BSSE Transmission Line


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Public Meeting Materials

Project Overview Factsheet (Nov 2016)

View detailed project maps

June 2014 SD PUC Evidentiary Hearing

October 2013 South Dakota Public Input Hearings:

The following materials from the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Hearing are available for review on the PUC website.

  • Public Hearing Presentation
  • Recording of Public Input Hearing - Aberdeen
  • Recording of Public Input Hearing - Milbank

February 2013 public meetings:

October 2012 public meetings:

Frequently Asked Questions
Agriculture and land use

What farming practices are prohibited within the right-of-way?

We will not permit installation of structures, planting of tall-growing vegetation, and stock piling of crops under the transmission line.

Will I be able to farm around the structures?

Farming activities can occur within the right-of-way and adjacent to the structure pursuant to the easement. Additionally, our proposed offset from field lines for the portions of the route that are adjacent to roadways allows most landowners to use their largest equipment between the transmission structures and the road right-of-way. Most agricultural uses will have no impact.

Is it safe for livestock to graze under the transmission line?

Yes. Current scientific research shows no safety concerns or effects on production for livestock grazing under a high-voltage transmission line.

What impacts will the transmission line have to aerial sprayers?

Crop dusters are able to spray fields with transmission structures within or adjacent to them.  We will work with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to meet requirements for airports and runways.

Will the new transmission line interfere with GPS auto-steering reception?

A GPS unit in farming equipment should work properly with a high degree of accuracy underneath the transmission line. GPS devices continually pull signals from a number of satellites, not just one. A signal may be blocked temporarily if the transmission structure is between the receiver and a weak satellite signal, but it will return as the farm equipment moves past the structure. It is also common for GPS receivers to drop and pick up signals even in the absence of transmission lines and structures. We can provide the transmission structures’ GPS points to landowners to help farm equipment navigate around structures.

What will happen to trees or buildings located within the right-of-way?

We will remove trees and buildings within the 150-foot-wide right-of-way to ensure safety. We also will trim or remove danger trees, or trees outside the right-of-way that lean toward the right-of-way or are tall enough to pose danger to the line, to reduce potential damage caused by falling limbs or trees. We’ll follow all federal and state regulation requirements. If you’re considering planting a tree near the right-of-way or already have trees on your property near the right-of-way, remember these safety tips:

  • Call one of the transmission line owners shown on the inside cover before planting any trees or shrubs near right-of-way.
  • Don’t plant trees or shrubs within the right-of-way.
  • Teach your children always to look up for the transmission line and explain why they shouldn’t climb trees near it.
  • If trees come in contact with the transmission line, immediately contact one of the transmission line owners shown on the inside cover or emergency personnel to safely remove them.
  • Call a professional to trim or remove trees that could come in contact with the transmission line.
  • Remember that even if trees look like they have adequate line clearance other factors change every day, like the weather causing the transmission line to stretch and sag.
  • The erection of any type of structure must be approved by the transmission line owners to ensure it’s compatible with the line.

May I construct a building or other structure beneath the transmission line?

Not without prior written approval from the transmission line owners. To avoid situations that create unsafe conditions for you and/or utility workers, buildings and other structures generally are not permitted within the right-of-way. Metal buildings near the line may need to be grounded.

I own a building near the transmission line. How might it be affected?

Large buildings or metallic objects near the right-of way could have an induced voltage due to EMF. The charge typically will drain through plumbing, building electrical service, framing, etc. If the charge doesn’t drain, it may result in nuisance shock. You can mitigate this by grounding the building or metallic object.Contact one of the transmission line owners with any shock-related problems or questions about grounding buildings or objects.

Can I safely refuel my machinery near the transmission line?

Keep a minimum distance of 100 feet from the line for refueling. If you must fuel a vehicle under a transmission line, as with any situation in which a portable fuel tank is used, use a fuel tank with a flame arrester. Both the vehicle and the fuel container should be grounded while fueling to reduce the risk of sparks.

What precautions should I take when irrigating near the transmission line?

If you irrigate near the transmission line it’s important to remember: • Never let a solid stream of water contact the transmission line.

  • Make sure your irrigation system is well grounded.
  • When unloading irrigation pipes, stay at least 50 feet from the transmission line to avoid raising them too close to the wires.
  • Install long lengths of metal pipe at right angles to the transmission line, if possible, to reduce risk of the pipes building up an induced voltage.
  • Take extra precautions when using fertilizers and pesticides because they increase water conductivity.

If you’re questioning whether your irrigation system is adequately grounded or you’re planning to install a new irrigation system, contact one of the transmission line owners.

How will the line impact center-pivot Irrigation systems?

A transmission line near a center-pivot irrigation system typically will span the outer arc of the center pivot arm to provide clearance at the end of the pivot arm to limit interference with irrigation operation.

Several factors determine the ability of the transmission line to span the outer arc of center-pivot irrigation system including the proximity and orientation of the pivot to the transmission line, the length and height of the center-pivot, and the terrain of the property.

We will work with landowners where center pivots exist to minimize impacts to center-pivot irrigation systems. If you plan to install a new center-pivot irrigation system, please contact one of the transmission line owners to discuss the location.

Health and safety

Should I be concerned about safety near a high-voltage transmission line?

No. BSSE will meet or exceed all National Electric Safety Code Standards. Additionally, Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. and Otter Tail Power Company will conduct studies for electric and magnetic fields (EMF) levels for the project. Several scientific organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Cancer Society, American Physical Society, and National Academy of Sciences, have stated that the body of EMF evidence, particularly magnetic fields, indicates that exposure to these fields does not present a human health hazard.

>> View our EMF factsheet

Will the substation or transmission line attract lightning?

Because they’re one of the tallest objects in the general vicinity, substations and transmission lines may attract lightning. However, a shield wire along the top of the structures provides protection from lightning strikes.

How do I stay safe if the transmission line falls during a storm?

If the transmission line falls, don’t touch anything in contact with it, stay far away, and immediately contact one of the transmission line owners shown on the inside cover or your local fire or police department. And if you’re in your house, unplug any appliances that may still be running.

What is EMF and is it harmful?

EMF stands for electric and magnetic fields. These fields are present wherever electricity is generated, transmitted, and used. These fields are found in nature. For example, the earth has a magnetic field that causes a compass to point north, and storms produce extremely high electric fields resulting in lightning. Electric and magnetic fields also are used by devices such as cell phones to transmit signals over long distances.

Electric fields are produced by the separation of opposing charge and magnetic fields are produced by the flow of charge (electric current).

Several scientific organizations, including the American Medical Association, American Cancer Society, American Physical Society, and National Academy of Sciences, state that EMF exposure does not present a human health hazard.

What is stray voltage? And does it pose a health threat?

Stray voltage is a situation in which voltage (or electric current) is present where not intended due to non-ideal operating conditions on the connected distribution system.

Stray voltage can pose a health threat to humans or animals if severe. However, transmission lines don’t create stray voltage because they don’t connect directly to businesses or residences. Stray voltage may be an issue from distribution lines because of the direct connection to the system to which it delivers power. We don’t expect stray voltage issues, however, we’ll take appropriate measures to address concerns on a case-by-case basis.

Helicopter construction

What are the steps in the line stringing process?

  • Because conductor is too heavy for a helicopter to lift, the helicopter first carries a rope from the ground to the top of the structure.
  • Hovering between 30 and 80 feet from the structure, the helicopter sets the rope into the traveler, which looks like a pulley. The traveler has a trap door to allow the rope in but to prevent it from falling out, securing it in place.
  • The helicopter continues on to the next structure, pulling the rope as it goes.
  • After the helicopter installs the rope, crews connect the rope to the conductor. Crews then use a machine on the ground to pull the rope and set the conductor.

What is the schedule for stringing?

The helicopters will work their way west toward Aberdeen, South Dakota, then northwest toward Ellendale, North Dakota. The project team expects to complete stringing in October 2018.

Why use helicopters?

Transmission line projects have used helicopters to string transmission lines for more than 40 years. Using helicopters is more efficient and economical and safer than other options and minimizes ground impacts.

Is safety a concern?

We carefully take into account the weather, visibility, and other conditions that could interfere with working conditions. It’s simple. If conditions aren’t safe, we don’t work.

We encourage motorists who notice the helicopters at work to:

  • Focus on the road.
  • Maintain a safe speed.
  • Refrain from taking photos.
  • Stay a safe distance from crews.
Activity near transmission lines

May I hunt near the transmission line?

Yes, but be aware of the transmission line before aiming or firing a gun. Intentionally shooting a transmission line is illegal. Shooting insulators or conductors can break a wire or cause hazards such as an electrical discharge or arc flash.

Can I build a bonfire, burn leaves, or build another type of fire under the transmission line?

No. Never start a fire under the transmission line or within the right-of-way. Smoke and hot gases from fires can create a conductive path for electricity. A fire could damage the poles or wires and result in an outage. It’s possible that the transmission line could flash to the ground through hot air and smoke.

Can I ride my snowmobile under or near transmission lines?

As a landowner, you have the right to allow and restrict access to your land for snowmobiling. We don’t recommend that the transmission line right-of-way be used for snowmobiling and encourage snowmobilers to watch for utility poles, guy wires, fencing, and underground cable junction boxes. Remember that these dangers aren’t easily seen from a speeding snowmobile, especially in the dark.

Project costs

How much will the project cost?

The project will cost $240 million to $300 million.


Who will pay for BSSE?

BSSE will benefit the upper Midwest region. As a regional project, the cost will be allocated to MISO transmission customers. Otter Tail Power Company and Montana-Dakota Utilities Co. customers will pay about one percent of the cost.


©2018 Otter Tail Power Company and Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.