Minnesota Power, Manitoba Hydro advance major power line project

Minnesota Power’s Great Northern Transmission Line recently received a major approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a facilities construction agreement required to build this 500-kV, 220-mile line that will run from the Canadian-U.S. border northwest of Roseau, Minn. to an expanded Blackberry electric substation east of Grand Rapids, Minn.

Minnesota Power, a utility division of ALLETE (NYSE:ALE), said Dec. 12 that the facilities construction agreement signed by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, ALLETE, and a subsidiary of Manitoba Hydro, lays out the costs and ownership percentages of the Great Northern Line. Based on the FERC approval, MISO’s Board of Directors voted on Dec. 11 to include the transmission line in its MISO Transmission Expansion Planning report for 2014 (MTEP14). On the Canadian side, Manitoba Hydro has received the approvals which will allow its subsidiary to move forward with activities related to the facilities construction agreement.

The Great Northern Line has an anticipated in-service date of June 1, 2020. It will provide 883 MW of transmission capacity, of which 383 MW will be used to deliver hydroelectric power purchased from Manitoba Hydro for Minnesota Power’s customers. Minnesota Power is expected to have majority ownership of the transmission line.

“The long-term purchase of carbon-free hydro power is a key element of our EnergyForward balanced resource strategy and the driving force behind the need for the Great Northern Transmission Line,” said ALLETE Chairman, President and CEO Al Hodnik. “Securing FERC approval of this facilities construction agreement is a crucial and necessary step as we plan for a sizable new capital investment in Upper Midwest transmission reliability and as we answer our Nation’s call to transform its energy landscape.”

A decision from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on the line’s Certificate of Need is anticipated by May 2015. Minnesota Power is also coordinating the federal Presidential Permit for the international border crossing and the state route permit with the U.S, Department of Energy and state agencies which are required before construction can begin.

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.