The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and many Upper Midwest energy companies are together accelerating plans for a 345 kV Big Stone South-Alexandria-Big Oaks project, a transmission project in Minnesota and northeastern South Dakota, to deliver reliable energy to customers and open new pathways for additional renewable energy proposed in the Upper Midwest.
The project consists of two segments, with one running from Big Stone City, South Dakota to Alexandria, Minnesota (western segment) and the other running from Alexandria to Becker, Minnesota (eastern segment).
The eastern segment proposes to pass through a new transmission circuit on existing structures built as part of the CapX2020 Fargo-St. Cloud and St. Cloud – Monticello projects between Alexandria and a new substation on Xcel Energy property near the Sherco power plant in Becker.
The western segment proposes a new transmission line between Otter Tail Power’s Big Stone South substation in South Dakota and the Alexandria substation owned by Missouri River Energy Services.
A Certificate of Need application for both segments and a Route Permit application for the eastern segment was filed together. The western segment Route Permit application is expected to be filed in 2024 post an ongoing public outreach process.
The participants included in the project were Great River Energy, Minnesota Power, Missouri River Energy Services, Otter Tail Power Company and Xcel Energy.
With a continued electric reliability and improved system resilience in the Upper Midwest, the project will provide additional capacity to mitigate current capacity issues, maintain electric system reliability, relieve congestion on the grid and allow an economical wind power from western Minnesota and the Dakotas to reach customers throughout the region.
It also supports efforts of energy companies to meet carbon reduction goals and progress towards carbon-free energy standard of Minnesota.
“Investments in transmission are critical to accelerating a sustainable, clean-energy future and are a key piece of Minnesota Power’s EnergyForward strategy to safeguard the reliable delivery of energy to our customers and communities in northeastern Minnesota,” said Dan Gunderson, Minnesota Power VP of Transmission and Distribution. “Utilities in Minnesota have a long history of planning for the future and the foresight by the Commission and stakeholders in CapX2020 to recognize the value of future capacity is beneficial for our state and region.”