The electric grid is considered one of the most complex machines in the world, quietly and consistently delivering the electricity we need for everyday life.
If you look at the graphic below, you’ll see there are a number of steps to ultimately deliver power to its final stop — your home. These steps involve fixed costs such as poles, wires, transformers, meters, etc; not to mention the maintenance of all these items. The costs for these things are incurred whether or not energy is being used at a service location or not.
To ensure these costs are properly recovered—regardless of how much/little energy is consumed—it is common for utilities to bill a fixed facility charge in addition to a metered energy cost. This ensures fixed costs are distributed fairly among members/consumers.
The following projects are part of a larger group of 18 transmission projects approved in 2022 by our region’s grid operator, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). It’s part of the first phase of integrating new generation resources and boosting grid resilience as the energy transition continues.
Northland Reliability Project
Great River Energy and Minnesota Power are jointly building the Northland Reliability Project, an approximately 180-mile 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line from northern Minnesota near Grand Rapids to central Minnesota near Becker. Learn more at northlandreliabilityproject.com
Alexandria to Big Oaks Expansion Project
Great River Energy, Minnesota Power, Missouri River Energy Services, Otter Tail Power Company, and Xcel Energy are developing another transmission project called Alexandria-Big Oaks. This will add a new transmission circuit to the existing 345-kV transmission structures that run mainly along Interstate 94 (part of the CapX2020 project). The transmission structures along Interstate 94 were built as ‘double-circuit capable’ to accommodate a project such as this, which minimizes the need for additional easements from landowners. A short segment of new construction will be needed to connect the 345-kV transmission line from the Alexandria Substation to the new Big Oaks Substation. Learn more about the project at