Minnesota plans for $2B investment in state’s electric grid

Minnesota is moving to invest more than $2 billion in new transmission lines to expand the electric grid.
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 12:44 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Minnesota is moving to invest more than $2 billion in new transmission lines to expand the electric grid.

According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, transmission lines are the highways for our electric grid to deliver power to Minnesota homes and businesses.

This investment is part of $10 billion in new transmission lines planned for the Midwest under a coordinated effort by MISO (Mid-Continent Independent System Operator), which manages the regional electric grid for 15 Midwest and southern states, and Manitoba.

There are eighteen proposed lines, three of those in Minnesota. One of the Minnesota lines runs along Rochester Public Utilities’ North substation just north of Pine Island.

As more communities look to add renewable energy projects, energy leaders say the state’s power grid isn’t able to provide enough energy.

“There isn’t enough capacity in these lines to get those energy resources into the market,” Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold said.

So, several state departments are working together on a multi-billion dollar plan for new transmission lines to make our power grid more reliable and cost effective.

“Projects of that magnitude benefit from utility partners and really all stakeholders working together for the benefit of the region and more specifically more members and our customers,” Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency CEO & executive director Dave Geschwind said.

“We certainly look forward to working in the future on this next set of projects with our partners as this next important set of projects will enhance the reliability of the system, the affordability of the system and ultimately the sustainability of the system,” RPU General Manager Mark Kotschevar said.

“It’s a really efficient way to do energy as long as you have the right people involved,” Rochester City Council RPU Representative Patrick Keane said.

Not only will our power grid store more energy, but also make our region more energy independent.

“We talk a lot about capacity and it will help with capacity, but there’s also reliability by adding these sort of transmission lines,” Keane said.

Energy leaders say the state will be saving on fuel and investing in local resources,

“We really get paid for this work as RPU. It really comes to bear in off-setting our long term bills,” Keane said.

As Rochester works to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, city leaders say this is a step in the right direction.

“Our staff knows what they’re doing. I think we’re positioning Rochester for the future,” Keane said.

As for a timeline on this project, actual development could still be another 4 to 6 years. Developers still need to work with landowners, engineers and designers before any construction starts.

As for the next step, the plans needs to be approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce and leaders from energy organizations gathered at Rochester Public Utilities Chester substation Tuesday to explain more about the future of Minnesota’s energy with this new investment.

You can watch the full news conference below:

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