Brookings County Hampton Transmission Line

click for larger map (PDF file download)

An updated project map from the developers, showing the status of the project in the spring of 2014.

Stated Purpose:

The Brookings County-Hampton transmission project will help meet projected electric growth in southern and western Minnesota, as well as the growing areas south of the Twin Cities metro area.

By providing access to wind generation in southwestern Minnesota and eastern South Dakota, this line also is designed to help the state meet its aggressive renewable energy standard, which will require 25% of energy to come from renewable sources.

Line Capacity:

345 kV

Route Description:

The transmission line will run from a substation north of Brookings, South Dakota, and run 237 miles to a proposed substation in Hampton, Minnesota, which is southeast of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Much of the route will pass through Dakota County. Because the US Department of Fish and Wildlife has pointed to potential adverse impacts on migratory bird populations passing through the area, this portion delayed the routing process.

Development Timeline:

Construction of the line began in spring of 2012, and it is targeted to be in service by 2015. The first section to be constructed will stretch from Renville County to Scott County.

As of July 2012, CapX2020 is continuing to negotiate easement agreements in many communities ahead of construction.

In 2011, Great River Energy, the project's construction manager, began contacting landowners along the route to begin discussions on easement acquisition along the needed right-of-way. Construction is scheduled to begin during the second quarter of 2012, resulting in an expected in-service date sometime in 2015.

All South Dakota landowners have entered into easement agreements. More than 1,200 are needed for the Minnesota portion of the line.

Regulatory Process:

Before construction can begin, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MN PUC) must grant two approvals- a Certificate of Need (CN) and a Route Permit. The CapX2020 utilities were granted a Certificate of Need for all three 345 kV projects on May 22, 2009, and the project was granted a final route permit on February 3, 2011.

The South Dakota equivalents have also been approved.

This line is also part of the MISO MVP portfolio. This portfolio was approved as a whole in December 2011.

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.

Developer:

CapX2020

Community Feedback:

In 2008 and 2009, the CapX2020 utilities hosted open houses to introduce the project to landowners and work together to determine an appropriate route for the transmission line. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (SD PUC) held a public hearing in Brookings to gather evidence and comments from landowners and other interested parties in January 2011. Additional meetings are expected.

While many in the industry recognize that the current grid is unable to support the growing demand of this region, others disagree. Those who oppose the project take issue with the fact that much of the electricity transported on these lines will come from the Dakotas. In some cases, this energy will simply pass through Wisconsin and Minnesota, leading to higher profits for all utilities involved.

As part of the larger CapX2020 project, this line has also been subject to court proceedings stemming from community unrest. Dane County, Wisconsin Circuit Court judge denied an appeal by Citizens' Energy Task Force (CETF) to reconsider the PSC decision to approve CapX2020 based on a legal technicality. CETF had asserted the line was not needed, would lead to negative health impacts, and would diminish the aesthetics of the surrounding region.

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.

CapX currently has access to all the farm land that the line runs over, but purchasing the land could take up to another year. About 20 landowners in one area have entered into eminent domain negotiations. Some landowners have shown concern for the disruption that construction is causing on their land, and they are curious about whether they will be repaid for potential damages. Many landowners have also invoked the 'Buy the Farm' statute in Minnesota, asking the utility to purchase not just a limited easement, but all the land on which the easement sits. Controversy has arisen surrounding compensation for landowners when this statute is used, with many arguing that they are not compensated for relocation or other possible expenses.

CapX has formed agreements with communities to maintain the roadways used for transporting materials for the project, committing to leaving the roads in the same condition or better than when they first started using them. The developer has also stated it will give advanced warning to landowners and those nearby the projects if loud construction techniques are going to be used. CapX is opening field offices in some communities to assist them in maintaining these agreements and to provide information to stakeholders along the line.

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 from relocation--such as organic certification.

Clean Energy Potential:

The Brookings County Hampton line will connect into the central part of the Buffalo Ridge, one of the county's windiest areas. The line is also important to wind development, because it includes 19 wind projects from 14 different developers. 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:

Clean power plan to ripple through South Dakota August 4, 2015

New Lines Boost Grid Accesss in Upper Midwest May 26, 2015

CapX2020 transmission line changed lives, laws in Minnesota May 23, 2015

Two CapX2020 Power Lines Energized May 7, 2015

CapX2020 Utilities Energize Two Transmission Lines Key To Wind May 5, 2015

Supreme Court backs farmers in CapX2020 powerline fight March 4, 2015

Power line law ends designation of 'preferred' route May 12, 2014

Power line nears completion in Dakota County February 6, 2014

Our View: CapX move protects landowners June 16, 2013

Buy the Farm and CapX2020 June 8, 2013

Transmission line project moving into Redwood County April 8, 2013

Controversial power line construction begins in Scott County March 14, 2013

County OKs road use agreement for CapX2020 March 6, 2013

CapX2020 to begin construction this month January 6, 2013

CapX2020 power line project breaks ground, heads this way July 16, 2012

Transmission line coming to Brookings Co. June 6, 2012

Future transmission investment expected to be robust April 30, 2012

ND to add hundreds of megawatts of wind energy this year; SD not so much January 18, 2012

$730M transmission line to harness South Dakota wind December 8, 2011

CapX2020 Project Moving Forward July 27, 2011

CapX2020 project working through environmental impacts July 21, 2011

Wind power fails to sail in S.D. July 17, 2011

City of Granite Falls increases stake in CapX2020 transmission line July 7, 2011

MISO Stamps MVP Status on CapX2020 Brookings Line June 23, 2011

CapX2020 Receives Facility Permit from South Dakota Public June 23, 2011

Dakota County prefers no power line in park June 21, 2011

CapX2020's Brookings Transmission Line Completes Milestone June 20, 2011

CapX2020's Brookings Transmission Line Receives Facility Permit from PUC June 16, 2011

Wind power transmission to Minnesota near final OK June 15, 2011

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 johnathanh@cfra.org and let us know!

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