Basin Electric agrees to adjustments to Antelope Valley Station to Neset project

Basin Electric Power Cooperative has agreed to move a substation planned as part of the Antelope Valley Station to Neset transmission project in advance of a series of three public hearings to discuss the proposed 190-mile project (Docket No. PU-11-696).

Following discussions with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, the utility agreed to move a proposed substation, which was to have been called the Gumbo Creek substation, to an alternate location outside the Killdeer Mountain Battlefield core area to address concerns about the area’s cultural resources.

“We are moving it from the area, originally about four miles east of the Killdeer Battlefields,” a Basin Electric spokesperson told TransmissionHub Sept. 4. “Based on the discussions [with the historical society], we have eliminated that from our application and we are going to explore what are next steps are relative to that.”

The name of the substation will depend on its new location and has yet to be determined, the spokesperson said.

Three new substations will be required as a part of the project. In addition to the Gumbo Creek substation, the proposed Judson 345-kV substation is planned to be located near the existing Williston 230-kV substation and the proposed Tande 345-kV substation will be located near the current Neset 230-kV substation.

The decision to move the Gumbo Creek substation was an outgrowth of a cultural resource survey and inventory of the project corridor, according to testimony filed by the historical society on Sept. 3. That testimony also noted that the survey was not yet complete and suggested that an inventory of the remaining 20% of the project corridor could result in additional adjustments.

The historical society’s testimony and word of the agreement to find a different location for the substation came one day before the first public hearing Sept. 4 in the town of Killdeer, N.D., where concerns over the project’s effects on the battlefield were expected to be among the most hotly debated. A second hearing will be held Sept. 5 in Tioga and a third hearing on Sept. 12 in Willison.

Following the public meetings, the PSC will consider the input received from the public, then make a decision on the proposed project. PSC staff and company representatives will collaborate on a draft order, which must then be approved by the full commission. That action could be complete within a matter of a few months if all goes well, a PSC commissioner told TransmissionHub when the hearing schedule was set in July.

The project is predominately 345-kV transmission line originating from the Antelope Valley station near Beulah, N.D., and terminating at the Neset 230-kV substation located near Tioga. The 345-kV transmission line will also interconnect with the existing Charlie Creek substation located near Grassy Butte and the Western Area Power Administration‘s (WAPA) Williston substation, according to Basin Electric’s project application.

The state’s process is separate from the federal NEPA process, which required the preparation of a draft environmental impact statement (EIS). The draft EIS was prepared jointly by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), WAPA, and the U.S. Forest Service and was issued on Dec. 7, 2012. The public comment period for the draft EIS ended on Jan. 22.

The draft EIS will play a vital role in financing the $300m project, as Basin will be applying to the Rural Utilities Service for financing, the company said.

According to TransmissionHub data, the project is designed to meet increased demand in the region, which includes demand stemming from increasing activity in the Bakken shale formation. In addition, the line will further improve system stability and reliability in the area. 

Basin Electric will construct, own and operate the project, which will involve building 190 miles of new 345-kV single pole transmission line, two new substations, modifications at four substations, a 345-kV switchyard and other construction activities.

Basin Electric and project partner WAPA expect to start construction in 2014 and to have the project in operation in 2016.