Public open houses for the Northland Reliability Project began this month.
The open houses will have stops in seven different cities from Grand Rapids to Becker with two meetings at each location. They are being held throughout the study area to provide the public with information about Great River Energy, Minnesota Power and the project that the companies are jointly building.
The Northland Reliability Project is a double-circuit, 345-kilovolt transmission line that will span approximately 150 miles from northern Minnesota near Grand Rapids to central Minnesota near Becker and will support grid reliability in the Upper Midwest. It is estimated to cost $970 million. Great River Energy and Minnesota Power will co-host public open houses during the weeks of Jan. 23 and Jan. 31. Each location will have identical meetings from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4-6 p.m.:
- Wednesday, Jan. 25, Sauk Rapids Government Center, Sauk Rapids
- Thursday, Jan. 26, Pebble Creek Golf Course, Becker
- Monday, Jan. 30, Timberlake Lodge, Grand Rapids
- Tuesday, Jan. 31, Spang Town Hall, Hill City
- Wednesday, Feb. 1, Taconite Canteen, Ironton
- Thursday, Feb. 2, Daggett Brook Town Hall, Brainerd
Those attending the open houses will be led by a tour guide who will take them through a series of stations explaining different aspects of the project such as project need, route corridor, route development process and maps, schedule and contact information. A key aspect of the open houses will be to address questions and comments on the project and solicit feedback on route development.
“The open houses are a critically important component to refining and ultimately determining a route corridor to put into an informed application to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission,” said Dan Lesher, Great River Energy’s manager of transmission planning and land rights. “Engaging with stakeholders and agencies helps us gather data and feedback and also allows us to inform stakeholders about this very important transmission project.”
A virtual open house, accessed through the project’s website, offers an online self-paced tour that runs from Jan. 16 to Feb. 13. This format is aimed at individuals who cannot attend the open houses or who wish to revisit information and maps provided at the open houses.
All meetings offer opportunities to help advance the project and continue route development by narrowing the study area into route corridors. The project team will seek opportunities to route the line along existing corridors using land already being used for power lines when it makes sense. The next steps will be to develop route alternatives (within the route corridors), present them to the public and then select a preferred route. The preferred route will be submitted in the certificate of need and route permit application to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in the fourth quarter of 2023.
“We are looking to meet as many stakeholders as possible so that we introduce the Northland Reliability Project to them and learn about routing opportunities and constraints,” Lesher said. “This helps grow relationships in local communities. With COVID, we have not had many opportunities to get out and meet stakeholders in recent years.”
Learn more about the project at northlandreliabilityproject.com.