Operational Excellence
October 12, 2023

Transmission upgrades in the Upper Midwest aim to reduce system congestion

Xcel Energy joins with Grid North Partners to increase access to renewable energy generation

Xcel Energy is joining other utilities in Grid North Partners to implement 19 transmission project upgrades that will enable more low-cost renewable energy to be delivered from western Minnesota to customers throughout the region. Expected to be built over the next three years, these projects will span Minnesota and touch eastern South Dakota with the goal of reducing congestion on the transmission system. 

“We have individually made several improvements to our systems to reduce congestion, but working together has allowed us to holistically study the system and identify these additional 19 solutions that can be quickly implemented on a coordinated basis,” Grid North Partners said in a joint statement. “This work will help us maintain reliable service, keep electric prices low and achieve clean energy goals for customers and members.” 

Transmission congestion has become an increasingly noticeable issue, particularly in western Minnesota, in part due to the construction of new energy generation resources outpacing the construction of new transmission lines. Congestion is a limitation on the electric transmission system preventing the most economically generated energy, often low-cost renewable energy, from being delivered to customers throughout the region. When the transmission system is unable to move this electricity, market prices rise and the lowest-cost generation often needs to be curtailed, resulting in higher electricity costs. 

The 19 identified projects primarily include upgrading existing transmission lines and substations to increase system capacity. These updates are estimated to cost approximately $130 million and are expected to provide economic savings for customers in excess of the investment. These savings help ensure continued access to low-cost electricity for utility customers and cooperative members throughout the region. 

Grid North Partners is a broad mix of 10 investor-owned and not-for-profit cooperative and municipal utilities working together to ensure continued safe, reliable and cost-effective electric service to customers in the Upper Midwest. In addition to Xcel Energy, the Grid North Partners include Central Municipal Power Agency/Services (CMPAS), Dairyland Power Cooperative (DPC), Great River Energy (GRE), Minnesota Power (MP), Missouri River Energy Services (MRES), Otter Tail Power Company (OTP), Rochester Public Utilities (RPU), Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) and WPPI Energy. 

For more information on the projects, visit the Grid North Partners website