Minnesota Department of Commerce Energy Environmental Review and Analysis (EERA) staff on Dec. 23 told the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that it recommends approval of a proposed transfer through which a portion of a route permit for a 115-kV line would be transferred from Great River Energy to Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL).
As noted by staff, the commission in August 2014 issued a route permit to Great River Energy for the Elko, New Market and Cleary Lake Areas Transmission Project. GRE has built about 5.4 miles of new double-circuit 115-kV transmission line and rebuilt about 11.3 miles of existing 69-kV transmission line to 115-kV specifications in Scott and Rice counties. All that remains is to rebuild a three-span segment into Xcel’s Credit River substation, staff added.
Great River Energy and Xcel on Dec. 13 requested that the commission authorize the transfer of the rights and responsibilities of the route permit pertaining to that short portion of the line from Great River Energy to Xcel, effective by Jan. 31, 2017, staff said.
At the time of its application for a route permit, Great River Energy anticipated that the Prior Lake Junction to Credit River Substation segment of the project would terminate at the Credit River substation. Staff added that when Great River Energy posted its plan and profile for the segment in August 2015, Xcel was experiencing outage constraints that did not allow the spans connecting to the substation to be taken out of operation. Staff said that the decision was made that Great River Energy would terminate its project at Structure 34; the final three spans were turned over to Xcel to complete at a later date.
Xcel has an open window to complete that connection, staff said, adding that while Xcel owns the segment between Structure 34 and the substation, it still requires a commission route permit to actually build the new spans. Great River Energy holds a permit that authorizes that construction, staff said. Great River Energy would continue to be the project permittee, but Xcel would be named as a co-permittee with limited rights, staff said.
Great River Energy and Xcel have clearly presented the reason for the transfer, that circumstances did not allow completion of the segment during Great River Energy’s construction schedule, staff said.
Among other things, staff said that it recommends that Xcel be required to adhere to all of the conditions of the permit, except certain “special conditions.” Staff recommended that Xcel need not file a plan and profile for the project unless the details of which would make significant changes to the structures or to the plan and profile that Great River Energy already filed in the matter.