Power line nears completion in Dakota County
Construction of a new powerline project through the southern townships of Dakota County is nearing its completion.
Dating back to 2008, the CapX2020 project has been in the works for several years. The Brookings-Hampton 345 kV line is one of six new connections being constructed around the state. Another 345 kV line under construction will run from Hampton to Rochester and on to La Crosse, Wis.The project includes 11 utility companies in the Midwest region. Great River Energy, the company that supplies both Dakota Electric Association and Xcel Energy, is one of the partners in the CapX2020 project.Construction of the 150-foot-tall poles started last fall, CapX2020 communications specialist Randy Fordice said. For the most part, workers have been on site along the construction route every day, with the exception of holidays and inclement weather.The goal, Fordice said, is to get the line through this area completed by the beginning of March, and to have the lines go live by sometime in April.Two types of poles have been constructed along the local routes. While the poles all reach the 150-foot mark, and each have six arms attached, the “tangent” poles — the ones that run in straight lines — are smaller in size than the “dead end” poles that are used to turn the line.Residents of the area have probably seen the poles in various stages of construction, or maybe even being delivered to the various locations throughout the line’s route. The poles are delivered in three sections. A crane is used to lift the poles and move them to each base, but workers on the ground guide the pole onto the base and tighten the bolts that hold it in place.Once the poles are up, a helicopter is used to hang “travelers,” what look like giant pulleys, from the arms of the poles. Hanging travelers is a careful process. The pilot has to maneuver the traveler in close enough to the pole to attach it. Once the traveler is on the arm, another person, riding on the bottom of the helicopter, gets in close enough to tighten the bolts and lock the traveler in place.This week, a helicopter is being used to string the cable from one pole to the next, attaching the cable to the travelers. Doing it this way, Fordice said, construction workers can complete between 20 and 40 poles a day.“That’s one of the reasons we went to using helicopters for this part of the process,” Fordice said. “To move from pole to pole to pole with a truck would take so much more time.”Construction of the Brookings-Hampton 345 kV line is estimated at around $700 million, Fordice said. The CapX2020 project, as a whole, is projected to cost more than $2 billion, and covers more than 800 miles.