Xcel Energy proposes 100 mile transmission upgrade

Xcel Energy proposes 100 mile transmission upgrade
Image courtesy 123rf

Minnesota-based electric utility and natural gas delivery company Xcel Energy is proposing to upgrade nearly 100 miles of transmission line in Minnesota and eastern South Dakota.

The company says this would allow it to deliver more low-cost renewable energy to electric customers throughout the Upper Midwest.

The company filed a Certificate of Need application with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to install a second circuit on two segments of the existing Brookings County-Hampton transmission line. The new second circuit will run between Brookings, South Dakota and Marshall, Minnesota. Xcel Energy is leading the permitting and construction efforts.

The transmission project will provide additional capacity to relieve congestion on the grid, allowing more low-cost wind power from southwest Minnesota and eastern South Dakota to reach customers throughout the region. Wind energy does not have any fuel costs and contributes to a diversified energy mix, which helps protect against rising fuel prices. Xcel says the project supports its vision of delivering 100% carbon-free electricity in Minnesota by 2040 to meet the state’s new clean energy standards.

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Most of the proposed project will not require changes to the existing transmission line route, which began operation in 2015 as part of the CapX2020 project, a joint project with several other utilities. At that time, the Public Utilities Commission and CapX2020 companies agreed there would likely be a need for new transmission in the future. As a result, the project team constructed the middle portion of the line between Lyon and Scott counties with two circuits and built the western and eastern segments as “double circuit capable.” This allowed the companies to meet customers’ energy needs at the time while anticipating growing energy demand in the future.

The new second circuit would be placed on existing transmission structures and run approximately 60 miles from the Brookings County substation near White, South Dakota to the Lyon County substation near Marshall, Minnesota. A second 39-mile segment would run between the Helena substation in Scott County, Minnesota, and the Hampton substation in Dakota County, Minnesota.

The Public Utilities Commission will review Xcel Energy’s proposal, a process that generally takes up to one year and includes opportunities for input from customers, landowners, and other key stakeholders. If the state approves the project, the company expects to start installing the new circuit in 2024 and finish the project in 2025.

The project is expected to include investment by Central Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, Great River Energy, Missouri River Energy Services, and Otter Tail Power Company.

Originally published by Sean Wolfe for Power Grid.