September 01, 2016

BSSE Transmission Line project kicks off construction

BSSE construction kickoff presentation speakers

Line will improve reliability, increase capacity, support renewable energy and local businesses

Today the 163-mile Big Stone South-Ellendale (BSSE) 345-kilovolt transmission line project kicked off construction during an event in Webster, South Dakota. Almost 100 people attended, including state regulatory and legislative officials, wind industry and contractor representatives, county and township chairs, and city and tribal representatives.

When complete, the line will connect the new Big Stone South Substation near Big Stone City, South Dakota, to the new Ellendale Substation near Ellendale, North Dakota. Project owners, Otter Tail Power Company and Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., anticipate the project to cost between $293 million and $370 million. They expect to complete construction late in 2018.

“This transmission resource is a major supplement to the existing grid in northeastern South Dakota, providing critical reliability improvements through capacity and geographic diversity,” said South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Chairman Chris Nelson.

Tim Rogelstad, president of Otter Tail Power Company, concurred with Nelson and noted that major transmission projects such as Big Stone South to Ellendale will provide this region with access to low-cost generation resources well into the future. Rogelstad also stated that in an era of energy policy uncertainty it’s more important than ever to have access to a variety of resources. “An all-of-the-above generation strategy keeps electricity prices affordable for our customers and ensures energy independence for our nation,” he said.

The project is one of 16 multi-value projects (MVPs) approved by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., (MISO) and state regulatory agencies to:

  • Improve reliability of the electric system.
  • Increase system capacity to address growth in demand for electricity.
  • Support public policy by enabling renewable energy to be integrated into the system.
  • Boost regional economies by creating jobs, supporting local businesses, and contributing taxes.

During the event, Nicole Kivisto, president and CEO of Montana-Dakota Utilities Co., said, “We are proud to be a part of this important project that will improve reliability and increase capacity on the electric system. We have a great partnership with Otter Tail Power Company and look forward to the benefits this new power line will bring to the area.”

JoAnn Thompson, vice president, asset management, Otter Tail Power Company, serves on the project’s management committee. “Having been involved with MISO and the inception of the MVP projects, celebrating our transition from planning to construction is energizing!” she said.

Project owners estimate construction of the line will require an average of 75 crew members, with a peak of 150 crew members during the height of construction. Thompson noted that local and regional contractors—including Webster-based Webster Scale, Inc., Rapid City-based Brink Constructors, Inc., and Sioux Falls-based Jacobsen Tree Experts—are working on the project. “It’s exciting to see the jobs and growth this line contributes to the regional economies,” she said. According to Thompson, renewable-energy generators already are seeking to interconnect projects with the Big Stone South to Ellendale line, which will further economic development.

Darrin Lahr, regional customer affairs director for MISO, expounded on several of the project’s regional benefits and explained that MISO’s goal is to provide consumers with reliable energy at the lowest possible cost. “The Big Stone South to Ellendale Transmission Line project is an excellent example of the benefits gained when companies and communities work together. We commend the parties on their hard work to make this project a reality,” he said.

Photo caption: BSSE construction kickoff presentation speakers. From left: Judy Vrchota, Northeast Regional Director, Office of U.S. Senator John Thune; South Dakota Public Utilities Chairman Chris Nelson; Greg Whitlock, Military and Veteran Services Representative, Office of U.S. Representative Kristi Noem; Josh Haeder, Senior Field Manager, Office of U.S. Senator Mike Rounds; Julie Voeck, NextEra Energy Resources; Tim Rogelstad, President, Otter Tail Power Company; Angela Landeen, South Dakota Wind Energy Association; Nicole Kivisto, President and CEO, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.; JoAnn Thompson, Vice President, Asset Management, Otter Tail Power Company; Joni Hamson, EDF Renewable Energy; Darrin Lahr, Regional Director Customer Affairs North Region, Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc.