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Eagan, MN (KROC-AM News) - The organization that oversees the electrical power transmission grid throughout the Midwest has approved a long-range upgrade plan costing more than $10 billion that includes expanding the CapX 2020 transmission line system in the Rochester area.

The project is designed to complete the second circuit of the original CapX2020 line that now runs from Rochester to the Mississippi River and into western Wisconsin. According to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) website, the $689 million project will connect the North Rochester substation to the Xcel Energy Wilmarth substation north of Mankato with a new 345 kilovolt (kV) power transmission line.

If the proposed project is approved by government regulators and the utilities that will be asked to share in the cost, MISO is estimating the new transmission line could be operational in 2028.

Grid North Partners
Grid North Partners

The list of projects approved by MISO also includes new 345 kV transmission lines running from eastern South Dakota to Alexandria, and then to a substation just northwest of the Twin Cities, which would also be linked with a new transmission line into the Iron Range at a total cost of more than $1.5 billion. It's estimated those new transmission facilities will be ready for use in 2030.

According to MISO, the upgrades to the region's power grid will result in "more reliable and resilient energy delivery; congestion and fuel savings; avoided resource and transmission investment; improved distribution of renewable energy; and reduced carbon emissions.

An organization called Grid North Partners, which includes Rochester Public Utilities and the Rochester-based Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, issued a press release welcoming MISO's approval of the projects.

“The Upper Midwest region leads the country in renewable energy, and as our system transitions away from fossil fuel plants, we need new transmission infrastructure to help ensure reliability and resilience, deliver carbon-free energy, and keep bills affordable for our customers,” Grid North Partners said in a joint statement. “We stand ready to develop these new projects.”

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