The permitting process

Great River Energy and our member cooperatives work with local governmental units and/or the state of Minnesota to obtain the permits and approvals necessary to build a new power line. Which process we follow depends on the project as well as on the preference of the leaders in the area of the proposed project.

How do local permitting processes work?

Cities, townships and other local governmental units sometimes have a process in place for permitting transmission line projects. In those cases, Great River Energy often follows that local process, working with the local government units to obtain permits that allow us to build the project in the area. Local processes vary among local governmental units. Sometimes a Conditional Use Permit is issued by the local government, which allows the project to be built as long as certain criteria are met.

When does the state of Minnesota get involved in permitting?

When voltage of a transmission line project requires it (or in some cases when there is no local permitting process in place), Great River Energy follows the state of Minnesota’s regulatory process for obtaining permits and approvals to build a power line. The state of Minnesota’s process provides a number of opportunities for public input. In addition, Great River Energy often goes above and beyond the requirements of the process to provide even more opportunities for public input.

Following this process, a Route Permit must be obtained from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission before a high-voltage transmission line can be built in the state of Minnesota. During the Route Permit proceeding, public meetings and hearings are held and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ultimately selects the final route for the transmission line. Depending on voltage and length of the transmission line, a Certificate of Need may also be required.  The Certificate of Need proceeding examines whether the proposed facilities are necessary and determines the appropriate size, configuration and timing of the project.