Monticello-St. Cloud Transmission Line

A detailed map of the project is available here.

Stated Purpose:

This line is necessary in order to meet the increased electricity demand of the St. Cloud region. In addition to reinforcing the regional grid, the line will improve reliability and add capacity for renewable generation.

Line Capacity:

345 kV

Route Description:

The approved route begins at the new Quarry Substation Site near St. Joseph and ends at the existing Monticello Substation, spanning a distance of 28 miles. This route follows I-94.

Development Timeline:

Both the Certificate of Need and the Route Permit have been granted by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The construction process began in May of 2011 and completed in November of 2013. The line is now in use.

Regulatory Process:

Before construction began, it was required that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission 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 was granted in May of 2009. The Route Permit was issued in July of 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.


Xcel Energy

Community Feedback:

The CapX2020 project generally has suffered from considerable community opposition. Less than a proportional amount of this opposition has been targeted toward the Monticello-St. Cloud line. At only 28 miles, it's likely that those opposing the project generally have decided to focus efforts on the larger components of the CapX2020 project.

Affected landowners, however, have voiced concerns. Because the line and required new substation will primarily occupy agriculture land, many producers throughout the area are upset about diminished acreage and the nuisance brought on by project construction. Further, many have voiced concern that the amount of compensation being offered is insufficient to account for lost property value.

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. The line has already begun to boost property tax revenue in local counties.

Clean Energy Potential:

The intended purpose of the Monticello-St. Cloud line is to relieve congestion in the growing St. Cloud region, improving grid reliability along the way. Due to a growing population and an associated increase in electricity demand, it is clear that additional generation sources are needed. While this line does add capacity for future generation, it isn't immediately clear whether renewables will be targeted. Xcel Energy has repeatedly given lip service to the potential for wind to supply this additional generation but no projects have been confirmed.

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:

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

The helicopter linemen October 24, 2014

'Galloping', or bouncing, hampers work on CapX power line project March 28, 2014

Crews finish CapX tower work between St. Cloud, Alexandria November 26, 2013

CapX2020 line bumps up area property tax revenues June 19, 2013

First phase of power grid update goes on line December 21, 2011

Property owners frustrated by power grid update December 14, 2011

CapX hearings over land payment begin in Stearns October 24, 2011

Xcel workers take to the sky for CapX 2020 power line work September 9, 2011

CapX2020 helicopter installation August 22, 2011

Project along I-94 could cause double-take August 18, 2011

Union trades workers building new CapX2020 transmission line February 25, 2011

CapX2020 Monticello-St. Cloud construction underway January 21, 2011

CapX2020 releases economic impact study, breaks ground on Monticello project November 11, 2010

Minnesota Power invests in new transmission line October 25, 2010

State approves Monticello-St. Cloud power line route July 8, 2010

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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