Minnesota Power's international project clears major regulatory hurdle

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) on Thursday unanimously approved Minnesota Power’s, a utility division of ALLETE Inc., request for a Certificate of Need (CN) for the 500-kilovolt Great Northern Transmission Line. The project is designed to bring renewable and carbon free hydroelectricity from Manitoba to Minnesota Power’s customers in Northeastern Minnesota.

Among the most important approvals needed for the 220-mile transmission line first proposed three years ago, the CN decision follows months of public meetings and hearings and the submission of numerous written comments and testimony.
Minnesota Power needs the line to deliver at least 383 megawatts (MW) of energy to its customers by June 1, 2020, under power purchase agreements with Manitoba Hydro approved by the MPUC in 2012 and 2015.

Minnesota Power estimates the total cost of the project will be between $560 million and $710 million (in 2013 dollars). Minnesota Power is expected to have majority ownership of the transmission line. Thursday’s vote came two months after an administrative law judge recommended to the MPUC that Minnesota Power had satisfied the criteria set forth under Minnesota law that the line was needed. The MPUC agreed with the ALJ’s recommendation that stated the project addresses multiple needs, including:

. Enabling the delivery of needed capacity and energy to Minnesota Power and its customers

. Optimizing Minnesota Power’s wind energy resources

. Diversifying Minnesota Power’s energy supply and reducing its dependence on coal

. Reducing the risks of future emissions regulations

. Supporting state and regional energy needs

. Enhancing the efficiency and reliability of the transmission system

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