Article

New upgrade to state's power grid proposed

ST. PAUL, Minn. - An upgrade of the state's power grid would include a $600 million high-voltage transmission line from the South Dakota border to the Minneapolis-St. Paul area - and that's just part of the plan proposed by a coalition of utility companies. The plan also calls for a second high-voltage line from Fargo, N.D., to the St. Cloud area, a third line from the Minneapolis-area to Rochester and then to La Crosse, Wis., and a smaller fourth line in the Bemidji area.

The four lines are expected to cost $1.3 billion and make up the first of three phases of major utility projects slated for completion by the year 2020.

"Nothing in recent memory has involved lines of this capacity, and covering these kinds of distances as one project," Burl Haar, executive secretary of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, said Friday. "What's unique about this plan, as I understand it, is that it's really three separate major lines that the utilities want to do as one."

A coalition of regional utilities, led by Xcel Energy and Great River Energy, said Minnesota's electrical grid is nearing capacity and requires major investments.

"These are very large, superhighway-type of lines," said Terry Grove, director of regional transmission development for Great River Energy. Without them, he added, "over time it will not be possible to maintain reliability" of the state's electrical system.

On Friday, the utilities made a preliminary filing that gives state regulators notice that they'll formally propose a 345-kilovolt line between Brookings, S.D., and the southeastern Twin Cities area. A related line would run between Marshall and Granite Falls.

State regulators must approve the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The four lines are expected to cost $1.3 billion and make up the first of three phases of major utility projects slated for completion by the year 2020.
 
"Nothing in recent memory has involved lines of this capacity, and covering these kinds of distances as one project," Burl Haar, executive secretary of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, said Friday. "What's unique about this plan, as I understand it, is that it's really three separate major lines that the utilities want to do as one."
 
A coalition of regional utilities, led by Xcel Energy and Great River Energy, said Minnesota's electrical grid is nearing capacity and requires major investments.
 
"These are very large, superhighway-type of lines," said Terry Grove, director of regional transmission development for Great River Energy. Without them, he added, "over time it will not be possible to maintain reliability" of the state's electrical system.
 
On Friday, the utilities made a preliminary filing that gives state regulators notice that they'll formally propose a 345-kilovolt line between Brookings, S.D., and the southeastern Twin Cities area. A related line would run between Marshall and Granite Falls.
 
State regulators must approve the transmission lines, which could take several years. The commission must assess the need, hear from affected landowners, and decide exactly where the lines should run.
 
The line would further link the Minneapolis area with southwestern Minnesota, a region that has so many wind generators that today's system cannot handle all the power generated there. For that reason, some environmental groups welcomed the line.
 
Beth Soholt, director of Wind on the Wires, a Minnesota wind power advocacy group, said: "We think the region is poised to make a substantial contribution to wind power, and this is really the line that is needed for robust wind development."
 
A generation ago, a high-voltage line through central Minnesota stirred up much controversy. Since then, no ambitious transmission lines have been built in Minnesota, except for one to Canada through a sparsely populated area in the northern part of the state.
 
"Power lines, because they affect a lot of landowners and typically cover wide areas, usually draw a lot of attention, and a lot of the public reaction depends on how well the public is informed," Haar said.
 
The Minnesota utilities hope to win regulatory approval and begin construction in 2009 or 2010. They'd like the first lines to be up and running by 2012.
 
 


Source: http://www.grandforks.com/...

JUN 10 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3000-new-upgrade-to-state-s-power-grid-proposed
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