A group of six electricity producers have filed plans with state regulators for a new power line in western and central Minnesota that's expected to cost $600 million to $700 million.
Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy and Fergus Falls-based Otter Tail Power would lead the Minnesota construction of a roughly 200-mile line from Big Stone City, S.D., to Becker, Minn.
The western segment of the 345-kilovolt line, from Big Stone to Alexandria, Minn., would entail building new transmission towers. The eastern portion from Alexandria to Becker would be strung primarily on existing towers with capacity for a second circuit.
"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," Terry Wolf, a vice president at Missouri River Energy Services, said in a joint news statement.
Sioux Falls-Missouri River, which has customers in western Minnesota; Minnesota Power; Great River Energy; and the Western Minnesota Municipal Power Association are the other four members of the power line consortium.
If approved by regulators, the plan is for the eastern part of the Big Stone-to-Becker line to be completed in 2027 and the western portion in 2031.
Plans for the power line were filed Friday with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. It's the second of three related Minnesota transmission projects to formally begin the state regulatory process.
In August, Minnesota Power and Great River Energy filed plans with the PUC for a 180-mile line from Grand Rapids to the St. Cloud area expected to cost up to $1.3 billion. A third roughly $690 million transmission line — from the Mankato area to western Wisconsin — is also planned.
All three projects are part of a historic, $10 billion-plus plan for 18 new power lines approved last year by the Midcontinent Independent System (MISO), which runs the electric grid in Minnesota and 14 other states.
MISO, an Indiana-based nonprofit, plans regionwide transmission initiatives for its members, which include utilities, transmission owners and stakeholder groups. MISO-planned power lines are owned by electric companies and paid for by ratepayers across several states.
The new MISO projects are aimed at improving the electric grid's reliability, and they come at a time when transmission congestion is increasing.
Costs for power projects of all types have also been increasing as inflation has spiked over the past two years. The Big Stone to Becker power line was anticipated to cost $574 million in July 2022, but costs have grown in the interim.