Minnesota Power, an ALLETE company, applied to state and federal regulators for permits to build the 500-kV Great Northern Transmission Line from the Minnesota-Manitoba border to an electric substation on the Mesabi Iron Range.
Minnesota Power filed a route permit application with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and also applied for a presidential permit from the Department of Energy (DOE) for the international interconnection at the U.S.-Canadian border.
The Great Northern Transmission Line will deliver to Minnesota Power customers and the upper Midwest clean, emission-free hydroelectricity generated by Manitoba Hydro to meet growing and changing energy demands.
The new transmission line will facilitate the delivery of at least 750 MW of energy into the U.S. beginning in 2020. Minnesota Power, which will have majority ownership of the project, will use the Great Northern Transmission Line to deliver to its service area 250 MW from Manitoba Hydro through a power purchase agreement approved by the MPUC. The two utilities are also finalizing an agreement outlining how Minnesota Power will purchase additional energy and substantially expand its energy storage opportunities using the new asset.
Minnesota Power estimates total project cost in the U.S., including substation work, between $500 million and $650 million, depending upon the final approved route.
Since 2012, Minnesota Power has held more than 75 open houses and meetings with agencies, tribes, local government units, landowners and the general public to gather input on the routing of the transmission line project. The applications filed with the MPUC and DOE explain that the line will generally require a 200-foot-wide right-of-way, with four or five structures per mile about 100 to 150 feet in height. The type of structures will depend on land type and land use.
Two alternate routes are listed in the applications. Both proposed alternatives are about 220 miles and, where feasible, follow existing transmission line rights-of-way.
In addition to delivering affordable and reliable energy, the project will bring economic and fiscal benefits to Minnesota during and after construction. Project construction is expected to begin by 2016 and be completed by 2020. A University of Minnesota-Duluth economic study estimated the project will create 213 construction jobs and 73 additional indirect jobs.
The Great Northern Transmission Line will generate about $28 million annually in state and local taxes, according to the study. About $875 million of direct and indirect spending on goods and services will be needed to support construction activities, researchers said.