Request for additional transmission service approved

Basin Electric recently committed to construct, own, and operate approximately 110 miles of new 230-kilovolt (kV) electric transmission line from its existing substations in northwest North Dakota to the Canadian border. 

Southwest Power Pool (SPP) identified transmission deficiencies between the United States and Canada based on a request for additional transmission service from SaskPower, a generation and transmission provider in Saskatchewan, Canada. The request was studied and approved by the SPP’s Aggregate Transmission Service Study in 2022 and Basin Electric was selected as the designated transmission owner. The new lines will be routed from the Wheelock substation near Ray, North Dakota, and the Tande substation near Tioga, North Dakota, and provide export and import capabilities of up to 650 megawatts. 

On July 8, 2022, Basin Electric received a Notice to Construct with Conditions from SPP. The notification included both the Wheelock and Tande terminal additions, along with a new 230-kV transmission line from Wheelock substation to the United States/Canada border and a new 230-kV transmission line from the Tande substation to the United States/Canada border. Basin Electric committed to construct the project and provided SPP with cost estimates on Dec. 30. 

Cost for the lines are being recovered via the SPP transmission tariff in which SaskPower is paying SPP to transport power across its system. “It’s like paying a toll to get across a bridge. SaskPower is not only buying power from SPP, they are also paying that toll to transport across the SPP system and ultimately into their territory,” said Jeremy Severson, Basin Electric transmission services manager. “SaskPower is paying for service across the SPP system which will cover any added cost impact of the facilities. There will not be any added cost impacts to existing members and ratepayers by the addition of these lines.” 

To help determine the final transmission route, a project such as this requires evaluation of several elements: environmental, engineering, land use, economics, reliability, existing transmission facilities, biological, cultural resources, and a land survey. Additionally, transmission lines that cross an international border require a Presidential permit from the U.S. Department of Energy. Permit-associated work is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2023. 

Basin Electric’s stewardship of the environment is one of its core values. Once the transmission line route is determined, structure locations and configurations will be selected to minimize impacts to property. Work on this project will be conducted in a manner that minimizes disturbance and damage to crops, fences, or other property. After construction, work areas will be restored to their previous condition as soon as possible. 

After the lines are complete and energized, maintenance crews will periodically inspect, repair, and maintain their components. Inspections are done both from the air and on the ground and are usually performed on an annual basis. Aerial inspections may be conducted more often, especially after wind, ice, or lightning storms. 

“The lines themselves not only open the opportunity for sales into Canada, but they also open the opportunity for Basin Electric and other entities to buy power out of Canada. If there is ever a situation where we can’t deliver some portion of power into the northwest region of North Dakota from SPP proper, we would have the opportunity to buy power out of Saskatchewan which is another good tool to have in Basin Electric’s tool box for the reliability of North Dakota,” Severson said.

Pending permit and easement acquisition, construction is scheduled to begin in 2026 and is anticipated to take approximately 12-18 months to complete.

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