Utilities finding ways to get wind energy on wires, meet demand
WILLMAR -- Power companies are finding ways to get more wind energy on the transmission system to meet the growing demand for electricity. But companies say the present transmission system doesn't accommodate the number of requests to get wind en...
WILLMAR -- Power companies are finding ways to get more wind energy on the transmission system to meet the growing demand for electricity.
But companies say the present transmission system doesn't accommodate the number of requests to get wind energy on the power lines.
One solution being proposed by CapX 2020, a group of nine transmission-owning utilities in Minnesota and Wisconsin, is to construct a 230-mile, high-voltage power line from Brookings, S.D., to the Twin Cities to provide an outlet for wind energy and enhance reliability in the south metro area.
Also, Otter Tail Power Company of Fergus Falls and other organizations are studying the effects of additional electricity from small generators on the transmission system in the west central region of the state and the costs of delivering the power to where it's needed.
These and other transmission projects were discussed Thursday afternoon in Willmar during the third of six meetings held around the state to gather comments about transmission needs, possible transmission line projects, and local transmission needs, inadequacies and possible solutions.
Sixteen investor-owned companies, cooperatives and municipal utilities are required by state law to identify and plan for reasonably foreseeable inadequacies in the transmission system. The overall goal is to ensure the reliability of the system to meet power demands at the lowest reasonable cost.
The utilities, including Willmar Municipal Utilities, are required to report their findings each odd-numbered year to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The next report is due in 2007.
The utilities say the demand for electricity will grow 2.5 percent per year through 2020. New generation will be needed to meet the demand, and new transmission lines will be needed to deliver the electricity to homes, farms and businesses.
Mike Steckelberg, transmission planning project engineer with Great River Energy of Elk River, one of the companies at the meeting, said the utilities are interested in people's comments on the transmission system.
"This is a service we provide people, providing reliable electricity through the transmission system to keep the lights on,'' he said.
"Nobody wants poles in their yards or across their fields. But electricity seems to be a popular commodity that people just continue to use,'' said Steckelberg. "As they develop new homes around the west central part of the state, we're going to need some new transmission in order to serve that new load.''
Steckelberg said the 12-state region including Minnesota, where the Midwest Independent System Operator coordinates transmission planning, has tens of thousands of megawatts of wind generation capacity available.
He said the Midwest Independent System Operator has received requests to place about 6,500 megawatts of wind generation into the system. Unfortunately, the system has capacity for only about 825 megawatts, he said.
For more information, or to comment on transmission projects, go to www.minnelectrans.com