Tough winter delays N.D. power line project
The extreme winter is delaying the completion of Minnkota Power Cooperative’s 345-kilovolt Center-to-Grand Forks transmission line by about five months.
The new timeline is the end of July, according to Michael Hennes, project manager.
“Sometimes, Mother Nature wins,” he said.
Last spring, officials had targeted the end of February for completion of the $312-million, 250-mile-long project.
“With abnormal temperatures starting in November and not letting up, the ability to construct the line has been limited,” he said. “When the sun does come out, winds often pick up and create additional challenges for the crane and helicopter crews.”
Work has been suspended for multiple days at a time since November, he said.
The project is 93 percent completed, he said. The last of the 1,334 foundations to hold the towers was completed Feb. 12.
“Crews are exposed,” he said. “There’s no protection from the elements, particularly the helicopter and tall cranes that we use to put up the towers.”
Helicopters are used to string lines from tower to tower.
The line runs from a Minnkota power plant near Center, N.D., to Grand Forks. While some crews continue to work on a Missouri River crossing, other work has been halted until spring, he said, after spring road restrictions are lifted.
The company anticipated some winter delays, he said. It estimated construction would continue at about 70 to 75 percent of the normal pace. However, this winter, that pace has been reduced to about 50 percent.
“Safety of the construction workers, who work entirely exposed to the elements, is the highest priority,” he said.