Buffalo Ridge Incremental Generation Outlet and Transmission

Client: Xcel Energy
Completion Date: 2009
Location: Minnesota


Xcel Energy selected Burns & McDonnell as engineer-procure-construct (EPC) contractor for its Buffalo Ridge project, which included an incremental generation outlet and design, procurement and construction of 23 miles of 115-kV transmission line from Nobles County, Minn., to Fenton, Minn.


  • Transmission line design
  • Transmission line construction
  • Permitting
  • Procurement


Burns & McDonnell served as prime EPC contractor on this project, and subcontracted construction, aerial and ground surveying, and geotechnical investigations. Xcel Energy performed and Burns & McDonnell coordinated right-of-way acquisition. Burns & McDonnell also performed transmission design, permitting, construction management, procurement, scheduling and cost control.

The 115-kV transmission line provides a second 115-kV circuit between the existing Nobles County Substation and the existing Fenton Substation. The new transmission line provides additional transmission capacity for large wind generation projects under construction in southwestern Minnesota. 

In order to meet schedule commitments, it was necessary to perform many engineering and procurement tasks in parallel. This allowed for front-end schedule compression that has resulted in a scheduled completion approximately six weeks ahead of the required completion date with total project costs below original estimates.

The construction effort included significant coordination with local permitting agencies and landowners. Much of the above-grade construction was performed during harsh winter conditions that required additional detailed schedule coordination and mitigation of schedule impacts.

Burns & McDonnell opened a field office in Worthington, Minn., that serves as the central hub of all field operations, including office space for the owner's and subcontractors' project teams. Burns & McDonnell’s field staff for the project included a site manager, discipline superintendent, safety manager, schedule controller, field engineer, procurement manager and other administrative staff.


  • Single-circuit, 115-kV transmission line running parallel to county and township roads from Nobles County Substation to Fenton Substation
  • Tubular steel structures on drilled shaft foundations
  • Bundled, compact, steel-reinforced aluminum conductors
  • Regulatory and construction permit acquisition
  • Critical schedule milestones to support wind generation commitments