Minnesota Power intends to submit a full certificate of need (CN) application with Minnesota state regulators by August for its 500-kV Great Northern Transmission Line.
The line requires a presidential permit from the U.S. Department of Energy as it crosses an international border, extending from the Canadian province of Manitoba to the company’s service territory in northern Minnesota, the company told DOE in its July 2 letter of intent to submit the presidential permit application.
The company on July 25 told the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that it had filed the letter, in which it told DOE that it has been actively developing the project since January 2012, and has begun state approvals through submittal of the requisite procedural filings for a CN.
The company also said that it is in the process of evaluating specific route alternatives, though it will not identify final route alternatives or an international border crossing until early 2014.
“Minnesota Power’s intent is to submit to the DOE a full presidential permit application and to the MPUC a state route permit application in early 2014,” the company said.
The project includes high voltage connections between Manitoba and the Blackberry substation in Itasca County, Minn., – about 225 miles to 300 miles – to allow additional deliveries from Manitoba Hydro to meet existing and future energy needs for Minnesota Power and its customers as well as for other utilities in the region.
Project benefits include allowing Minnesota Power to diversify its baseload generation portfolio and reduce the overall emissions associated with its electric supply portfolio.
“While Minnesota Power is evaluating the possibility of building additional lines beyond the 500 kV transmission line at some time in the future, currently the project is limited to just the 500 kV transmission line,” the company added.
The line will provide delivery and access to power generated by Manitoba Hydro’s hydroelectric stations in Manitoba. Minnesota Power also needs the line to deliver at least 250 MW of energy and capacity by June 1, 2020, under a power purchase agreement (PPA) approved by the PUC.
The project is intended to facilitate increased imports from Manitoba of up to 750 MW to serve load in the upper Midwest and to support the regional transmission system. The company further noted that due to the interconnected nature of the regional electric grid, the line will transmit electricity generated by various sources. Still, the project’s primary effect will be to provide increased access to hydropower.
Among other things, Minnesota Power, an ALLETE (NYSE:ALE) company, said that the project facilitates an innovative wind storage provision in the PPA that leverages the flexible and response nature of hydropower to improve the value of Minnesota Power’s significant wind energy investments.