A new transmission substation south of Grand Forks is set to fortify power reliability for Nodak Electric members this year. Walle substation is one of the largest transmission substations Minnkota Power Cooperative (Nodak’s wholesale power supplier) has built to date. When fully energized in the spring of 2024, it will receive 230-kilovolt (kV) power from Minnkota’s transmission lines, step it down through a transformer and send it on its way as 69-kV electricity for Nodak’s distribution substations.
The new infrastructure is a product of a multiyear Minnkota system study. The study determined that a transmission substation near southern Grand Forks would be critical to keep electric reliability high for a quickly developing region.
“This substation will allow for additional load growth. And reliability is a big factor. The investment is worth it because this will help out in the future,” said Ryan Brorby, Minnkota substation engineering manager. “This will prevent transmission congestion, and we won’t find ourselves in a power bind.”
Many external partners came together to help support Walle substation. Nodak Electric Cooperative was heavily involved in the project, which was happening in the community it serves. The Nodak team set up a new service at the substation site to support the work of Minnkota and its contractors, and it was no simple task – they needed to bury underground line under a road to reach the site. “They were really great to work with, and they did it really quickly,” said Minnkota electrical engineer Kara Laframboise.
The City of Grand Forks also became a strong partner for Walle substation, knowing that a new transmission substation would support goals for economic development. City inspectors visiting the site commented on the remarkable quality of the site work. With so many developments happening around the city in 2023, they were pleased to have an “easy” item to check off the list.
“Everyone says, ‘A substation is getting built,’ and they get a little jumpy about that, thinking it’s going to be this ugly-looking thing,” Brorby said. “What I’ve heard around the community is that everyone was impressed and happy with how the process went.”