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Great River Energy to build $3 million transmission outpost facility near Wadena

Great River Energy, based in Maple Grove, Minn., is constructing a new transmission service outpost near Highway 75, about three mile southwest of Wadena. The facility will give the generation and transmission cooperative utility more room for poles, inventory, equipment and personnel that will aid service in central Minnesota. Great River Energy currently operates from an outpost facility at the headquarters of Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative, one of Great River Energy's 28 member distribution cooperatives. Wadena is one of six Great River Energy outpost locations.

Great River Energy plans to staff substation technicians in the area and will replace contractors that currently maintain substation assets, saving money and reducing response times to make repairs. Initially six employees will be assigned to the site; however, the facility has been designed to accommodate more technicians if needed in the future. The pole yard and storage facility will hold materials for deployment in emergency situations, minimizing outages that occur in events such as bad weather.

"The new facility will help serve our member cooperatives better by enabling us to quickly maintain and repair transmission facilities in the region," said Roger Kiefer, manager, transmission construction and maintenance, Great River Energy. "The increased storage area for large equipment and materials will also make construction and maintenance operations more efficient."

The facility's construction, scheduled for completion in late 2010, will cost nearly $3 million. Incorporating energy efficiency and sustainable construction materials and techniques, the building is expected to meet standards for LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, a standard developed by the U.S. Green Building Council). Energy efficiencies will be gained through geothermal heating and cooling, energy efficient lighting and the use of regional materials. The facility will include a 100-feet by 200-feet open garage area and a large technician shop area and office space.

Todd-Wadena Electric Cooperative General Manager Robin Doege said Great River Energy's decision to build a permanent outpost facility near Wadena is welcomed news for several reasons.

"It's always beneficial to secure good jobs in the area," he said. "Having transmission personnel nearby is a great advantage for electric reliability in the area. Plus, Todd-Wadena needs the garage space that Great River Energy will be vacating at our site."

Great River Energy is a not-for-profit cooperative which provides wholesale electricity to more than 1.7 million people through 28 member distribution cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. With more than $2.8 billion in assets, Great River Energy is the second largest electric power supplier in Minnesota and one of the largest generation and transmission cooperatives in the United States.