Great River Energy 500 kV tower down

ELK RIVER, Minn., Aug. 9, 2001 — The heavy winds and thunderstorms that rumbled through northeastern Minnesota last night toppled a giant tower on the 500-kV transmission line that runs from Forbes to Chisago City.

The 500-kV line, which is jointly owned by Great River Energy and Xcel Energy, can carry as much as 1,800 megawatts (MW) of electricity from Manitoba Power in Canada into the state.

With the line down, Manitoba Power is limited to sending 300 MW of electricity into the Minnesota market. At the time the tower went down, the line was carrying approximately 1,800 MW of electricity into the hot and humid state. As a result, the utility declared a North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) emergency through the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool (MAPP).

Although the 120-foot tower fell across a railroad track at 5:05 p.m., causing freight train delays, its loss resulted in no electrical outages to customers in the area. However, Lake Country Power Cooperative, Virginia; Cooperative Light & Power, Two Harbors; and Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, Lutsen, have experienced numerous distribution system outages over the last few days.

Crews from Great River Energy and Xcel Energy currently are working to erect a new transmission tower at the site, with the earliest completion expected to be Sunday, August 12. Crews first have to build a road to the site, because the tower is located in a remote location. After the tower is erected at the nearby town of Forbes, it will be flown to the actual site by helicopter.

Headquartered in Elk River, Minn., Great River Energy is a not-for-profit generation and transmission electric cooperative providing wholesale electric energy and related services to 29 distribution cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin serving 1.2 million people. Great River Energy is the second largest utility in Minnesota, in terms of generating capacity, and the fifth largest utility of its type in the United States. Visit

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