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Power line nears completion in Dakota County

Construction crews used helicopters this week to complete work on power poles installed as part of the CapX2020 transmission line to Hampton. The line should be live sometime in April.

Construction of a new powerline project through the southern townships of Dakota County is nearing its completion.

The 345 kilovolt transmission line is part of the CapX2020 project, designed to upgrade the energy capabilities of this area for years to come. Part of the Brookings County-Hampton line project, the line that is being completed runs through portions of Eureka and Castle Rock townships and ends in Hampton at a new substation being constructed there.

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.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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