The White House has issued a press release applauding the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) involvement in Minnesota Power’s Great Northern Transmission Line project as an example of President Obama’s renewed effort to accelerate and modernize the federal infrastructure permitting process.
Minnesota Power, an ALLETE Company, applied last month to the DOE for the Presidential Permit and also filed a route permit application with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for the 500-kilovolt line. Even before submitting these applications, Minnesota Power was closely coordinating with the DOE on the Great Northern Transmission Line. The project requires a Presidential Permit from the DOE because the transmission line will cross the international border between Manitoba and Minnesota and the DOE is the lead federal agency. The Great Northern Transmission Line will facilitate the delivery of at least 750 megawatts (MW) of renewable hydro power into the U.S. Beginning in 2020; Minnesota Power will use the line to deliver 250 MW from Manitoba Hydro to Minnesota’s Iron Range through a power purchase agreement approved by state regulators in 2012.
According to the release issued by the President’s Office of the Press Secretary, “the Administration is taking action to modernize the federal infrastructure permitting process, cutting through red tape and getting more timely decisions, while protecting our communities and the environment. . . President Obama has laid out his vision for a long-term infrastructure bill that would provide certainty for our state and local partners, support millions of jobs, and position our economy for lasting growth.”
The Great Northern Transmission Line was the first project listed in today’s White House release as an example of how “key reforms” are already underway. It stated the DOE initiated monthly meetings with other agencies and Minnesota Power “to ensure early coordination.” Since 2012, Minnesota Power has held more than 75 open houses and meetings with agencies, tribes, local government units, landowners and the general public to gather input on the routing of the transmission line project.
“Through these early coordination meetings,” the White House release said, “the company was able to narrow down potential corridors to two routes in their application which address agency concerns and will facilitate a more efficient review process.” Two alternative routes of about 220 miles have been proposed for the line.
“To have our Great Northern Transmission Line mentioned in this context is an affirmation of our company’s shared purpose in action,” said Al Hodnik, Chairman, President and CEO of ALLETE. “We are doing so much more than simply building a 500-kV line from Manitoba to Blackberry, Minn. We are doing our part to transform the nation’s energy landscape in the name of stewardship, reliability and also affordability while growing ALLETE and its energy businesses.”