Completed transmission project will meet new demand for members - Great River Energy

Completed transmission project will meet new demand for members

The electric system in northern Minnesota is stronger today, thanks to a new Great River Energy transmission project near Bigfork.

A ribbon-cutting event was recently held to celebrate the completion of a new 14-mile, 69-kilovolt transmission line Great River Energy constructed that connects the new North Itasca Electric Cooperative substation to the electric grid.

The project was designed to be a long-term solution to improve electric delivery and meet new demand and growth for North Itasca Electric Cooperative members.

North Itasca Electric Cooperative Line Superintendent Daryl Pederson (second from left) and Great River Energy Vice President and Chief Transmission Officer Priti Patel (second from right) talk to attendees during the Scenic Substation ribbon cutting.

There were some significant challenges with this project, including finding land for the substation and working with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regarding routing through Scenic State Park. After three years of working with the DNR, the groups landed on a “bypass” route so they would not have to go through the park.

“There were several challenges in getting this project built — as there usually are — and this project was no exception, but the need was there so we all worked together to get new infrastructure in place to ensure members are served with the reliable electricity they need,” said Great River Energy Vice President and Chief Transmission Officer Priti Patel during the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Once the route was approved, rough terrain and construction challenges would have required using costly matting to protect the landscape. Ultimately, much of the construction was done during winter to take advantage of the frozen ground.

This important reliability project was needed for voltage support, particularly in winter, as the nearest substation was a significant distance from Bigfork.

John Pearson, retired Star Energy Engineer and contractor for North Itasca Electric Cooperative, spoke during the ribbon cutting ceremony at Scenic Station. Pearson did extensive studies and advocated for the project.

“We know this project was important for reliability and voltage support in the local area and we know, in general, how important it is that we plan together to make sure we are always improving the system as needs change,” Patel said.

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