More power to Minot

Xcel Energy celebrates completion of enhanced area infrastructure

State, local and Xcel Energy officials prepare to cut the­ ribbon on the Magic City-McHenry transmission line and substation southeast of Minot Tuesday.

State and local officials joined Xcel Energy executives Tuesday in celebrating the completion of a new transmission line and substation that will help provide capacity and reliability to electrical service in the Minot area.

“We are bringing in a stronger source of electrical power to the Minot area. Minot has grown and with it, the electrical needs of the whole area has grown,” said Greg Chamberlain, regional vice president for Xcel Energy.

The Magic City-McHenry transmission line is a 20-mile, double circuit 230/115 kilovolt line running between the existing McHenry substation near Velva and the new Magic City substation in Minot.

About four years in the making, the transmission line went into construction with the Hooper Corp. as contractor in October 2017. The nearly $50 million project will be energized next month and will replace the existing line that was built more than 60 years ago. The structures for the new line also take up less ground area than the old double structures, which allows farmers to work right up to the structure base, according to Xcel. Removal of the old structures will begin in late 2018.

“We have invested about $1 billion in the electrical infrastructure of North Dakota over the last six years,” Chamberlain said. “The $50 million investment is another example of how we are continuing our commitment to the state of North Dakota.”

Xcel worked with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish 40 acres of pollinator habitat around the substation, seeding wildflowers and native plants. Planted last May, the habitat is expected to take three years to fully develop.

Because the facility is in the migration path of the whopping crane, 5,000 bird diverters were installed to protect the cranes and other flying birds from the electrical lines.

Speaking at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford, Public Service Commission Chairman Randy Christmann, Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma and Ward County Commissioner and Minot Area Development Corp. Chairman Jim Rostad. Representatives of the congressional delegation read congratulatory letters. Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak and other local officials also attended.

Sanford commended the utility industry for its efforts in serving the growth in the Bakken region over the years.

“This is just another example of staying ahead of it,” he said. “This new transmission line provides the capacity and the reliability the Minot region needs to continue growing.”

More than 200 single pole steel structures, 878,000 feet of power line and 3,200 cubic yards of poured concrete were used to build the new transmission line.

Local contractors included KLJ Engineering, Strata Concrete and Sundre Sand & Gravel. Crews supported the local Minot economy during construction using local businesses including hotels, restaurants and other businesses in the service industry.

Michael Lamb, senior vice president at Xcel, voiced pride in the construction project’s safety record, with only one minor worker injury in 100,000 hours of construction.