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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, Nov. 7, 2014 

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


PUC approves transmission line by Black Hills Power


Pierre, S.D. – The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission gave the go-ahead this week to Black Hills Power to construct approximately 45 miles of a 230-kilovolt transmission line in western South Dakota, from Wyoming to the company's Lange Substation near Rapid City. The full project will originate at the company's Teckla Substation in Campbell County, Wyoming, and span about 145 miles. Black Hills Power expects to begin construction in early 2015 and the line to be in service by January 2016.

In Black Hills Power's application, filed with the commission on June 30, 2014, the company cited growing demand and strengthening and improving transmission system reliability as reasons for requesting the permit to construct the new line. The commission held a hearing on Nov. 6 in Pierre to consider a settlement agreement offered by PUC staff and Black Hills Power. The settlement requested the commission grant the permit, accepting the 31 conditions agreed to by the company and PUC staff.

The PUC held a public input hearing in Rapid City in August, which was attended by nearly 100 people. Commissioners heard comments and responses offered by interested landowners and company officials, respectively.

About 80 percent of the project will be constructed upon lands managed by the Black Hills National Forest, while the remaining property is privately-owned.

"The geography of the area certainly presents significant challenges and limits the route options," said Commission Chairman Gary Hanson. "Additionally, the 'Hills' are an important treasure for enjoyment of everyone who visits and especially the residents who live there. The company responded to citizen and commission concerns in a responsible manner in order to be able to deliver reliable electricity that those same persons need and expect," he stated.

Landowner relations and communication were recurring themes throughout the period the application was processed by the PUC and during the Nov. 6 hearing at which the commission issued their decision. "I appreciate the company listening to the input of affected landowners and making changes to the initial route to lessen concerns," PUC Vice Chairman Chris Nelson stated. "I expect Black Hills Power will continue to negotiate in good faith and treat landowners fairly," he continued.

Commissioner Kristie Fiegen addressed the complexity of electric transmission siting cases. "This is the third transmission siting docket I have heard and I've found each one to be fascinating," she said. "This particular case involved public and private lands, bringing with it unique facts and details unlike other cases. While it's unlikely any transmission project will please everyone, I am confident in this decision and extend appreciation for the efforts of the company and PUC staff that got us to this point," she concluded.

PUC approval is a component of the overall regulatory process required of Black Hills Power before construction can begin. The company must also secure approval from other agencies, including those needed as part of the National Environmental Policy Act.

View the complete docket on the PUC's website. Go to Click on "Commission Actions," "Commission Dockets," "Electric Dockets," "2014 Electric Dockets." The docket is titled "EL14-061 - In the Matter of the Application of Black Hills Power, Inc. for a Permit to Construct a 230 kV Transmission Line from Northeastern Wyoming to the Rapid City Area in South Dakota."