CapX2020, a network of high-voltage power lines that Xcel Energy, Great River Energy and other utilities are building across Minnesota, will generate nearly 8,000 jobs at the peak of construction in 2013, according to an impact study released Wednesday.

The 128-page study, commissioned by the CapX2020 utilities, covers Minnesota, the Dakotas and Wisconsin and was done by the bureau of business and economic research in the business school at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Among the key findings: CapX2020 will generate $1.6 billion in wages, rent and profits from construction payroll spending, and $3.4 billion in sales from construction-related activity in the four-state area. It also will generate more than $149 million in tax revenue in the four states combined. The bulk of the impact is in Minnesota.

The 8,000-job total in 2013 includes secondary jobs in sectors related to the construction, such as engineering, retail and restaurants, the study said.

The $1.7 billion CapX2020 project will add 700 miles of overhead cables capable of moving 4,500 megawatts of electricity. The upgrade will expand the grid by about 30 percent and help move more wind-generated power. Advocates say the project is necessary to meet future electricity needs, but the expansion remains somewhat controversial, particularly among those in the path of the new high-voltage power lines. Ratepayers will be paying for the expansion in their utility bills for years to come.

The CapX2020 utilities also said Wednesday that they've broken ground on a leg of the expansion from Monticello to St. Cloud.

In a press release, the utilities said that Indiana-based Ambassador Steel Corp. is supplying about 900 tons of enhanced rebar for the Monticello-St. Cloud project from its local facilities.

"It helps the suppliers we purchase steel from, and it helps our community at a time when job growth is desperately needed," Ambassador Steel district manager Dan Yerks said in the release.

Yerks said in an interview that he hopes to supply 16,000 tons of rebar for the CapX2020 project over the next few years from the company's facilities in Minneapolis and Menomonie, Wis.

"It's a major part of our business in this economy," he said.

Jennifer Bjorhus • 612-673-4683