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Black Hills moving ahead with Wyo. portion of 230-kV transmission line


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Black Hills moving ahead with Wyo. portion of 230-kV transmission line

Muchof the Wyoming portion of BlackHills Power Inc.'s planned 144-mile, 230-kV transmission line isscheduled to be done this summer.

Theline, dubbed by the Black HillsCorp. subsidiary the Teckla-to-Rapid City project, is to run fromthe northeast corner of Wyoming through the Black Hills National Forest to asubstation near Rapid City, S.D. The line is part of the company's push tomaintain reliability, said Mutch Usera, senior manager of community affairs atBlack Hills Energy, the name under which Black Hills Power does business.

"We'vedemonstrated our service reliability of 99.9% and we're in the top tier of thenational average when it comes to reliability," Usera said. "That'sone of the big keys in doing this project."

BlackHills in February started construction on a 15-mile segment of the project.Structural work on that segment was completed on March 15, Usera said. TheWyoming Public Service Commission has since given the go-ahead for constructionto start on a second segment of the project, which is made up of 67 miles ofthe remaining transmission line between the Teckla and Osage substations withinWyoming. Work on that segment is expected to be done by July, Usera said.

Shouldall go according to plan, the Osage-to-Rapid City portion of the transmissionline could be completed by the end of September, Usera said.

"Althoughwe're working in Wyoming, we're prepping for South Dakota," he added.

Thecompany is still working with Black Hills National Forest, which is controlledby the U.S. Forest Service, on the special use permits that will authorizeconstruction activity there.

BlackHills Energy had expectedto start construction of the line in early 2015. Usera said the schedulechanged primarily due to extended timelines for landowner negotiations, federalpermits and approvals.

Theproject involves many intricate parts, Usera said, and noted that much of thescheduling will depend on the weather. "Everything is moving slowly and ifweather permits, we're hoping to meet our timeline," he said.