The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the region’s grid operator, approved a portfolio of transmission projects last month 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.
One of these projects is an approximately 150-mile, double-circuit 345-kilovokt transmission line from northern Minnesota to central Minnesota near Becker that will support grid reliability in the Upper Midwest. Minnesota Power, a utility division of ALLETE Inc., and Great River Energy announced their intent to jointly build the line.
The transmission line will run from Minnesota Power’s Iron Range Substation in Itasca County to Great River Energy’s Benton County Substation in Benton County, and then replace an existing Great River Energy transmission line from Benton County to a new substation in Sherburne County. The Sherburne County substation will be built as part of a separate project.
Minnesota Power and Great River Energy filed a Notice of Intent to Construct, Own and Maintain the transmission line with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) in early August.
Proactive investments to maintain a reliable and resilient regional power grid are necessary as more low-cost renewable energy is brought online, existing power plants are retired, electrification continues to grow and extreme weather events become more frequent.
“Building the right transmission will ensure continued reliability as we transition our energy mix, prepare for increased electrification and build in more resilience to extreme weather and other consequential events,” said Priti Patel, vice president and chief transmission officer for Great River Energy. “The right transmission will ensure we can make the transition to more low-cost renewable energy and maintain the reliability our members expect.”
Planning for the approximately $970 million transmission line is in its early stages. Subject to board approval, the two utilities intend to seek a Certificate of Need and Route Permit from the MPUC in late 2023. The MPUC will determine need and the final route. Subject to regulatory approvals, the transmission line is estimated to be in service by 2030.
Great River Energy and Minnesota Power will begin coordinating with landowners, local governments, agencies, Tribal Nations and tribal organizations, and other interested parties in late 2022 and early 2023. Engagement opportunities including open house meetings and workshops will offer the project community an opportunity to ask questions and provide input on the project planning and routing.