The CapX2020 utilities energized the Brookings County-Hampton project, a 250-mile, 345 kV transmission line between the Brookings County Substation near Brookings, S.D., and the Hampton Substation, south of the Twin Cities. The CapX2020 utilities also energized the Fargo-St. Cloud-Monticello project, a 240-mile, 345 kV transmission line between the Bison Substation near Fargo, N.D., and the Monticello Substation near Monticello, Minn.
These projects, which span nearly 500 miles, are part of CapX2020, the largest electric transmission expansion in the Upper Midwest in decades.
CapX2020 is a joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin formed to upgrade and expand the electric transmission grid to ensure continued reliable and affordable service. To learn more about the initiative, click here.
Although the CapX2020 transmission lines are located in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, their benefits reach far beyond the Upper Midwest. They are part of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which oversees transmission in 15 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba.
‘As our region faces more uncertainty and a tightening of generation resources, projects like the Brookings and Fargo lines will play a key role in ensuring access to reliable, low-cost energy,’ says Priti Patel, regional executive for MISO North Region.
One way the CapX2020 projects help keep prices low is by alleviating congestion on the system. Congestion is similar to a bottleneck on a freeway. When more electricity is needed in an area than the area's transmission system can provide, electricity is dispatched from a different generation source that can serve the area – but at a higher cost.
‘The completion of the Brookings and Fargo transmission lines will not only help alleviate congestion, [but] they will provide a 'farm to market road' for wind developers who are eager to build projects in Minnesota and neighboring states but need a way to move their low-cost wind energy to the load centers,’ says Beth Soholt, executive director for Wind on the Wires.
The projects also provide significant economic benefits. A 2010 economic impact study on CapX2020 by the University of Minnesota-Duluth estimated that the projects would create several thousand jobs and be a $4 billion boost for the regional economy. For each dollar spent on construction, the study estimated that an additional $1.93 would be returned to the economy due to multiplier effects. The study also estimated that the projects would generate more than $150 million in state and federal taxes.