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74-mile transmission line project nears completion

A 74-mile transmission line that costs about $40 million is almost complete and will take strain off the existing system, a Basin Electric Power Cooperative official said.

The line, which runs from Belfield to Rhame, is expected to be operational around March, said Daryl Hill, media relations supervisor with Basin Electric Power Cooperative. "Construction is done but there's still some work that needs to be done that will continue this spring."

The demand for electricity is increasing, and it strains the system and the new line will relieve some of the stress, Hill said Tuesday.

"In other words, you have another path or more paths for the electricity to flow to where it's going."

Hill said many aspects contribute to the increasing demand for electricity.

"It's residential growth, industrial growth, energy growth, those are some of the main reasons for building this line," he said.

The transmission line may also benefit the area financially.

"Overall, it will be a nice thing for the county, because of course they do pay taxes," said Gaylon Baker, executive vice president of the Stark Development Corp. "The important thing about that is that it gets power down to those areas of southwest North Dakota that are also doing oil production.

"Although that's not oil production right in our county, necessarily, anytime that you have something like this that is a big investment and produces more personal income for those people down in the area served, then that's good for us, because let's face it, we are a regional-center type community."

This spring, workers will put disturbed land back in place, Hill said.

"It goes from a substation near Belfield and it goes to a new substation down near the Rhame area," Hill said.

Hill said construction began in May, and at peak time about 52 employees worked on the line.

There are 524 towers within the project, or about seven per mile; 1.2 million feet of conductor was strung and each transmission line tower is about 95 feet tall.

The project's cost will be covered by a $25 million loan from the North Dakota Transmission Authority, with Rural Utilities Service financing the rest, Hill said, adding the project is owned and maintained by Basin.