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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, March 7, 2014                                     

CONTACT: Leah Mohr, deputy executive director, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, (605) 773-3201 or (605) 280-4327                                                         


PUC approves northeastern South Dakota transmission project


PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota's electric transmission system will receive a boost with the recent approval of a new 345-kilovolt line to be constructed in Deuel and Brookings counties. The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission last month granted a permit to Xcel Energy and Otter Tail Power Co. to jointly construct 43 miles of line and associated facilities of the Big Stone South-Brookings County project.


The commission approved the northern portion of the project in the spring of 2013. Altogether, the companies are constructing an approximate 70-mile line to run from near Big Stone City to near White that is expected to improve regional reliability and support renewable energy. The project has been designated as a Multi-Value Project by MISO, the independent organization responsible for maintaining transmission reliability, operating the transmission grid and administering wholesale electricity markets in 15 Midwestern states and Manitoba. The benefits and costs of MVP lines are shared more broadly than those of traditional transmission projects.


The companies brought the application to the PUC in June 2013. The PUC held a public input hearing in Brookings in July 2013 where commissioners heard comments from affected landowners and responses by company representatives. At a February 2014 meeting, the PUC accepted a settlement agreement developed by the companies, intervenors and PUC staff that outlined terms and conditions for the construction of the facilities. Company officials have indicated construction will begin in late 2015 and be ready for service in 2017.


"A challenge to energy development, particularly in this part of the county, is access to transmission infrastructure," said PUC Chairman Gary Hanson. "The new capacity this project will provide is a tremendous opportunity that will lead to more opportunities," he said.


"I appreciate the planning, communication and coordination necessary for a project of this magnitude," PUC Vice Chairman Chris Nelson commented. "Among the key priorities are for the company to be up-front, respectful of landowner issues and focused on what's best for its customers."


"It's a great day for South Dakota when a regulatory process ends with a new transmission line being approved," Commissioner Kristie Fiegen said. "I really appreciate the manner in which the companies worked with landowners to gain permissions and resolve issues."

View the complete docket on the PUC's website. Go to . Click on "Commission Actions," "Commission Dockets," "Electric Dockets," "2013 Electric Dockets." The docket is titled "EL13-020 - In the Matter of the Application of Northern States Power Company dba Xcel Energy and Otter Tail Power Company for a Permit to Construct the Big Stone South to Brookings County 345 kV Transmission Line."