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Studies and Reports > 2009 MN Biennial Report > SE Planning Zone > Needs: 6.7.6 CapX 2020 Projects

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Transmission Projects Report 2009
Section 6.7: Southeast Zone
p. 263

6.7.6 CapX 2020 Projects

Tracking Numbers.
2005-CX-1 (Fargo –Twin Cities 345 kV)
2005-CX-2 (Brookings – Southeast Twin Cities 345 kV)
2005-CX-3 (LaCrosse – Southeast Twin Cities 345 kV)
2005-NW-N2 (Bemidji-Grand Rapids 230 kV)

CapX 2020 Utilities. CapX 2020 is a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region to expand the electric transmission grid to ensure continued reliable service. The CapX 2020 current roster consists of eleven utilities: Central Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, Dairyland Power Cooperative, Great River Energy, Minnesota Power, Minnkota Power Cooperative, Missouri River Energy Services, Otter Tail Power Company, Rochester Public Utilities, Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, Wisconsin Public Power, Inc., and Xcel Energy.

More information about CapX 2020 is available in the 2005 and 2007 Biennial Reports and on the webpage maintained by the utilities: http://www.capx2020.com

CapX 2020 Transmission Projects. The CapX 2020 utilities have identified three 345 kV transmission lines and one 230 kV line as part of the Group I projects. The four lines are:

  • Twin Cities – Fargo. This is an approximately 250-mile long, 345 kV project between Monticello, St. Cloud, Alexandria, and Fargo, North Dakota.
  • Twin Cities – Brookings County. This is an approximately 200-mile, 345 kV project between the southeast comer of the Twin Cities and Brookings County, South Dakota, as well as a 345 kV segment from Marshall to the Granite Falls area.
  • Twin Cities – LaCrosse. This is an approximately 150-mile, 345 kV project between the southeast corner of the Twin Cities, Rochester, and LaCrosse, Wisconsin. This project also includes two 161 kV transmission lines from a new North Rochester Substation into Rochester.
  • Bemidji-Grand Rapids. This is an approximately 68 mile long line from the 230 kV Wilton Substation located just west of Bemidji, Minnesota (jointly owned by Otter Tail Power and Minnkota Power) to Minnesota Power’s 230 kV Boswell Substation in Cohasset, Minnesota, northwest of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The Bemidji-Grand Rapids 230 kV project is reported under its own Tracking Number (2005-NW-N2).

Projects in Southeast Zone. The Twin Cities to LaCrosse line crosses the Southeast Zone.

Status. On May 22, 2009, the Public Utilities Commission issued a Certificate of Need for the three 345 kV CapX 2020 transmission lines. The CapX 2020 utilities applied for a route permit for the Brookings County to Hampton line in December 2008. The utilities have elected to apply for permits for the Fargo – Twin Cities line in two segments, a Monticello to St. Cloud segment, and a St. Cloud to Fargo segment. An application for a route permit for the Monticello to St. Cloud segment was submitted to the PUC in April 2009, and an application for the St. Cloud to Fargo segment was submitted in October 2009. A permit for the LaCrosse to Twin Cities line will be applied for by the end of 2009. On July 14, 2009, the Commission issued a Certificate of Need for the Bemidji to Grand Rapids line. A route permit for the Bemidji to Grand Rapids line was applied for in 2008 and a decision is expected in mid-2010.

Upsizing. During the Certificate of Need proceeding for the CapX 2020 345 kV lines, the Public Utilities Commission found that the proposed (primarily single circuit) facilities were not optimized for potential future needs. The Commission concluded that the CapX 2020 utilities should consider potential longer-term needs and not just those in the near-term for which the lines were initially proposed. As a result, the Commission, in its Order granting Certificates of Need for the lines, ordered that all segments of the three CapX 2020 345 kV lines be “upsized” i.e., constructed to double-circuit capability. The lone exception to this conclusion was a segment of the Twin Cities – Brookings 345 kV line that was initially proposed by the utilities to be double-circuited; this segment remained unchanged.

Constructing the facilities to be capable of carrying a second 345 kV circuit will help minimize future transmission corridors and optimize the use of the transmission system. At the same time, not constructing the second circuit initially will allow the utilities to defer some portion of the incremental cost until the capability provided by the second circuit could be used. By deferring some of the capital expenditures for the second circuit, the CapX 2020 utilities are able to more closely match investment with future growth. However, deferring construction also increases the overall cost of the facilities as it will require multiple deployments of crews and potentially additional materials.

The CapX 2020 utilities have begun to analyze the costs and timing of deploying the second circuit. This analysis has included consideration of whether it may be more cost-effective to construct the second circuit at the time of initial construction. Relevant factors in this analysis include but are not limited to:

  • The material and labor cost of various transmission line designs depending on how many davit arms are hung during initial construction and the corresponding steel and concrete requirements;
  • The material and labor cost of stringing the second circuit at the time of initial construction;
  • The material and labor cost of stringing the second circuit at some later date (including mobilization of new line crews);
  • The cost of additional damage to crops and wetland mitigation;
  • The loss benefit created by reducing the overall impedance of the system when the second circuit is strung (including the avoided cost of replacement generation);
  • The cost of generation curtailment during any line outages necessary to string the second circuit;
  • The cost of capital for each of the projects; and
  • The expected escalation or inflation rates for these costs.

Once this analysis is completed, a recommendation will be made regarding whether it is best for the second circuit to be strung during initial construction or at some later date. At that point, necessary regulatory approvals will be sought.

Schedule. The Brookings line is scheduled to be in-service in the Second Quarter 2013. The St. Cloud to Monticello line is scheduled to be in-service in Fourth Quarter 2011, and the Fargo to St. Cloud segment in Third Quarter 2015, although the St. Cloud - Alexandria segment will be in service in 2nd or 3rd Quarter 2013. The Twin Cities to LaCrosse 345 kV line and two 161 kV lines in the Rochester area are scheduled to go into service over the 2012-2015 timeframe. The Bemidji to Grand Rapids line is scheduled to be in-service by the end of 2011.

PUC Docket Numbers. CN-06-1115 (Certificate of Need for Three 345 kV Transmission Lines)

TL-08-1474 (Brookings County to Hampton Route Permit)

TL-09-246 (Monticello to St. Cloud Route Permit)

TL-09-1056 (Fargo to St. Cloud Route Permit)

CN-07-1222 (Bemidji to Grand Rapids Certificate of Need)

TL-07-1327 (Bemidji to Grand Rapids Route Permit)