Fargo- St. Cloud Transmission Line

A map of the project route. State-specific maps are available here.

Stated Purpose:

The Fargo-St. Cloud transmission line is being developed in order to improve community reliability throughout the southern Red River Valley, as well as within the Fargo, Alexandria, and St. Cloud areas.

The project is also intended to support additional generation development, including from renewable sources, in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.

Line Capacity:

345 kV

Route Description:

The Fargo-St. Cloud transmission line is one of three 345 kV lines proposed by CapX2020. The North Dakota portion will begin at the Bison Substation northwest of Fargo. From there the line will continue across the Red River north of Oxbow. Overall, it will extend from Fargo, to Alexandria, and then to St. Cloud; addressing reliability and supporting additional generation in eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota.

Development Timeline:

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved the proposed route in June of 2011. The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved that state's 35 mile route in September of 2012.

North Dakota construction is to begin in early 2013, first in Mapleton and gradually moving southward. Construction on the Minnesota portion began in January of 2012, and some portions of the line are already completed. Construction was delayed due to weather in the Spring of 2013, with construction resuming in the later in the summer on this portion of the CapX project. This portion is planned to be completed and in service in 2015.

Regulatory Process:

The North Dakota Public Service Commission must issue three permits before project construction can begin. The first, Certificate for Public Convenience and Necessity, was applied for in October of 2010. The second, a Certificate of Corridor Compatibility, was applied for in December of 2010. The Joint Certificate of Corridor Compatibility/Route Permit was applied for in October of 2011. This permit was approved in September of 2012.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission must grant both a Certificate of Need and a Route Permit before construction can begin. The Certificate of Need was applied for in August of 2007 and granted in May of 2009. The Route Permit was filed in October of 2009 and granted in June of 2011.

The MN PUC and the ND PSC will determine the line's final route, while taking into consideration the concerns of landowners, complying with federal agency reviews, and holding public meetings and hearings that consider route alternatives. The CapX2020 team has proposed a set of 12 adjustments to the route, and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission accepted 10 of these in November 2011.

A storage facility for construction materials has been raised to serve the Fargo-St.Cloud project.

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.



Community Feedback:

Since 2006, CapX2020 has been conducting public outreach to engage with landowners and communities the about the Fargo-St. Cloud transmission line. These meetings were designed to encourage landowners and local elected officials to learn more about the project, and provide information on land use considerations in the area.

Some opponents of the line argue against the idea that Fargo-St. Cloud is needed to increase reliability throughout the region. Most focus on harm to property values and potential negative health impacts as primary reasons for opposition.Though most opposing the project have concentrated on grassroots efforts, some landowners and municipalities have unsuccessfully petitioned courts to stop or delay the project.

At local meetings, residents expressed concern over how the line would negatively impact their land and communities. Further, the city of Fargo has requested route modification in order to ensure that this line will not interfere with future growth. In response, CapX2020 applied for 12 route changes to accommodate irrigation systems and environmentally sensitive lands. Of these 12, 10 were approved by the PUC.

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 from relocation--such as organic certification.

Clean Energy Potential:

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:

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

Minnesota utilities flip switch on large segment of $2.1 billion CapX2020 transmission project May 4, 2015

Xcel energizes new Fargo to St. Cloud powerline May 4, 2015

More Reliable Energy In The Valley And Beyond May 4, 2015

CapX2020 project advances into ND December 22, 2014

Helicopters perform high-wire act during construction of CapX2020 power line October 26, 2014

The helicopter linemen October 24, 2014

Work continues on $640M power line from Mapleton to Twin Cities August 8, 2014

I-94 Closures Starting on Monday For CapX2020 Helicopter Work June 15, 2014

CapX2020 project puts helicopters to use March 4, 2014

CapX towers go up in New Munich area August 30, 2013

CapX goes up in area July 24, 2013

CapX2020 project going smoothly, say utilities July 10, 2013

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