Great River Energy, Minnesota Power, Missouri River Energy Services, Otter Tail Power Company, and Xcel Energy are developing the Alexandria-Big Oaks project, which is the eastern segment of a larger project called Big Stone South-Alexandria-Big Oaks. The Alexandria-Big Oaks segment will add a new transmission circuit to the existing 345-kV transmission structures that run mainly along Interstate 94, part of the CapX2020 Fargo-St. Cloud/Monticello project. The Alexandria to Big Oaks segment will connect to the existing substation near Alexandria and the proposed Big Oaks substation near Becker.
The transmission structures along Interstate 94 were built as ‘double-circuit capable’ to accommodate a project such as this, which will minimize the need for additional easements from landowners. A short one- to four-mile segment of new construction will be needed to connect the 345-kV transmission line from the Alexandria Substation to the new Big Oaks Substation. Several additional foundations and poles will be required at angle and corner structures.
Learn more about the western segment of the project, the Big Stone South-Alexandria project, here.
In recent years, utilities have added new renewable energy, such as wind and solar, and retired aging plants that reached their expected useful lives. As plants are retired, new transmission is needed to deliver projects from where renewable energy is generated to the grid connections that have been built up over the century, including Central Minnesota where the Big Oaks substation will be located.
Additionally, the existing transmission system has begun to experience congestion due to the amount of new wind that has been built in the Upper Midwest over the years. Adding a second circuit to the existing transmission line will improve congestion on the system.
Permits and Approvals
Minnesota law requires energy companies that propose high-voltage transmission lines to file a Certificate of Need application, which is reviewed by the Public Utilities Commission. The Certificate of Need will cover the entirety of the Big Stone South-Alexandria-Big Oaks project, but separate Route Permit applications will be filed for the Big Stone South-Alexandria and Alexandria-Big Oaks segments.