Minnesota benefits from historic electric grid investment

Wind turbines near Blue Earth, Minn.
These wind turbines near Blue Earth, Minn., on February 23, 2018 are part of expanding wind energy production in south central Minnesota. A $2 billion expansion of the power grid in Minnesota will help distribute power from similar projects in future years.
Mark Steil | MPR News 2018

Minnesota's electric grid is slated for a $2 billion upgrade.

The investment is part of a $10 billion grid expansion in the Midwest by the Mid-Continent Independent System Operator. It’s the largest grid investment in U.S. history. Minnesota Project locations will be in Alexandria, Benton County and Rochester.

The investment will lead to more reliable electricity and create jobs, said Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold.

The investment will also relieve congestion in the grid that's prevented renewable energy projects from moving forward.

"We want to recognize that there are wind projects in southern Minnesota that have been curtailed because of the transmission line congestion,” Arnold said. “Local renewable development projects in solar have been put on hold because there isn't enough capacity in these lines to get those energy resources into the market."

A bigger, more efficient grid is essential to adequately provide power to customers in the future, and make the area attractive to newcomers, too, said Michael Lamb, Xcel Energy's Senior Vice President of transmission. 

"We've seen this state, our region grow and change. With new transmission lines, we'll continue that path of steady growth,” he said.

Construction will take years. The first step is getting public feedback, said Lamb.

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