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SWL&P gets nod to help move oil

Kevin Murphy

For the Superior Telegram

MADISON — Superior Light, Water & Power will help Enbridge Energy move more crude oil from North Dakota and Canada through Superior and to refineries by constructing an electrical substation and power line in the town of Wascott.

Enbridge has been operating the Southern Access pipeline extending from Superior to Flanagan, Ill. under its rated capacity since constructing it in 2007, said Becky Haase, an Enbridge spokesperson.

Now that customers want more crude, Enbridge has begun a $1.1 billion project to power up the pipeline by adding or modifying pumping stations in Superior, near Gordon and 14 other locations along the line.

The result of the two-phase project will increase the line’s capacity to 1.2 million barrels per day, up from its current 400,000 barrels output by mid-2015.

Adding more pumping power “allows us to increase the capacity of an existing line without having to acquire new right-of-way,” Haase said Thursday.

SWL&P’s new substation and 880 feet of 161-kilovolt line it will build not only provides more power to the pipeline but increases the reliability of its electrical transmission system in the area.

“We have too many taps (users) on that particular line … and (these improvements) allows us not to put as much pressure on the substations, said Paul Holt, SWL&P’s treasurer.

If an electrical outage occurs, the new substation permits the utility to better isolate the problem, said Holt, along the 65-mile-long power line that extends from Superior to Stone Lake in Washburn County.

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission approved the $4.64 million project Tuesday. Holt said it was the electric utility’s biggest capital project in several years.

The substation will be built about three miles south of Gordon on property within existing utility right of way. The property is located about 500 feet east of Newsome Road and 600 feet south of where the Arrowhead-Weston power line crosses the road.

Enbridge’s pumping station would be built east of the electrical substation.

No wetlands are affected by the project and no adverse environmental impacts were reported by the PSC.

Enbridge needs to obtain zoning approval for construction of its pumping station, said Haase.

Construction on the substation and the power line is slated to begin in May and be completed January 2015, said Holt.

SWL&P will finance the project through existing cash and borrowing. Holt said the project’s cost would not have a significant impact in the next rate request and would be recovered from the utility’s customers including Enbridge.