North Dakota regulators on Sept. 7 designated a corridor for Minnkota Power Cooperative’s proposed 345-kV transmission line. Specifically, the state Public Service Commission issued a certificate of corridor compatibility for a transmission facility to Minnkota, according to its order.
“The company will file an application for a route within that designated corridor and the commission will have hearings on the route,” Jerry Lein, public utility analyst with the PSC said Sept. 13.
According to the order, Minnkota proposes to build and operate the approximate $312M “Center to Grand Forks 345 kv Transmission Line Project,” which consists of about 247 miles of new, high-voltage alternating current transmission line, extending from the existing Center 345-kV substation at the Milton R. Young Unit 2 Generation Station located about 4.5 miles southeast of the town of Center, in Oliver County, N.D., to the existing Prairie Substation located on the western boundary of the city of Grand Forks, in Grand Forks County, N.D.
Minnkota requested that the PSC approve a 1,000-foot-wide corridor for the project, and developed three 1,000-foot-wide routes, which were analyzed in the federal environmental assessment, and a preferred 1,000-foot-wide route was chosen, the PSC said. Minnkota said it chose the proposed corridor based on various factors, including avoiding occupied residences and minimizing impacts to tillable land. The PSC also said that the project, which will be constructed, owned and operated by Minnkota, will be located in Burleigh, Oliver, McLean, Sheridan, Wells, Eddy, Foster, Griggs, Steele, Nelson and Grand Forks counties. It is undergoing a federal National Environmental Policy Act review.
With respect to the proposed corridor, the PSC said, the location, construction and operation of the proposed transmission facility will produce minimal adverse effects on the environment and upon the citizens’ welfare. Furthermore, the proposed facility “is compatible with the environmental preservation and the efficient use of resources.”
Minnkota spokesperson Kevin Fee said Sept. 13 that the company also needs a route permit from the PSC, as far as the state process goes, and it needs to meet some rural utilities service guidelines to get financing.
“We sold one of our transmission lines to Minnesota Power and we have to build this line to move energy from the Milton R. Young Station to our service territory in eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota,” he said. “Because we sold them our DC line, we’re able to get more energy from Young 2, so we’ll have the full output of Young 2 by 2026.” Construction is expected to begin late spring 2012 and be completed in the fourth quarter of 2013, with the project in service at the beginning of 2014, Fee said.