Project utilities filed a Certificate of Need application with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on September 29, 2023, for the Big Stone South-Alexandria-Big Oaks project; concurrent with that application the Project utilities filed an application for a Route Permit for the eastern segment of the project between the Alexandria Substation and Big Oaks substation. The eastern segment primarily consists of adding a second circuit to existing infrastructure within the current easement with a short section of new right-of-way leading to the Big Oaks substation on Xcel Energy property.
The State of Minnesota has scheduled public scoping meetings to begin developing the Environmental Assessment for the project. Click here to view the schedule.
Several Minnesota energy companies are proposing to build new transmission projects in the Upper Midwest to improve electric reliability, reduce transmission congestion, and increase access to renewable energy in the region. The Alexandria-Big Oaks project will involve stringing a new transmission line on the existing CapX2020 structures between the existing Alexandria substation and a new substation to be located on Xcel Energy property near the Sherco power plant in Becker, Minn..
The Alexandria-Big Oaks project is part of the Big Stone South-Alexandria-Big Oaks project. Learn more about the Big Stone South-Alexandria project here.
Before moving forward with construction, we will prepare applications to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for a Certificate of Need and a Route Permit. The applications are expected to be filed in mid-2023, initiating a 12- to 15-month public review process led by the Commission.
If approved, construction would begin in late 2024 and be complete by the end of 2025.
Reliable. Resilient. Renewables.
Minnesota's electric grid has served customers reliably for more than a century as our society has grown and changed, including the ways in which we create and use electricity. In the mid-1900s through the early 2000s, most of the electricity used in our region was generated by large coal plants.
In recent years, utilities have added new renewable energy, such as wind and solar, and retired aging plants that reached their expected useful lives. As plants are retired, new transmission is needed to deliver projects from where renewable energy is generated to the grid connections that have been built up over the century, including Central Minnesota where the Big Oaks substation will be located.
Additionally, the existing transmission system has begun to experience congestion due to the amount of new wind that has been built in the Upper Midwest over the years. Adding a second circuit to the existing transmission line will improve congestion on the system, reducing cost for customers.
Minnesota law requires energy companies that propose high-voltage transmission lines to file a Certificate of Need application, which is reviewed by the Public Utilities Commission. The application includes data such as engineering information, cost estimates, alternatives that were considered, and other information needed for the Commission to determine if the new infrastructure is needed to serve Minnesota electric customers and is in the public interest to construct.
Public review of Certificates of Need applications are overseen by an Administrative Law Judge who gathers written and verbal testimony provided by utility applicants and stakeholders such as the Department of Commerce (which represents Minnesota electric customers) and other groups that often participate in the review. The Judge will also oversee the public process where landowners, local governments and others can provide comments, either written and submitted to the docket or verbally at public meetings.
The Certificate of Need will cover the entirety of the Big Stone South-Alexandria-Big Oaks project, but separate Route Permit applications will be filed for the Big Stone South-Alexandria and Alexandria-Big Oaks segments.