North Dakota PSC changes route for 345-kV transmission project

The North Dakota Public Service Commission approved a few minor route modifications for the Big Stone South to Ellendale transmission project to address a county road setback requirement and landowner concerns, a spokesperson for project manager Otter Tail Power told TransmissionHub Dec. 23.

The PSC’s Dec. 16 order authorized an amended certificate of corridor compatibility and an amended route permit for the transmission line, which is a joint project between Otter Tail Power and Montana-Dakota Utilities, a unit of MDU Resources.

Otter Tail Power serves as the project manager for the Big Stone South to Ellendale project, which is a 345-kV facility to connect a new Big Stone South substation in Grant County, S.D., with a new Ellendale substation in North Dakota. The nearly 160-mile project is expected to cost between $293 million and $370 million, according to the project’s website.

The PSC in 2014 approved a corridor certificate and route permit for the North Dakota portion of the project, which is about 11 miles in Dickey County from the Ellendale substation to the South Dakota border.

The first route modification was to accommodate a landowner who wanted more distance between the line and a residence, the Otter Tail Power spokesperson told TransmissionHub.

“This modification also enables the project to reduce the number of structures and slightly reduce the length of the transmission line,” she said.

A second modification was for a county road setback requirement and a landowner request, she said, adding that the project developers do not expect the change to impact any new landowners or environmental or cultural resources.

In addition, most of the structure locations have had minor shifts within the planned route of a few feet, the Otter Tail Power spokesperson noted.

In its order, the PSC said Otter Tail Power sought the minor route modifications in September in Ellendale Township and Van Meter Township, and following a notice period, no party sought a hearing on the changes. The North Dakota Department of Health filed comments stating that the environmental impacts from the proposed construction will be minor and can be controlled by proper construction methods, the PSC said.

The proposed facilities are compatible with environmental preservation and the efficient use of resources, and will ensure that energy needs are met in an orderly and timely fashion, according to the order.

“The proposed project is of such design, location, and purpose that it will produce minimal adverse effects,” the PSC concluded.

Construction of the Big Stone South to Ellendale project is expected to begin in 2016, with a planned in-service date in 2019, the Otter Tail Power spokesperson said.

Otter Tail Power, which has customers in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, is a subsidiary of Otter Tail Corp.

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