The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission recently issued an order approving, with conditions, the Blazing Star 2 115-kV high voltage transmission line project.
As noted in the order, Geronimo’s wholly owned subsidiary, Blazing Star Wind Farm 2, LLC, (Blazing Star 2) in April 2018 filed with the commission an application for a route permit to build the 7.5-mile line between its proposed Blazing Star 2 wind farm and the Brookings to Hampton 345-kV transmission line. The project will be transferred to Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) prior to the start of construction, which is scheduled to begin in 2Q19, the commission said.
As noted in the high voltage transmission line route permit attached to the order, the project is necessary to interconnect the proposed Blazing Star Wind Farm 2 to the CapX 2020 Brookings County to Hampton 345-kV transmission line so that the energy from the wind farm can be brought to market.
Blazing Star 2 is developing the project and the up to 200-MW Blazing Star Wind Farm 2, which will be served by the project. The Blazing Star Wind Farm 2 is part of Xcel’s 1,550-MW wind generation portfolio that the commission approved in 2017, and it is one of the four projects that Xcel intends to build, own, and operate. The permit added that under the purchase and sale agreement approved by the commission, the ownership interests in Blazing Star Wind Farm 2 will be transferred to Xcel prior to the start of construction.
The project includes the new 115-kV transmission line and associated facilities, as well as a 345-kV/115-kV step-up substation (the collector substation), which is proposed to be co-located with the collector substation for the Blazing Star Wind Farm. The permit also noted that the collector substation is proposed to be sited in an open area adjacent to the CapX 2020 Brookings County to Hampton 345-kV line northeast of the intersection of 150th Avenue and 330th Street.
The transmission project will extend from the new Blazing Star Wind Farm 2 project substation located in Section 2 of Shaokatan Township in Lincoln County, and will generally follow property lines, as well as township and county road rights of way (ROWs) as it travels north to the proposed collector substation in Section 2 of Hendricks Township in Lincoln County.
The permit also noted that the commission, having reviewed the record, agrees with EERA that Blazing Star 2’s proposed route is an appropriate route for the project. The permit noted that the new line originates at the project substation and heads north along existing property lines for two miles until 290th Street where it turns east along 290th Street for one-half mile to 160th Avenue, where the line turns north. The line follows 160th Avenue for two miles where 160th Avenue then turns into Lincoln County Highway 4, at which point the line crosses Lincoln County Highway 17 and follows Highway 4 for one mile north and then turns west along 320th Street. The permit added that the line then continues west on 320th Street for one mile and then goes north along 150th Avenue for one mile. At the intersection of 150th Avenue and 330th Street, the line turns east and enters the collector substation.
The permit noted that the total cost of the project is estimated to be about $5.5m, with the transmission line estimated to cost $3.5m, and the collector substation, as well as the other facilities, to cost about $2m.
Among other things, the permit noted that special conditions include that Blazing Star 2 is to coordinate with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture regarding an Agricultural Impact Mitigation Plan.