Every year, Minnkota's crews work to keep our members and our region more reliable.
Our region is powered by the collaborative efforts of Minnkota Power Cooperative, its member cooperatives and the Northern Municipal Power Agency participants. Engineers, electricians, lineworkers and so many others work to identify where improvements can be made to strengthen reliability of electricity throughout the entire service territory. Every year, Minnkota’s crews tackle a series of projects within our member service territories that improve service, increase our load capabilities and keep our critical power infrastructure in tip-top shape.
Minnkota has several reliability programs geared toward the maintenance of substations and power lines, including both the uprating of equipment or complete facility rebuilds. The engineering team at the cooperative also identified a series of one-off projects that are set to help maintain load growth and keep our electric grid reliable.
As we look back on another successful year of power delivery projects, we wanted to highlight one major project in each member cooperative area that will help ensure reliable, affordable power well into the future.
Moranville – Williams 69-kV line rebuild
For several years, Minnkota has been working to remove the last remaining miles of low-capacity copper wire from its transmission system. This past summer a 20-mile stretch of line between the Moranville and Williams substations was rebuilt and replaced. The crews replaced the old wire with new, high-efficiency aluminum wire. Additionally, the original wooden poles were replaced with ductile iron structures. Minnkota rebuilds large stretches of line every year as part of a continued line maintenance and reliability program.
Cass County Electric
Frontier ripple injector
For the members who participate in the nationally recognized off-peak heating programs, ripple injectors are needed and strategically placed throughout the Minnkota system to send the signal when load control is switched on. Minnkota has been working for years to update its legacy ripple injector equipment, but with the rapid growth in the Cass County Electric service area, a new ripple injector was added to the Frontier substation in Fargo to ensure a strong load control signal is maintained in the region.
Winger substation expansion
Minnkota has been working on a series of projects referred to as the Northwest Minnesota Upgrades, which will help increase the reliability throughout the entire northwestern region of Minnesota. Part of these upgrade plans includes expanding the Winger substation that feeds Clearwater-Polk Electric and other Minnesota cooperatives. Some of the upgrades that took place at the Winger substation included the expansion of the Minnkota 230-kilovolt (kV) transmission substation and the addition of a new transformer.
New Walle substation build
The Walle transmission substation was built and energized in response to the steadily increasing load across the entire Grand Forks region and projections for future growth. Walle will be a major asset to Minnkota and its members and was built with continued reliability in mind. Read more about the Walle substation here.
Red Lake Electric
Owen substation expansion
The Owen substation is a unique substation in Minnkota’s system because it not only feeds Minnkota’s member-owner Red Lake Electric, but it also feeds generation to the Northern Municipal Power Agency (NMPA) municipal in Thief River Falls. Minnkota engineers identified significant load growth in the region and determined the Owen substation required an expansion. The substation was split to include two transformers that feed the two entities separately, allowing more capacity for the entire region.
Wild Rice Electric
Badger substation build
Wild Rice Electric was approached by a local grain elevator about expanding its operation near Erskine, Minn. The member co-op and Minnkota made plans to build a new substation to serve the needs of this load and ensure electricity stability throughout the surrounding area. Most construction projects take around three years to plan, build and close out, but with the immediate predicted load growth on Wild Rice’s system, Minnkota’s Power Delivery team worked hard to plan and build this substation on an accelerated timeline.
Distribution automation systems
One way Minnkota’s Power Delivery team is making the Beltrami service territory more reliable is through the addition of distribution automation systems at Battle, Helga, Leech Lake and Northern substations. Distribution automation systems are comprised of technology that provides Minnkota’s operators with more visibility across the power delivery system. A better understanding of system conditions helps operators respond to outages faster and allows them to open switches and reroute power more efficiently.
Red River Valley Co-op Power
Stockwood substation uprate
The Stockwood substation in the Red River Valley Co-op Power service territory received an upgrade of its transformer capacity in 2023. To make the transformer at Stockwood more efficient, and therefore have increased capacity, fans were added to help aid the natural convection that occurs inside the transformer. Keeping the equipment cooler is key in allowing more load to flow through the substation.
Cavalier Rural Electric
Hampden substation rebuild
Cavalier’s service territory has experienced significant load growth during the fall season related to the region's agricultural industry. Minnkota’s engineers identified the increased load on the aging Hampden substation and recommended a complete rebuild of the substation that has been in service for more than 50 years. The finished project will help the region support the increased load well into the future.
Robbin and St. Vincent transformer replacement
Minnkota replaced the aging transformers at the Robbin and St. Vincent substations in the PKM service territory. A unique part of this maintenance project was that the new transformers replaced six mini transformers that were common during the original construction of both substations. The new transformers allow the substations to operate more efficiently and will operate for decades to come.
North Star Electric
New Roosevelt substation build
Minnkota works closely with its member-owners to identify the right time to add substations to the grid. With the continued growth in North Star Electric’s service territory near Lake of the Woods, a new distribution substation was needed to provide reliability to the region. Adding the substation helps relieve congestion on distribution lines and allows more power to flow to designated areas in North Star’s territory.