DOE Approves US-Canada Renewable Power Line

21.11.2016, 21:09

 Minnesota Power’s 224-mile cross-border transmission line received a presidential permit from the U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday, the final major approval it needed before construction could begin on the project, which will bring renewable energy from Canada’s hydropower resources to customers in Minnesota.

Construction on the 500-kilovolt Great Northern Transmission Line is expected to begin in early 2017 and is estimated to cost between $560 million and $710 million, with Minnesota Power’s portion at about $300 million to $350 million, the company said. The DOE issued its final environmental impact statement for the project in October 2015 and the presidential permit was the final major hurdle the project needed to pass as it nears the end of a four-year regulatory process.

“The Great Northern Transmission Line is a crucial link in Minnesota Power’s EnergyForward strategy of balancing renewable and traditional energy sources,” Al Hodnik, CEO of Allette Inc., Minnesota Power’s parent company, said in a statement. “Minnesota Power was forged from renewable hydropower 110 years ago and that sustainable ethos lives on in this project that will deliver hundreds of megawatts of carbon-free hydropower to our customers.”

Minnesota Power has already surpassed Minnesota’s standard that 25 percent of its power be renewable and is well-positioned to meet future decreased carbon emissions goals, Hodnik said. The EnergyForward program aims to reduce carbon emissions and ensure continued reliability and affordable rates while having a balanced energy mix of one-third renewable, one-third natural gas and one-third coal, the company said.

The line will bring 383 megawatts of renewable energy from Manitoba Hydro’s system of dams and reservoirs in Canada each year starting in 2020, Minnesota Power said. The line will link Manitoba Hydro’s Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project with Minnesota Power’s own infrastructure.

That link will seek to balance the renewable resources of wind and hydro power by “creating synergy” between Minnesota Power’s 500-megawatt wind farm in North Dakota and Manitoba Hydro’s system. Under power purchase agreements between the two companies, Manitoba Hydro can reduce the flow of water through its generators when there’s excess wind, and when the winds die down, Manitoba Hydro can release the water it stored during periods of high wind, Minnesota Power said.

The route will cross the U.S.-Canada border in Roseau County in northern Minnesota, about three miles east of Minnesota Highway 89. From there, it will run to an electric substation east of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, passing through Roseau, Lake of the Woods, Koochiching and Itasca counties, largely following Minnesota Power’s preferred route.

“This is an important project for securing the availability of affordable, renewable electricity in northeastern Minnesota — especially for residential consumers, as well as our mining, manufacturing, timber and tourism industries,” U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., said in a statement. “The Great Northern Transmission Line enjoys broad stakeholder support, including local tribes, and has positive energy security and environmental implications for northeastern Minnesota, the nation and North America.”