Energy News Network reports…
A Minnesota feasibility study finds multiple benefits of co-locating high-voltage transmission lines and broadband along highway rights of way, which could apply across the country and produce $1 billion in societal value through faster decarbonization.
EnergyWire takes a deeper look…
The study identified some clear barriers to siting broadband or electric transmission along highways — including that Minnesota law doesn’t allow longitudinal utility siting in highway rights of way, so a policy change would be needed.
The DOT must also ensure that non-transportation infrastructure located in highway easements doesn’t interfere with the ability to maintain and expand roadways.
None of the challenges identified by the study have deterred the DOT’s interest in the concept, and a second phase is in the works later this year that will take a deeper dive some of the issues raised, Oh said. Along the way, additional state agencies, utilities and other parties need to be brought in to help with the analysis, she said.
While numerous policy and process barriers stand in the way of Minnesota burying power and communications lines in highway easements, Oh and the study authors agree that none are insurmountable. And for technical guidance, the state can look at its neighbor to the east, said Laura Rogers, deputy director for the Ray.