Minnesota Power Poised to Break Ground on International Transmission Line Following Approval of Route Permit

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Minnesota Power Poised to Break Ground on International Transmission Line Following Approval of Route Permit

February 26, 2016

Minnesota Power’s Great Northern Transmission Line cleared a major regulatory hurdle today with approval of a route permit for the 500-kilovolt line that will deliver renewable, carbon-free hydroelectricity from Canada to the utility’s customers in Northeastern Minnesota.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the route permit for the transmission line being developed by Minnesota Power, a utility division of ALLETE Inc. (ALE). The route permit is among the most important regulatory decisions the project requires. A presidential permit from the U.S. Department of Energy, needed because the line crosses an international border, is expected in March or April.

The Great Northern Transmission Line is a signature component of Minnesota Power’s EnergyForward strategy to reduce carbon emissions and ensure continued reliability and affordable rates while diversifying its energy portfolio to one-third renewable energy, one-third coal and one-third natural gas. It will be used to deliver hydroelectric power purchased from Manitoba Power to serve Minnesota Power customers and the region.

“Today’s decision by the Commission is an affirmation of the wise investments, creativity and productive partnerships Minnesota Power continues to bring as it helps transform the nation’s energy landscape,” said Al Hodnik, ALLETE chairman, president and CEO. “This project will promote a more balanced energy future while also delivering value for ALLETE shareholders.”

Minnesota Power needs the line to deliver at least 383 megawatts of energy to its customers by June 1, 2020, under power purchase agreements with Manitoba Hydro approved by the MPUC in 2012 and 2015.

The approved 224-mile route will cross the border between the U.S. and Canada in Roseau County in northern Minnesota, about three miles east of Minnesota Highway 89. The line will run to an expanded Blackberry electric substation east of Grand Rapids, Minn. The route includes locations in Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Koochiching, and Itasca counties in Minnesota and largely follows Minnesota Power’s preferred Blue Route, including the critical international border crossing.

Building the line is a significant undertaking. Construction is expected to get underway in earnest in 2017 with the line completed by 2020. The line will generally require a 200-foot-wide right-of-way, with about four or five structures per mile. Each structure is about 100 to 170 feet in height and the specific types of structures will depend on land type and land use.

Minnesota Power estimates the total cost of the project will be between $560 million and $710 million.

SOURCE:  Business Wire

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