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Interesting development in the mid-west of the US. The cable is to be buried in rights-of-way owned by the railway -- In this case Canadian Pacific. New development in cable technology make this more attractive.

Developer seeks to bury transmission lines along railroad corridors

Written By Karen Uhlenhuth December 4, 2017

While proposed long-distance, high-voltage transmission projects continue to be stymied by hostile landowners and disapproving state regulators, a new transmission strategy is taking root in the Midwest.

The Direct Connect Development Company has been working on a plan for an underground transmission line along existing railroad tracks from north-central Iowa to the Chicago area. The goal is to provide a way to move additional wind energy from Iowa, the Dakotas and Minnesota to a transfer point in the Chicago area. From there, the power could move farther east into regions with more electricity demand.

And because the line with a capacity of 2,100 megawatts (MW) would be mostly invisible, it might elude some of the problems that have dogged transmission lines that would tower overhead while crossing Midwestern farm fields.

Direct Connect CEO Trey Ward said the Canadian Pacific Railway has agreed to allow the comany to bury the line within its right of way, which extends for about 85 percent of the 349-mile route.

“We have the land,” Ward said. “That’s the most significant issue for new transmission lines. Having the land in hand is very important. The second thing is, doing the project underground … limits the impact to the environment, streamlines the permitting process, and limits impacts to neighbors.”

Ward said he’s following the example of the nation’s fiber optic network, which also made use of railroad rights of way.