Xcel Energy may build a new transmission line through Winona as part of long-range plans to satisfy increasing electricity demand and government mandates that require the company to provide more energy from renewable sources.
The plans are still preliminary, and the proposed route is just one of several possibilities the company is exploring as it prepares to submit plans later this year to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for approval.
The new line would run from Rochester, and while the company would prefer to send it northeast of Winona and across the Mississippi River to Alma, Wis., it has to prepare other options for the commission, said Xcel Energy spokeswoman Pam Rasmussen.
Regardless of which route the state commission approves, the company does not plan to begin construction until 2010. The company needs a series of permits from both states, as well as from federal agencies, and expects the application processes to last through 2009.
Xcel Energy plans to begin notifying affected landowners once the route is finalized. Most of the possible routes already have existing infrastructure that would have to be replaced or modified, though those routes would have a minimal effect on surrounding properties.
Once the 345-kilovolt line from Rochester crosses the Mississippi River, either at Alma, Winona or another of the company’s proposed routes, it would then run south along the river to a substation at the north end of La Crosse, Wis.
The line is one of three projects associated with Xcel Energy’s CapX2020 program, which would be the first major upgrade to the company’s Minnesota and Wisconsin transmission lines since the 1960s, said company spokeswoman Mary Sandok.
The company’s goal is to avoid “always playing catch-up” with rising customer demand, Rasmussen said, as well as build new connections to wind farms in southwest Minnesota and other renewable sources.
The company has previous obligations to increase the amount of energy it supplies from renewable sources, and now has to respond to the mandate the Minnesota Legislature passed this year, which requires the company to generate 30 percent of its power from renewables by 2025.
By Brian Voerding
Winona Daily News
22 May 2007
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