Beresford calls for partnership with
Vermillion to construct new power line By David Lias
Plain Talk A new, looped 115 kV power line from the Spirit Mound substation to Vermillion could grow significantly while its plans are still on the drawing board. Representatives of the city of Beresford came before the Vermillion City Council May 18 and expressed hopes that Vermillion's proposal could be expanded, allowing Beresford to also tap into the Spirit Mound substation as a power source. Dan Cotton, a member of the Beresford City Council, asked that the Vermillion aldermen consider an opportunity to become involved with Beresford and explore an opportunity to develop a new power line that would, in essence, connect Vermillion and Beresford. Jay Nordquist, Beresford's electric superintendent, told the Vermillion City Council that the idea of the expanded power line was formed recently following recent discussions between Beresford officials and Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) about its transmission lease options. In May 2008, MRES announced a new program which would benefit the Vermillion transmission line project, City Manager John Prescott said last January, shortly before Vermillion voters overwhelmingly approved construction of the looped power line. If member transmission facilities representing at least 300 MW are leased to MRES, they will make annual lease payments to Vermillion equal to 14 percent of the city's infrastructure investment, and approximately $7 million of the city's investment would qualify, he said. "Without this agreement, building the transmission lines still has a positive return to the community," Prescott said in January, "of less than 15 years. There will be a positive return to the community over 40 years without the Missouri River Energy Services agreement, and if we have that agreement, it will be a $37 million savings to the community." "We would like to a partership with the transmission line from the city of Beresford to Vermillion from our Beresford WAPA substation into your substation which would give you a more reliable transmission service because you could be fed out of the Beresford WAPA substation," Nordquist told Vermillion aldermen. "Or, if we had problems, we could be fed off of your substation." This new proposal would require both Vermillion and Beresford to each construct approximately 14 miles of 114 Kv power line. "It would be a partnership between Vermillion and the city of Beresford," Nordquist said, adding that MRES officials have told him that they liked the idea of two communities becoming partners on a new energy line proposal. "It's a way of trying to solve problems that may occur in the future," Nordquist said. "We have a radial transmission line right now, and we have a distribution backup that we use for redundancy and reliability. Part of the reason we looked at this idea was to meet future infrastructure needs, to make it more reliable for our system and your system." Prescott suggested that the Vermillion city council's utilities council explore this proposal further. "A year ago, we would have had a little bit more time to look at this," he said. "I think we'd like to look at it and determine what it would mean to the bond issue that was approved by the voters, and what does it mean in regards to our current agreement with WAPA. We have an agreement with respect to the Spirit Mound switchyards – some interconnect work there that is based on the agreement we have with them, so we will have to see what impact this proposal may have on that. "If we have the proposal being a single line coming out of Spirit Mound to the city of Vermillion and then the other line going out of Vermillion to Beresford, we wouldn't have that second line going back into Spirit Mound, so we have to see how that impacts our arrangement with Basin Electric," he said. "There are a lot of variables and details that need to be worked out if this is an option the city council would like to pursue." Details of the plan approved by Vermillion voters earlier this year call for spending $8 million, according to city estimates, to build the new looped power lines to Vermillion only. The city has planned to pay for the original project by using $2 million of Light & Power reserves. The balance of the project will be bonded and repaid over 25 years. The looped system approved by voters is designed to be a more reliable way for Vermillion to receive electrical power. Currently, there is no redundancy of electric lines in the last quarter mile to the city, from South Dakota Highway 50 to the city's main substation. "There will be redundancy — a loop — throughout the whole system. The Spirit Mound substation also has two backup generators, and is fed from multiple sources. If for some reason there is a problem and the Spirit Mound substation wouldn't be receiving electricity, they would have the ability to generate their own through the backup generators at Spirit Mound," Prescott said earlier this year. He suggested that the Utilities Committee and the Vermillion City Council work to evaluate the pros and cons of Beresford's proposal, and determine how it may affect current agreements between Vermillion, WAPA and MRES. "We need to take a look at it and study it in a great deal more detail than what we know about it right now," Prescott said. Nordquist said Beresford officials are hopeful that work could begin on the new Vermillion/Beresford line in 2010. "The main thing is we would like to partner with the city of Vermillion," Cotton said. "We've worked with Vermillion, we know that you people an Beresford are in the same boat, more or less, as to where we buy our power, how we manage it, and how we transport it, and down the road, this was put together as a project that probably would pay for itself over a 10-year period. "It's something, I think, that we (the city of Beresford) definitely needs to look at, and we'd appreciate it if you people take a look at it also," he told the Vermillion City Council. "We'd really like to partner with you on this; it's something that's going to be good for both of us." The Vermillion City Council agreed to allow the utilities committee and city staff to further explore Beresford's proposal. The city likely will let bids for the poles and wire later this year. The new looped system would be scheduled to be completed so that power could be delivered to the city from Spirit Mound substation immediately after Vermillion's contract with East River Electric expires at the end of 2010.