Manitoba Hydro pitches for ALLETE power line project at FERC

Manitoba Hydro and an affiliate told the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Oct. 17 that a new power line starting at the Canadian border is a key element in its plans to build a major new hydroelectric project.

6690271 Manitoba Ltd., on its own behalf and on behalf of its parent company Manitoba Hydro, on Oct. 17 moved to intervene in the power line approval proceeding and provided comments in support of the Sept. 26 filing of a Multi-Party Facilities Construction Agreement (FCA) by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and ALLETE Inc.

The FCA is necessary for the construction of the Great Northern Transmission Line (GNTL). 6690271 is a party to the FCA as a “Transmission Line Payer” and also as a “CUU Transmission Owner.” Under the FCA, 6690271 will fund 54% of the approximately $677m estimated cost of the GNTL and related facilities. Manitoba Hydro is not party to the FCA but is a “CUU Transmission Customer” as it will upon the completion of the GNTL receive Firm Transmission Service under Service Agreements it has entered into with MISO.

The GNTL is the U.S. portion of a new 500-kV transmission line that will provide an outlet for new hydroelectric generation in northern Manitoba to U.S. customers and the MISO market.

ALLETE’s and Wisconsin Public Service Corp.’s purchase of additional hydropower from Manitoba Hydro’s system will not only providing carbon-free energy, this new hydropower from Manitoba Hydro combined with a new transmission interconnection to the U.S. will provide flexible energy storage mechanisms to support ALLETE’s investment in wind power and the integration of wind power in the northern U.S., the Manitoba Hydro companies said. ALLETE recently invested in wind power from North Dakota and in associated HVDC transmission facilities. Complementing these investments are the benefits ALLETE will receive from energy storage mechanisms contained within certain long-term power purchase agreements entered into with Manitoba Hydro, which require construction of a new transmission interconnection.

Since wind power is an intermittent resource, MISO conducted the Manitoba Hydro Wind Synergy Study from 2011 to 2013 to quantify benefits associated with adding flexible hydropower in Manitoba that would be delivered into the MISO market over a new transmission interconnect. “The results of the Wind Synergy Study showed that new transmission capacity such as the capacity that would be provided by the GNTL would enable synergies to be realized between Manitoba Hydro’s hydro-electric generation and the wind power in northern MISO, because Manitoba Hydro’s flexible hydro-electric generating system smooths out supply variations associated with wind power,” the Canadian companies said. “The Wind Synergy Study also found that additional low marginal cost energy from Manitoba Hydro will result in a reduced market price for energy in the MISO market and less fuel use and reduced emissions from high-cost thermal generators in the MISO market.”

The companies added that Manitoba Hydro is looking to develop the 695-MW Keeyask generating station hydro project in northern Manitoba, which is expected to enter commercial operation in 2019. There are contracts in place with both ALLETE and Wisconsin Public Service for some this capacity, which can only be wheeled into the Upper Midwest market in the U.S. through this new power line.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.