CapX2020 backers energize two new transmission lines in the Upper Midwest

Electric utility executives, renewable energy supporters, state officials and legislators gathered May 4 near St. Cloud, Minn., and Fargo, N.D., to celebrate energization of two high-voltage transmission lines.

These projects, which span nearly 500 miles, are part of CapX2020, the largest electric transmission expansion in the Upper Midwest in decades.

North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer spoke at the Fargo event. “During my time on the North Dakota Public Service Commission, I saw firsthand the need to expand electric transmission from producer to consumer to ensure the ratepayer at the end of line receives reliable, least cost power. The CapX2020 project will function to achieve that in the Upper Midwest,” said Cramer.

“CapX2020 represents a vital expansion of electrical transmission capacity for our energy and economic future,” said Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Michael Rothman. “Modernizing the electrical grid benefits Minnesota residents and businesses, delivering more reliable, efficient power and supporting further development of renewable energy resources.”

On March 26, the CapX2020 utilities energized the Brookings County-Hampton project, a 250-mile, 345-kV line between the Brookings County Substation near Brookings, South Dakota, and the Hampton Substation south of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. One week later, the utilities energized the Fargo-St. Cloud-Monticello project, a 240-mile, 345-kV line between the Bison Substation near Fargo and the Monticello Substation near Monticello, Minnesota.

These projects have been in the works for more than 10 years. CapX2020 is a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region developing five projects that total 800 miles with an investment of more than $2 billion.

Said Teresa Mogensen, vice president of transmission at Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL): “These projects help ensure customers will continue to receive reliable, affordable energy well into the future. They also add outlets for new generation, including renewable energy.”

Great River Energy Transmission Vice President and CapX2020 Chairman Will Kaul said: “These projects are being completed just in time to facilitate the transition in generation resources and address increasing concerns about security and grid reliability. It shows just how durable our original vision was.”

While the CapX2020 transmission lines are located in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, their benefits reach far beyond the Upper Midwest. They are part of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, which oversees transmission in 15 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba.

“As our region faces more uncertainty and a tightening of generation resources, projects like the Brookings and Fargo lines will play a key role in ensuring access to reliable, low-cost energy,” said Priti Patel, regional executive for MISO North Region.

“The completion of the Brookings and Fargo transmission lines will not only help alleviate congestion, they will provide a ‘farm to market road’ for wind developers who are eager to build projects in Minnesota and our neighboring states but need a way to move their low-cost wind energy to the load centers,” said Beth Soholt, executive director for Wind on the Wires.

CapX2020 is a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region formed to upgrade and expand the electric transmission grid to ensure continued reliable and affordable service. The projects include four 345-kV transmission lines in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, and a 230-kV line in northern Minnesota.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.