Minnesota Approves Transmission Lines to High-Wind Resource Area

March 03, 2003

Transmission towers and lines in sunset.

Transmission is important for wind energy because the bulk of the nation's high-wind resources lie in relatively remote areas far from population centers.
Credit: Warren Gretz, NREL

A Minnesota administrative law judge recommended in December that the Public Utility Commission (PUC) move ahead with Xcel Energy's proposal to build a transmission line from the high-wind resource area. The recommendation is for a "certificate of need," a formal step necessary for the PUC to move ahead with the proposal.

The transmission line would run from the Buffalo Ridge in the southwestern part of the state toward the population centers farther east. Although a transmission line cannot be built for a particular type of resource—wind, coal, natural gas, etc.—the line would provide transmission capacity that could then be placed under contract for moving wind-generated electricity from the sparsely populated windy areas to population centers. The line must be built concurrently with Xcel's planned wind power plants along Buffalo Ridge over the next two to three years in order for Xcel's distribution system to handle the power. Currently there are about 260 megawatts (MW) of wind-generating capacity proposed or under construction in Minnesota, most of it along the Buffalo Ridge.

The details and timing of such deals are complicated. For more information about transmission issues in the Upper Midwest, see a fact sheet published in March 2003 by the National Wind Coordinating Committee.

Source: December 12, 2003, issue of Wind Energy Weekly.