After months of planning and routing and revision, Great River Energy and Minnesota Power filed an application Aug. 4 for a Certificate of Need and Route Permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) to build a high-voltage transmission line to bolster electric reliability in northern and central Minnesota.
The Northland Reliability Project is an approximately 180-mile, double-circuit, 345-kilovolt (kV) transmission line from northern Minnesota to central Minnesota intended to help maintain a reliable and resilient regional power grid as more renewable energy is brought online, existing power plants are retired, electrification continues to expand and more frequent extreme weather events occur.
The companies jointly held nearly 30 public open houses and stakeholder meetings over the past year to provide opportunities for engagement with landowners, local governments, agencies, and Tribal Nations. Public feedback is reflected in the route the utilities have proposed.
“The pace of change is upon us and we are laser focused on getting this line built to ensure reliability for our members and customers in northern and central Minnesota,” said Great River Energy’s Vice President and Chief Transmission Officer Priti Patel. “We are proud to be developing this project responsibly at every juncture. We have gone to great lengths to engage with community members and critical leaders over the last year, understanding that no voice is more important than that of a cooperative member who will be hosting this project on their property.”
The jointly developed project is one of 18 transmission projects approved in July 2022 by the region’s grid operator, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), in the first phase of its Long Range Transmission Plan to integrate new generation resources and boost grid resilience as the energy transition continues. The Northland Reliability Project is the first project in this portfolio to reach this phase of the regulatory process.
The permitting process is expected to take 12 to 18 months. The MPUC will make the final determination on the project’s need and final route. Subject to regulatory approval, construction is expected to begin in 2027 and the line to be operational in 2030.
“We’re excited to have completed the next milestone of this project by submitting our application,” said Great River Energy’s Dan Lesher, manager, transmission permitting and land rights. “This has been a tremendous joint effort between many individuals and departments at Great River Energy and Minnesota Power and I am grateful for everyone’s dedication and commitment to get to this point.”