MARSHALL – It’s a project designed to help carry wind power, but could also have some payoff for utilities customers in Marshall.
A proposed Xcel Energy transmission line project still in its early stages was the subject of a public information meeting in Marshall on Thursday night.
Representatives from Xcel Energy, the Minnesota Department of Commerce and Marshall Municipal Utilities introduced the three 115-kilovolt transmission line project that would travel through southwestern Minnesota.
James Alders, manager of regulatory projects for Xcel Energy, said the project would have a significant benefit to wind generation in the Buffalo Ridge area and would help carry the energy load in the Marshall area.
“What we’re doing is adding circuits throughout the Buffalo Ridge region to allow more wind power development,” said Alders.
The proposed project would see line development from the Yankee substation near Lake Benton into Brookings County, S.D., and the Lake Yankton substation into the southwest Marshall substation. The third transmission line would come from Nobles County to the Fenton substation near Chandler.
According to Alders, transmission development is important in wind-rich resources to help accommodate wind towers.
“We need transmission projects like this in whatever part of the state that wind power development is occurring,” said Alders. “The best resources are often found in the places where they are away from where the bulk of the power is used.”
Alders said in order to carry wind power from the region to places like the metro, infrastructure must be built up.
“The transmission systems in those areas are built to serve local electrical requirements,” said Alders. “If you build power plants, you’ve got to export power so we’re going to need beef up the electrical systems.”
In addition to supporting wind power development throughout the region, Alders said the project would improve service in the city of Marshall.
“(Marshall) has two sources of electricity and if either of those sources fail, there are some times during the year that the remainder doesn’t have enough capacity for the city,” said Alders. “They need a third source of power.”
Marshall Municipal Utilities general manager Brad Roos said MMU supports the project to help meet the increasing energy demands within the city of Marshall.
In a letter he presented during the meeting, Roos said growth in the Marshall area has created an increase demand for MMU.
“The city of Marshall has experienced consistent growth over the years,” Roos said. “As a result, MMU’s power demand now exceeds 70 megawatts a majority of the days in a any given year.
“The city of Marshall projects that the community will continue to grow and that electricity demand will also continue to grow.”
One area resident inquired as to the route the transmission lines would take, expressing concern the lines might “zig zag” around the country side.
Alders said it is too early in the project to determine the exact route the transmission lines will follow, but he added Xcel normally tries to follow county roads or property lines as much as possible.
Determining the transmission line route is part of the process that started with the Xcel Energy application.
The Department of Commerce is seeking public comments on the project. Comments are due by March 14. They can be mailed to Adam Sokolski, Minnesota Department of Commerce, 85 7th Place Street, Suite 500, St. Paul, MN 55101. Or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org
By Robert Wolfington III
24 February 2007
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