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The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has granted the CapX2020 utilities a certificate of need to construct three 345 kV electric transmission lines in Minnesota.

The decision confirms the need for a major upgrade of the region's transmission system to meet customers' growing demand for electricity and to increase access to new resources, including renewable energy in southern and western Minnesota and in North Dakota and South Dakota.

The projects' certificate of need application was filed in August 2007, starting a rigorous state review process that culminated in this decision. The three transmission lines that were approved are:

- A 240-mile, 345 kV line between Brookings County, S.D., and Hampton, Minn., plus a related 345 kV line between Marshall and Granite Falls, Minn.;

- A 250-mile, 345 kV line between Fargo, N.D., and Alexandria, St. Cloud and Monticello, Minn.; and

- A 150-mile, 345 kV line between Hampton, Rochester, Minn., and La Crosse, Wis.

The commission has yet to decide on the lines' routes. Route permit applications are currently under state review or in development; decisions are expected in 2010. State review processes for a 230 kV line between Bemidji and Grand Rapids are under way; decisions on its certificate of need and route permit are expected later this year and in 2010, respectively. The commission also included a condition regarding guaranteeing a portion of the capacity of the Brookings, S.D.-Hampton, Minn., line for renewable energy.

Similar regulatory processes will be pursued for segments of the three 345 kV lines in Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota. Permits in those states will be filed this year, with decisions expected in 2010.

SOURCE: Great River Energy



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