Construction begins on Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse transmission project

Construction crews began pouring foundations the week of Feb. 11 for one of the two 161-kV transmission lines that are part of the Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse CapX2020 transmission project that will ultimately connect the Twin Cities and Rochester, Minn., with La Crosse, Wis.

“We’re starting on one of those 161-kV lines,” a CapX2020 spokesperson told TransmissionHub Feb. 19. “The 45-mile segment of 345-kV line that will go from the Rochester area to the [Mississippi] River on the Wisconsin border will be the next segment, but for now we’re focused on this 16-mile segment” of 161-kV line.

Construction crews began setting the foundations approximately two miles east of Pine Island, Minn. In all, about 150 foundations will be laid for the 16-mile stretch of line. The stretch of new power line will run parallel to an existing line, avoiding the need to clear a new right-of-way (ROW). Grading for the two new substations to be built as part of the project will start in April.

Work on the 345-kV transmission line, which will run from the North Rochester substation to the Mississippi River, is expected to begin in July, the spokesperson said, adding that work on the Wisconsin side of the river isn’t expected to start until 2014.

In all, the Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse project comprises 28 miles of 161-kV line and 128 miles of 345-kV line in the two states. The double circuit-capable transmission line will improve reliability for the Twin Cities, Rochester and La Crosse areas, as well as improve access to generation in the southeast part of Minnesota.

The CapX2020 projects are a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region to expand the electric transmission grid to ensure continued reliable and affordable service.

The project is estimated to cost $445m and is expected to be complete by 2015, according to TransmissionHub data.

In addition to the Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse project, the Capx2020 utilities have two other 345-kV projects under construction: the Brookings County-to-Hampton project and the Fargo-St. Cloud project. As a result, the CapX2020 companies are spending an estimated $40m per month, and will continue to do so through 2014, the spokesperson said.