Minnesota Power has 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.
According to the utility, the project would deliver hydroelectricity generated by Manitoba Hydro to meet growing and changing energy demands in Minnesota Power's service territory, as well as to help with wind integration.
"The Great Northern Line enhances a unique synergy involving hydropower and wind," says Minnesota Power Chief Operating Officer Brad Oachs. "The new transmission capacity more readily allows the Manitoba Hydro system to store intermittent wind generation during times when energy markets don't need it. This is important to Minnesota Power as we expand our Bison wind project to 500 MW in North Dakota by the end of this year."
Minnesota Power says the new transmission line would facilitate the delivery of at least 750 MW of energy into the U.S. beginning in 2020. The utility, which will have majority ownership of the project, will utilize the Great Northern Transmission Line to deliver to its service area 250 MW from Manitoba Hydro through a power purchase agreement approved by state regulators. 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.