After hearing final oral arguments and public comments, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has issued a route permit setting a specific route and permit conditions for the Minnesota portion of the CapX2020 transmission line. This segment is the last one needing a route permit for the projects currently proposed or under way in CapX2020, which is expected to incorporate a large amount of wind power onto the grid.
The PUC approved a route comprising the following three segments:
Segment 1: The 345 kV line will originate at the Hampton Substation in southern Dakota County, Minn., and continue along Highway 52 to a new substation north of Pine Island in Goodhue County. The PUC chose to have the line follow the modified Highway 52 corridor in Cannon Falls, recognizing that Minnesota Department of Transportation is considering building new highway infrastructure.
Segment 2: This segment is a 161 kV line that would connect a new substation north of Pine Island in Goodhue County to an existing substation in northwestern Rochester in Olmsted County.
Segment 3: The final portion of the project is a 345 kV line running from the new substation north of Pine Island to a Mississippi River Crossing near Kellogg, Minn. The PUC chose a route alternative that would cross Zumbro Lake along the existing White Bridge Road corridor. The line would then follow an existing transmission line corridor northeast toward Kellogg before crossing the Mississippi River to Alma, Wis.
Xcel Energy filed a route permit application in January 2010 for approximately 150 miles of new 345 kV and 161 kV transmission lines and associated facilities between La Crosse, Wis., and a newly proposed substation near Hampton, Minn.
Although construction will be finished in phases, it is anticipated that construction of the transmission line will begin later this year and that the line will be operational by late 2015. The Wisconsin portion of the project is being reviewed by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission.
This project is part of a larger transmission undertaking termed CapX2020, which calls for building four lines in Minnesota totaling more than 700 miles. CapX2020 is a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding region.
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