A new power line is being proposed called the Big Stone South-Alexandria-Big Oaks Project. It is a 345- kilovolt transmission line that will run through Alexandria and other parts of Douglas County, divided into two segments. One runs from Big Stone City, South Dakota to Alexandria (western segment), and the other runs from Alexandria to Becker, Minnesota (eastern segment).
Several Upper Midwest energy companies combined their resources on this project – Great River Energy, Minnesota Power, Missouri River Energy Services (which has 61 utility members), Otter Tail Power Company, and Xcel Energy.
They jointly filed a Certificate of Need Application for both segments and a Route Permit Application for the eastern segment. The western segment Route Permit Application is expected to be filed in 2024 following a robust public outreach process, which is currently ongoing.
The companies said the project, estimated to cost between $600 and $680 million, will provide additional capacity to mitigate current capacity issues, maintain electric system reliability, relieve congestion on the grid, deliver reliable energy to our customers as fossil fuel-based plants are retired, opening up new pathways for more low-cost wind power from western Minnesota and the Dakotas to reach customers throughout the region.
“Transmission is the backbone of the electric grid, and it is essential for integrating renewable energy resources into the grid and maintaining reliable electricity service to homes and businesses in the region,” said Terry Wolf, vice president of power supply and operations at Missouri River Energy Services in a news release. “By investing in these projects, we can create a more resilient electric grid for everyone, and including our member municipals, while also making a significant step toward achieving our clean energy goals.”
This is just one of the 18 new transmission projects across the Upper Midwest region recommended by MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator). The PUC will review the energy companies’ proposal, which generally takes one year and includes opportunities for input from customers, landowners, and other interested stakeholders. more than 95% of the eastern segment of the proposed project will not require changes to the existing transmission line route.