Xcel Energy and ITC Midwest co-own the 50-mile transmission line, which runs from ITC Midwest's Huntley substation located near Winnebago to Xcel Energy's Wilmarth substation near Mankato. Xcel Energy managed construction of the project, which began in 2020 and was completed safely with no lost time injuries, significantly under budget and ahead of schedule. The total cost is projected to be $115 million, $35 million under the original cost estimate.
As two of the local energy companies serving southern Minnesota, ITC Midwest and Xcel Energy took several steps to manage construction schedules and reduce costs to save customers money while still completing the project safely and on time.
"Investments in our transmission systems strengthen reliability and help us continue our clean energy transition. This new transmission line will support our vision to reduce carbon emissions 80% by 2030 and deliver 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050," said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota. "Projects like this are successful when we work together and have the support of landowners, local officials and community leaders, and we thank everyone in southern Minnesota who participated in and supported this important new infrastructure."
"The Huntley-Wilmarth project substantially increases grid capacity and enhances system reliability while providing more efficient transmission of energy," said Dusky Terry, president of ITC Midwest. "Through the construction of this new transmission line, Xcel Energy and ITC Midwest are pleased to provide greater access to renewable energy and positively contribute to the region's economy and overall quality of life."
During the construction phase of the transmission line, the project had a significant impact to the south-central Minnesota economy, including employment of local contractors, vendors and suppliers. The regional economy benefited from the demand for supplies and services such as concrete, hardware, fuel, gravel and trucking, as well as food, lodging and other personal needs for construction crews. The transmission infrastructure provided by the project helps to spur economic development and job growth, as well as accommodate the growing needs of electricity consumers.
Although the construction is complete and the line is energized, landowners and residents in project the area will still see crews working to remove construction materials, finish clean-up activities and restore land affected by construction into early 2022.
The Iowa-Minnesota border region has been one of the most congested areas in the region's electric grid, as first identified by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) in 2008. As demand for electricity has increased since that time, it became increasingly clear that a solution was needed to ensure service reliability and resilience as well as enable the delivery of new wind power to customers in both states.
The Huntley-Wilmarth project was studied, reviewed and approved by MISO as a Market Efficiency Project (MEP) in December 2016.
Studies by MISO, Xcel Energy and ITC Midwest show that the Huntley-Wilmarth project is anticipated to produce benefits for customers in the broader region that nearly double the project investment.
Quick Facts about the Huntley-Wilmarth project
Length of line: 50 miles
Total length of conductor used: 540 miles
Number of steel monopole structures: 283
Distance between structures: approximately 1,000 feet
Height of poles: 110 to 170 feet
Amount of concrete for structure foundations: 28,000 cubic yards, enough to build a sidewalk from Mankato to St. Cloud (110 miles)
Number of construction workers who built the project: 70