Big Bend Wind, LLC — referred to as the applicant — and Red Rock Solar, LLC are proposing to build up to 314 MW of new renewable energy generation in Cottonwood and Watonwan counties in Minnesota, according to a Nov. 9 application for a route permit for an associated 161-kV transmission line that was filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
As proposed, the renewable generation could consist of up to 314 MW of wind — the Big Bend Wind Project — or a combination of wind and up to 60 MW of solar — the Red Rock Solar Project. The application also noted that Big Bend is proposing to build a 161-kV transmission line and associated facilities to support the wind project and solar project.
The line is needed to interconnect the wind project and solar project to the transmission grid, the application noted, adding that the line would consist of about 18 miles of 161-kV, single-circuit line located in Cottonwood, Watonwan, and Martin counties in Minnesota. The project would also require a step-up substation and a 345-kV segment of less than 1,500 feet to connect the step-up substation to the Crandall switching station and the existing Blue Lake-Wilmarth-Interstate Interconnect 345-kV transmission line.
The 18-mile line presented in the application represents Big Bend’s effort to identify a route that follows existing roads and parcel lines, avoids residences, minimizes impacts on the environment and affected landowners, and for which Big Bend has voluntary easements, the application noted.
Big Bend holds an interconnection position in the Midcontinent ISO queue at the Crandall switching station (point of interconnection, or POI) , which would facilitate commercial and industrial off-takers, the application said, adding that the Great River Energy Lakefield Junction Peaking Plant, located about two miles southwest of the POI along the same 345-kV transmission line, offers a second interconnection opportunity.
Big Bend prefers the route for building the 161-kV line to connect the wind and solar project substations to the POI at the existing Crandall switching station. The application added that Big Bend requests that the commission approve the route and authorize a route width of 500 feet on each side of the proposed line route centerline (1,000 feet total width) for a majority of the route.
The total estimated project cost of the line along the proposed route is about $12m to $14m.
Among other things, the application also noted that the anticipated project schedule calls for project construction to start in 2Q22, with the project in service in 4Q22.
As noted in the filing, Big Bend and Red Rock are indirect wholly owned subsidiaries of Apex Clean Energy Holdings, LLC.