Bemidji to Grand Rapids Transmission Line

A detailed map of the project can be found here.

Stated Purpose:

The Bemidji-Grand Rapids line is designed to improve reliability for the Red River Valley, Bemidji, Grand Rapids, and north central Minnesota.

Since the last upgrade to the region's transmission infrastructure thirty years ago, the population has grown, energy use has increased significantly, and the new transmission line aims to address this need.

Line Capacity:

230 kV

Route Description:

The transmission line will extend 70 miles between Bemidji and Grand Rapids, in Northern Minnesota. The line is part of the CapX2020 project.

Development Timeline:

The final segment of this line was placed in service in September of 2012.

Regulatory Process:

Before construction can begin, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission must grant a Certificate of Need and a Route Permit. During the need process, an environmental report is prepared by the Department of Commerce, and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is written during routing.

The certificate of need application was granted July 9, 2009, and the route permit application was issued November 5, 2010.

The final environmental impact statement was issued September 2, 2010.

A new law in Minnesota would require transmission developers to not submit a preferred and alternative route, but instead submit only several routing options to state regulators with no stated preference.



Otter Tail Power

Community Feedback:

In developing the Bemidji-Grand Rapids transmission line, the CapX2020 utilities state their commitment to working with residents, landowners, local and tribal governments, state and federal agencies, and other stakeholders in order to determine a route that is most preferable for all impacted communities.

Recent opposition to the project has come from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, a member of Minnesota's Chippewa tribe. They argued that the line would disrupt their hunting, fishing, and gathering rights, and that the utilities must obtain the tribe's consent to build within the reservation's boundaries. A district judge ruled that the tribe has no regulatory jurisdiction over the project; and that the disruption of their hunting, fishing, and gathering rights will not rise to a level that endangers the community's subsistence.

An economic impact study conducted by the University of Minnesota Duluth estimated that nearly 8,000 construction jobs would be created from the project, and that every dollar spent for the CapX2020 project would help to stimulate $1.93. The project has made about $8 million in purchases from one local steel company in Minneapolis, and involves up to 40 employees a year on the project order.

Recent decisions by the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Minnesota Legislature upheld and expanded the states' Buy the Farm law passed in 1973. In addition to landowners having the option to sell their entire property to a utility rather than just a specified easement, they may now apply for additional reimbursement for costs incurred due to relocation--such as organic certification.

Clean Energy Potential:

The CapX2020 transmission projects are designed to support the addition of more renewable energy to the electric grid. The developer and industry groups note that the line and the entire CapX2020 project offers a chance to connect wind farms along the path, and allow the energy to be sent to neighboring states that are seeking to purchase the power to meet renewable standards. CapX2020 provides a path for some of the biggest wind energy producers in the nation to sell their energy to a larger market. Updating the transmission is expected to cost member utilities more than $5.5 billion by 2015.

News Archive:

Our View: CapX move protects landowners June 16, 2013

Buy the Farm and CapX2020 June 8, 2013

Xcel Energy to Remain Neutral April 8, 2013

Bemidji-Grand Rapids 230 kV project January 12, 2012

CapX2020 Project Moving Forward July 27, 2011

CapX2020 project working through environmental impacts July 21, 2011

Indians Lose Bid to Stop Minnesota Power Line June 28, 2011

MYR Group and Quanta Services Selected as Construction Alliance Partners January 18, 2011

Bemidji-Grand Rapids power line project receives approval November 1, 2010

Project Update August 2010

Power Line Upgrade Planned from Bemidji to Grand Rapids August 22, 2007

Your Thoughts:

We all know that clean energy transmission is vitally important to our energy future. It brings economic opportunity to rural areas, enables wind development and improves the reliability of your grid. But to build it properly - to create projects that work best for you and your community - requires your knowledge and participation. That's why we've created this database.

Is there a way we can improve? Any changes that would make this a more effective tool? Alternatively, do you have more questions about this line? Would you like to receive email updates? Send an email to and let us know!


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