Minnesota regulators: Initial comments on 161-kV line due by Oct. 10

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, in a notice issued on Sept. 22, said that initial comments on a 161-kV transmission line are due by Oct. 10, while reply comments are due by Oct. 17.

Topics open for comment on Freeborn Wind Energy, LLC’s approximately seven-mile, single circuit line are:

  • Does the route permit application contain the information required?
  • Are there any contested issues of fact with respect to the representations made in the application?
  • Should the commission appoint an advisory task force?

The commission added that Freeborn Wind filed the application on Sept. 20 to build the line in order to interconnect the proposed Freeborn Wind Farm project substation to the Glenworth substation south of the City of Glenville.

The proposed project substation would include overhead and bus structures, circuit breakers, disconnect switches, relay panels, surge arresters, battery banks, a grounding system, as well as relaying, metering and communications equipment, the commission said.

As noted in the application for the transmission line, Freeborn Wind – which is an affiliate of Invenergy LLC – is requesting the route permit to build the high voltage transmission line needed to interconnect the proposed up to 200-MW Freeborn Wind Farm, located in Freeborn County, Minn., and Worth County, Iowa.

The Minnesota portion of the Freeborn Wind Farm would consist of up to 84 MW and is under permit review, the company said.

The Freeborn Wind Farm substation would be located in Freeborn County, the company said, adding that the existing Glenworth substation is located just southeast of Glenville, Minn.

The line would be built using primarily monopole steel and wood structures, Freeborn Wind said, adding that the typical right of way (ROW) width for the project would be 80 feet and the typical span would be 550-900 feet.

Construction of the project is expected to begin in 2Q20, and Freeborn Wind anticipates a December 2020 in-service date for the proposed facilities. The company further noted that the total estimated project cost of the line along the proposed route is about $3.7m.

Freeborn Wind said that it has, through voluntary agreements, obtained the private real estate rights necessary to build the project within the proposed route, and that if additional property rights are required for the project, Freeborn Wind would seek to negotiate a voluntary easement agreement with each affected landowner.

Freeborn Wind also said that if it and the landowner are unable to negotiate an easement for the ROW, then Freeborn Wind would acquire the required real property rights through exercise of the power of eminent domain.

The project is located entirely within Shell Rock Township in Freeborn County, the company said, adding that the origin of the proposed route is at the Wind Farm substation at the southeast corner of the intersection of 110th Street and 840th Avenue in Shell Rock Township, about seven miles southeast of the Glenworth substation.

The 161-kV voltage was determined by Freeborn Wind Energy, Midcontinent ISO (MISO), and ITC Midwest to be the appropriate voltage because it is connecting the Freeborn Wind Farm to the existing 161/69-kV Glenworth substation, Freeborn Wind said.

As the Freeborn Wind Farm’s electrical collection system operates at 34.5 kV, it makes sense to transform that voltage only once, the company said, adding that a 161-kV voltage more efficiently transmits energy.

From the Wind Farm substation, the line would run northwest to the point of interconnection, the existing Glenworth substation. The company also said that buried 34.5-kV collector lines from the proposed Freeborn Wind Farm would transmit electricity generated from the wind turbines to the Wind Farm substation. The voltage would be increased from 34.5 kV to 161 kV at the Wind Farm substation and power transmitted via the project’s aboveground 161-kV transmission line to the Glenworth substation.

The company further noted that separately, ITC would make modifications and network upgrades at the Glenworth substation; those modifications would be built under a generator interconnection agreement entered into between Freeborn Wind, ITC, and MISO in April. Those upgrades include a dead-end structure, a disconnect switch, three capacitance coupled voltage transformer and a new 161/69-kV transformer, and relay protection of the radial line to the generating facility. The Glenworth substation 161-kV bus would also be expanded to add a fourth circuit breaker and a new terminal to the ring, the company said.

Freeborn Wind requested that the commission approve the proposed route and authorize a route width of 200 feet on each side of the proposed route centerline – 400 feet total width – for a majority of the proposed route, with expanded areas at the substations, and narrowed areas near three residential parcels, a communication tower, and along US 65.

Among other things, the company also noted that in September 2016, it entered into a purchase and sale agreement (PSA) with Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) and Invenergy Wind Development North America LLC. In October 2016, Xcel filed an initial petition notifying the commission of its selection of Freeborn Wind, along with several other wind energy projects Xcel proposed to purchase and self-build. Freeborn Wind added that in March, Xcel filed a supplemental wind petition seeking approval of 1,550 MW of wind energy, 750 MW of self-build wind – including the Freeborn Wind Farm – and 800 MW of wind energy power purchase agreements. The commission approved Xcel’s supplemental wind petition, including the PSA, on Sept. 1, the company said.

If the commission grants the requested site permit and route permit, the Freeborn Wind entity would be transferred from Invenergy to Xcel, which would then become the owner of Freeborn Wind, and be responsible for fulfilling all of the conditions set forth in any site permit or route permit granted by the commission.

Freeborn Wind, then owned by Xcel, would build, own, and operate the Freeborn Wind Farm and the transmission project, Freeborn Wind said.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3286 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares was TransmissionHub’s chief editor until August 2021, as well as part of the team that established TransmissionHub in 2011. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial from 2005 to 2011. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines.