Xcel Energy Seeks To Upgrade Transmission Lines From Wind Areas

Upgraded lines also would serve a new biomass power plant being developed in Benson, Minnesota.

Published: 03-Jan-2002

Xcel Energy has filed applications with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to build new power lines near the Buffalo Ridge in southwestern Minnesota to transport wind-generated electricity to the grid serving the Upper Midwest.

The company wants to build a new 345-kilovolt line connecting a substation near Lakefield, Minn., with another near Sioux Falls, S.D.. The plan also includes a new substation and two 115-kilovolt lines to be built in Nobles and Murray counties, and a new 161-kilovolt line connecting a substation near Lakefield to another near Sherburn.

The upgraded lines also would serve a new biomass power plant being developed in Benson, Xcel said.

"We're harvesting a growing crop of renewable energy in Minnesota, and we need an improved transmission system to get it to market," said Jim Alders, Xcel's manager of regulatory affairs.

There are about 450 wind turbines along the Buffalo Ridge, with nearly 300 megawatts of generation capacity.

However, Xcel says the lines carrying the electricity were designed and built decades ago and are at their limit.

In an application filed Friday with the commission, Xcel said it wants to improve the transmission system so it eventually can handle 825 megawatts of generation capacity. That would cost the average homeowner an extra 50 cents per month, up to $158 million total, Xcel said.

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