Transmission & Distribution

CapX2020 Line Gets Key Approval

By Steven Johnson | ECT Staff Writer Published: May 14th, 2012

A major transmission project aimed at modernizing the electric grid in the upper Midwest has gotten a key go-ahead from Wisconsin regulators.

A substation is under construction as part of the CapX2020 project. (Courtesy of CapX2020)

A substation is under construction as part of the CapX2020 project. (Courtesy of CapX2020)

The state Public Service Commission voted May 10 to issue a certificate of need for a 345-kilovolt transmission line that will span a 48-mile stretch between Alma, Wis., and Holmen, Wis.

The approval is a key part of a $2 billion, 11-utility undertaking known as CapX2020 which represents the country’s most ambitious transmission initiative.

Officials from Dairyland Power Cooperative, a consortium member, praised the commission’s action in backing an upgrade of the regional grid.

“We’re pleased the Public Service Commission supported the project need,” said Deb Mirasola, manager of communications and marketing for the La Crosse, Wis.-based G&T. “This line will help address reliability goals for members of our cooperative as well as address goals of transporting renewable energy from the west.”

The line is one segment of a project that will connect Hampton, Minn., and Rochester, Minn., with Wisconsin. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a route permit for its state’s portion last month.

CapX2020 officials expect the Rural Utilities Service to issue a federal Environmental Impact Statement for the project later this year, and hope to start construction in 2013.

The Hampton‐Rochester‐La Crosse project will run about $500 million and is scheduled to be energized in 2015. That will complete the three 345-kv lines and one 230-kv lines that are part of the current CapX2020 plan.

“The Wisconsin regulatory process is thorough, comprehensive and provides many opportunities for public and agency involvement,” said Priti Patel, CapX2020 co‐director. “The project expands the electric infrastructure to support the area’s long‐term economic development and job growth.”

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