Basin Electric’s first-ever Dynamic Line Rating installation enhances grid capability in northwestern North Dakota

Dynamic Line Rating device shown installed on a transmission line
A Dynamic Line Rating device is shown on a transmission line after it was recently installed by the cooperative.

In collaboration with Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) and Ampacimon, Basin Electric is investing in technology that will enhance grid capability in northwestern North Dakota. To allow for more electricity to flow across currently operating transmission lines this summer in the area, the cooperative is installing 19 Ampacimon Dynamic Line Rating (DLR) devices on WAPA’s 75-mile-long Williston-to-Charlie Creek 230-kilovolt (kV) line.

The DLR devices are transforming how transmission capacity is managed by offering real-time data, including conductor temperature and wind dynamics information. The information is transferred via a cellular connection and processed to calculate a new transmission line rating. This rating defines how much electricity a transmission line can carry at any given moment and is used by transmission operators and reliability coordinators who dispatch and control the system. Unlike the traditional line rating process which uses static assumptions to set transmission ratings based on seasonal temperature and wind considerations, this dynamic approach allows for a more flexible and efficient use of transmission lines by capturing real-time measurements of the lines allowing for increased generation and load service during certain conditions.

This is the first-ever installation the cooperative has done using these types of devices.

Ampacimon held a training for Basin Electric’s lineworkers at the cooperative’s Transmission Systems Maintenance facility in Menoken, N.D. on May 13. “These devices allow you to bridge the gap on congested lines, and to safely increase the capacity on the lines by measuring the conductor temperature and the wind speed,” said Jonathan McGinnis, application engineer at Ampacimon. Later that day they travelled to the Grassy Butte, N.D., area to install the first devices on the WAPA transmission line.

"This was a collaborative effort by both WAPA and Basin Electric and underscores our dedication to investing in technologies that enhance the grid’s existing capability," said Basin Electric Vice President of Transmission Jeremy Severson. “By investing in initiatives like this DLR project, we are aiming to take full advantage of the transmission capacity of these facilities that will bridge us until additional transmission is constructed. The goal is to fully utilize the capability of the transmission system we have in place, maintain reliability, and to minimize congestion on our grid. The utilization of that existing capacity ultimately helps keep costs low to maintain affordability for our members and rural America."

This deployment of advanced monitoring technologies is one of the many ways Basin Electric continues to invest in expanding generation and transmission capabilities to maintain and enhance reliability for its membership. The cooperative is currently building about 580 megawatts of natural gas generation near the Pioneer Generation Station, northwest of Williston, N.D. The project is referred to as Pioneer Generation Station Phase IV and is Basin Electric’s largest single-site electric generation project to be built in the state in 40 years. The cooperative is also building major transmission lines and several substations in western North Dakota to maintain reliability and service of the power grid in the region including two 345-kV lines that will double the load serving capability in the region. These two projects equate to roughly $500 million invested to serve the membership. Looking to the next five years, Basin Electric’s financial forecast projects $4 billion in capital expenditures to maintain reliable power.

The cooperative anticipates more DLR devices could be installed in the future. “We will continue to work with WAPA and our members to see if there are more congested transmission facilities or other critical lines that could take advantage of this technology,” Severson said. “The advancement of line monitoring will be a vital stepping stone until additional transmission is developed across our region. In addition, these monitoring devices will also allow visibility into icing and galloping situations. These are common issues in our northern area and would give our transmission operator somewhat of an advanced notice of impending system conditions by receiving the data from these sensors.”