Skip to main content

EE 438 - North Central States Power Technology Tour


The summer technical elective course is numbered EE 438 (1 cr). EE students having passed EE 222 (Energy Conversion) or ME students having passed EE 300 (Basic EE I) are eligible to take this course and the good news is that it does meet 1 credit of technical elective for both EE and ME students.  

The CPSS has sponsored this biannual North Central States Power Technology Tour for over 40 years. This is a very popular course, having met its maximum capacity every year it’s been offered (typically we cap enrollment at 10 students – however, depending on popular demand and available resources, we have had as many as 20 students enroll).

EE 438 Course Objectives

Introduce students to the variety of technologies associated with the electrical power industry. Tour various sites and learn about the generation, transmission and distribution of power. Tour sites are associated with the power community, from large power producers (such as federally operated dams, IOU's, and electric power cooperatives) to end-users of electrical power (such as mining operations, paper mills and foundries).

View photos from past tours.

Oahe Dam (Hydroelectric Power)

The Oahe Dam is a large dam along the Missouri River, just north of Pierre, SD. It creates Lake Oahe, the fourth largest artificial reservoir in the United States, which stretches 231 miles (372 km) up the course of the Missouri to Bismarck, ND. The dam's power plant provides electricity for much of the north-central United States. The project provides flood control, electric power, irrigation and navigation benefits, estimated by the Corps of Engineers at $150,000,000 per year.

Oahe Dam Photo Gallery

Antelope Valley Station / Coteau Freedom Mine (Coal Mine)

Located seven miles northwest of Beulah, North Dakota, the Antelope Valley Station's two units, each rated at 450 megawatts, began commercial operation in 1984 and 1986, respectively. Because of its location next to a lignite coal mine (The North American Coal Corporation's Freedom Mine) from which it receives its fuel, Antelope Valley Station is referred to as a "mine-mouth" facility. The Freedom Mine - established in 1983 - delivers more than 16 million tons of coal per year, making it the largest lignite mine in the United States in deliveries. The operation utilizes two Bucyrus-Erie® 2570 draglines for overburden removal and reclaims about 600 acres of land annually.

Cass County Electric Cooperative Control Center

Cass County Electric Cooperative is a not-for-profit, member owned electric distribution system, serving more than 35,000 consumers in a 10-county area in southeastern North Dakota.

Hibtac Mining Company

Cliffs directly or indirectly owns and operates interests in five U.S. Iron Ore mines located in Michigan and Minnesota. These U.S. Iron Ore mines produce from deposits located within the Biwabik and Negaunee Iron Formation, classified as Lake Superior type iron-formations formed under similar sedimentary conditions in shallow marine basins approximately two billion years ago. Magnetite and hematite are the predominant iron oxide ore minerals present, with lesser amounts of goethite and limonite. Quartz is the predominant waste mineral present, with lesser amounts of other chiefly iron bearing silicate and carbonate minerals. 

Hibtac Photo Gallery

Forbes 500 kV Transmission Substation

Xcel Energy operates an SVC in its 500kV power transmission network between Winnipeg and Minnesota.  This device is located at Forbes substation in Minnesota.  The purpose is to increase the power interchange capability on existing transmission lines. This solution was chosen instead of building a new line as it was found superior with respect to increased advantage utilization as well as reduced environmental impact. With the SVC in operation, the power transmission capability was increased in about 200MW.

Arrowhead DC Terminal

Square Butte is the designation of a high voltage direct current transmission line in the USA between the Milton R. Young Power Plant near Center, ND, and the Arrowhead converter station near Hermantown, MN. It was built by Minnkota Power Cooperative and Minnesota Power and went in service in 1977. Recently, an agreement was executed between the two companies whereby Minnkota gets the rights to all the power currently transmitted over the line (and will build a new line to carry said power later) while Minnesota Power takes full ownership of the line to transmit power from new sources in the Center area.

Arrowhead Terminal Photo Gallery

Midwest Energy

The Superior Midwest Energy Terminal (SMET) was commissioned in 1976 to provide for the low sulfur western coal needs of the DTE Electric Company power plants located in southeastern Michigan. This state-of-the-art transshipment facility incorporates the economic advantages of both unit train receipt and "superlaker" Great Lakes vessel shipment. The terminal facility has sufficient capacity and design flexibility to accommodate the coal transshipment needs of additional electric utilities and industrial firms throughout the Great Lakes region. We are a full service energy terminal, and, as such, can provide directly for coal deliveries from the mine to the end user.

Midwest Energy Photo Gallery