Great River Energy and Minnesota Power hosted a second phase of public open houses in May for the Northland Reliability Project in six communities where attendees could ask questions and provide input on the transmission line’s preliminary route. More than 200 property owners attended the events.
The two utilities plan to build an approximately 180-mile, double-circuit 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line from northern Minnesota near Grand Rapids to central Minnesota near Becker to support grid reliability in the Upper Midwest.
The preliminary route presented at the open houses was identified from input gathered during the first phase of public open houses in January and February, in coordination with local tribes and agencies, and after reviewing technical data and requirements. A virtual, self-guided open house was also available through May 12 at northlandreliabilityproject.com.
“This second phase of open houses was very valuable as we were able to present the preliminary route with an intended right-of-way and learn more about opportunities and constraints in the communities,” said Brian Hunker, Great River Energy transmission permitting project manager. “These conversations will help us determine the final route we submit to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.”
Great River Energy and Minnesota Power intend to file an application for a combined certificate of need and route permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) in late summer. The MPUC will determine need and the final route. Subject to regulatory approvals, the transmission line is estimated to be in service by 2030.
This joint project is one of a portfolio of transmission projects approved last July by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the region’s grid operator, as part of the first phase of its long-range transmission plan. In total, MISO approved 18 projects across its Midwest sub region, with six in the Upper Midwest.
Alexandria-Big Oaks project
Another project in the MISO portfolio is the Alexandria-Big Oaks project, led by Xcel Energy with Great River Energy, Minnesota Power, Missouri River Energy Services and Otter Tail Power Company as minority partners.
The project, which is an approximately 100-mile stretch, is the eastern segment of a larger project called Big Stone-Alexandria-Big Oaks. It will add a second transmission circuit to the existing 345-kV transmission structures that run mainly along Interstate 94 as part of a CapX2020 project.
The Alexandria-Big Oaks project will require some very short new route alignments near the existing substations. This segment will connect to the existing substation near Alexandria and the proposed Big Oaks Substation near Becker and Monticello.
Open houses were also recently held for this project. The utilities intend to seek a certificate of need and route permit from the MPUC in the third quarter of this year. For more information, visit AlexandriatoBigOaks.com.