High-Voltage Power Line Discussed in Becker Wednesday
BECKER (WJON News) - A proposed high-voltage transmission line between Alexandria and Becker was the topic of discussion at an open house Wednesday at the Becker Community Center.
Officials with Xcel Energy and other related power and construction companies were on hand to answer questions about the new line.
Once approved, the line will be added to existing towers along I-94 and Highway 75. Randy Fordice, spokesperson for Xcel Energy, says adding a line will help control costs, but the new line will have to cross the Mississippi River at some point to connect to the proposed Big Oakes power substation, planned to be built Southeast of the current Sherco power plant.
In this area, what they (MISO Power officials) really started to notice is there's a lot of congestion on the transmission system in eastern North and South Dakota, and western and central Minnesota. It's getting to the point where it's at capacity for what has been built to and in the coming years, if the grid wasn't expanded, then we'd start to see some reliability concerns. We also know that we need to add new wind projects that are being proposed in that area, mainly the Dakotas in western Minnesota, to help replace some of the retiring generation such as coal plants and other aging plants in the region.
Since the proposed line will be added to existing infrastructure, Fordice said there are very few new questions from landowners and residents. However, farmers have asked about the construction timing, and other residents have asked about construction noise and cleanup.
Fordice says the future use of the Sherco power plant is still uncertain. Scheduled to be depowered over the next few years, Xcel plans to use part of the property to support the Minnesota Energy Connection project. Fordice is uncertain what parts of the property will be repurposed.
We do expect to continue to use some of the buildings for the Minnesota energy connection project, we (want) to add what are called synchronous condensers, which help with reliability and voltage support in that area. Some of the plant’s infrastructure would remain in place - just be used for a different purpose.
The new power line will run from the Alexandria power substation to the Big Oaks substation, but will also power the Quarry substation in Waite Park and power parts of St. Cloud and the surrounding area.