Minnesota agency calls for PUC to grant certain exemptions in Minnesota Power line case

The Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources has recommended that state regulators approve in part and deny in part certain requested exemptions involving Minnesota Power’s proposed Great Northern Transmission Line.

According to the department’s Dec. 17 filing with the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC), Minnesota Power filed in October its notice plan petition regarding its request for a certificate of need for the line.

The petition provided the company’s notice plan for a 500-kV transmission line to be located between Manitoba in Canada and the Blackberry substation in Itasca County, Minn. (about 225 to 300 miles) and a 345-kV double-circuit transmission line between the Blackberry substation and the Arrowhead substation in St. Louis County near Hermantown, Minn. (about 50 to 70 miles). The line is intended to provide delivery and access to power generated by Manitoba Hydro’s hydroelectric generating stations in Manitoba.

In November, Minnesota Power submitted its petition for exemption from or confirmation of certain filing requirements regarding the line. Specifically, Minnesota Power requested that the PUC grant exemption from providing data required by certain portions of Minnesota rules, involving line losses, forecasting, system-wide data, customer class information, weekday load factor and conservation.

According to Minnesota rules, an exemption is appropriate if the data requirement is not needed to determine the need or is obtained through another document.

The department recommended that the PUC approve the requested exemptions involving line losses and system capacity, and concluded that Minnesota Power bears the burden of proving the claimed need for the proposed project.

Among other things, the department also recommended that the PUC should approve the requested exemption involving system revenue requirements, noting that Minnesota Power should provide a description of how the Midwest ISO spreads wholesale electricity costs among users of the transmission grid on a participant funded basis, and general estimates of how the project’s cost would affect the company’s ratepayers.

The department recommended that the PUC deny other exemptions involving forecasting, system-wide data, customer class information and system capacity.

While the data and information Minnesota Power proposed to provide may be appropriate regarding the regional and integrated transmission network, the company has also claimed that the project is needed for increased industrial load growth in the Iron Range and for its power purchase agreement with Manitoba Hydro.

As a result, the department added, Minnesota Power should not be exempted from providing its system peak demand, annual energy consumption and load factors for the company’s service area and system. Furthermore, if Minnesota Power has alternative data that is more relevant than the required system forecast data to the claimed needs of serving increased industrial load in the Iron Range and the PPA with Manitoba Hydro, then the company should propose to provide that data in reply comments.

The department also noted that the record should include data describing the existing generation and any planned additions and retirements in the integrated regional transmission system; as well as detailed data, information and explanation of all of the effects, costs, benefits and drawbacks of the proposed project on other utilities in the state and the region.

Minnesota Power’s parent company is ALLETE (NYSE:ALE).

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3277 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 16 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.