Xcel Energy completes major transmission projects to deliver more wind energy

Xcel Energy today announced the successful completion of the Buffalo Ridge Incremental Generation Outlet (BRIGO) Transmission Projects, designed to increase the system’s ability to carry wind power to Minnesota and South Dakota customers.

The BRIGO series of projects installed approximately 50 miles of new transmission lines from the wind power rich Buffalo Ridge area of Minnesota and South Dakota.

BRIGO serves as the capstone to a decade of transmission work undertaken by Xcel Energy to increase the delivery of wind energy from the region. Since 1999, the utility has constructed 280 miles of new 345 kilovolt and 115 kilovolt transmission lines and upgraded 300 miles of existing transmission lines and associated substations.

The projects increased the system’s export capacity from 260 megawatts in 1999 to approximately 1,200 megawatts in 2009, enough wind energy to power 300,000 households.

“Xcel Energy delivers more wind power than any utility in the nation and it is critical that we have the capacity to move large amounts of wind energy from where it is abundant to customers throughout the region,” said Kent Larson, Xcel Energy vice president of transmission and operating services. “The completion of these projects allows us to more efficiently harvest this area’s vital energy resources, and it will also provide more reliable electricity service to our customers.”

Currently, wind energy is almost 8 percent of Xcel Energy’s fuel mix in the Upper Midwest, and by 2020 it is planned that wind power will be about 19 percent of the company’s energy portfolio in the region.

The BRIGO series of projects included:

1. A second 115 kilovolt transmission line connecting Fenton Substation in Murray County, Minn., to Nobles County Substation in Nobles County, Minn.

2. A new 115 kilovolt line from Lake Yankton Substation to Southeast Marshall Substation, both located in Lyon County, Minn.

3. A second 115 kilovolt line from Yankee Substation in Lincoln County, Minn., to Brookings County Substation in South Dakota.

4. A second 345 kilovolt line connecting Brookings County and White substations in Brookings County, S.D.

5. Associated transformer installations in Nobles County and Brookings County.

Work on the BRIGO projects was completed ahead of schedule at a total cost of approximately $55 million.

Xcel Energy is committed to minimizing its impact on the environment. The company is the nation’s No. 1 wind energy provider and is a leader in emissions reduction programs and the development of new technologies to bring clean, renewable energy onto its system at a reasonable cost for customers.