Xcel, fellow energy providers propose new transmission line for southern Minnesota

Published on April 10, 2024 by Chris Galford

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Under a collective proposal from Xcel Energy, Dairyland Power Cooperative, Rochester Public Utilities and Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, a new 100 miles of transmission line could stretch across southern Minnesota to aid clean energy delivery and system reliability.

Known as the Mankato-Mississippi River transmission line, this project would help reduce transmission system congestion and manage the regional system as utilities plan for upcoming coal plant retirements. In advance of this, the companies filed a joint certificate of need and route permit application with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Running between Mankato, Minnesota, and the Mississippi River, the line would ultimately connect to the existing transmission system.

Although a collaborative effort, Xcel Energy has taken the lead for permitting and construction efforts, and all four energy providers are collaborating on the portion to be located on the existing CapX2020 line near Pine Island, as well as an associated 161-kilovolt line.

“This project allows us to bring low-cost, renewable wind and solar energy to millions of homes and businesses,” Ryan Long, president of Xcel Energy-Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said. “It represents an investment of more than $500 million in new energy infrastructure in Minnesota, and it will create good-paying jobs. As we lead the clean energy transition, our energy system is shifting from large, centrally located power plants to more dispersed renewable generation. This new transmission line will help us deliver energy from where it’s generated to where it’s needed.”

Xcel added that this project should support its plans for fully carbon-free electricity throughout Minnesota by 2040, and bring companies more in line with new state clean energy standards. The project will also be part of a transmission expansion identified by the Midcontinent Independent System Operators (MISO) as a way to improve economic benefits, regional reliability and improved access to low-cost renewable energy – wind and solar, in this case.

The PUC’s review process could take anywhere from 12-18 months, and will include input gathering opportunities for customers, landowners and other stakeholders. Xcel said that, if the plan is approved, it intends to begin construction in late 2026 or early 2027 and finish up by 2030.