City Council Moves Forward with Study to Explore Burying Power Lines in Lowell Park

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Aerial photo of Lowell Park. (Photo by Eric Beaudry)

The city of Stillwater will continue to explore the possibility of burying power lines in Lowell Park from Nelson Street to Laurel Street.

The Stillwater City Council on Tuesday directed city staff to move forward with Xcel Energy to complete a more detailed engineering estimate — if TIF money can be used to pay for the $30,000 study.

A preliminary, rough-cost estimate for Xcel to bury the electrical lines in Lowell Park is about $1.5 million, Stillwater Public Works Director Shawn Sanders told the council.

Other financial factors Sanders said the city will want to take into account — that will not be a part of Xcel’s estimate — include:

    • The cost of relocating overhead cable and telephone lines
    • The cost of relocating any private overhead electrical services.
    • Finding locations for new transformers
    • The cost of replacing the lighting for the parking lots after the power poles are removed.
    • The cost of restoration (vegetation, trail, parking lots, and irrigation)
    • Costs associated with soil conditions

“It isn’t just simply burying those lines,” Sanders said. “There’s other factors that come into play that would be an additional cost.”

TIF money may be able to be used to cover the cost of the detailed engineering study; however, the city would likely seek an increased surcharge fee for Xcel users to cover the cost of burying the power lines.

Xcel’s study will also include looking into a city-requested surcharge option that could add up to a $4.50 per month surcharge to residential properties for three years, Sanders told the council. The monthly surcharge could be as high as four times that amount for “large commercial rate payers.”

While Xcel completes the detailed engineering study, city staff will work on an estimate for the cost of the other factors included in burying the power lines, Sanders said. The city would have to hire a contractor for an estimate of cost for the remainder of the project.

“One big area I see is MnDOT’s huge power pole at Chestnut near the Lift Bridge,” Sanders said. “We’d have to talk to MnDOT and see what their thoughts are about moving that underground. There’s some issues out there we have to figure out.”

Xcel’s engineering estimate will take three or four months complete. The engineering study does not commit the city to following through with burying the power lines, but gives a better cost estimate for the project.

Burying Power Lines in Lowell Park

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