit Application, the MPUC must schedule a public meeting to provide information about the proposed project and to answer questions and to scope the EA. The MPUC must hold the public meeting no later than sixty (60) days after the acceptance of the Route Permit Application. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2300(1); Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.3400(1)-(2).

The MPUC must give at least ten (10) days notice of the required public meeting. The MPUC must provide notice by mail to person whose names are on the project contact list maintained pursuant to Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2100(1). The MPUC must also publish notice of the public meeting in a legal newspaper of general circulation in the area where the project is proposed to be located. If appropriate, the MPUC may request the applicant (developer) to include notice of the public meeting in the notice to be provided by the applicant (developer) pursuant to Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2100. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2300(2); Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.3400(1).

The MPUC must appoint a person, who may be a MPUC staff person, to conduct the public meeting. The public meeting must be conducted in an informal manner designed to encourage public participation. The public must be afforded an opportunity to present comments and ask questions. The MPUC must make available at the public meeting a copy of the Route Permit Application and other pertinent documents in the MPUC files regarding the Route Permit Application. The staff must explain the permitting process to the persons in attendance. A transcript of the meeting need not be maintained, although the MPUC may elect to keep an audio recording of the meeting. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2300(3); Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.3400(1).

The applicant (developer) must provide representatives at the public meeting who are capable of answering general questions about the proposed project. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2300(4). In addition, at the public meeting, the public must be provided an opportunity to comment on the scope of the EA in accordance with Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2500. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2300(4); Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.3400(1).


Note: This public meeting can also satisfy the Department of Commerce’s EA scoping meeting requirement pursuant to Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.3700 for state environmental review. For more information on the EA scoping meeting for Route Permits, see:

State Environmental Review:
9-MN-a


8-MN-a.23 to 8-MN-a.25 – Publish Notice of Public Hearing

Once the Department of Commerce completes the EA for the Route Permit, the MPUC must hold a public hearing. Minn. Admin. Rules § 7850.3800(1); Minn. Stat. §216E.04(6); Minn. Stat. §216E.03(6). The public hearing must be conducted in the manner prescribed in Minn. Admin. Rules § 7850.3800.

The MPUC must publish notice of the public hearing at least ten (10) days in advance to the public hearing, but no more than forty-five (45) days prior to the commencement of the hearing. The MPUC must publish notice of hearing in a legal newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the public hearing is held and by certified mail to chief executives of the regional development commissions, counties, organized towns, townships, and the incorporated municipalities in which a route is proposed. Minn. Stat. §216E.04(6); Minn. Stat. §216E.03(6).

The MPUC must hold a public hearing in the area where the transmission line is proposed to be located. The applicant (developer) must be present at the hearing to present evidence and to answer questions. The MPUC must provide opportunity at the public hearing for any person to present comments and to ask questions of the applicant (developer) and MPUC staff. The MPUC must also afford interested persons an opportunity to submit written comments into the record for at least ten (10) days after the close of the hearing. Minn. Stat. §216E.04(6); Minn. Admin. Rules § 7850.3800(3). At the hearing any interested person may comment upon the EA. Comments on the EA must become part of the record in the proceeding but the MPUC must not be required to revise or supplement the EA document. Minn. Admin. Rules § 7850.3800(5).

In addition, once the MPUC has determined questions of need, including size, type, and timing; questions of system configurations; and questions of voltage, those issues must not be addressed in the public hearing. Minn. Admin. Rules § 7850.3800(4).


8-MN-a.26 to 8-MN-a.28 – Does the MPUC Approve the Application?

The MPUC must make a final decision on the Application within sixty (60) days, through the alternative application review, after completion of the public hearing. The MPUC must make a final decision on the request for a Route Permit, under the alternative application review, within six (6) months after the MPUC’s determination that the Application is complete. The MPUC may extend this time limit for up to three (3) months for just cause or upon agreement with the applicant (developer). Minn. Stat. §216E.04(7); Minn. Admin. Rules § 7850.3900(1).

The MPUC’s Route Permit “…determination 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 transmission infrastructure.” Minn. Stat. §216E.03(7); Minn. Stat. §216E.04(8).

“To facilitate the study, research, evaluation, and designation of routes, the MPUC must 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 Minn. Stat. §216E.03(1)-(2);;
  8. Evaluation of potential routes that would use or parallel existing railroad and highway rights-of-way;
  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.

Minn. Stat. §216E.03(7); Minn. Stat. §216E.04(8).

In addition the MPUC may not designate a route, which violates state agency rules. The MPUC must make specific findings that it has considered locating a route for a high-voltage transmission line on an existing high-voltage transmission route and the use of parallel existing highway right-of-way and, to the extent those are not used for the route, the MPUC must state the reasons. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(7); Minn. Stat. §216E.04(8).

Further “…the MPUC may not grant a Route Permit in violation of the route selection standards and criteria established in the rules adopted by the MPUC. When the MPUC designates a route, the MPUC must issue a Route Permit for the construction of a high-voltage transmission line specifying the design, routing, right-of-way preparation, facility construction it deems necessary and with any other appropriate conditions. The MPUC may order the construction of high-voltage transmission facilities that are capable of expansion in transmission capacity through multiple circuiting or design modifications.” Minn. Stat. §216E.04(9).


“The MPUC must publish notice of its decision on the Route Permit in the State Register within thirty (30) days of issuance of the Route Permit.” Minn. Stat. §216E.04(9). The MPUC must also:

  • Publish notice in the EQB Monitor;
  • Mail notice of its final Route Permit decision to those persons whose names are on the project contact list; and
  • Post notice of the final decision on the agency's webpage, if possible.

Minn. Admin. Rules § 7850.3900(4).

At the time the MPUC makes a final decision on the Route Permit Application, the MPUC must determine whether the EA and the record created at the public hearing address the issues identified in the scoping decision made by the Department of Commerce. Minn. Admin. Rules § 7850.3900(2).


8-MN-a.29 – Contact Applicable Local Government

A developer who chooses to engage in a local government permit review for a Route Permit should contact the applicable local government for details. The local government confirms that the proposed project meets the local government permit review eligibility requirements pursuant to Minn. Stat. §216E.05. The developer should also discuss, with the applicable government, the environmental review process required by Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.5300 and other permits that may be required for the proposed project. Minnesota – Local Review of Energy Facilities – A Guide for Governmental Units, Utilities, and Developers.

Note: If the proposed project qualifies for a local government permit review and the developer elects local review, the local government unit must prepare an EA to comply with the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act. For more information regarding state environmental review, see:

State Environmental Review:
9-MN-a


8-MN-a.30 – Notify the MPUC

Within ten (10) days of submitting an Application to a local unit of government for approval of an eligible project, the developer must notify the MPUC that the developer has elected to seek local approval for the proposed project. Minn. Stat. §216E.05(3); Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.5300(3). The notice should include:

  • A complete description of the project;
  • A project map;
  • The local government unit that will be conducting the environmental review for the project;
  • The local government units that will need to issue a permit for the project; and
  • Contact information for the applicant (developer) and the local government unit.

Minnesota – Local Review of Energy Facilities – A Guide for Governmental Units, Utilities, and Developers.

The developer should electronically file the notice through the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission - eDockets System. Upon filing, the MPUC assigns a docket number to the proposed project, based on the notice, which will be used to reference all future documents related to the project. Minnesota – Local Review of Energy Facilities – A Guide for Governmental Units, Utilities, and Developers. The developer must also mail (by post or e-mail) notice to the MPUC’s general notification list. This is a list of persons who have expressed interest in local review projects. The list is available by contacting the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Energy Facility Permitting (EFP) staff. EFP staff acts as technical staff to the MPUC and ensures compliance with local review procedural requirements. EFP staff contacts are listed on the MPUC’s Energy Facility Permitting Website. The notice to the general notification list, with an accompanying affidavit of service, should be electronically filed into the eDockets system (efiled). Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.5300(3); Minnesota – Local Review of Energy Facilities – A Guide for Governmental Units, Utilities, and Developers.

8-MN-a.31 to 8-MN-a.32 – Does the Local Government Request MPUC Assume Jurisdiction?

A local government with jurisdiction over a qualifying project may request that the MPUC assume jurisdiction and make a decision on a Route Permit. A local government unit must file the request with the MPUC within sixty (60) days after an Application for the project has been filed with anyone local unit of government. Minn. Stat. § 216E.05(1)(b); Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.5300(4).

If one of the local units of government with jurisdiction over the project requests the MPUC assume jurisdiction, jurisdiction over the project transfers to the MPUC and the developer must file the Application under the applicable provisions of Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.1000-5600; Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.5300(4).

8-MN-a.33 – Route Permit Application

The developer should submit Route Permit Application materials, in the form designated by the local government, to the applicable local government.

8-MN-a.34 to 8-MN-a.35 – Route Permit Application

The local government reviews the Application materials for administrative and technical completeness.

8-MN-a.36 to 8-MN-a.34 – Initiate State Environmental Review

If the local government maintains jurisdiction over the project, the MPUC must select the appropriate local government to be the responsible government to conduct environmental review of the project. Minn. Stat. § 216E.05(1)(b); Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.5300(4).

A local unit of government that maintains jurisdiction over a qualifying project must prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) on the project. An EA is an environmental review document provided for by the Minnesota Power Plant Siting Act. Minnesota – Local Review of Energy Facilities – A Guide for Governmental Units, Utilities, and Developers.

8-MN-a.37 to 8-MN-a.39 – Publish Notice of Public Meeting

The local government unit must publish notice of the public meeting where the public may participate in the scope of the EA. At the public meeting the local unit of government must afford the public an opportunity to comment on the scope of the EA in before it is prepared. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.5300(5).

For more information on the state environmental review process, see:

State Environmental Review:
9-MN-a


8-MN-a.40 to 8-MN-a.41 – Does the Local Government Approve the Application?

The local government must make a final decision on the Application, through the local government application review, after completion of the public comment period. The local government may not make a final decision on the Route Permit until at least ten (10) days after the notice appears in the EQB Monitor. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.5300(5).


8-MN-a.42 to 8-MN-a.43 – Publish Notice of Project

At least ninety (90) days before filing an Application with the MPUC, the applicant (developer) must provide notice to each local unit of government within which a route may be proposed. The notice must describe the proposed project and the opportunity for a pre-application consultation meeting with local units of government as provided in Minn. Stat. § 216E.03(3b). Minn. Stat. § 216E.03(3a).

Within thirty (30) days of receiving a project notice, local units of government may request the applicant (developer) to hold a consultation meeting with local units of government. Upon receiving notice from a local unit of government requesting a pre-application consultation meeting, the applicant must arrange the meeting at a location chosen by the local units of government. A single public meeting for which each local government unit requesting a meeting is given notice satisfies the meeting requirement of Minn. Stat. §216E.03(3b). Minn. Stat. §216E.03(3b).


8-MN-a.44 – Route Permit Application

The developer must submit a Route Permit Application (“Application”) to the MPUC. The developer must propose at least two routes for a high-voltage transmission line. Neither of the two designed routes may be designated as a preferred route and all proposed routes must be numbered and designated as alternatives. Minn. Stat. § 216E.03(3). The Application must include, at minimum, the following:

  • A statement of proposed ownership of the facility at the time of filing the Application and after commercial operation;
  • The precise name of any person or organization to be initially named as permittee or permittees and the name of any other person to whom the permit may be transferred if transfer of the permit is contemplated;
  • At least two proposed routes for the proposed high-voltage transmission line and identification of the applicant's (developer) preferred route and the reasons for the preference;
  • A description of the proposed high-voltage transmission line and all associated facilities including the size and type of the high-voltage transmission line;
  • The environmental information required under Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.1900(3);
  • Identification of land uses and environmental conditions along the proposed routes;
  • The names of each owner whose property is within any of the proposed routes for the high-voltage transmission line;
  • United States Geological Survey topographical maps or other maps acceptable to the commission showing the entire length of the high-voltage transmission line on all proposed routes;
  • Identification of existing utility and public rights-of-way along or parallel to the proposed routes that have the potential to share the right-of-way with the proposed line;
  • The engineering and operational design concepts for the proposed high-voltage transmission line, including information on the electric and magnetic fields of the transmission line;
  • Cost analysis of each route, including the costs of constructing, operating, and maintaining the high-voltage transmission line that are dependent on design and route;
  • A description of possible design options to accommodate expansion of the high-voltage transmission line in the future;
  • The procedures and practices proposed for the acquisition and restoration of the right-of-way, construction, and maintenance of the high-voltage transmission line;
  • A listing and brief description of federal, state, and local permits that may be required for the proposed high-voltage transmission line; and
  • A copy of the Certificate of Need or the certified high-voltage transmission line list containing the proposed high-voltage transmission line or documentation that an application for a Certificate of Need has been submitted or is not required.

Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.1900(2).

In addition, the Application should include the following environmental information for each proposed route to aid in the preparation of an environmental impact statement:

  • A description of the environmental setting for each site or route;
  • A description of the effects of construction and operation of the facility on human settlement, including, but not limited to, public health and safety, displacement, noise, aesthetics, socioeconomic impacts, cultural values, recreation, and public services;
  • A description of the effects of the facility on land-based economies, including, but not limited to, agriculture, forestry, tourism, and mining;
  • A description of the effects of the facility on archaeological and historic resources;
  • A description of the effects of the facility on the natural environment, including effects on air and water quality resources and flora and fauna;
  • A description of the effects of the facility on rare and unique natural resources;
  • Identification of human and natural environmental effects that cannot be avoided if the facility is approved at a specific site or route; and
  • A description of measures that might be implemented to mitigate the potential human and environmental impacts identified in items above and the estimated costs of such mitigative measures.

Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.1900(3).


8-MN-a.45 to 8-MN-a.46 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

The MPUC must review the Application for administrative and technical completeness. The MPUC must determine whether the Application is complete and advise the applicant (developer) of any deficiencies within ten (10) days of receipt. An Application is not incomplete if information not in the Application can be obtained from the applicant (developer) during the first phase of the process and that information is not essential for notice and initial public meetings. Minn. Stat. § 216E.03(3); Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2000(1).

If the MPUC rejects the Application, an applicant (developer) may decide to address the deficiencies identified by the MPUC and resubmit the Application with additional information. In this event, the MPUC again reviews the Application within ten (10) days and determines whether the Application is complete and advises the applicant (developer) of the MPUC’s determination. The MPUC does not reject an Application if the information that is missing can be obtained from the applicant (developer) within sixty (60) days from the date of the Application and the lack of the information will not interfere with the public's ability to review the proposed project. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2000(2)-(3).

8-MN-a.47 – Publish Notice of Application

Within fifteen (15) days after submitting a Application to the MPUC, the developer must publish notice of the Application in a legal newspaper of general circulation in each county in which the route is proposed and send a copy of the Application by certified mail to any regional development commission, county, incorporated municipality, and town in which ay part of the route is proposed. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(4).

Within the same fifteen (15) days, the applicant (developer) must 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 must identify a location where a copy of the Application can be reviewed. Owners are 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, does not invalidate the proceedings, provided a bona fide attempt to comply with Minn. Stat. §216E.03(4) has been made. Within the same fifteen (15) days, the applicant (developer) must 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 MPUC for receiving notice of proposed large electric generating power plants and high-voltage transmission lines. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(4).

8-MN-a.48 – Conduct State Environmental Review

The commissioner of the Department of Commerce must prepare for the MPUC an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on each proposed high-voltage transmission line for which a complete Application has been submitted. The commissioner must not consider whether or not the project is needed. No other state environmental review documents are required. The commissioner must study and evaluate any site or route proposed by an applicant (developer) and any other route the MPUC deems necessary that was proposed in a manner consistent with rules concerning the form, content, and timeliness of proposals for alternate sites or routes. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(5).

Note, as mentioned above if the proposed project qualifies for an alternative permit review or local permit review, the Department of Commerce or local government must only prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) regarding the proposed project.

For information regarding Minnesota’s state environmental review process, see:

State Environmental Review:
9-MN-a

8-MN-a.49 to 8-MN-a.51 – Publish Notice of Public Meeting

Upon acceptance of the Route Permit Application, the MPUC must schedule a public meeting to provide information about the proposed project and to answer questions and to scope the EIS. The MPUC must hold the public meeting no later than sixty (60) days after the acceptance of the Route Permit Application. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2300(1).

The MPUC must give at least ten (10) days notice of the required public meeting. The MPUC must provide notice by mail to persons whose names are on the project contact list maintained pursuant to Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2100(1). The MPUC must also publish notice of the public meeting in a legal newspaper of general circulation in the area where the project is proposed to be located. If appropriate, the MPUC may request the applicant (developer) to include notice of the public meeting in the notice to be provided by the applicant (developer) pursuant to Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2100. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2300(2).

The MPUC must appoint a person, who may be a MPUC staff person, to conduct the public meeting. The public meeting must be conducted in an informal manner designed to encourage public participation. The public must be afforded an opportunity to present comments and ask questions. The MPUC must make available at the public meeting a copy of the Route Permit Application and other pertinent documents in the MPUC files regarding the Route Permit Application. The staff must explain the permitting process to the persons in attendance. A transcript of the meeting need not be maintained, although the MPUC may elect to keep an audio recording of the meeting. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2300(3).

The applicant (developer) must provide representatives at the public meeting who are capable of answering general questions about the proposed project. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2300(4). In addition, at the public meeting, the public must be provided an opportunity to comment on the scope of the EIS in accordance with Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2500.

Note: This public meeting can also satisfy the Department of Commerce’s EIS scoping meeting requirement pursuant to Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2500(2) for state environmental review. For more information on the EIS scoping meeting for Route Permits, see:

State Environmental Review:
9-MN-a


8-MN-a.52 to 8-MN-a.55 – Publish Notice of Contested Case Hearing

After the Draft EIS is prepared on the Route Permit the MPUC must hold a contested case hearing on an Application for a Route Permit for a high-voltage transmission line. All hearings held for designating a route must be conducted by an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) from the Office of Administrative Hearings pursuant to the contested case procedures of Minnesota – Minn. Stat. §§ 14 et seq., Administrative Procedure. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(6).

The MPUC must give notice of the hearing at least ten (10) days in advance but no earlier than forty-five (45) days prior to the commencement of the hearing. The MPUC must publish notice 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. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(6).

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 ALJ must hold a portion of the hearing in the area where the power plant or transmission line is proposed to be located. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(6); Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2600(1).

Once the MPUC has determined questions of need, including size, type, and timing; questions of system configuration; and questions of voltage, those issues must not be addressed in the contested case hearing. Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2600(2).

The administrative law judge when then make a report regarding the public hearing and submit the report to the MPUC. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(9).


8-MN-a.56 to 8-MN-a.58 – Does the MPUC Approve the Application?

The MPUC must make a final decision on an Application within sixty (60) days after receipt of the report of the administrative law judge. The MPUC must make a final decision on the request for a site permit or route permit within one (1) year after the MPUC’s determination that an Application is complete. The MPUC may extend this time limit for up to three (3) months for just cause or upon agreement of the applicant (developer). Minn. Stat. §216E.03(9).

The MPUC’s 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 transmission infrastructure. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(7).


To facilitate the study, research, evaluation, and designation of sites and routes, the MPUC must be guided by, but not limited to, the following considerations:

  • 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;
  • 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;
  • Evaluation of the effects of new electric power generation and transmission technologies and systems related to power plants designed to minimize adverse environmental effects;
  • Evaluation of the potential for beneficial uses of waste energy from proposed large electric power generating plants;
  • Analysis of the direct and indirect economic impact of proposed sites and routes including, but not limited to, productive agricultural land lost or impaired;
  • Evaluation of adverse direct and indirect environmental effects that cannot be avoided should the proposed site and route be accepted;
  • Evaluation of alternatives to the applicant's (developer) proposed site or route proposed pursuant to subdivisions 1 and 2;
  • Evaluation of potential routes that would use or parallel existing railroad and highway rights-of-way;
  • Evaluation of governmental survey lines and other natural division lines of agricultural land so as to minimize interference with agricultural operations;
  • 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;
  • Evaluation of irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources should the proposed site or route be approved; and
  • When appropriate, consideration of problems raised by other state and federal agencies and local entities.

Minn. Stat. §216E.03(7).


If the MPUC 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 the MPUC. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(7).


The MPUC must not designate a route, which violates state agency rules. In addition, the MPUC must make specific findings that it has considered locating a route for a high-voltage transmission line on an existing high-voltage transmission route and the use of parallel existing highway right-of-way and, to the extent those are not used for the route, the commission must state the reasons. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(7).

The MPUC must not issue a Route Permit in violation of the route selection standards and criteria established and in rules adopted by the MPUC. When the MPUC designates a route, it must 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 MPUC may order the construction of high-voltage transmission line facilities that are capable of expansion in transmission capacity through multiple circuiting or design modifications. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(10)(b).


The MPUC must publish a notice of its decision in the State Register within thirty (30) days of issuance of the Route Permit. Minn. Stat. §216E.03(10)(b); Minn. Admin. R. § 7850.2700(4).

8-MN-a.59 – Appeal Decision (If Applicable)

Any applicant (developer), party or person aggrieved by the issuance of a Route Permit from the MPUC may file an appeal to the Court of Appeals within thirty (30) days after the Permit issuance notice has been published in State Register in accordance with Minnesota – Minn. Stat. §§ 14 et seq., Administrative Procedure. Minn. Stat. §215E.15.

Local Government Unit

The developer or person aggrieved by the issuance of a Route Permit from a local governmental unit should contact the local government to determine the appeal process.


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Contact Information









Edit Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
Energy Facilities Planning Supervisor (651) 201.2236


Edit Minnesota Department of Commerce
Deputy Commissioner of Division of Energy Resources (651) 539-1801