Since 1980, consumption of electricity has nearly doubled, and those in the industry firmly believe that consumer demand is only going to increase.
In an effort to try and address increased demand a group of 11 transmission owning utilities in Minnesota and the surrounding states joined together in an initiative they believed would ensure continued, reliable service. That initiative includes a variety of plans, including the construction of a line from Brookings County, S.D. across Minnesota to Hampton. Known as CapX2020, the project had been in the works for some time.
“Discussions actually started in 2004,” said Randy Fordice, project communications coordinator, adding the project got its official start in 2006.
In the ensuing years, those involved with the proposed project worked on a variety of aspects from securing the proper permits and working with the people who would be impacted by the line in advance of creating a route plan.
Work on the erection of the first poles began earlier this year.
The work began at the Cedar Mountain substation near Franklin in Renville County and headed east toward the Helena substation near Belle Plaine.
The poles in the 140-170 foot range are single-pole structures, said Fordice, adding there are eight lines being stretched along the entire line.
Six of those lines are for transmission of electricity, Fordice said, adding the top two lines include one that is for line protection from things such as lightning, while the other line is actually fiberoptic. That fiberoptic line, said Fordice is part of smart grid technology, as it serves as a communication source.
“When something happens along the line, the issue is communicated along that fiberoptic line,” Fordice explained, adding the information being sent is going to provide a much better response time to issues.
Fordice said during a tour of the line Oct. 12 that within the next few weeks some of the initial work is going to begin for the part of the project starting at the Cedar Mountain substation and heading west toward the substation area near Marshall. That means work on the route running through Redwood County is going to begin fairly soon.
The first work is going to include clearing of the route area where the line is going.
Then the foundation work would begin. Below each 140-plus foot pole a substantial concrete foundation sets, and Fordice said the foundation goes at least 40 feet into the ground. The holes are also eight feet in diameter. Of course, there are other areas where larger poles are being erected to help address places where the line turns and heads in a different direction, and in those cases the pole itself and the foundation below are going to be even bigger.
Kirby Smith, one of the project coordinators, said each pole foundation requires at least six cement trucks, with a rebar cage placed in the hole to ensure the stability of the foundation.
Page 2 of 2 - Fordice said that cement is one of the myriad products being purchased locally to help the economy in the area where the line is being erected.
Fordice also said efforts are being made to be the best neighbor the line can be, including respecting wetland areas and working with those who are living near the project.
Whether that means ensuring drainage tile are repaired if damage occurs or it means ensuring landowners are compensated for loss of land not only as the project is being done but also into the future in areas where crop loss may occur, Fordice said the intent is to do the right thing.
Some unique technology is being used in the construction of this line, said Fordice.
As an example, he said the fusion of the lines together is being done via an explosion process that ensures the line melds together creating a much more seamless line.
Fordice also said some of the electricity transmitted along this line is going to be coming from the Buffalo Ridge area using wind as a source.
He added the use of renewable energy helps to meet the 25 percent standard set by the state by 2025.
The multi-billion dollar project is the first of this magnitude in 30 years, said Fordice.
Find out more at www.capx2020.com.