The state of Minnesota has approved a route for a high-voltage electric transmission line between Monticello and St. Cloud.
The new line is part of Cap-X 2020, a multi-staged statewide project, and will run along Interstate 94, connecting Xcel Energy's nuclear power plant at Monticello with the growing St. Cloud area.
A Xcel spokesman said this 28-mile line eventually will run from a substation in St. Cloud to Fargo, North Dakota. That line has been approved in concept, but not routed yet.
Xcel Energy's Darrin Lahr said the current routing decision fits with plans for the longer line.
"The location of the substation west of St. Cloud is in sort of a gravel mining, agricultural, commercial area," Lahr said. "It's a very good location for a facility like that."
Lahr said the improvements are needed.
"We think this is an important incremental step forward in ensuring that there's reliable electric service for our customers, and it also begins to provide a strong foundation for the renewable development that's occurring across the state," he said.
Citizen groups are opposing other parts of the ambitious Cap-X 2020 project; resistance to this line has mainly come from affected land owners.
Xcel will begin negotiating easements with more than 100 landowners along the route. Construction could start this winter, and the line is scheduled to be in service by early 2012.